Described as an “unorganized territory of small extent,” the island of Guam had come under United States protection following the Spanish-American War of 1898. Protection, however, is hardly an accurate term. In fact, civilian development was minimal, martial law not infrequently harsh and the native inhabitants only marginally better served than under Spanish rule. Case in point were the utterly restrictive and ill-equipped native schools of which Ron writes and where he briefly served as a primary instructor.
To what he tells us of his Chamorro students, one might add: they were originally of Indonesian stock, believed to have landed by outrigger in successive migratory waves and not a little bitter after two hundred years of European domination. What remained of their culture had been curiously infused with Catholicism, although a devotion to the saints would never wholly supplant older deities. Also deserving mention here: Ron actually descended into that “great underground stream” to dispel local rumors of the Tadamona devil, and similarly worked to ease native fears of ancestral demons within those “silent places of the dead.”
Once more compiled from handwritten notes, the passages presented here were actually written upon his return to Montana and provided the substance for a Helena Independent newspaper article on what that town regarded as a most unique voyage for a local young man.
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