eJournal of the Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies
Issues 1.2 and 2.1, April 2010

Chamorro Men in the Making: 
Capitalism and Indigenous Masculinities Under US Naval Colonialism in Guam

  1. Guam, the southernmost of the Mariana Islands archipelago in the region of Oceania known as Micronesia, has long been a strategic piece of real estate for world powers seeking to exert their economic, political,
    and military might. Guam's reputation in the Pacific as having the longest history of encounters with such powers has secured for the island a deeply embedded place in modern historiography.[1] Previously dominated by outside perspectives, written histories have fashioned the island's past as a successive chronology of colonial eras – a litany of foreign administrations, their particular motives, and most especially, Guam's support of their strategic interests. More recently, however, critical and islander-oriented explorations of how the indigenous Chamorros of the island encountered foreign rule, and more importantly, the ways that these encounters have shaped them as a people have begun to assert themselves in contemporary scholarship.

  2. This paper is one small effort to add to this discussion and is part of an on-going research endeavor. It focuses particularly on early twentieth-century Chamorro men's experiences of U.S. military colonialism during the first years of Naval administration.[2] More specifically, this work seeks to uncover the ways in which American capitalist systems imposed by the Naval administration worked to re/shape and re/define Chamorro masculinities. The imposition of capitalist ideology, an American cash economy, alien land-tenure systems, and notions of productivity and industriousness will be explored against indigenous understandings of a man's role in society and in the family. Conflicting values between American capitalist ideology and indigenous notions of masculinity during the initial years of military colonialism stand out as the impetus for marked shifts in gender roles among Chamorro men. On a broader level, this gendered exploration of indigenous experiences of colonialism through the particular lens of capitalism will provide a frame of reference for larger understandings of U.S. military colonialism and its social, cultural, and epistemological impact on the peoples who have become subject to it.
  3. Examinations of Pacific Islander masculinities more broadly have emerged. The University of Hawai`is Center for Pacific Islands Studies dedicated much attention to this aspect of life in the region in the 2008 issue of its bi-annual journal The Contemporary Pacific. Guest editor Margaret Jolly of the Australian National University noted the need for attention to Pacific Islander masculinities in contemporary discussions of the region that 'Although much has been written about men in Oceania, there has been far less theoretical interrogation of diverse and changing masculinities' (emphasis in original).[3] Jolly further outlines a common theme in the volume among indigenous Hawaiian and Māori contributors who 'all insist on the crucial importance of colonialism in the construction of indigenous masculinities in both past and present.'[4] It is my hope that this particular focus on Chamorro masculinities and American colonialism might find a place in broader discussions of Pacific Islander masculinities at large and the manner in which colonialism has had a hand in their transformations.

    The Chamorro and Hi/Story
  4. There exist significant historiographical obstacles to engaging in the transformations of Chamorro masculinities under U.S. military colonialism. These obstacles stem from the absence of attention to Chamorro men specifically in Guam's written history. Canonical historiography has long considered the Chamorro male along the lines of 'decimation' or 'obliteration'—almost to the point that he is extinct altogether. Yet, if one looks carefully, historical fact indicates that the Chamorro male survived the initial war, disease, demoralization, and other assaults brought on by colonialism to which his supposed demise is often attributed.[5] Still, the colonial myth of the Chamorro male as an endangered species has prevailed. Contemporary Chamorro scholars have argued that perpetuations of the myth of Chamorro male demise have served as a rhetorical tool in constructing a discourse of absolute disappearance from both the physical landscape and larger historical consciousness. More significantly, the positioning of this demise alongside the survival of Chamorro women, has been argued to justify and naturalize the replacement of Chamorro men by others, such as Spanish priests, colonial officials, and soldiers, and eventually American naval men. As noted by Chamorro historian Anne Perez Hattori, 'with the erasure of men from the Chamorro landscape, Guam was feminized not only as a terrain from which men were literally absent, but also a space available for the colonial penetration of a masculine Naval establishment.'[6]
  5. The employment of modern Western feminist thought in considerations of Guam's past can be read as an additional mechanism that has worked to marginalize men in canonical historiography. As argued in Chamorro scholar Laura M. Torres Souder's influential text, Daughters of the Island, strong roles for women in Chamorro society have always been present and continue to afford females respect and power. Indeed, many of Guam's leading female organizers during the initial post-World War II political development period were uncomfortable with Western feminist activism believing that it was inapplicable to women on Guam who did not experience the same marginalization and oppression as those in the Western world.[7] Yet, as indicated by University of Guam professor of Social Work Gerhard Schwab, Western feminist thought did gain some notable momentum on the island in the late 1970s and early 1980s and was utilized by some for the analysis of Guam's society as well as for political organizing. Conversely, Schwab acknowledges that other gender-focused perspectives that would include deliberations on Chamorro masculinities were absent on Guam during this period.[8]
  6. The displacement of Chamorro men by Western feminist approaches in Guam-related scholarship is apparent in Souder's Daughters of the Island. The volume is recognized as a groundbreaking and pionering attempt to unmask the active and powerful agency of Chamorro women as historical and contemporary political, social, and cultural organizers. Daughters of the Island unquestionably stands out as a much-needed and long-overdue contribution to Chamorro-centered scholarship. Yet, a brief exploration of the ways in which Souder's celebration and recognition of the Chamorro woman impacts understandings of her male counterpart is in order.
  7. Souder makes two distinct suggestions regarding the Chamorro male in Guam's history. First, Souder positions Chamorro women as the dominant sex in pre-contact society.[9] This is in stark contrast to assertions by many other Chamorro scholars who have noted a strong and relatively equal balance in political, social, and familial power between men and women. Second, Souder echoes dominant assertions of the Chamorro male as meeting his ultimate peril through Spanish colonialism and his subsequent absence in contemporary society. Souder notes that, unlike Chamorro men, Chamorro women had the ability to elevate or reinforce their status through marriage. She concludes that women worked this to their advantage by marrying American men and other foreigners more frequently as Chamorro men left Guam in larger numbers after World War II for military service. Souder's analysis not only positions American men as more lucrative prospects for marriage over Chamorro men, but further perpetuates notions of the absent Chamorro male from the island's landscape.
  8. Souder's work stands out as a prime example of the ways in which Western feminist approaches to Guam's past may have the indirect or unintended outcome of marginalizing men or reinforcing those discourses that do. She herself admits that the application of this Western approach to the non-Western world carries with it certain shortcomings that fail to recognize various cultural and experiential differences.[10] Recognizing the valuable contributions that Daughters of the Island makes to indigenous Chamorro scholarship, it is important to acknowledge the ways that it upholds the misconceptions birthed by one-sided historiography.

