Learning from Micronesian Leaders

There is an interesting phenomena that exists among my fellow Micronesians.

I don’t know yet what to call it, but I can try to describe it for you and maybe you can help me name it.

Who is your President?

This phenomena happens when our own people forget that we have our own government.  They forget we have our own president, and they forget that the only reason why we are associated with the super power US, is because our leaders negotiated a treaty with them after a war with Japan and time as a “trust” territory, “administered” by the U.S.  They even call the US President, their President.  The US Congress, their congress.

It sometimes becomes difficult when they are reminded that we have our own government, president, congress and country.  They will sometimes get angry and use this sort of logic.

“If it concerns the US, it concerns the FSM because we are totally reliant on the US for economic assistance, security and other things.”

Great point.  It does.  To a certain degree.  Let me give you an example.  If the US is building a wall along the border with Mexico, how does that affect Micronesians?  If the US President condemns MS-13 gang members, why would that affect our economic assistance, security and other things?  Maybe as Micronesians living along the border states we may be affected because our skin is brown?  But, does it really affect our economic assistance, security and other things?  I guess it depends on who you think your President is.

Micronesian Leaders

I read a great article last week coming from the colony of Guam on learning from past Micronesian leaders.  An assistant professor of Chamoru studies, Michael Lujan Bevacqua, wrote this article and he had this to say about past Micronesian leaders as they were deciding upon our future:

 ….potential Micronesian leaders were taken by the U.S. State Department on trips around the world and across the U.S. The intent was to give them a better frame of reference for conceiving their own future…As they toured the greatness of pre-civil rights America, they found that a number of places wouldn’t rent them rooms and wouldn’t serve them food. Their protests to not being African American did little to help their case. The lesson was clear, while the U.S. proposed itself as great and wonderful, it might not be so for people with darker skin….

These stories seem to be lost to the current generation.  A lack of understanding on what it took to be where we are today.  It did not just happen the way the US wanted it to happen.  Our leaders had a say.   They were given options and ideas to decide upon.  They came to many conclusions including this one:

The reality was that as the U.S. extended its influence West, the natives lost their rights and lost their lands. And all they lost tended to be far more than what they gained…All islands wanted to maintain a close relationship with the U.S., but the majority recognized the need for layers of legal and political projection to ensure they didn’t share the same fate of so many others.

Great decisions from our leaders of the past.  These are OUR leaders.  The ones who made it possible for economic assistance, security, immigration, military service, pell grants, etc, etc, etc with the U.S..  Men like Tosiwo NakayamaLazarus Salii, etc.

Look at our neighbors in Micronesia – The colony of Guam and the commonwealth of the CNMI.  They have lost control of their lands and don’t even have the right to vote for the US President.  Look even further east to Hawaii, where the natives have lost their Kingdom!  How have we fared?

Conclusion

This generation is far removed (for the most part) from the struggles that our fathers and grandfathers undertook.  What they created is not perfect.  It’s work in progress.  Will you continue the journey started long ago?

Just remember, we are a sovereign nation, and not a U.S. colony (like Guam) or a commonwealth or even citizens of the U.S.  We have a better option, that allows us to keep our rights and our lands.  We are associated with the U.S. and able to determine our own future.

Catch on you on my next blog or on my Podcast powered by Anchor.

Author: patpedrus

I am here, you are there, we are one.

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