Also known as: Tjamoro

The Chamorro are the indigenous people of the northern Marianas Islands. Colonisation of the islands in the 17th century was accompanied by catastrophic population decline and mass conversion to Christianity. For these reasons, and the lack of early ethnographic accounts, only the broad outlines of indigenous Chamorro religion, which which appears to have been based on the worship of spirits of the dead, can be reconstructed.

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Traditional Culture(1640-1665)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 99-112, 99, 111-112
Cunningham (1997), pp. 32-36
Nature god(s) Absent (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 99-112, 110-111
Cunningham (1997), pp. 32-36
Van Peenen (1974), pp. 11
Ancestral spirits Present, and the principal focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 99-112
Cunningham (1997), pp. 32-36
Carano & Sanchez (1966), pp. 24
Deified ancestor(s) Absent (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 99-112
Cunningham (1997), pp. 32-36
God(s) Absent (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 99-112
Cunningham (1997), pp. 32-36

Supernatural Punishment

Supernatural punishment for impiety Present (Source)
Carano & Sanchez (1966), pp. 24

Afterlife and Creation

One's actions while living can affect the nature of one's afterlife Actions while living are one factor in determining the nature of one’s afterlife (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 100
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife Actions of others after one has died are one factor in determining the nature of one’s afterlife (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 100, 130
Carano & Sanchez (1966), pp. 25
Myth of humanity’s creation Present, and evolutionary (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 109-111
Primordial pair Absent (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 109-111
Culture hero(es) Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 109

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Present (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 104

Classes of Tapu

Kinship tapu Present (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 103-104
Resource management tapu Present (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 103
Social hierarchy tapu Present (Source)
Carano & Sanchez (1966), pp. 21
Cunningham (1992), pp. 103

Mana

Mana as a personal quality Absent (Source)
Blust (2007)
Keesing (1984)
Blevins (2008), pp. 262
Mana related to social influence or technical skill Absent (Source)
Mana as a spiritual or religious concept Absent (Source)
Blust (2007)
Keesing (1984)
Blevins (2008), pp. 262
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Absent (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 71-74, 99-112
Cunningham (1997), pp. 28, 32-36
Costly sacrifices and offerings Present (Source)
Carano & Sanchez (1966), pp. 25
Size of largest ritual social group Larger than the largest political community in the culture (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 103
Political and religious differentiation Some overlap (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 100-102

Rites

Piercing Absent from culture (Source)
Cunningham (1997), pp. 12-13
Cunningham (1992), pp. 43-46
Genital cutting Absent from culture (Source)
Cunningham (1997), pp. 12-13
Cunningham (1992), pp. 43-46
Scarification Absent from culture (Source)
Cunningham (1992)
Thompson (1945)
Tattooing Absent from culture (Source)
Cunningham (1997), pp. 12
Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
Cunningham (1997), pp. 12-13
Cunningham (1992), pp. 43-46
Social Environment +
Population 40000 (Source)
Hezel (1982), pp. 132-133
Population of largest political community 1,000-9,999 (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 178
Hezel (1982), pp. 118
Importance of Patrilateral descent Low (Source)
Hays (1991C), pp. 34
Importance of Matrilateral descent High (Source)
Hays (1991C), pp. 34
Polygamy Monogamy prescribed (Source)
Hays (1991C), pp. 34

Conflict

Conflict within communities Low (Source)
Carano & Sanchez (1966), pp. 22
Conflict between communities of the culture Frequent, occurring at least yearly (Source)
Carano & Sanchez (1966), pp. 22
Cunningham (1997), pp. 28
Conflict with other cultures Rare or never (Source)
Carano & Sanchez (1966), pp. 42-71
Cultural Isolation +
Contact with other cultures Frequent, through trade, warfare, travel, etc. (Source)
Carano & Sanchez (1966), pp. 51
Cunningham (1992), pp. 193
Distance to closest landmass inhabited by a different culture (km) 645.5 (Source)
Ethnologue (Map of Micronesia) (2014)
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Distance to African or Asian mainland (km) 2780.8 (Source)
Ethnologue (Map of Guam and Northern Marianas) (2014)
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Pre-Austronesian population Absent: No evidence of human occupation prior to Austronesian settlement (Source)
Bellwood (1995), pp. 109
Carson (2011), pp. 2214
Hindu / Buddhist influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence and not in region of known contact (Source)
Cribb (2000), pp. Map 2.21
Islamic influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence and not in region of known contact (Source)
Cribb (2000), pp. Map 2.23
Christian influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Carano & Sanchez (1966), pp. 51
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Minor (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 28
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Medium (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 41
Land-based gathering Major (Source)
Cunningham (1997), pp. 20
Cunningham (1992), pp. 30
Land-based hunting performed by one or more groups Minor (Source)
Thompson (1945), pp. 30
Agriculture / Horticulture Principal (Source)
Cunningham (1997), pp. 20
Cunningham (1992), pp. 31

