The large canoe house built to house the traditional Chamorro and Carolinian canoes under the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs’ Seafaring Traditions program is finally open.
As part of the 37th Annual Flame Tree Arts Festival opening ceremony last Thursday, the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs hosted a dedication ceremony for the canoe house that has been under construction for several months.
The canoe house is only the first of many canoe houses that DCCA plans to construct under its Seafaring Traditions program.
“This canoe house…will house the first sakman and this, by no means, will be the end of the program; this in fact is the beginning. We look to building more canoe houses …that will be available to the community for teaching, fishing, ceremonies, and community activities,” said DCCA Secretary Robert Hunter.
Hunter believes that the completion of the canoe house and the launching of the program is what the island needs to preserve the island’s indigenous culture and to also entice tourists to learn about it.
“We are people descended [from] a canoe culture and these activities instill pride in us, in our community, and pride in our youth. It enhances our community and also enhances us as a visitor destination,” he said.
After the dedication ceremony, dignitaries and members of the community made their way to the main stage of the Flame Tree Arts Festival to officially kick off the festivities.
The festival’s opening ceremony also paid tribute to nine local artists who have passed on. These artists dedicated their lives to perfecting their art and sharing that art with the community.
The artists were the late Kevin Taimanao Atalig, late Balbina Quichocho Dela Cruz, late Barry Alan Wonenberg, late Enrico “Heinz” Staffler, late Carmen Matagolai Toves, late Kilroy Clyde Igisaiar Fitial, late Shane Donovan Metauligh, late Carmen Gaskins, and late Francisco M. Norita.