    To Make a Chamorro Man
  9. Having recognized the lack of resources that speak specifically to men's roles in Guam's colonial history and those factors that have contributed to the deficiency, the question of what defines Chamorro masculinities presents an additional obstacle to this research endeavour. I hesitate to speculate or prescribe what constitutes Chamorro manhood. I am further hesitant to essentialize the Chamorro man according to any stringent social or cultural frameworks. Rather, my intent here is to develop a broad framework for understanding the Chamorro male and the specific roles he has played historically within a familial and communal context. Masculinities for the purposes of this paper will be defined as the ways in which men both saw themselves and were seen by others as a unique and distinct element of society apart from women.
  10. Perhaps the most effective way to gain insight on the Chamorro man and his place in society is to explore briefly the core fabric of that society. Pre-contact Chamorro society was stringently matrilineal and upon reaching adolescence, Chamorro boys would leave their parents to return to their mother's clan to reside in the guma` uritao, or men's house. Their mother's brothers would watch over them and teach them all the necessary skills to serve their families and communities as productive men, such as fishing, agriculture, net and tool making, hunting, navigating, and warfare.[11] The guma` uritao was both a physical site and social and cultural institution where young boys were made into men as that role was understood by Chamorro society.
  11. The skills cultivated at the guma` uritao had larger implications beyond training young men for subsistence-level living. The skills taught in the men's house were in fact part of a larger means of constituting Chamorro masculinity educating men to be active participants in the highly important and deeply embedded practice of chenchule`, the extensive system of reciprocity that continues to ground Chamorro cultural practice. Close family and clan linkages are both fostered by and maintained by a pervasive custom of mandatory obligations between individuals, related by blood or otherwise. The expression of these obligations is through the practice of chenchule`, or the exchange of gifts or services that obligates the recipient to reciprocate to the giver.
  12. The practice of chenchule` took many forms, including the giving of betel nut, precious turtle shell money, or the contribution of labour by one individual to another during a time of birth, death, or marriage in his family. Chenchule` continues to include these forms in the present, but has begun to include monetary or other material contributions. The system ensures that mutual obligations are met between individuals and families or clans and fosters a strong sense of interdependence within the community at large. Men, armed with the skills they learned at the guma` uritao, played an important role in this system by producing subsistence goods and skilled labour for exchange through chenchule`. Doing so maintained and elevated his personal status and that of his family's. As historian Robert F. Rogers asserts, 'a man's prestige was measured by the number of people who would come to his aid to reciprocate chenchule` when he was in need. Conversely, a man who shirked obligations would not receive aid when he needed it.'[12]
  13. At the centre of particular institutions such of the guma` uritao or the practice of chenchule` was the concept of inafa`maolek. Literally meaning 'making it good for each other,' inafa`maolek is a core cultural concept that demands interdependence and cooperation within Chamorro society above individual gain or self-concern. Reciprocity, mutual obligation, consideration of others before the self, and assisting others in all their needs are the manifestations of inafa`maolek.[13] Chamorro Social Worker Angela T. Hoppe-Cruz argues that the contemporary Chamorro male 'practices chenchule` with great diligence. He is always ready to pitch in for family, extended family, and friends. He does that with humor, love, and respect, always making sure his loved ones are fed and protected.'[14] What Cruz outlines is, in essence, a defining characteristic of the Chamorro male as father and provider for the family and community. Manhood and masculinity in this context are determined by an individual's ability to encompass inafa`maolek and to actively participate in the chenchule` system. Moreover, Chamorro men did and continue to do so largely focused on nurturing and protecting their families. The context in which Chamorro manhood and masculinity would be measured changed, however, under American military colonialism. A man's worth and prestige would come to be measured no longer primarily by his contributions to the family and community, but by his contributions within a newly introduced cash-based economy. His masculinity, therefore, would become determined by that economy and those in power who sought to establish it.

