The annual Chief Gådao Cultural Summer Camp for children and families in Guam's Inarajan's Gef Pa'go Park is going on its ninth year. The camp focuses on teaching youth about the heritage of the Chamorro Culture, immersing the kids in the music, food and art of the Chamorro.
The original inhabitants of Guam are believed to have been of Indo-Malaya descent, originating from Southeast Asia as early as 2,000 B.C. They flourished as an advanced fishing, hunting, and horticultural society in Guam, setting up their matriarchal culture that would withstand the Spanish who would come to the island. They were also believed to have been outstanding seamen and craftsmen, their intricate weaving and pottery make up a large part of the current cultural camp's teaching and demonstrations. They were expert architects, as well, using Latte Stones (found no where else on earth) to help build their homes.
The camp is sponsored in part by the Administration of Native Americans, along with the Agency for Children and Families, the U.S. Department of Health and Social Services, and the Inalahan Foundation, and goes from June 13-24. It costs $13 a day or $35 a week.
The Administration for Native Americans (ANA) was established in 1974 through the Native American Programs Act (NAPA). It's the only federal agency serving all Native Americans, which include federally recognized tribes, American Indian and Alaska Native organizations, Native Hawaiian organizations, and Native populations throughout the Pacific Basin (which include Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands). The mission of the ANA is to promote cultural preservation and self-sufficiency by providing economic and social development help, often via financial assistance, training, and technical hep. The Chief Gådao Cultural Summer Camp fell right into their area of concern.
"Take a step back in time and visit one of the last vestiges of Spanish era village life on Guam at Historic Inalahan Village," the Gef Pa'go Park website says, "Our camp is located in the only remaining Spanish era village on Guam. The entire village is a living museum of historic buildings, way of life, and elders who share with us their knowledge ofa time long ago."
The website GuamPdn.com reported that the demonstrations and hands on teaching include learning how to cook tamales gisu (hot tomales), how to make pottery out of natural clay, how to weave baskets, preform traditional dances, singing, and dyeing cloth in the first week. The second week has campers traveling around the village to paint a village mural and work on various community improvement projects.
"On the third week, they'll learn about the different kinds of plants that are used by the Chamorro people," Gef Pa'go Park operations coordinator Connie Garrido told GuamPdn.com, "they'll also learn how to plant different kinds of trees.
The camp is expected to run between two to four hours a day, but if there is desire, the camp and its hours will be extended.
For more information about the Chief Gådao Cultural Summer Camp, visit their website here. For more on the cultural history of Guam, click here. To learn more about the Administration for Native Americans, click here.