Making a Difference: A Heritage Reclaimed

By Gerard, Chrissa | Humanities, January/February 2001 | Go to article overview

Making a Difference: A Heritage Reclaimed


Gerard, Chrissa, Humanities


Herman T. Guerrero's nickname, "Jun Pan," tells a piece of his family history and a small piece of the history of the Northern Mariana Islands as well.

He inherited the name from his father, who was interned in the islands by the Americans at the beginning of World War II. His father was pressed into service as a baker for the native prisoners at Camp Susupe; he proved so successful that the military asked him to stay on as the islands' civilian baker after the war. He was called Pan, or "Bread," and his son proudly bears the name of Jun Pan, "Bread Junior."

Guerrero is working to reclaim the islands' colonial history and the legacy of the native Chamorro people, who were nearly wiped out by Spanish colonists in the seventeenth century. He serves on the board of directors of several companies, including his family bakery, and has worked on the CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) Humanities Council since 1992.

One of his and the council's efforts is the Genealogy Project, which is being conducted with the help of the University of Guam's Micronesian Area Research Center. Guerrero sees "a tremendous growth in native islanders' interests in tracing their ancestral roots."

He also helped create "Spain in the Marianas: First Contact and Aftermath" with the Northern Mariana Islands Museum of History, as well as displays on linguistics, religion, and cross-culturalism.

In the course of four hundred years, the islands passed from Spanish to German to Japanese rule, becoming an U.S. territory in 1947. …

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