    View from the Ship: The American Naval Gaze on Chamorro Society
  14. In her exploration of contemporary feminist international politics, Cynthia Enloe provokes important considerations of masculinity and femininity within a military colonial context. She argues:

      Conventionally both masculinity and femininity have been treated as 'natural', not created. Today, however, there is mounting evidence that they are packages of expectations that have been created through specific decisions by specific people. We are also coming to realize that the traditional concepts of masculinity and femininity have been surprisingly hard to perpetuate: it has required the daily exercise of power – domestic power, national power, and…international power.[15]

  15. The 'specific decisions' by 'specific people' identified by Enloe are, with regard to Guam and this particular research, the general orders issued by the Naval governors of Guam during the first administrative period. Such legislation was formulated from the particular gaze with which American military administrators viewed Chamorro society. Explorations of the ways Americans viewed their newfound colony provide a means of understanding how American interpretations of that society motivated the manner in which they would govern their Chamorro subjects. Looking in from the outside, or metaphorically from the ship onto the shore, American military personnel developed their own assumptions of Chamorro men and what the Navy's particular role was to be as the new wards of the island and its people. It is to these very impressions that I now turn.
  16. Americans saw it as their inherent duty to transform the bodies, minds, and material circumstances of the Chamorro people. Reflecting on the first period of Naval rule on Guam, the U.S. Chief of Naval operations noted in 1950 that the Chamorro people were:

      …a population abused and oppressed over the centuries, so disease-infested, so isolated from the world, so haunted by superstition, that it was a listless, ambitionless, unorganized mass of humanity stirred only by the hope for individual survival. That was what was handed over to the Navy Department 50 years ago to rehabilitate, to organize, and to make productive (emphases added).[16]

  17. American assumptions that Chamorros were an individualistic, unorganized, and unproductive society in need of rehabilitation were formulated primarily from interpretations of the highly important låncho, or ranch. Small ranch-farms where families raised pigs, chickens, cattle, and other livestock, as well as various fruit trees and crops on a subsistence level and for barter, the låncho would stand out as a point of contention for Naval governors and an obstacle to their overall motives of establishing Guam as an ordered and fruitful military outpost in the Pacific. The låncho was incorporated during the Spanish colonial period when the Spanish crown and the Catholic mission seized lands owned by Chamorro clans and concentrated people into European-style villages or hamlets with the Church at its center. The lånchos were located away from the village and many families spent their entire week there. Some only returned to the village just to attend Mass on the weekends. The låncho, thus, became a central element to the Chamorro family, not only in providing sustenance, but providing a space in which they could function away and apart from the colonial center.
  18. Sentiments toward the låncho varied between the series of Naval governors appointed to the post, many of them serving no more than a year or two in office. In his July 8, 1901 report to the Secretary of the Navy, Naval Governor Seaton Schroeder pointed out a 'noticible [sic] trait in the Chamorro character, viz the pride and happiness in the possession of land, which results in the community being composed of a large number of small land owners' going on to note that it was 'a wholesome trait which it is hoped will hold its own against outside influences.'[17] Although Schroeder ostensibly approves of Chamorro subsistence practices, he also laments the ways in which such practices countered larger development and production projects. He notes, 'the effect of [small land ownership and subsistence level production] is, of course, to minimise the amount of labor that can be hired, with the direct consequence that large land owners are rare, and that application of capital would be handicapped by the dearth of labor.'[18]
  19. Acting Naval Governor Raymond Stone was not as patient as Schroeder seems and certainly not as sympathetic about Chamorro land and subsistence values. He wrote in his 1904 report that 'the people depend largely for support upon their "ranches" – small, insignificant patches of land…from which they extract a scanty living.'[19] Stone's classification of the ranches as 'insignificant' and the livings extracted from them as 'scanty' is reflective of American conceptions of Chamorros and their modes of production as unworthy or invalid. Stone goes on to note that Chamorro 'wants are few, and they lead their lives of Arcadian simplicity and freedom from ambition or the desire for change or progress. They are like children, easily controlled and readily influenced by example, good or bad.' He goes on to add that, 'these people must be taught, at once, to help themselves in ways to make them useful to us and attain a higher grade of living, but their preliminary steps must be guided by us and they must be supplied with the means to do this…' (emphasis added).[20] Stone's report illustrates a paternal administration, one that viewed its subjects as childlike, simple, unambitious, and backward. His comments further allude to the desire of the American administration to elevate the indigenous population to a higher level of existence, not so much with benevolent intent, but more so to make the natives 'useful' to their new administrators.
  20. Both Schroeder and Stone, although different in the degree of their sympathies toward the Chamorro people, concur that the small-scale, subsistence-level production carried out on the lånchos posed an obstacle to larger motives of acquiring labour among the Chamorro population for military projects. The early Naval governors were equally frustrated with the lack of or limited supply of a cash crop on Guam that would sustain the island as a growing military base. As noted by Schroeder in his 1902 report, 'not a pound of copra has been exported, and neither cacao nor coffee has been produced in sufficient quantity to quite meet the requirements of the home market…'[21] In his 1904 report, Naval Governor G.L. Dyer echoed Schroeder's concerns. As his report notes, 'neither sugar nor tobacco is grown, nor can they be grown here in large quantities. A small export of coffee and cacao might be fostered. Copra – dried cocoanut [sic] pulp – the staple of the Pacific in general, is gathered in small quantities, but the price of labor has gone up here so much, with the increase in cost of living, that it no longer pays the native to bring in his copra.'[22] Quite clearly, a shortfall in available labour to the Navy, widely practised subsistence-level production, and the absence of a viable cash crop stood in the way of larger military objectives or hopes that Chamorros would be more useful to Americans. Holding sweeping powers over Guam and its inhabitants, the Naval governors began executing general orders that would legislate the ways in which Chamorros might become useful.

