FSM Ratifies Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention

Augustine Kohler, FSM National HPO

Ashley Meredith, Kosrae State Cultural Anthropologist

Untitled 1In February 2018, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) Congress ratified the Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention. This formal consent outlines good practice in the protection and management of underwater cultural heritage in the Pacific. Upon receipt of Instrument of Ratification by UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, the process of ratification will be complete for the FSM. March 6-8, 2018, Chuuk State, FSM Office of NACH, and UNESCO hosted the National Consultation on the Underwater Cultural Heritage Safeguarding in the FSM.

Why is FSM interested to ratify/benefits to FSM?

With the destruction, pillage and commercial exploitation of UCH as well as the industrialization of the seabed increasing, the protection of UCH becomes increasingly relevant to FSM’s economy and path to self-sufficiency. Underwater Cultural Heritage supports the tourism industry, cultural sustainability, and local subsistence economy of Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).

What is Underwater Cultural Heritage?

Underwater Cultural Heritage refers to the intangible and tangible aspects of culture located in the water, partially or fully submerged. Article 1(A) of the Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention recommends UCH to be at least 100 years old (however it is up to each country to decide period of time). UCH can include sites, structures, human remains, vessels, their cargo, any object of prehistoric character, and marine life related to UCH. For example, the lagoons of the island states support women’s roles in societies such as are found in Kosrae and Chuuk, traditional knowledge of navigation, and fish species traded between villages which demonstrate respect from one village to the other as well as promoting peaceful relationships.

Dr. Jun Kimura, Junior Associate Professor of Tokai University in Japan reminds that marine resources in the past have referred only to the natural aspects. Kosrae and Pohnpei State Historic Preservation Offices (HPO) identified the marine resources as cultural resources in Kosraean culture. Discussions at the UCH Workshop raised awareness to UCH resources in each of the FSM States.

UCH in the FSM and its States

Kosrae State Government approaches its resources holistically as is evidenced by the semi-autonomous government agency, Kosrae Island Resource Management Authority (KIRMA). The KIRMA Director, Mr. Blair Charley, reinforces the interconnected relationship between its five units (Historic, Marine, Forestry, Permitting, and Education) of which each unit carries out their part. In particular, the Kosrae HPO identified four UCH sites: Women’s roles in lagoon subsistence, traditional routes (terrestrial and aquatic), shipwrecks from whaling or World War II  in the harbors of Lelu, Utwe, and Okat, and PMB plane wreck in Lelu Harbor. Through their participation in the Kosrae Association of Tourism Operators (KATO, meaning “beautiful in Kosraean)) Pacific Treelodge, Nautilus Resort, tour guides, Kosrae Visitor’s Bureau, and KIRMA on Kosrae assist in the protection of Kosrae’s UCH through their business models and respective projects.

Pohnpei State Government recently inscribed Nan Madol onto the UNESCO World Heritage List, hosting UCH components. Pohnpei State looks forward to securing additional protection in the context of climate change and the Micronesian Challenge.

Chuuk State hosts the largest shipwreck graveyard in the world, hosting more than 40 ships from World War II in the Chuuk Lagoon. Chuuk’s Truk Stop Dive Center promotes cultural heritage through its celebration of Women’s Dive Day (offered for free to women) and education on the wrecks.

Yap State UCH includes fish weirs (which are at times partially or fully submerged), traditional knowledge in the transportation of stone money from Palau to Yap, and trading certain marine resources as demonstrations of respect and to promote peaceful relationships between the villages of Yap.

While each of the FSM States hosts their own unique UCH, as a nation, there is also unique UCH. The FSM UCH includes navigation, the traditional knowledge embedded in inter-island travel, and traditional cultural knowledge of marine resources.


A Way Forward with UCH in FSM


The first consultation was held in Chuuk State 6-8 March, 2018. During these meetings, each HPO presented on their UCH. Through the consultation in conjunction with ratification, FSM HPOs learned legislation requires some updates to address the protection of its UCH. One of the outcomes for the consultation was to create a five year action plan which identifies five main components for success in the protection of UCH in FSM. These five components include:  UCH awareness, capacity building, cultural sustainability, improved protection, management of UCH and develop National database and expand State databases.

On the last day, all parties came together to develop an action plan for the country. Resolutions were signed by all parties involved to be to be considered by each FSM State Government.

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Education Corner 31

Let us resume our Education Corner (EC) with an apology. I apologize for straying from the original purpose of the column over the past several months. I no longer will tell the story about the beginning teacher Mr. Navarro Navarro. While such stories may be appropriate for teacher and pre-teacher training, the case study or story approach was not for a column as this. It was an error on my part to attempt Navarro for EC. And to be honest I was uncomfortable from the beginning. It was something new because I had run out of information that I thought would help the Readers and the Public-at-large. It was not working and I am sorry for wasting K-Press space and the Readers time. For any Readers who did like Navarro I will send them to anyone who writes EC individually. We have many “Navarro’s” on file.
When in August 2015 we began EC, it was to be an informational column for the public. It was meant to give you information about what the Pohnpei Department of Education was doing to make improvements for our children. Too it was meant to show the public, particularly parents and caregivers, ways to help teachers and principals help the students. We explained the purposes and importance of FSM Accreditation. We stressed the absolute need for every school-public or private to be accredited. We explained that every school must have a School Improvement Plan (SIP) showing just how every school will try to improve during the next year.

