NMI commemorates 44th Covenant Day

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TUESDAY marked the 44th anniversary of the Covenant, which established the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with the United States of America.

Over 40 years ago, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said, “a courageous group of leaders from a tiny group of islands in the Western Pacific successfully negotiated on equal terms with the most powerful country in the world to become a member of its political family. The document they signed is our Covenant….”

The Covenant, he added, “was the choice of our ancestors to brave the unknown dangers of the Pacific to find their way to these islands we call home. It was the choice of our grandparents to take charge of rebuilding war-ravaged islands to restore the pre-war tranquility of our villages. And it was the choice of our founders to establish a political status that would allow us to have a special relationship with the U.S.”

Torres said, “Through this special relationship and the partnerships we have made with U.S. presidents and members of Congress over the years, we have been able to get federal assistance during times of disasters and crises. We did that during Soudelor and Yutu. And today with Covid-19, our Commonwealth continues to get the help we need to stop the spread of this virus.”

He added, “Today, we look back at our progress as a Commonwealth, but we look towards working with the U.S. in overcoming this pandemic together. Happy Covenant Day Marianas!”

It was President Gerald Ford who signed Public Law 94-241 on March 24, 1976, enacting the Covenant, which was passed by both houses of the U.S. Congress and approved unanimously by the Marianas District Legislature and 78.8 percent of NMI voters.

The Covenant was negotiated from Dec. 1972 to Feb. 1975 by the Marianas Political Status Commission and the U.S. president’s personal representative, Ambassador F. Haydn Williams (1919-2016). It was Williams who proposed calling the status agreement, “Covenant.”

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