    Ordering Chamorro Lives
  21. Legislation designed to impose American values and practices on all facets of Chamorro life came in the form of general orders that were simply directives issued by Naval governors and passed into law without any measure of due process. Such orders ultimately worked to establish American hegemony on the island and among its indigenous population. Those orders specifically addressing Guam's economy not only worked to fuel this hegemony, but instituted various changes to Chamorro masculinities and the role of men in the community.
  22. One of the earliest general orders issued that worked to dispossess Chamorros, men and women alike, of their control over their material assets was General Order No. 3 issued by Leary in August of 1899. Here Leary ordered that 'all persons who claim ownership of land in this island or its dependencies are prohibited from selling or transferring any portion of such property without first obtaining the consent of the government.'[23] Land stands out in both ancient and contemporary Chamorro society as the key asset to the family unit. On a material level, land is an asset affording families economic security in times of need and leverage in reciprocity systems in the ability to transfer it to younger generations or other groups with whom it shares mutual obligations. On a cultural and emotional level, particular pieces of land and the history surrounding them embody the family's very identity as a collective unit within the larger community. General Order No. 3 not only removed from Chamorros their ownership over that identity, but disempowered them in restricting their ability to control the ways in which land as a material asset might be transferred or sold for the benefit and economic well being of landowners. The order further imparted capitalist notions of private property ownership, a practice counter to Chamorro concepts of family or clan-owned land.[24]
  23. American military policy designed to enforce order over Chamorro assets and economic mobility did not end with assuming power over the Chamorro's ability to sell or transfer land. A primary goal of the Naval administration was to incorporate capitalist systems that would generate a cash economy on Guam. This was accomplished particularly through the imposition of rigid tax requirements and licensing fees. General Order No. 10 enacted by Leary in 1900 identified numerous taxes to be applied to landowners, as well as numerous license fees ranging from licenses to own dogs and firearms to licenses for marriage. General Order No. 10 required 'a tax of 12 pesos per year on each male person between the ages of 18 and 60 residing permanently in Guam.'[25] As the primary bearers of the personal tax burden, Chamorro men faced further challenges in that they were systematically paid significantly lower wages in comparison to their American counterparts during the first decade of Naval rule, even in cases when the two performed the same work.[26]
  24. The imposition of taxes and licensing fees set the stage for the forced participation of Chamorro men in a cash economy. It not only forced their participation, but stigmatized failure to do so by enforcing penalties on those either unwilling or unable to pay. General Order No. 38 made the provision that any male failing to pay the personal tax required by General Order No. 10 'shall be obliged to work, in such a place and at such a time as may be directed by the chief of public works, or his legal representative, one day of eight hours for each half peso that he fails to pay.' Should any male fail to provide the required labour in lieu of his taxes, he would be subject to fines in the amount of one-half peso for each working day in addition to his existing tax liability.[27] The imposition of a cash economy in which Chamorro men were required by law to participate worked to transform Guam's economic and social structure. Chamorros in larger numbers began to transition from a subsistence economy toward wage labour, reshaping the importance of the socially and culturally prominent låncho in the Chamorro family and community. As argued by Chamorro scholar Robert Underwood, 'the 'entanglement' between this farming and a government-sponsored wage economy evolved between the arrival of Americans and the outbreak of World War II. …many Chamorros moved into the money economy' and it is 'estimated that 25% of the males in the first ten years of American rule worked as laborers and that by 1919, one-third had tried their hand at wage labor.'[28]
  25. General orders requiring the payment of taxes and fees had larger implications for the Chamorro male extending beyond the immediate requirement that he participate in a capitalist economy on a daily basis. Certain orders would challenge his very identity as a father and his place as a member of the extremely important family unit. General Order No. 5, for example, required a cash payment for a marriage license. Should any man be unable to procure the license, his relationship with a Chamorro woman and their subsequent offspring would be completely invalidated by the Naval administration. General Order No. 5 proclaimed that

      The existing custom of concubinage, rearing families of illegitimate children, is repulsive to the ideas of decency, antagonistic to moral advancement, incompatible with the generally recognized customs of civilized society, a violation of the accepted principles of Christianity and a most degrading injustice to the innocent offspring, who is never responsible for the condition of his unfortunate existence.