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Education Corner 28

DEC 2016

Last edition we left you with a very interesting situation. The young Navarro had found the phrase “Columbus discovers America” in the textbook and he had his 5th graders change the words to “One of the First Europeans to Come to the New World”. He had his students make the changes in ink. Navarro was informed he was breaking a school rule about writing in the textbooks. The students told him they were never to write in the textbooks and “never in ink”. So we were left with the critical thinking question-should Navarro have broken the school rule? Explain.
When giving this case study question to pre-service teachers or in-service teachers the answer is almost always a No. They stress it is important to follow school rules and marking in ink is something students should not do. And furthermore they say it was not right for Navarro to insist they do so. Teachers should not break school rules after all teachers are models for student behaviors. But they also realize that saying “Columbus discovered America” was like saying “Magellan discovered Guam” or “Pedro Fernandes de Quiros discovered Pohnpei”. Micronesians correctly learn that Europeans did not discover Pacific Islands—their own ancestors-the Polynesians, Melanesians and Micronesians were the first to inhabit and therefore discovered our islands. The use of discover seems almost an insult. So the No to breaking rules becomes a No but with further explanations. It is always suggested that Navarro should have gone to Principal Francetta and explained the problem and asked permission or that Navarro could write a separate page for each of them to put in their books—as an insert. But to be sure once they think critically a simple Yes or No is not sufficient. Even if our case study took place in Trust Territory Times when U S History was taught teachers do not want to see anything as Guam was discovered Guam or de Quiros discovered Pohnpei in any Micronesian history books. Teachers should not break rules as young Navarro did but they should correct curriculum when they find examples as Columbus discovering America and calling the native peoples Indians. Remember Columbus thought he had reached the Indies. Today’s U S textbooks do not make these errors but they did during the Trust Territory Times when Navarro was just beginning his teaching career.

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Education Corner 30

The New Year allows EC to review a little and catch any new readers with the story of Mr. Navarro Navarro. A young 22 year old Navarro begins his teaching career in a Roman Catholic School about the time of FSM Independence. He is hired as a last minute replacement for the regular 5th grade teacher who had taken severely ill. Navarro has the minimum requirements, a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited college but he has no teacher education. We learned he was an excellent student himself and is very confident in the curriculum he will teach-that is he knows what to teach. However with no teacher training he has never learned the methods and strategies teachers use to teach—or how to teach. The young man has only his own experiences as a student and using those good experiences and good teachers he jumps right in and begins teaching the morning after he was hired. Readers have been asked to join Navarro in his journey to become a teacher. Readers can be assured Navarro makes mistakes but he learns from them. EC has been writing little stories about Navarro and asking readers to think like students and think critically. We use critical thinking questions which just mean the student or reader should explain the answer.

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Education Corner 27

06 DEC 2016

First we do apologize for missing the Kaselehlie Press last edition and our case studies about our beginning teacher Navarro Navarro.
We last had our young teacher Navarro reviewing the textbooks he was to use on his first day of teaching the 5th grade. He found a Teacher’s Edition for English and he was grateful for it. The Teacher’s Edition showed him some ways to teach English. This is where Navarro had no training. He reviewed the textbooks and was confident he knew the entire curriculum or what he would teach. But now he had decided that that was not enough. He needed to learn about how to teach the material. All of the critical thinking questions have been about this. Navarro has already decided that a teacher must know both the curriculum and the ways to teach or methods of teaching.
In the last case study Navarro reviewed the science he was to teach. It was about animal science and plant science. But Navarro decided he would also like to teach what he had learned in environmental science in college and from his own observations. He thought it was important to teach 5th graders about sustaining our environment but he found very little in the 5th grade science book. So he decided he would teach it anyway. So the critical thinking question is this. Should a teacher teach about subjects not found in the established outlines and curriculum? Readers should not be surprised that rarely is this a Yes or No. And then when we ask for explanations or reasons the critical thinking process begins.

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Education Corner 29

Our beginning teacher Navarro Navarro began teaching just at the end of Trust Territory Times and found there was really no Micronesian History textbook for his 5th graders. His class had only U S history texts. We saw that Navarro told his 5th graders to cross out “Columbus discovers America” and replace it in ink with “One of the first Europeans to come to the New World”. Because writing in ink in textbooks was against the school rules our critical thinking questions centered around—should Navarro have done this? Most case study readers agree that saying Columbus was the discoverer of the “Americas” is really not too appropriate. We noted that we would never say something like Magellan discovered Guam. So when students or teachers say No--Navarro should not have had students change the text in ink---there is always a No... But! A Yes or No that must be explained is the critical thinking part of the case study. In this instance usually education students want the change but somehow they feel Navarro should have gone to the Mt. St. Mary’s Principal and received permission.

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Education Corner 26

30 OCT 2016

Last EC we explained more about the Case Study approach to learning and mentioned that this approach is often for critical thinking development. Last K-Press the beginning teacher Navarro Navarro asked his students to take a simple pledge on his first day. I _________ promise to be the best student I can be and I promise to help Mr. Navarro Navarro become the best teacher he can be. For our critical thinking ideas we said that Navarro admitted to the 5th graders that it was his first day ever as a teacher and he admitted it to them. He does not pretend to be a trained teacher. So now we can ask the EC Readers to think about the first two (2) Case Study Discussion Questions
1. Do you think it was a good idea for Navarro to admit to his students that he really was not trained as a teacher and that he was a real beginner? Why or why not?
2. Do you think that good students can help make good teachers? Why or why not?
EC Readers-What do you think? You might guess it is the critical thinking that is forced with the -Why or why not? Whether we think Yes or No we must give some reasons. Training to give reasons for Yes or No answers is critical thinking training. Think about true/false questions that follow with-Explain your answer. This is the same type of question. These types of questions are not meant to prove right or wrong but sometimes when questions are discussed people may switch their answers or change their minds. Also in the Case Study we had the following

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