Children of The Diaspora Longing for Home Pt.2
Written By: Favio Guzman-Estrada
Now, after a couple weeks into the internship program, I’ve also grown to have a deep interest in learning about Ancient CHamoru pottery, specifically the IPAO designs and what they mean, and as well the pictograph seen throughout Guahan, specifically diving into the Talofofo, Ritidian, and Gadao caves. My interest in CHamoru Pottery started when I was relocating tree snails in Ritidian, as I discovered pieces of Ancient CHamoru Pottery finding the tree snails. CHamoru Pottery has existed since the first peoples’ arrival to Guam around 4,000 years ago and the earliest pottery (1500-500 BC) has the most unique designs including the IPAO designs. The IPAO designs would consist of a combination of elements including circles, straight lines, curved lines, and ziglines. Throughout my research on the art seen on Ancient CHamoru Pottery. Similar to the pictographs throughout the island, I’ve been able to visit one of the caves, Gadao Caves, located in the Southern part of guam. With cave pictographs, being thousands of years old, I’m learning that it was a form of communication and to document for different clans. I’ve learned that there has been little to no actual documentation on the designs including the pictographs in the caves. For me, I’ve just been inspired by other CHamoru artists whose work are influenced by the Ancient CHamoru art that has been discovered throughout the island, interpreting different elements into their own work. My overall interest in both art is inspired by other artist collectives who use designs and symbols inspired by the Pottery and the Caves within their own work.
As an artist, I started picking up carving into my term, and in particular using the block printing method as a form to carve and innovate designs inspired by IPAO and pictographs and interpreting what the elements mean for me. I started the process out by sketching whatever came to mind and imitating the IPAO and the Pictograph design and exploring placement. I then began with actually carving lino blocks, and eventually producing over 20 designs. The designs were then used for events that I was able to host for the park and as well for community events. For example, on July 21st, I hosted my second Block Printing event at the T. Stell Newman Visitor Center, which was a popup from 2-4pm. For me this was such a successful and fun event for myself, the attendees and for the parks as a whole. I had the honor and privilege to experience the presence of the Secretary of Interior, Deb Haaland, during her short visit on Guam. Getting to converse with Deb Haaland and to witness her participate in my Block Printing activity was a moment that I’ll forever cherish. I was also to give her a gratitude gift, a Block printing piece on Gunot (Coconut Fibre) I think this event for me, solidified the importance of this internship has been for me ever since coming to Guam. As a Diasporic Indigenous CHamoru, I missed out on a lot of opportunities with the environment and culture and so for me being on Guam, and getting to meet other Indigenous Leaders, like Deb Haaland was such a valuable moment. I advocate for Indigenous representation and something I admire Deb Haaland for after sharing a conversation with her, is her expression in valuing the importance of seeing other young Indigenous peoples craving to know more about their own indigenous identities and seeking it.
Before I started my term in the beginning of June, I had no idea of what this internship would look like and the impacts in which this internship would have on me. As I reflect on the CRDIP intern here on Guam, I’m just overwhelmed by the connections and opportunities I was exposed to and seeking for connections has been such a beautiful experience so far. In the midst of Guam and its communities recovering from Typhoon Mawar, communities are coming together to heal. All the workshops and community participation have been very healing for me and to see the joy in community is one of the highlights I’ll take from being an CDRIP intern. I am a child of the Diaspora who have longed to know more about Guam and I’m honored to say that ACE provided such an amazing opportunity for me. My story is just one out of many that I know ACE has made dreams and amazing opportunities happen for young adults seeking to know more about culture and the environment. When I end my term, I look forward to bringing home all the leadership skills, knowledge and everything I’ve gained from this internship back to my communities in Washington!