    In essence, the order prohibited and, in fact, criminalized the act of men and women forming families outside of legally recognized marriages. Those violating the order became subject to fines and imprisonment. In short, the Naval administration required the payment of a marriage license and a church or civil recognition of that marriage so that 'children may become legitimized.'[29]
  26. The larger implications of General Order No. 5 relative to what the Navy saw as 'concubinage' stand out as a direct assault on existing Chamorro masculinities. Although the Catholic Church to which Chamorros were strongly tied had similar views toward sexual relations and childbearing out of wedlock, the practice of unwed Chamorros forming families was not uncommon, nor was it criminalized. Moreover, the offspring of such unions would never be viewed as 'illegitimate' and certainly not in need of being 'legitimized.' Under U.S. rule, however, a Chamorro male as a husband and father could only be validated and recognized once he paid the required license fee. His inability to do so, then, robbed him of this highly regarded and extremely important place of prominence in his family and community.
  27. I move now beyond those orders requiring the payment of taxes and fees and focus here on the ways Chamorro males became subject to legislation relative to production. Widespread Chamorro participation in the cash economy as outlined by Underwood was facilitated, not only by the imposition of taxes and license fees, but by general orders which enforced required labour and production quotas on Chamorro men. General Order No. 7 required that 'every inhabitant without trade or habitual occupation by means of which he is able to provide for the necessities of himself or his family, must plant a quantity of corn, rice, coffee, cacao, sweet potatoes, or other fruits and vegetables sufficient for that purpose.' The order further mandated that males own at least 12 hens, 1 cock, and 1 sow. The order arrogantly assumed the authority to determine for the Chamorro male what was sufficient to meet the needs of his family requiring that 'he must plant as great a quantity as possible consistent with the means at his disposal.'[30] No longer was the value of the Chamorro male's production measured by his ability to feed the family and participate in systems of reciprocity and mutual obligation. Rather, the measure of his worth as a producer and contributor became subject to the standards outlined by military administrators. Furthermore, such policy equated Chamorro manhood with working in the fields, and conversely, relegated definitions of Chamorro womanhood to spaces of domesticity.
  28. Other general orders worked to change the Chamorro male's role as an active participant in systems of reciprocity and mutual obligation. General Order No. 18 of 1900 stated that 'merchants and others interested in the commerce of this island are hereby reminded that the old custom of advancing money, stores, or other merchandise to be paid for with personal labor, or with copra or other products of the ground not in existence at the time of purchase, is one of the phases of peonage which is prohibited by law and punishable at the discretion of the local authorities.'[31] The order went on to designate the Mexican coin or its equivalent in U.S. dollars as the only acceptable currency or legal tender to be used in settling transactions. As previously mentioned, barter was an important aspect of Chamorro social interaction. It extended beyond an equal trade of goods or services between two individuals or parties. It was an extension of the chenchule` system in which Chamorros could help others they were tied to through mutual obligation during times of need. Oftentimes, the gesture of willing to provide goods or services to others in need was in itself an act of chenchule`, the concern for whether the repayment was sufficient, equal, or timely being of secondary concern, if at all. General Order No. 18, however, reduced the practice to peonage, empowered the government to punish 'offenders' as they saw fit, and established cash as the only acceptable currency for payment of goods and services. Chamorro men, as active participants in barter as a means of perpetuating the chenchule` system, were thus forced to adapt to the new 'cash only' system. This imposition stands out as a pivotal assault on culture in its positioning Naval administrators as chief reciprocators by virtue of their ultimate authority over money.
  29. The general orders I have outlined thus far are reflective of arbitrary lawmaking by very temporary fixtures in Guam's governance. The temporary nature of each governor's administration on the island and the resulting changes to society had a much more long-term and even permanent impact on Chamorro society. It would not be long before American notions of men and women's roles toward productivity and industriousness would extend beyond legislative policy and into the education system.[32] The Naval curriculum enforced in Guam's schools was one that sought to create distinct gender lines positioning males to assume roles in the cash economy and girls in the domestic realm. It is clear that the Navy, apart from its immediate concerns of economic development for Guam, envisioned larger changes for the island's people by targeting the younger, more impressionable, and vulnerable population of children. The reordering of Chamorro lives was on one level an abrupt imposition on Chamorros lives through the issuance of general orders at a moment's notice, and on another level, a broader ordering imposed on a new generation of Chamorros that would begin to see their world and their lives in a newer, Americanized light.

