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Guam: In the Beginning


Guam: In the Beginning
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.47

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    archeologists, flights, generally, originally, caretaker, commonwealth, spat, void, tended, legend, crashed, thus, chasing, death, half, arch
     content words:    Pacific Ocean, Mariana Islands, United States, Ancient Chamorro, Southeast Asia, Bo Flood, Then Fu'una, Only Puntan


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Guam: In the Beginning
By Lota Smith Bryans
  

1     The Pacific Ocean almost covers half the world. In this vast ocean lies tens of thousands of tiny islands and atolls. The Mariana Islands are north of the equator. There are fifteen small islands strung like beads on a broken necklace, extending almost four hundred miles north from Guam. Some of the Marianas still have active volcanoes. Guam is an unincorporated territory of the United States. The other islands of the Marianas are a commonwealth of the United States (CNMI). Ancient Chamorro legend states that Guam was the site of man's creation. Pacific scholars generally agree that about three thousand years ago the first people of Guam, the Chamorros, migrated to the Mariana Islands from parts of Asia and the Philippines. There was no written history, so what is known about these early inhabitants is what has been discovered by archeologists and the information in legends and oral history. They were originally ancient sea-faring people. They are believed to be among those who were a part of the great migration from the fringes of Southeast Asia to the islands in the Pacific. There is no evidence of when or reasons why this migration took place. The forefathers of the Mariana Islands took their families, some animals, plants, seedlings, and provisions for food and water when they sailed the open seas in double-hulled canoes. Expert seamen and navigators led them through their journey, using the winds, stars, skies, flights of birds, patterns of waves, and other signs of nature to guide their travel.
 
2     Chamorro creation myth from the Chamorro people of the Mariana Islands, retold by Bo Flood:
 
3     I shall tell you of the beginning. Before there were fish and banana, before the coconut and breadfruit grew tall, and even before there were crabs that hid in the coconut's feet or scurried through sand to the sea-even before there was a sea-there was nothing. More empty than we can imagine, the world was nothing. Caretaker of this emptiness was Puntan. He ruled with his sister, Fu'una.
 
4     Puntan sensed that soon he would die. Sad to leave his sister alone and the world still unformed, he imagined a way to fill the emptiness. He called his sister. As they stood alone in the silent void, Puntan foretold his death and described his plan for creation. Fu'una looked at her brother and nodded. She promised to complete what he had begun. She would remember each part of his plan, the large and the small: the nightly stars, the vast ocean, and then the earth, the whisper of wind, the softness of the plumeria's petals, and the fresh smell of rain.
 
5     And thus she did. As Puntan's last breath left his body, Fu'una held her brother and wailed woman's first birth song. She lifted his head upward and let life flow into the emptiness. Then Fu'una plucked out her brother's eyes and flung them high above her. Their brightness became the sun and moon. Up, up she pushed his heavy breast until it arched across the heavens and became the sky. The drumming of his heart continued to beat the rhythm of night following day, turning, seasons turning--day following night.

Paragraphs 6 to 11:
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