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Major (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 22, 30-38
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Major (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 22, 30-38
Water-based gathering Medium (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 22, 30

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Minor (Source)
Cunningham (1992), pp. 191-196
Carano & Sanchez (1966), pp. 51
Metalworking Absent (Source)
Thompson (1945), pp. 38
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture Four or more (Source)
Ethnologue (Map of Guam and Northern Marianas) (2014)
Google Maps (2014)

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Latitude 13.4 (Source)
Hezel (1982), pp. 132
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 144.7 (Source)
Hezel (1982), pp. 132
Google Maps (2014)
Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Volcanic high island (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Guam) (2014)
Island Size (km²) 541.0 (Source)
Fritts & Rodda (1998), pp. 114
Maximum elevation (meters) 406.0 (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Guam) (2014)
Post Contact History(1665-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +

Conversion

Role of social status in conversion process Primarily a top-down process. (Source)
Carano & Sanchez (1966), pp. 64-66
Use of force in conversion Medium (Source)
Hezel (1982)
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Present, and from non-Austronesian societies (Source)
Hezel (1982)
Adoption of a world religion Present and predominant (Source)
De Frutos and De la Rosa (2012)

Syncretic Movements

Syncretic religious movements Absent (Source)
Carano & Sanchez (1966)
De Frutos and De la Rosa (2012)
Secular History +

Demographic and Social Changes

Foreign government systems Present, and of high importance (Source)
Carano & Sanchez (1966), pp. 61-87
De Frutos and De la Rosa (2012), pp. 459-460
Immigration High (Source)
Central Intelligence Agency (Guam) (2014)
Central Intelligence Agency (Northern Marianas) (2014)
Hezel (1973), pp. 132-133
Carano & Sanchez (1966), pp. 8-11
Language shift High (Source)
Central Intelligence Agency (Guam) (2014)
Central Intelligence Agency (Northern Marianas) (2014)
Balajadia et al (2008), pp. S5
Foreign education systems High (Source)
Carano & Sanchez (1966), pp. 404-438

Economic Changes

Changes in means of subsistence High (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Guam) (2014)
Central Intelligence Agency (Guam) (2014)
Exportation of goods to other cultures Present but minor (Source)
Central Intelligence Agency (Guam) (2014)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Guam) (2014)

Modern Infrastructure

Vehicles and roads Present and widely used (Source)
Carano & Sanchez (1966), pp. 11
Air travel Present and long-distance (Source)
Encyclopaedia Britannica (Guam) (2014)
Sea port Present (Source)
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (2009), pp. 178

Loss of Autonomy

Nature of loss of autonomy Partly voluntary (Source)
Hezel (1982), pp. 132, 136
Loss of political autonoomy High (Source)
Carano & Sanchez (1966), pp. 61-87
De Frutos and De la Rosa (2012), pp. 459-460
Central Intelligence Agency (Guam) (2014)
Central Intelligence Agency (Northern Marianas) (2014)
Current Culture(2014)Expand All +
Belief +

Religious Demographics

Unofficial religious syncretism Medium (Source)
De Frutos and De la Rosa (2012), pp. 466-468
Dominant world religion Christianity (Source)
Central Intelligence Agency (Guam) (2014)
De Frutos and De la Rosa (2012), pp. 460
External Links
References
Balajadia, R.G., Wenzel, L., Huh, J., Sweningson, J. & Hubbell, F.A. (2008). Cancer-Related Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors among Chamorros on Guam. Cancer Detection and Prevention, 32 (S1), S4-S15.