    Chamorro Masculinities in the Post-Naval Era
  30. I have thus far outlined a series of policies enacted by Naval governors on Guam in their attempts to re/order Chamorro society as a whole, as well as the ways in which these policies countered and worked to change Chamorro men and masculinities. Although heavy-handed Naval rule of the island was damaging to Chamorro livelihoods in many ways, it cannot be assumed that Chamorros were complete victims in their experience of U.S. military colonialism. Moreover, it cannot be said that the Chamorro male wholeheartedly accepted rapid and forced changes to his identity as a viable member of the community. As asserted by Schwab, '…indigenous Chamorros have a long, dynamic, and gendered history. Centuries of Spanish, Japanese, and U.S. colonial rule forced the Chamorro people to continuously rearrange and reinvent gender roles in order to manage their changing social, economic, and political environments.'[33] A glimpse into the ways that men have rearranged and reinvented their roles can be achieved by exploring the contemporary Chamorro man and his experience under continual American colonialism.
  31. Examples of Chamorro male participation in various American institutions motivated by economic security and advancement are abundant in the present and can be illustrated well by examining two patterns of Chamorro diaspora. One of the strongest and most persistent examples of Chamorro men pursuing a validation of their self-worth through capitalist enterprises is the steady flow of men into the U.S. military. According to military and census data collected by the National Priorities Project, recent 'enlistment into the Army by young men and women from three of the nation's poorest territories - American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands - more than doubled.'[34] Anita Dancs, research director for a non-profit organization that collects recruitment data, suggests that 'it's very clear what is going on. The Army hasn't recruited as many youth as it needs, so it's becoming more aggressive, focusing on youth with limited economic opportunities.'[35]
  32. Chamorro men have used the U.S. military historically as a means of not only travelling beyond Guam and seeing the world, but as a way to economically advance themselves. Such was the case with ninety-year-old Antonio Borja Perez, familian Ginza, of Guam who retired from military service in 1961.[36] Having himself enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1939, Perez notes of his decision to do so that men would 'join the Navy and see the world; that was the main thing. Get out of Guam and really explore what's out there.'[37] Perez further notes that 'there's not much for a young man to do on Guam at that time and the Navy will pay you and let you travel at the same time. You can help your family that way.'[38] Chamorro sociologist Michael Perez characterizes the trend of Chamorro men seeking travel and income through the military as one of the 'fundamental patterns of Chamorro diaspora in the United States, that involve military enlistment to serve Uncle Sam and as a vehicle of geographic mobility.'[39] This vehicle not only provided the opportunity to travel, but a means of increasing an individual's material assets - a common incentive for enlistment among Chamorros today.
  33. In response to inquiries about his motivation to enlist in the military, one twenty-six year-old Chamorro male who is an active-duty member of the U.S. Army, had this to say: 'I joined the military because I could only make just over minimum wage on Guam. I felt bad that I couldn't give my wife and kids more. I wanted to make more money so my family could have more and that my kids could get the [military] privileges like good schools and doctors.'[40] What is apparent through his sentiments and the pattern I have thus far outlined is that many Chamorros today no longer feel adequate earning 'just over the minimum wage' and want more and more materially for their families.
  34. Another pattern in Chamorro diaspora is reflective of Chamorro men's desire to advance themselves economically. A significantly large emigration of Chamorros from Guam to the U.S. has occurred in the years since the end of World War II. In the last two decades specifically, the out-migration of many young adult Chamorros has been made by those seeking higher education in U.S. universities. Males in significant numbers make up a considerable portion of this out-migration. This movement has been characterized, in reference to Micronesia as a whole, as an exodus ultimately leading to a 'brain drain' in the region in which the islands' best and brightest make their way to the U.S. and never return.[41] One Chamorro male undergraduate student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, had this to say of his reason for pursuing education away from Guam: 'there's nothing back home for young people. Even if you finish at [the University of Guam], the only jobs you can get don't pay anything and you have to start at the very bottom even if you have a degree. Might as well go to the States and get a degree from a well-known school. And what's the point in going back? There are better, high-paying jobs out here.'[42] This respondent's sentiments are common among young, frustrated Chamorros seeking higher education in the U.S. This particular group is faced with the decision of leaving behind their homes and families in exchange for the opportunity to start lucrative careers in the diaspora.
  35. A common theme among Chamorro men who seek opportunity and economic advancement in the United States is the misconception that Guam's opportunities for advancement are inadequate and the potential for young men to become independent unpromising. According to Vincent E. Laguana, an undergraduate student at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa, his decision to leave Guam was based primarily on a desire to seek employment and education opportunities, and ultimately, to achieve a sense of independence from his parents in the way of paying his own debts, establishing his own residence, and achieving a sense of accomplishment. He admits that he viewed Guam as lacking in the possibility of providing him with a chance to do so, but after having lived in Honolulu for just a couple years, he now realizes 'it's the same thing.' He remarks, 'knowing what I know now, I probably wouldn't have wanted to leave Guam so badly at the time. It's good to get out here and experience a new life, but there are just as many ways to do what I'm doing now back home.'[43] Views of Guam as completely barren in the way of economic, employment, and educational opportunity are common among Chamorro males, and perhaps, are reflective of experiences with American Naval colonialism and capitalist ideology that consistently promotes the acquisition of personal capital.
  36. The two diasporic patterns I have outlined thus far point to noteworthy shifts in Chamorro masculinities. The worth of the individual has shifted from being vested in his ability to perpetuate the values of inafa`maolek and the practice of chenchule` to his ability to earn more and have access to American institutions and services. Although Chamorro men's participation in the institutions of the military and higher education have no doubt afforded them economic security that is far greater than what they might have access to in Guam, their pursuit of that security through those very institutions has not been without considerable cost. Micronesia as a whole, for example, has suffered the largest death rate per capita in the current war, up to five times higher than that of the U.S. continent.[44] And, with regard to the 'brain drain,' the absence of educated Chamorros willing to reside on Guam has created shifts in the demographic make up of those in positions of political and economic power. Non-indigenous people are filling such positions more and more each day which will ultimately lead to modifications in the direction that the government and the economy might head. The indigenous community, thus, may find itself losing more and more grounding in the critical affairs of its own island. I'm curious to see how Chamorro masculinities will further respond to such changes.
  37. Strong remnants of American capitalist influence on Chamorro men manifest themselves on Guam in the present, evident among those Chamorro families who have risen to prominence in the business and political sectors. While there are many families on the island today who have earned themselves distinction as owners of lucrative, locally owned business enterprises, one family in particular stands out as illustrative of the rise of Chamorro men in American capitalist systems throughout the Naval administration of Guam. Eduardo Torres Calvo is the patriarch of what has been characterized in the present as the Calvo dynasty or empire. Born in 1909, Calvo began his career working as a cashier for the Bank of Guam, then owned by the Naval Government of Guam. From there, he began his own business ventures and over time went on to establish Calvo Enterprises which today includes Pepsi Bottling, Mid-Pacific Liquor, Calvo's Realty, Pacific Construction Company, Payless markets, and a radio station, among other entities.[45]
  38. Calvo passed away in 1963 and his three sons, Paul, Edward, and Jerry, would take over the family business. Today, a new generation of Calvo men, as well as women, are in line to take over the management of the business empire. The second and third generation of the Calvo dynasty have maintained the prominence established by their patriarch and their notoriety has expanded beyond the business world into the political realm with members of the family holding public offices from seats in the legislature to the highest office of governor.[46] Eduardo Calvo and his sons stand out as one of the most visible examples of Chamorro men transitioning from long-established modes of Chamorro productivity within the inafa`maolek system to newer methods of contributing to the island as extremely successful businessmen and politicians. Their experience of the 20th century stands out in contrast to that of the average Chamorro male in that the låncho and the labour that it required were not central to their survival or participation within the community. Yet the Calvos have set a standard which many equate with success and strive to achieve in the present. The manner in which 'Calvo' has become a household name on Guam and representative of the 'American dream' of which Chamorros might strive toward reflects the ways that economic and social prominence in an American context has influenced Chamorro thinking and ambition.

