- Written by Dietrix Jon Ulukoa Duhaylonsod
Ka ili ana o ke okohola 'South Seaman."
I ka la 7 o maraki iho nei holo aku nei ka moku okohola South Seaman, a i ka la 13 o ia malama, i ka hora 5 kakahiaka, ili aku la ia maluna o ke ahua o ka moku guano, e waiho ana i ka Latitu akau 23□ 40', a i ka Lon. 176□ 16' kom., he 600 paha na mile mai ia nei aku ma ke komohana. Kuhi iho la ke Kapena, ua hala ka moku mahope i ke ahiahi mamua. I kona ku ana i ke ahua, oki aku lakou i ke kia mua, a hina iho la. Hapai ae la na nalu i ka moku maluna o ke akoakoa, a pili paa iho la ia i kahi o ka papau he anana hookahi. Ua hukiia aku la na waapa elima me ke kaula maloko o ke kuanalu, a ku malaila ma ka heleuma. No ka nui loa o na nalu e poi mai ana maluna o ka moku, he ane hiki ole i kanaka ke haalele i ka moku. Ua malamaia na pahu wai elua, eha pahu berena, a me kekahi mau kikila io, me na waki, na palapala moana, a me na mea nana la. A hala na hora elua, e nahaha ana ka moku a piha koke i ke kai. Ua maheleia na kanaka me na mea ai iloko o na waapa, a haalele mai i ka moku, e manao ana e holo i Guama. Aole liuliu o ka holo ana, a hoea mai ka moku Kamehameha IV., e holo ana ilaila, e imi i ke Guano. Ee ae la lakou maluna o Kamehameha IV., a ua pae mai ke Kapena me na luina he 12. Koe aku malaila ka nui o lakou, e malama i ka ukana o ka moku ili, a e kii hou aku ana ke Kamehameha IV. ia lakou. Ua kukalaia ka moku nahaha maanei i na $955. Ua lilo i na ona o Kamehameha.
Ua holo aku nei o Mika Kalaka o Kawaiahao ma Nu Ioka a Bosetona, maluna o ka moku "Yankee" i Kapalakiko, malaila aku ma Panama a hiki i Nu Ioka. I ka la 28 o Maraki iho nei kona holo ana. E manao ana kela, a hala na malama ehiku, e hoi hou mai.
This article, from the newspaper Ka Hae Hawaii in 1859, talks about the whaling ship, the South Seaman, which became grounded atop a sandbar near a “guano island”. According to the article, this took place around 600 miles to the west of Hawai‘i. The crew barely escaped on several skiffs, saving what food, instruments, and maps they could, and headed for Guam, or so they thought. Soon after leaving on the skiffs, they were rescued by the ship, the Kamehameha IV, which happened to be in the waters looking for Guano Island.
This article is followed by a shorter unrelated one which states that a Hawaiian was sailing for many months from San Francisco to Panama to New York to Boston. [I have kept this shorter article here for the discussion below].
Following and overlapping with the era of international whaling, several nations of the world were obsessed with mining the guano-rich islands of the Pacific. In this article, these two capitalist ventures, depleting our Pacific resources for foreign monetary gain, intersect.
The bird guano was especially valued as an ingredient for fertilizer, gunpowder, and other things. According to a National Geographic article, “By 1850, guano cost as much as $76 per pound… about a quarter of the price of actual gold" (Vergano 2014). In 1856, the United States passed the Guano Islands Act which encouraged U.S. citizens to take control of uninhabited islands in the name of guano harvesting and which also legitimized American military intervention to protect such United States’ interests.
The grounding of the South Seaman whaling ship near one of these proclaimed Guano Islands took place soon after this enactment. Note also that up until this time, the United States did not claim to have Pacific possessions. At the time, the Mariana Islands were still united but under the Spanish flag, and the Hawaiian Islands were still an independent nation. By the end of the century, the U.S. would claim not only Guam and Hawai‘i, but the Philippine Islands as well.
According to historical records, the South Seaman went aground near the French Frigate Shoals (Than 2011), but the article gives coordinates that seem to be off by several degrees. Regardless, it appears that the location of the grounding was much closer to Honolulu than Haga’ña. Yet, the crew had every intention of sailing across the ocean to find safety on Guam rather than Hawai‘i, which was much closer, perhaps because they were going to follow the western equatorial current.
Note that in both of the articles above, some world-famous place names are mentioned as important sea ports/points. Guam is mentioned along with San Francisco, Panama, New York, and Boston. Our Pacific seafaring ancestors were familiar with traversing the vast ocean since ever since, before western contact. The routes to the Mariana Islands and the Hawaiian Islands were embedded in the knowledge of traditional navigators. But the possibility of such long-distance voyaging for sovereign Chamorus was crushed during the Spanish era, only to resurface later for Chamorus as “crew help” for the colonizers. What amount of traditional Chamoru oceanic knowledge had been lost due to the Spanish intrusion?
Another interesting thing with these articles is the literal and figurative place of the United States at this point in history. Indeed, the United States had not yet materialized as a country from the Atlantic to the Pacific. But American expansionists had already been using the questionable concept of Manifest Destiny to dominate Native American peoples and territories. And even further than that, the U.S. appetite was already looking to consume of the fruits of the Pacific like good ol’ American pie. Less than a century later, the sovereignty of Indigenous Islanders over their lands, skies, and waters would suffer the same fate as that of the Native Americans. Enter into this backdrop the Jones Act.
