WHO COUNTS AS BEING CHAMORRO?
March, 29, 2015
On St. Patrick's Day, every one is Irish. And while 4.5 million Irish
emigrated to American between 1820-1930, most intermarried with others
from different countries and cultures to the point that it is difficult
for any of today's 320 million American to call themselves pure Irish,
except once a year when they are looking for an excuse to enjoy
excessive amounts of adult beverages.
is Mes Chamorro, when we celebrate all things Chamorro. With the
Chamorro diaspora and yes, thinning of the genetic pool due to poor
Spanish health care, you begin to wonder who really is Chamorro. In
Robert F. Rogers' book, "Destiny's Landfall," he cited reports that
there were only two pureblood Chamorros left in the early 1800s, and I
think they were both men. Chamorros intermarried with Spanish,
Filipinos, Mexicans, other Micronesians and assorted Caucasians to the
point that, well, who can call themselves Chamorro anymore? Is there
some clear definition?
the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1789, a slave was considered
three-fifths of a person. No matter who they married, they were always
considered African-American. Under segregation laws, as long as you had
one great-grandparent who was black, you were black. Many
African-American leaders use the one drop of blood rule, which means you
can identify yourself as African-American with a very distant relative.
quantum" is important today, especially if you have to prove you have
enough Native American blood to be part-owner of a casino. Getting the
right percent is critical to owning land in the Northern Marianas
a recent Sunday PDN, Bernard Punzalan estimated that there are about
229,795 Chamorros around the world (2010 Census). Only 30 percent
(69,098) live on Guam while 64 percent (147,798) live on the mainland,
mostly in California. Only about 6 percent (12,902) live in the CNMI.
Punzalan postulated that there would be a lot more if the second, third
and fourth generations would research their histories.
any of these people really Chamorros? What percentage of Chamorro blood
does it take to qualify? Do you have to be 10 percent? 30 percent? 5
percent? Or just one drop Chamorro?
The Organic Act addressed this issue 65 years ago with a blanket
waiver for those born in Guam before 1949. They were residents and U.S.
citizens, but can they claim enough blood line to be Chamorro? We know
that "Chamorro" mothers often register their kids in school listing
Chamorro as their race, but by the time they reach their teenage years,
many self-identify as Filipino because, well, their fathers and many
friends are Filipino.
The TLC cable
channel broadcasts a popular program, "Who Do You Think You Are?," in
which Ancestry.com experts examine the genealogies and conduct DNA tests
of famous people. We now have incredible online historical records and
genetic tests to show our origins.
moderates the excellent Chamorro Roots website, where he collects local
families' histories. The three other major sources for Chamorro records
(vital statistics, land, Spanish records, etc.) are the Micronesian
Area Research Center at the University of Guam, the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter Day Saints, with the world's largest collection of
genealogical records (Family Search online and Family History Center
office in the Barrigada church) and Ancestry.com. That website charges a
monthly fee, but you can access it along with five or six other paid
sites for free at the LDS Family History Center.
All of these groups are collecting and sharing Chamorros records. You don't have to guess.
you can only go back so far in the records. Science can now help.
Ancestry.com offers a $99 DNA test. Send in a sample and they will tell
you exactly where you came from. They will connect you with other
families who have submitted DNA tests and family trees.
I have no dog in this race as I am a blindingly white person. My
Ancestry.com DNA report shows I am 23 percent Irish, 54 percent British,
10 percent Eastern European, 4 percent Spanish, 3 percent
Italian/Greek, 2 percent Scandinavian, 2 percent Western European
(German blood) and less than 1 percent other.
more people share DNA tests, I am sure it will get it down to the
specific village level. I am covered for St. Patrick's Day, and during
Mes Chamorro, I will accept that "other" means I am 1 percent Chamorro.