Bellwood, P. (1995). Austronesian Prehistory in Southeast Asia: Homeland, Expansion and Transformation. P. Bellwood, J.J. Fox, & D. Tryon (Eds.), The Austronesians: Historical and Comparative Perspectives (pp 113-114). Canberra, Australia: ANU Press.

Blevins, J. (2008). Some Comparative Notes on Proto-Oceanic *Mana: Inside and Outside the Austronesian Family. Oceanic Linguistics, 47 (2), 253-274. Retrieved from http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/ol/summary/v047/47.2.blevins.html

Blust, R. (2007). Proto-Oceanic *Mana Revisited. Oceanic Linguistics, 46(2), 404-423. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20172322

Brunton, R. (1989). The Abandoned Narcotic: Kava and Cultural Instability in Melanesia. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Carano, P. & Sanchez, P. C. (1966). A Complete History of Guam. Rutland, VT: C. Tuttle.

Carson, M. (2011). Palaeohabitat of First Settlement Sites 1500-1000 B.C. in Guam, Mariana Islands, Western Pacific. Journal of Archaeological Science, 38, 2207-2221. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2011.03.021

Central Intelligence Agency (2014). The World Factbook: Guam. Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/gq.html

Central Intelligence Agency (2014). The World Factbook: Northern Mariana Islands. Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cq.html

Cribb, R. (2000). Historical atlas of Indonesia. Surrey, UK: Curzon Press.

Cunningham, L. J. (1992). Ancient Chamorro Society. Honolulu, HI: The Bess Press, Inc

Cunningham, L. J. (1997). The Ancient Chamorros of Guam. In Carter, L.D., Wuerch, W.L., & Carter, R.R. (Eds.), Guam History: Perspectives. Mangilao, Guam: University of Guam.

Daft Logic Distance Calculator. (2014). http://www.daftlogic.com/projects-google-maps-distance-calculator.htm.

De Frutos, D. & De la Rosa, A. C. (2012). Death Rituals and Identity in Contemporary Guam (Mariana Islands). The Journal of Pacific History, 47 (4), 459-473. DOI: 10.1080/00223344.2012.743431

Encyclopaedia Britannica (Guam). (2014). In Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/247691/Guam

Ethnologue (2014). Map of Guam and Northern Marianas. Ethnologue. Retrieved from http://www.ethnologue.com/map/GUMP

Ethnologue (Map of Federated States of Micronesia). (2014). Papua New Guinea, Map 12. Ethnologue. Retrieved from https://www.ethnologue.com/map/FM

Fritts, T. H. & Rodda, G. H. (1998). The Role of Introduced Species in the Degradation of Island Ecosystems: A Case History of Guam. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 29, 113-140. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/221704

Google Maps (2014). Retrieved from maps.google.com

Hays, T.E. (1991C). "Chamorro". In T.E. Hays (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of World Cultures (Volume II - Oceania) (p 34). New York, NY: G.K. Hall & Co.

Hezel, F. X. (1973). The Beginnings of Foreign Contact with Truk. The Journal of Pacific History, 8 (1), 51-73. DOI: 10.1080/00223347308572223

Hezel, F. X. (1982). From Conversion to Conquest: The Early Spanish Mission in the Marianas. The Journal of Pacific History, 17 (3), 115-137. DOI: 10.1080/00223348208572442

Keesing, R. M. (1984). Rethinking "mana". Journal of Anthropological Research, 40(1), 137-156, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3629696.

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (2009). World Port Index Nineteenth Edition. Bethesda, MD: National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

Northern Mariana Islands. (2015). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/place/Northern-Mariana-Islands

Rubinstein, D. H. (1992). Culture in Court : Notes and Reflections on Abortion in Guam. Journal de la Société des Océanistes. 94 (1), 35-44. DOI: 10.3406/jso.1992.2605

Shell, R.J. (1999). The Marianas population decline: 17th century estimates. The Journal of Pacific History, 34(3), 291-305, DOI: 10.1080/00223349908572914

Thompson, L. (1945). The Native Culture of the Marianas Islands. Honolulu, HI: Bernice P. Bishop Museum Bulletin.

Van Peenen, M. W. (1974). Chamorro Legends on the Island of Guam. Guam: Micronesian Area Research Center, 4.