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Regarding Amelia Earhart’s monument on Saipan

I’VE read with interest about the proposal to build a monument on Saipan to the late Amelia Earhart or AE, based on the hypothesis that she died there in Japanese custody.

As a one-time (1977-79) resident of Saipan, and as one who cares about the Northern Marianas — and who’s learned a lot about AE over the last 30 years and who knows a little about monuments, too, I want to urge those involved to cool their jets.

The “Japanese Capture” hypothesis is one of three major hypotheses about AE’s fate that are currently under investigation. The other two are (a) that she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, crashed at sea, and (b) that they landed on Nikumaroro in Kiribati, survived there for a time, and then succumbed. There are several other somewhat less plausible hypotheses as well.

Truth in advertising: I’ve invested a good deal of time and treasure over the last 30 years pursuing the Nikumaroro hypothesis; my 2012 summary of supporting evidence can be read at Last year we developed further evidence that’s currently under analysis (see Earlier this year Dr. Richard Jantz published a detailed study strongly suggesting that human bones found on Nikumaroro in 1940 (now lost) were AE’s; this paper is available for free download at

We’ve not yet proved that the Nikumaroro Hypothesis is correct, but those who think AE crashed and sank haven’t proved their hypothesis either. And neither have those who think she and Noonan wound up on Saipan.

The evidence for the “Japanese Capture” hypothesis is almost entirely anecdotal — that is, word-of-mouth; it was often collected using dubious methods, and is often second or third-hand. My colleagues Tom Roberts, Joe Cerniglia and I delivered a detailed analysis of the “Japanese Capture” hypothesis to the Marianas History Conference in 2012 ; it’s published in Guampedia ( and at

In the last year on the U.S. mainland, we’ve seen some of the expensive and politically fraught consequences of putting up monuments without fully considering the rationale for doing so. The government and people of the CNMI have many things on which to invest their financial resources. I respectfully suggest that plans for an AE monument be deferred until we actually know what happened to her.


Silver Spring, Maryland

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