Ancestral Remains Reburied in Saipan, CNMI

I don’t typically get a lot of news to report from the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), but I recently came across an article about ancestral remains being reburied in Saipan that I thought I’d share…

Over 700 ancestral remains have now been reburied on the Northern Marianas island of Saipan. The remains date back to the ancient Chamorro settlement of Anaguan, which is now present-day Garapan.

cnmi-map-1

Where is CNMI? Map from globalsecurity.org

The majority of the Chamorro remains were found during the construction of the Imperial Palace Saipan resort and were reburied on the same site, while the `36 were interred at the Surfrider Resort Hotel in Chalan Kanoa.

The CNMI Historic Preservation Office held a cultural reburial ceremony alongside the Indigenous Affairs Office, with the procession being led by the blowing of the kulu or conch and the reciting of several Chamorro chants.

Non-profit group 300 Sails, which is trying to revive ancient marine traditions, also sailed three traditional canoes, called proa, to the beachside of the reburial ceremony at the casino site.

All flags in the CNMI were lowered to half-mast.

The reburial of the ancient Chamoro remains came after the district court dismissed a lawsuit filed by Liana Hofschneider and her husband, Richard, to stop the reburial. In their complaint filed last month, the couple asked the federal court to order the CNMI government and Imperial Pacific International, where the bulk of the remains were found, to immediately stop the reburial.

They also wanted the federal court to issue an order to demand that the CNMI government, IPI, and archaeological firm Scientific Consultant Services pay $US25 million for the desecration of an over 1,000-year-old ancient Chamorro village and burial ground to make way for the casino operation.

In the 1990s, the first archaeological excavation at Anaguan was conducted, where 268 remains were discovered.

In 2015 a second excavation was conducted and another 416 ancestral remains were found.

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