Back to the topic of guano mining. How often did these guano ships come to the Marianas? If Chamorus were recruited on whaling ships, it seems that they’d be recruited to work on ships in the guano business too. Were any of the Mariana Islands scouted for their guano potential, whether by Spain or another country? Our history shows us that there has been a pattern of diminishing our Pacific resources for the financial gain of foreign governments. What is the guano-mining venture or whaling venture of today, going on in our 21st century? Are there lessons from our guano-mining and whaling past that we should apply to certain current situations?
Than, Ker. “Rare 1823 Wreck Found --- Capt. Linked to ‘Moby Dick,’ Cannibalism.” National Geographic. 11 Feb. 2011. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/02/110211-two-brothers-whaling- ship-pollard-science-nantucket-noaa. Accessed 5 Feb. 2018.
Vergano, Dan. “Bird Droppings Led to U.S. Possession of Newly Protected Pacific Islands.” National Geographic. 18 Sep. 2014. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/09/140926-pacific-island-guano-national-monument-history. Accessed 5 Feb. 2018.
A si Yu’us ma’ase once again to my colleagues Keoni Ezell and Kaleo Kaho‘onei for sharing their thoughts on my translation of the articles.
- Written by Bernard Punzalan
This story of my dad’s brother, Jose Anderson Punzalan (b.1925 - d.2001), was extracted from the book “Pasehu yan i Mansainen Kostumbren Chamorro Siha: A Journey with the Masters of Chamorro Tradition.” It is the first story I ever came across that included a mention of my great grandfather Leon Quitugua Anderson (b.1869 - d.?). Many people learned our family tradition of making fishing nets. The timing of the article is incredible. Just minutes after I completed working on this I received notice that Joey Leon Punzalan Quenga, one of Uncle Joe's grandson, had passed away. I am proud to share this reprinted story of Uncle Joe and also in memory of his grandson Joey, who also carries the namesake of my great grandfather Leon.
The love of the outdoors, fishing, hunting and farming has always played a major role in the life of Jose Anderson Punzalan. Inquisitive and curious, ten-year old Jose, would spend hours watching his grandfather Leon Quitugua Anderson, make and repair fishing talåya (fishing throw nets). A talåyeru (fisherman) by trade, Tun Leon passed his knowledge on to Jose and he recalls that Tun Leon was known for his skill as a net maker and would sell 1/4" net for about $33.00. Jose fondly remembers fishing with his grandfather who taught his grandson how to repair and make nets, as well as, how to fish. Jose also learned to weave the guagua' (fish basket) for transporting of fish caught from the shore to home.
The talåya Jose made utilized nylon and cotton threads with the use of tools made from bamboo and aluminum needles, which he crafted himself. He also made his own plomu (lead sinkers) used to weigh down the nets he made. In addition to the traditional talåya, Jose also made different traps to catch rats, cats and dogs.
Also known as, "Panzy," Jose was a hardworking family man who enjoyed fishing, hunting and farming, common forms of supplementing a family's income at the time. So he became skilled at hunting and fishing. Having a large family, that included his wife, Sylvia and nine children, Jose saw to it that his family was well cared for. There was always an abundance of fish, fresh meat, vegetables and produce at the Punzalan home. Of his children, the two oldest boys, Frank and Edward learned how to repair nets from their father and visitors often found Jose meticulously making nets at his home as he received many requests to repair and make nets. Jose was such a skilled net maker, that, people would ask him to repair their nets or make nets for them.
Net making is a skill of precision. Panzy made various sizes of nets for the different fishes and sizes, with the distance between te knots ranging anywhere from 1/4" to 6". The net's circumference also varied between 20'-40'. 1/4" nets would be used to catch måñåhåk (juvenile rabbit fish) or i'e' (juvenile skipjack). Larger nets with knots ranging up to 6" cast from the edge of the reef were used to catch reef fishes such as la'ggua (parrot fish), tåtåga (unicorn fish), and guili (rudder fish). Jose's favorite fishing spots were at the beaches in Tamuning, Tumon, and as far north as Tarague Beach.
Jose made such an impression on a boy named Simon Camacho, Jr., that, twelve year-old Simon would ask his father to drop them off at the Punzalan residence just to watch him make the nets. Jose taught Simon, who later became his godson, how to repair and make talåya. In keeping in mind with this tradition, Simon has passed along the knowledge he obtained by training others to make talåya under the KÅHA Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program.
Throughout the years, Jose conducted demonstrations at various schools and at Duty Free Shoppers (DFS) on how to make a fishnet and the proper way to cast the net. Due to his failing health, he no longer fishes or makes talåya, however, numerous local fishermen still use nets made by Jose and one of his sons often uses nets made by his father to fish in Alaska where he resides.
Pasehu yan i Mansainen Kostumbren Chamorro Siha (A Journey with the Masters of Chamorro Tradition). 2000. Guam Council on the Arts and Humanities Agency.
- Written by Bernard Punzalan
This is an essay I initially wrote on FaceBook sometime back in 2011 and just realized I didn't archive here.
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