  39. What I have posed so far is a mere survey of changes to Chamorro masculinities as a result of U.S. military colonialism and the capitalist agendas that came along with it. It is, in every sense, one effort to move along discussions that will hopefully lead toward greater understandings of these particular pasts and processes of change. It is but one contribution to re/introducing the historically marginalized Chamorro male into his own history and the consciousness of his people. What we can gather definitively from what has been presented is that the highly ordered Naval Government of Guam and the legislation its governors executed in the period from 1900–1905 set the stage for immense gender-related shifts in Chamorro society that continue to manifest themselves in the present. Further research into transformations within Chamorro society through the processes of colonialism is most definitely in order and promises to enlighten us as we continue to reflect on the past and how it is most useful to our understanding the present - one in which the indigenous people of Guam continue to navigate the complexities of continued American colonialism.


    [1] Guam is documented as the first island in Oceania and its indigenous Chamorro people the first Pacific Islanders to encounter Europeans. On March 6, 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan landed at Guam while sailing for the crown of Spain. Miguel Lopez de Legazpi later led an expedition to Guam officially claiming it and all other Chamorro-inhabited islands to the north for Spain on January 22, 1564. Spanish rule over the island took a formalized hold through the establishment of a Catholic mission on June 16, 1668. Father Diego Luis de San Vitores, a Spanish aristocrat and Jesuit priest, led the mission sanctioned by Queen Mariana de Austria, Spain's regent queen, after whom the island chain was eventually named. Guam would go on to become an important stop along the Acapulco-Manila Spanish galleon route for over two centuries.

    [2] Guam was formally administered by the U.S. Navy during two distinct periods. The Treaty of Paris signed in 1898 between the United States and Spain brought an end to the Spanish-American War. As part of the treaty, Spain ceded Guam, among other possessions, to the United States. The U.S. Navy was tasked with governing Guam and would do so up to 1941 when Japan occupied the island by force during World War II. American Naval administration resumed in 1944 after U.S. forces recaptured the island. This second period of Naval administration of the island would end in 1950 with the signing of the Organic Act of Guam by U.S. President Harry S. Truman that designated the island an unincorporated territory of the U.S. under the administration of the Department of Interior.

    [3] Margaret Jolly, Moving Masculinities: Memories and Bodies Across Oceania, in The Contemporary Pacific, vol. 20, no. 1 (Honolulu: Center for Pacific Islands Studies & University of Hawai`i Press, 2008), p. 3.

    [4] Ibid., 1.

    [5] The first Spanish census conducted in 1710 indicates that males, contrary to widely accepted belief, survived the Spanish-Chamorro Wars (1670–1693) in higher numbers than females. This particular historic record lends credence to arguments that disease and other factors, rather than men's death in battle, contributed significantly to population decline. Anne Perez Hattori, email message to the author, October 18, 2009.

    [6] Anne Perez Hattori, Colonial Dis-Ease: US Navy Health Policies and the Chamorros of Guam, 1898–1941 (Honolulu: University of Hawai`i Press, 2004), p. 93.

    [7] Anne Perez Hattori, email message to the author, October 18, 2009.

    [8] Gerhard Johann Schwab, Ethnicities and Masculinities in the Making: A Challenge for Social Work in Guam (Dissertation: University of Michigan, 1998), pp. 45–46.

    [9] Laura M. Torres Souder, Daughters of the Island: Contemporary Chamorro Women Organizers on Guam, 2nd ed. (Lanham: University Press of America, 1992), p. 76.

