Marianas Variety

Last updateSat, 16 Dec 2017 12am

     

     

     

     

     

    Friday, December 15, 2017-12:54:34A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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NMI history and NMD’s

THE Indigenous Affairs officer needs to learn a little more about our laws and our history.

He suggests that people are “considered people of Northern Marianas descent” if they “lived or were born in the NMI before 1950.” That’s not what our Constitution says. Section 4 of Article XII provides: “[A] person shall be considered to be [of Northern Marianas descent] if that person was born or domiciled in the Northern Mariana Islands by 1950 and was a citizen of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands before the termination of the Trusteeship with respect to the Commonwealth.” [Emphasis mine.]

The Indigenous Affairs officer suggests that, “There were Japanese and Koreans who lived here and worked on sugar cane plantations.” It is an absolute fact that there were no persons of full Korean or Japanese (or any other non-indigenous) ancestry who were born or domiciled here by 1950 and who became TTPI citizens. Why? Because every last full-blooded Korean and every last full-blooded Japanese living in the Northern Marianas was repatriated after the war, even those who were married to Chamorros or Carolinians. Contrary to the Indigenous Affairs officer’s suggestion, those people were never “considered NMD’s” because they never attained TTPI citizenship. People who were part-Japanese or part-Korean were allowed to stay, and became TTPI citizens, but only if they were also indigenous Chamorros or Carolinians. The only people who became TTPI citizens were indigenous Chamorros, Carolinians, and other Micronesians.

So, while it is theoretically possible that there could be persons other than Carolinians or Chamorros who could be classified as being of Northern Marianas descent, it is from a historical perspective virtually impossible for any non-Chamorro or Carolinian other than children adopted while under the age of 18 to be so classified. Article XII was drawn up for the sole and express purpose of limiting land ownership to Chamorros and Carolinians, a (perfectly legal) classification based on race. While the ownership of land in the Northern Mariana Islands can lawfully be restricted on the basis of race, the United States (and the CNMI) constitutions do not permit such a classification when the issue is the right to vote. The fact that the class of persons of Northern Marianas descent is only 99.99 percent composed of Chamorros and Carolinians, as opposed to 100 percent, does not make that classification any less race-based.

The Indigenous Affairs officer’s treasure hunt for persons of Northern Marianas descent who are neither Chamorros or Carolinians is a waste of public resources. He might as well be looking for leprechauns.

MICHAEL A. WHITE
Saipan, CNMI