The Northern Marianas: Indigenous Population

Figure 1.-- The Spanish to pascify Saipan, deported most of the Chomorros to Guam and imported more compliant Carolione islanders to heard cattle. A few Chamaorros evaded deportation by hiding in the interior. Thus they were not Hispanicized like the Guamanian Chamorros. The Japanese obtained control of the island during World War I and began promoting Japanese emigration to develop a sugar cane industry. The emigrants swamped the Chomorro population. We are not sure if this family is Carolinians or native Chomoros.

The Chamorros are the indienous populatiomn of the Marianas. The reached the Marianas Islands from Southeast Asia (about 2,000 BC) They are most closely related to other Austronesian-speaking proples, especially the people of eastern Indonesia (paticularly Maluku and Sulawesi), Taiwanese aborigines, and the peoples of the Caroline Islands to the south (especially the outer like Yap). The Chamorros like the lter Polynesians which which followed them further east were expert seafarers and skilled craftspeople mastering weaving and pottery-making. During the long Spanish Colonial Era, the Chamorro population declined substantially, primarily because of the introduction of European diseases, but also due to societal changes under Spanish rule. he Chamorros resisted Spanish colonization. In an effort to control the Chomorros and Chrstianize, the Soanish killed many Chamorros, altough precise details are unavailble. The Spanish relocated most of the Chomorro population to the southern island of Guam where they were settled in Christian parishes to prevent rebellion. Some sources estimate that as many as 100,000 Chamorus may have populated the Marianas when they were firsr encounterd by the Spanish (1667), although that estimate is speculative. A more substantial estimate of only about 10,000 Chomorros was reported (about 1800). Most of the remaining Chomorro population of the Northern Marianas live on Saipan. The population on Rota and Tinian was rather small. There was was a substantial immigration of Carolinians (mostly from what are now the outer islands of Yap and Chuuk) to the northern Marianas. We believe that this was primarily for ecomomic reasons, but do not yet have much information. This apparently stopped once the Japanese took control of the islands during World War I and placed greater control on population movement. The Japanese set out to change Chomorro culture, having them learn Japanese and attend Japanese schools. This was the same as the process on Taiwan seized by the Japanese as part of the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) and Korea was also made into Japanese colony and a process of enculturation began (1909). The Chamorro population was much smaller and thus under greater cultural pressure. We have few details on the life style of the Chomorros under Japanese occupation or the Caroliniam immigrants. The Japanese immogrant engulfed the apporimately 4,000 Chamorros by about 19 to 1. We are not aware at this time of the relations with the Japanese colonists which settle during the Mandate period, mostly on Saipan. We do know that the Japanese used the northern Chomorros in their World War II occpation of American Guam. They were useful as interpretors becauase the Guamaian Chomoros spoke only Chommoro or English. The northern Chomorros were deemed as loyal by the Japanese. The Guamanian Chomorros on the other hand were seen as a largely hostile enemy people. The Japanese occupation of Guam was very brutal, some 10 percent of Gumanian Chomorros were kiled are died as a result of abuses by the Japanese. [Juhl] We do not know to what extent the northern Guamanians participated in these abuses, but considrable illwill developed between between the two groups of Chmorros.


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Created: 8:59 AM 5/8/2018
Last updated: 8:59 AM 5/8/2018