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Looking back on Pagan

ADVOCATES for the resettlement and redevelopment of Pagan, including the Northern Islands mayor’s office have presented the history of the Gani Islands, the name used by Chamorros, before the successive occupations by the Spanish, Germans and the Japanese.

Former Rep. William Torres, consultant to the first Northern Islands Summit in 2012, said they want to inform and educate the former and current residents of the Gani Islands about their history.

In so informing and educating them, Torres said it is hoped that they too could better inform and educate their fellow Chamorros and Carolinians now and in the future, including those interested about the early history of the Chamorro settlement and development activities in Pagan followed by the arrival of Carolinian laborers brought in by the Spanish government’s La Socieda Agricola de la Concepcion copra-making operations in 1865.

Jerome Aldan, program manager of the Northern Islands mayor’s office, said the history of Pagan is very significant to the new generation.

“I have consulted with many young northern islanders about their home in the Northern Islands, specifically Pagan, Alamagan and Agrigan. They came up with amazing responses and wish to go back to their homeland where their family worked hard to provide them with the essentials for survival,” he said.

He said the land provided their fathers and forefathers with abundance of resources and allowed them to thrive in a complex place where there is no easy access to recreation and the luxuries enjoyed by the people on Saipan and the other islands to the south.

The experience that was passed down to them in living a natural life could never be forgotten, he added, and they still value the importance of that life because they have to work hard to get what they need as the CNMI government has “neglected” to take care of them despite the hardships they are enduring.

Aldan said they continue to go back to the Northern Islands whenever possible because that is the life they know best and the culture and traditions handed down to them remain engraved in them.

The following chronology highlights important milestones and turning points in the history of the Gani Islands as well as the evolving history of Pagan:

• Circa 2000 B.C. Chamorro Settlement (Austronesian) in the Northern Marianas

• 1800 B.C. Carolinian Settlement (Caroline Islands) in the Northern Marianas

• A.D. 1300: Eastern Pagan Coast Settlement

• 1695: Spanish Reduccion Project effected forced resettlement to Fatiguan, Saipan

•   1697: 400 Resettled Residents Moved Back to the Gani Islands

• 1697: In September, another Forced Relocation of 1,200 Chamorros from Gani Islands to Saipan and then to Guam (Pago and Hagåtña)

• 1742: HMS Centurion (English Warship) visited Anatahan

• 1809-1810: American Derby bound for Agrigan but missed for Tinian

•   1815: Governor Medinilla sent armed force to Agrigan and removed 48 residents to Guam aboard the Concepcion

• 1819: French Scientific Expedition by Louis de Freycinet for Hydrographic Study

•   1822-1825: Peruvian Vessel Stopover in Pagan and Buried Silver Plates & Jewels

•   1865-1869: Post-Reduccion Settlement1

•   1888: Esmeralda Visit to Pagan by Belgian Naturalist Alfred Marche for natural and cultural specimens for a Paris museum; investigated latte ruins in Pagan

• 1890s: Guano mining on Asuncion and Uracas and copra-making operations by Japanese Company

• 1899: German Purchase of the Northern Marianas and Establishment of Pagan Company (coconut plantation in Northern Islands of Pagan, Alamagan, Agrigan and Anatahan)

• 1920: Indigenous Residents: 90-150 Residents and up to 400 people when Pagan residents combined with Japanese, Okinawans in Alamagan, Agrigan, and Anathan including Sarigan and Asuncion

• 1929: Nan’yo Boeki Kaisha/South Seas Trading Company (Nambo)

• 1940: Pagan Population: 700 Residents

• 1944-1945: Pagan Population: 8,000 plus with Japanese Army and Navy

• 1948: Establishment of the Northern Islands Development Company (Juan M. Ada)

• 1950-1951: Operation Removal by U.S. Naval Administration

1960: Copra Production Sold to United Micronesia Development Association which ended in 1970

• 1969: Pagan Resort Development Plan

•   1969: Pagan Census by District Administrator Representative.

  1978: Pagan Physical Development Master Plan

•   1980: JC Tenorio & Associates Land Use Plan

  1981: Mt. Pagan Eruption

  1981: Public Law 2-61 Homestead Law

•.1995: USGS Volcanic Site Investigations

  1996: Northern Frontier Development Plan

  1998: Gani Revisited: An Historical Overview of the Mariana Archipelago in the Northern Islands

  2006: Northern Islands Fishing Community (Alamagan): Phase 1

  2006: Insular Areas Energy Assessment Report (Update of 1982 Report)

  2007: E. Camacho & Associates Pagan Airstrip Master Plan

  2007: DPL Pozzolan Reserves Study