A Life Told In Bone And Stone

Dr. Gary Heathcote sent me a link to his report on the Taotao Tagga’, the remains of a Chamorro male on display at the CNMI Museum of History and Culture. He lived on Tinian in the 16th century, during the end of the latte stone period and the beginning of the Spanish conquest of the islands.

Dr. Heathcote examined the skeletal remains are draws some conclusions about his life and occupation. In a word, Taotao Tagga’ was very robust, showing telltale signs of a lifetime spent quarrying and transporting heavy stone. He was gravely wounded earlier in his youth, but survived and lived a relatively long and healthy life.

It is a very interesting report, and Dr. Heathcote concludes with some remarks on Guam’s failure to create a museum of similar caliber with the CNMI’s. He has a valid point, which could be extended to the library and schools. It seems as though the civic will to create and fund these bastions of community does not exist on Guam. The museum is in cardboard boxes in a warehouse, the library is in a state of disrepair and the school system is just a complete mess. The cohesive bonds that create a polity are frayed on this island, but this is vital stuff, the very lifeblood of a society. I know it is hard to see the value in these things when the power grid is fragile, villages go without water and there aren’t enough cops on the street, but things like museums, libraries and schools represent an investment in the future. It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul to neglect them during these tough times.

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