About a dozen human burial sites from between 1,500 BC to 1,000 AD, as well as caches of ancient pottery and tools have been dug up at a number of separate construction spots at Camp Blaz over the last year.
Guam senator Telena Nelson has spearheaded a probe into a US military base being built on the site, where ancient human remains, as well as precious historic artefacts were recently dug up.
The military base, currently in the making, is expected to house 5,000 marines, who will be relocated from Okinawa to the US island territory in Micronesia, in the Western Pacific.
Nelson, the head of the legislative committee overseeing historic preservation, stressed, as cited by The Guardian, the importance of taking into account that the construction site of the US Marine Corps’ Camp Blaz is, importantly, “a living museum containing significant Chamorro artefacts, remnants of the ancient village of Måguak (Magua’), and the remains of our ancestors who lived and were laid to eternal rest there”.
The lawmaker called to “extend our cultural practice” and show respect, as new remains have been excavated “after centuries of undisturbed peace”.
The possible disturbance of Guam’s cultural sites quickly landed in locals’ crosshairs, with Dr Moneka de Oro, a local activist, blasting it as “a disgrace”, noting that the military has been “making it known that our [Chamorro] community’s values aren’t being taken into consideration”.
Spokesman for the US Navy Anthony Ramos, in turn, addressed the worries, saying they adhere to a protocol for archaeological discoveries at project sites, noting that all work in the vicinity of the excavation site is halted and when a discovery is reported it is sent to a Camp Blaz archaeologist to schedule a visit to the area.
“Once the site is confirmed, the area is cordoned off and protected by a temporary fence”.
He said the Guam State Historic Preservation Office (GSHPO) was notified with within 48 to 72 hours and construction remained on hold until investigations were completed and reported to GSHPO.
This week, Telena Nelson’s committee held a community roundtable discussion and an oversight meeting to address the issue of burial places scattered around the island.
The Guam State Historic Preservation Office reported that roughly a dozen human burial sites dating from between 1,500 BC to 1,000 AD, have been unearthed at random construction spots at Camp Blaz over 2020.
Last July, the agency reported that alongside ancient human remains, researchers also stumbled upon historic earth ovens, mortars, tools, and pottery from a site supposed to be the ancient settlement of Haputo.