In the ancient world, it was common to have a patriarchal society. This means that the line of power or chieftain is passed from father to son. However, the ancient Chamorro has a matrilineal society. Matrilineal means “relating to, based on or tracing ancestral descent through the maternal line”1Due to this matrilineal system, most of the oceanic traditions and culture of the ancient Chamorro is still preserved up until now.
As we all know, the present-day Chamorro culture has been greatly influenced by the outside world that differs from its ancestors. These main influences are Spanish, Filipino, Japanese, and especially now, the American culture. They tried converting the ancient Chamorro to their culture and beliefs implanting laws and restrictions of practicing their own traditions. For example, Padre Diego Luis de Sanvitores, a Spanish missionary tried converting them from ancestral-spirit worshipping to Christianity, the rules implemented by the naval governors, and lastly, the intermarriages between local inhabitants and the “foreigners” who stayed on island even after the colonial or war period. The outside influences can be clearly seen in language; the Chamorro language which is has 1/3 of Spanish originated words and now English as the official language of the island2.
However, even through decades of being under a foreign influence, the core traditions and cultures of the ancient Chamorro are still preserved up to this day. Example of these traditions and culture are the production of woven mats, the passing of the legends, the chants, and most especially the dances3.During the colonial period, the Spanish were close to annihilating the original Chamorro through the removal of the “male warriors” by war or displacing them from their islands4. Although in the end their efforts failed because they ignored the Chamorro’s matrilineal society system. The core foundation and “fortitude” of their society rests upon the Chamorro women5.
In this matrilineal system, women, especially the elder of the clan, have the most important and powerful role in ancient Chamorro society....