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Sun Jun 2, 2024, 11:45 AM Jun 2

Indigenous People of Guam Are Fighting US Militarism and Environmental Ruin


Indigenous People of Guam Are Fighting US Militarism and Environmental Ruin

US military activities are damaging the environment and livelihoods of Indigenous CHamoru people.

By Sara Mar , TRUTHOUT
Published May 31, 2024

The Indigenous Pacific Islander community in Guam — known as CHamorus — has long called out the United States military for the environmental and cultural damage enacted on their homeland. This process of occupation and destruction began when Guam was colonized in 1898 and continues to this day, as nearly one-third of the 30-mile long island remains occupied by the U.S. military.

Several years ago, I traveled to Guam on a reporting fellowship and spoke with CHamoru community members about the sacred area of Litekyan, located on the northwestern coast of the island. Among the idyllic white sands, lush forests and turquoise waters, lie two imminent threats to CHamoru land: a live-fire training range complex and an open burning and detonation zone.

The firing range was built to train approximately 5,000 U.S. Marines being relocated to Guam from Okinawa, Japan. The Marines, who started arriving to Guam in 2023, are stationed at nearby Camp Blaz where more than 1,000 acres of limestone forests were destroyed to create the base. Nearly 4,000 acres of land on Andersen Air Force Base will be used for the range and more than 5 million rounds of ammunition will be fired every year.

Parts of Litekyan and the open ocean lie in the surface danger zone, where munitions could ricochet or land. These munitions, such as bullets from machine guns, contain a range of heavy metals, including lead. Over time, lead from these bullets can accumulate in the soil and eventually contaminate the aquifer located below the firing range. Guam only has one aquifer that supplies 80 percent of all drinking water to its residents, meaning contamination of the aquifer could threaten access to clean drinking water across much of the island.

…more… At least 20 archeological sites listed in the National Registry of Historic Places could also be directly and adversely impacted … the disinterment of CHamoru remains from their original and sacred burial grounds…. Toxic burns…Move to decolonization …
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