    [10] Ibid., p. 5.

    [11] Robert F. Rogers, Destiny's Landfall (Honolulu: University of Hawai`i Press, 1995), p. 37.

    [12] Ibid., p. 38.

    [13] See Lawrence J. Cunningham, The Ancient Chamorros of Guam, in Guam History: Perspectives, Volume One, ed. Lee D. Carter, William L. Wuerch, and Rosa Roberto Carter, (Mangilao: Micronesian Area Research Center, 1998), pp. 11–36, p. 29.

    [14] Angela T. Hoppe-Cruz, email message to author, December 7, 2008.

    [15] Cynthia Enloe, Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminine Sense of International Politics (Berkeley: University of California Press), p. 3.

    [16] U.S. Navy Report on Guam, 1899–1950, pp. 2–3. Also quoted in Anne Perez Hattori, The Navy Blues: U.S. Navy Policies on Guam, 1899-1941 (Unpublished Paper: University of Hawai`i at Mānoa, 1995), p. 1.

    [17] Seaton Schroeder, General Report on Matters of Importance in the Island of Guam dated July 8, 1901, Annual Reports of the Governors of Guam, 1901-1941 (Washington: The National Archives), pp. 5–6.

    [18] Ibid., p. 5.

    [19] Raymond Stone, General Report on Matters of Importance in the Island of Guam dated June 1, 1904, Annual Report of the Governor of Guam (Washington: The National Archives), p. 6.

    [20] Ibid., n.p.

    [21] Brief Extracts from Publications, Memoranda Furnished Congress, General Orders, and Annual Reports for 1901–1904, Relative to the Island of Guam, (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1905), p. 89.

    [22] Ibid., p. 109.

    [23] Brief Extracts from Publications, Memoranda Furnished Congress, General Orders, and Annual Reports for 1901–1904, Relative to the Island of Guam, p. 33.

    [24] Ibid., p. 33.

    [25] Ibid., p. 10. Although General Order No. 38 later enacted in 1901 mandated the payment of personal taxes by all residents of the island "without distinction of race or nationality," it simultaneously exempted those in positions controlled by the U.S. government, active military personnel, and other government officials from paying the personal tax mandated by General Order No. 10. At this particular point in Guam's history, the strikingly vast majority of non-Chamorro inhabitants of the island were on Guam as foreign labourers or American personnel brought to the island, and thereby, falling under the category as those in 'positions controlled by the U.S. government.' Thus, the exemption in essence absolved anyone not native to the island from paying the personal tax.

    [26] Rogers, Destiny's Landfall, p. 134.

    [27] Brief Extracts from Publications, Memoranda Furnished Congress, General Orders, and Annual Reports for 1901–1904, Relative to the Island of Guam, p. 20.

    [28] Robert Anacletus Underwood, American Education and the Acculturation of the Chamorros of Guam (Dissertation: University of Southern California, 1987), p. 86.

    [29] Brief Extracts from Publications, Memoranda Furnished Congress, General Orders, and Annual Reports for 1901–1904, Relative to the Island of Guam, p. 34.

    [30] Ibid., pp. 34–35.

    [31] Ibid., p. 40.

    [32] Hattori, The Navy Blues, p. 21.

    [33] Schwab, Ethnicities and Masculinities in the Making, pp. 46–47.

    [34] Matthew D. LaPlante, Guam: Recruiter's Paradise, The Salt Lake Tribune, August 5, 2007.

    [35] Ibid.

    [36] familian Ginza indicates that the individual is a member of the Ginza family or clan. Chamorro clans often take on nicknames to distinguish extended families related by blood from those who might share the same surname, but with whom they share no family relation.

    [37] Katie Arens, Veterans Revisit War in the Pacific, in Pacific Navigator, July 10, 2004.

    [38] Antonio Borja Perez, personal communication with the author, December 2, 2008.

    [39] Michael P. Perez, Insiders Without, Outsiders Within: Chamorro Ambiguity and Diasporic Identities on the U.S. Mainland, The Challenges of Globalization: Cultures in Transition in the Pacific-Asia Region, ed. Lan-Hung Nora Chang, John Lidstone, and Rebecca A. Stephenson, (Lanham: University Press of America, 2004), pp. 47–72, p. 48.

    [40] Respondent A, personal communication with the author, November 30, 2008. This respondent insisted on remaining anonymous due to the potential consequences his comments may have on his career.

    [41] Francis X. Hezel, 'Micronesian Emigration: The Brain Drain in Palau, the Marshalls and the Federated States,' Migration and Development in the South Pacific, ed. John Connell, (Canberra: Australian National University, 1990), pp. 42–60.

    [42] Respondent B, personal communication with the author, December 2, 2008. This respondent requested to remain anonymous.

    [43] Vincent E. Laguana, in discussion with the author, May 1, 2009.

    [44] Blaine Harden, Guam's Young, Steeped in History, Line Up to Enlist: U.S. Territory Pays High Cost in War Deaths, The Washington Post, January 27, 2008.

    [45] Contemporary Chamorro Leaders: Eduardo Torres Calvo, I Manfåi: Who's Who in Chamorro History (Hagåtña: Political Status Education Coordinating Commission, 1995), p. 169.

    [46] Ibid., pp. 174–75.


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