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Remains of the Spanish area in Hagåtña.


“San Vitores had been the head of the Spanish mission on Guam. It was a Christian mission—the soldiers were just there for protection. So even when there were battles, there was violence, there were deaths, that was supposedly all a part of the mission work. After San Vitores dies, the military took over the mission, so it became really a war of subjugation. Because, during San Vitores’ time, it was never really called an all-out war. The period that historians say the wars start theoretically begins with San Vitores’ death, although that’s hard to pin down, because there were major battles before San Vitores died. But once San Vitores dies, because the military takes over, historians have said, that’s the war."



“It takes the Spanish about a good ten years to get really organized. First they start with a manhunt for Matå‘pang. It takes about 18 years to finally track him down and kill him. They’re going village to village trying to get information and burning down villages that are not cooperating. They do have some Chamorros helping them, particularly from the Manåchang.

"Now the Manåchang were a low class, the lowest. Some people have called them a caste. They were not allowed many things, there were a lot of rules about their lifestyle. They were not allowed to live by the ocean, or even fish or swim in the ocean. They had to always be respectful to the higher class. We don’t really know how this caste of people came about.

“But when the Spanish came, they appealed to the Manåchang, because the Spanish offered them equality, and in the ancient period there was no equality for them. They had to bow down to the higher class, and they weren’t allowed to socialize with the higher class. So during the wars, they became very useful to the Spanish, fighting for them. Some of them became fairly high ranking within the Spanish military."



Spanish Gate

Gate at the Plaza de España in Hagåtña.


Spanish House

Spanish-style house, Plaza de España in Hagåtña.


"The whole war was basically just a village-to-village fighting of the clans. There were no large battles. After thirty years of it, finally the last battle was in 1695 and then the Spanish declared the islands had been subjugated."

“The people in the northern islands especially would claim that this ‘subjugation’ was not complete. The Spanish said, ‘Those islands are subjugated, we’re moving everyone to Guam.’ But there are people in the northern islands who say that not everyone moved, that there were people who hid out, which would actually have easily been possible.

"As long as people weren’t fighting, as long as people weren’t attacking the priests, the Spanish pretty much left islands alone after the wars."




“By 1695 the Spanish started relocating everyone to places that they could control, and they started moving everyone from the northern-most islands, first to Saipan and then they started moving them to Guam. It took about 50 years. It was not until 1750 that the Spanish said that everyone had been relocated to Guam.

"Even from the northern villages on Guam, those people were all moved to central and southern villages. The population was about 3,000 - 3,200 in the first Spanish census, around 1700."



The Spanish conquest had an impact on social relations among Chamorros. Anne explains,

“In the ancient period you had a caste system but pretty much almost everyone was in the higher, the Chamorri class, there was just that small group of Manåchang. Definitely there was no way out of it for them, and so from their perspective, during the Spanish period there would have been better opportunities for them because if they would intermarry and be related somehow to a Spaniard, then they could rise in rank. But in the ancient system, they couldn’t. There was no way out for them.

“In the Spanish period, I think the caste system became more entrenched than before, because in the Spanish system castes or classes were defined more by your bloodline. If you’re a Spaniard, if you’re part Spaniard, mixed or mestizo, that made you a higher class than the Indio, the indigenous. Once bloodline, rather than age or skill, defines your class standing, then it's harder to gain in status. This is only partially succesful, though, as age is still important today in defining status."


The Chocolate House, where the Governor's wife served chocolate.



Vue du College Della Villa D' Agana, 1824.
Jacques Arago, Freycinet's voyage. Photo Courtesy of the Guam Museum.


“You do have a Spanish school system but it’s not mandatory. So for most families, it made no sense to send their kids to school. Why go to school and learn Spanish when really they want their kids to be working on the ranch and helping fish, helping farm?

"For some families, especially if you were living in Hagatña, and families who were connected to the Spanish government, they wanted their children to have a Spanish education, and learn the language. But for the majority, it didn’t really make any sense.

"The other school system was the Sunday School, which was taught in Chamorro because the Jesuits learned early on that they had to work in Chamorro if they wanted really true conversion, and that was the school system that most people went to. It was just once a week and it was in Chamorro."



“One thing about Guam that’s different from other areas where the Spaniards went, it’s one place where the Spanish language never thrived. Partly it’s because we never had a big Spanish population. Even the Spanish themselves admitted that the Spanish language fluency was minimal.

"When the Spanish departed and the U.S. Navy took over and reported on the status of the island’s population, they estimated that 20% of the island’s inhabitants could speak Spanish, which if you think about it, after 200 years of colonial rule, didn’t seem very good. That’s not a very strong number."



Impacts of the Spanish are reflected in the changes of Guam's society.



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