If you do nothing else when you visit Guam, discover the essence of Chamorro culture through the intriguing array of cultural presentations available on the island. This living heritage is at the heart of the friendly, welcoming atmosphere that makes vacationing on Guam the ideal travel experience.
Today, Chamorro people make up about 37 percent of Guam's population. Their ancestors were the first inhabitants of Guam, expert seafarers who probably traveled from Southeast Asia by canoe to the island more than 3,500 years ago. They built fast-sailing outrigger canoes called proas for travel and trade with the surrounding islands, and navigated by the stars, waves, and ocean flora and fauna with ease. In addition to their seafaring tradition, early Chamorro people were expert weavers and pottery-makers, evidenced in cultural artifacts and architecture that remain today.
A Living Culture
Guamanians and our visitors from around the world are benefiting from an ongoing cultural resurgence here. A desire to reconnect more deeply with the past is awakening.
This is significant because although there was a degree of cooperation and friendship between the original Chamorro inhabitants of Guam and the Spanish newcomers who arrived in the 16th century, the conflict and disease that followed European contact took a heavy toll on the local population. These deaths eroded Chamorro customs, traditions, and knowledge of the old ways. Many Chamorros converted to Christianity, took up Spanish customs, and intermarried.
Storytelling in Guam is an important method of passing knowledge from one generation to the next. The Chamorro culture is rich in myths and legends that trace roots through several millennia. This oral tradition is an affirmation of existence that carries on today. Storytellers have long been respected members of society because of their ability educate and entertain. That tradition continues with storytelling events throughout March, when Guam celebrates Chamorro month.
You can witness Chamorro builders' ingenuity firsthand amid the thatch-palm roofs of historic monuments designed to transport you back in time as if by magic. As you stroll the grounds, consider how, through millennia, the Chamorros crafted unique structures such as the latte stone (a support pillar carved of limestone or basalt), built traditional huts known as Guma' Higai, and raced through warm ocean waters in speedy proa canoes. Their distinct architectural innovations are only found within the Sinahi archipelago, the crescent-shaped island chain in which Guam is both the largest and southernmost island.
A number of privately owned eco-cultural retreats are located along Guam's northwestern beaches and jungles. Each site offers a unique perspective as to what eco-cultural tourism is all about.
Respect for the past runs strong on Guam. It brings us joy when our visitors can learn firsthand how traditional respect coexists here alongside cosmopolitan ideals. Many local Chamorros go to great lengths to unearth the secrets of the past, preserve them for future generations, and share them with people from beyond the island. So please, join us!
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