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Chronology for CNMI and Tanapag


The bull cart was the principle mode of transportation, into the early 20th century. CNMI Historic Preservation Office photograph.


The following chronology is drawn from Micronesia: A Guide through the Centuries (Close Up Foundation, 2000). This excellent resource, produced by the Close Up Foundation, contains detailed, multi-layer chronologies for all five U.S.-affiliated Micronesian entities. Here, we have abbreviated and adapted their information, and added data specific to Tanapag, to highlight events of importance to the discussions on this website.




Galleon Nuestra Señora de la Concepción wrecks at Agingan Point, Saipan.


Father San Vitores travels to all the Mariana Islands and renames them with Spanish names, including the name Marianas. Smallpox epidemic kills many Chamorros in the Northern Marianas. They resist conversion to Catholicism and start attacking missionaries. In 1670, Father Luis de Medina is killed on Saipan.


Spanish subdue Chamorros in the last battle of the "rebellion" at Aguiguan. Surviving Chamorros are resettled to Guam. Governor Quiroga forces the resettlement of Northern Islanders (Gani Islands) to Guam.


By this date, the Spanish have resettled all Chamorros to Guam or Rota. The rest of the Marianas are uninhabited. Skills of canoe building, navigation and pottery making disappear from the Chamorro population.


Carolinians reestablish the metawal wool sea route for trade between the Marianas and the Carolines. Led by chiefs Aghurubw and Nguschul settle in Saipan in 1815, after a devastating typhoon strikes the Caroline Islands.


More Carolinians arrive from Satawal and Lamotrek. In 1851, the population of Saipan is 267, all Carolinians except for one Spanish administrator.


With the help of Governor de la Corte, Augustinians establish a mission on Saipan to convert the Carolinians to Christianity. By the 1860s, nearly all the Carolinians have been married according to the rites of the church.


Chamorros begin returning to Saipan from Guam.


A group of Tinian-based Carolinians move to Saipan and establish the village of Talaabwoch, now Tanapag. A Spanish municipal government is established on the island.


Germany buys the Caroline Islands and the Marianas, except Guam, from Spain for about $5 million. Guam becomes a U.S. colony as a result of the Spanish-American War. The Marianas are thus separated. Garapan becomes the capital of the Northern Marianas.


Population of Saipan is about 1,400, half Chamorro, half Carolinian. German administrator Georg Fritz initiates a number of projects and legislations, and begins strict separation of church and state.


Four severe typhoons hit the Marianas, causing severe destruction. Typhoons in the Carolines force about 700 Carolinians to move to Saipan, where they establish the villages of Oleai, Puerto Rico, and Chalan Laulau. In 1907, Fritz is transferred to Pohnpei.


German government exiles 200 Samoans to Saipan.


Japan attacks Germany in the Marianas as part of World War I. Saipan is seized by the Japanese, and becomes the capital of the Marianas district of their six naval districts in Micronesia.


The Samoans are repatriated back to Samoa


Japan transfers the administration of the Micronesian districts from navy to civilian authority. Japanese agricultural experts survey the economic potential of the Marianas.


League of Nations officially gives Japan control over its territories in Micronesia. Japanese businessmen and government begin to lease land from islanders.


Haruji Matsue establishes a sugar industry on Saipan. Thousands of Okinawans are brought in as laborers. A railroad track, primarily for transporting sugar, is built all the way around Saipan. The first government hospital is established.


Japan begins building military facilities in the Mariana islands. Aslito airfield and seaplane base are completed. Main villages in the Marianas look like little Japanese towns.


Marshall law is instituted in the Marianas. Japanese occupy Guam during World War II.


U.S. troops invade Saipan on June 15. By July 9, Saipan has been taken by the United States. Hundreds of Japanese leap to their deaths at Suicide and Banzai Cliffs.


U.S. military government is established, with Navy as temporary administrator. Local population is interned at Camps Susupe and Chalan Kanoa.


United Nations charter is signed. The Northern Marianas become part of the United Nations Strategic Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI). Tangan-tangan, ironwood and flame trees are seeded on the burned-over island of Saipan.


Administration of the Northern Marianas is temporarily transferred from the Navy to the Department of the Interior, creating a civilian government. But military restrictions on Saipan and Tinian inhibit travel to Rota and the rest of the TTPI. In 1952, military bases are established for the Naval Technical Training Unit and the CIA.


First poll regarding reunification with Guam is conducted. Voters approve reunification. The second and third polls, in 1961 and 1963, have similar results.


Saipan and Tinian are transferred back to civilian authority, reuniting them with Rota as a TTPI district. Marianas legislature is formed with members elected by the people. Saipan also becomes headquarters for the entire Trust Territory government.


President Johnson orders the creation of the Congress of Micronesia to coordinate TTPI activities. Opening session is held on Saipan in 1965.


Negotiations on political status of the TTPI take place in Washington DC, but the Northern Marianas delegation chooses not to participate. In 1970, they participate when commonwealth status and U.S. citizenship are offered. In 1971, the U.S. agrees to separate talks with the Marianas.


Covenant is signed with the U.S. that sets the Northern Marianas on the path to becoming a commonwealth. The covenant calls for financial assistance from the United States. Saipan experiences an economic boom after the establishment of the Commonwealth.


First elections in the CNMI. Garment industries begin to locate to the CNMI because of the availability of affordable labor and duty-free shipment of goods to the United States.


Saipan begins to experience rapid economic growth as a result of the rise of the tourism industry. Some local landowners become millionaires when their properties increase in value and are leased for hotel construction.


Non-resident population of the CNMI exceeds resident population. First traffic light is installed on Saipan's Beach Road.


Bilingual education becomes mandatory. All students must learn English and Chamorro or English and Carolinian.


The CNMI Museum opens. The CNMI receives widespread international media attention about alleged abuses in the garment industry, and foreign-owned companies avoiding U.S. import taxes by producing goods in the CNMI.


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