The Guam Museum is looking for more information on the families who lived around Magua ‘, the construction site of the Marine Corps Blaz Base Camp, during World War II.
Census records from 1940, identified by local historian Dave Lotz, show that at least 26 people lived in the area. US Navy land condemnation documents in 1950 provide a list of landowners, which include members of the Ada, Cruz, Manibusan, Iglesias, and Taitingfong families.
Magua ‘was a former settlement area, the subject of controversy in 2018 when the US military chose not to halt construction after several historic sites were discovered. The military said the area was not a former permanent settlement, although local officials and historians have disputed that more human remains and artifacts have been found in the past three years.
Lt. Cmdr. Katherine Koenig, public affairs manager for the Joint Marianas Region, told the PDN that a map of the area Lotz identified may represent Magua ‘, but possibly other areas such as Sabanan Fadang and Taguac. The site was also cleared after 1940 due to agricultural and other military activities.
Lotz argues that the other possible sites represented would be co-located with Magua ‘, and that the past clearing was not as significant as the current construction of Camp Blaz.
Lotz was one of the people museum curator Michael Lujan Bevacqua contacted earlier this year, after increased public interest around the Magua area. The museum seeks to gather as much information as possible about the site before it is cleaned up.
“We want to understand this area, so that when people ask, when people talk about these issues, we can provide as much information as possible. So if someone says, well, no one lives there. Well, we can tell them, well, no, actually… and there’s a good chance a lot of them are still living there, ”Bevacqua said.
If it was established that Magua ‘was a more permanent site, it would also change the way the area is managed under historic preservation laws, Bevacqua added.
Some artifacts and dwellings found in the area were linked to World War II, Koenig said.
“Archaeological sites have been treated as important cultural sites,” she said, and have been investigated to preserve and collect cultural or historical information.
Much of the public’s attention to the human remains found during the construction of the base has been around the pre-Spanish finds from the Latte era, but it should not be assumed that these are the only remains in the area. , Lotz said.
At least one person had contacted Bevacqua after finding his great-grandmother listed in the 1940 census. Another contacted Lotz after seeing one of his family members named on the documents and thought he may have -being buried there.
According to Koenig, a set of remains were found next to Japanese equipment dating from World War II and were undergoing laboratory analysis with the Japanese consulate. However, most of the remains were fragmentary and difficult to analyze.
“These remains of unknown ethnicity and eras will continue to be treated with dignity and respect and will be reburied in the crypt designated by the SHPO,” she said.
Bevacqua said it was reasonable to believe that some of Magua ‘residents during the war would have buried their dead at the site.
“During the war it was, it was common to bury people on the ranch. Just because, you know, because normal life had stopped in terms of the Catholic Church in terms of so many things, ”he said.
“If they could identify the WWII graves there, I think the community would take it very seriously,” Bevacqua said, “because they buried someone there, and if the family could identify it and tell the story – we all have stories in our own families about some kind of war tragedy.
Bevacqua and Lotz were unaware of the landowners prior to Lotz’s discovery, but were unsure whether information on WWII landowners was available to the military or the state historic preservation office. from Guam.
Sentencing documents that identify the former landowners are available on request from the Guam District Court.
The PDN asked Koenig if the Navy was aware of possible landowners before starting construction on the base. She referred the matter to the State Historic Preservation Office, but said the Navy would have done research to fulfill the 2011 programmatic agreement. Public notice was also required before signing the 2010 and 2015 environmental scans.
“Indeed, all the descendants of the former landowners have been warned as well as the general public. It is likely that some descendants would also have participated directly in discussions of public meetings, interviews of ethnographic studies and other forms of awareness raising as part of environmental planning activities, ”she said.
“The only owner there they spoke to was not a Magua owner,” Lotz said of the ethnographic study, “it was immediately to the south, it was two members of the Artero family. “. Despite earlier understandings of the region, members of the Artero family were not the only landowners in the NCS region, he said.
Patrick Lujan, head of state history preservation, who has been appointed to replace former SHPO Lynda Aguon, said his involvement in the case as construction progressed in 2018 was limited. He was unsure whether any of the former landowner families had been contacted prior to construction or if that was the office’s mission.
Lujan said on Friday he would have to review past records, as most of the employees present before construction began had retired.
“Anything that should have been done, including contacting the original landowners, should have been in (the environmental impact assessment),” conducted by the military, he said.
He wasn’t sure what the SHPO could do for the future, but encouraged anyone with family connections in the area to seek help from his office.
“My door is open. They can come anytime.