, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 59-79
Date: 13 Mar 2014

A Fluid Sea in the Mariana Islands: Community Archaeology and Mapping the Seascape of Saipan

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Abstract

This paper applies both a community archaeology and seascape approach to the investigation of the sea and its importance to the Indigenous community on the island of Saipan in the Mariana Islands in western Oceania. It examines data collected during a community project including archaeological sites, oral histories, lived experiences and contemporary understandings of both tangible and intangible maritime heritage to explore Indigenous connections with the sea and better define the seascape. What the seascape of Saipan conveys in the larger sense is the true fluidity of the sea. In this instance fluidity has more than one connotation; it refers to the sea as both a substance and an idea that permeates and flows into all aspects of Indigenous life. Chamorro and Carolinian people of Saipan identify themselves as having an ancestral connection with the sea that they continue to maintain to this day as they engage in daily activities within their seascape.