Indigenous Rally: Some Thoughts

Photos by Itos Feliciano © 2010

May 29, 2010

"Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life." President John F. Kennedy

The indigenous rally that was held on Saturday to reject the DOI report was poorly attended according to all reports, with an estimated 100 -200 persons in attendance. 

I believe that most of the indigenous people of the CNMI appreciate and respect the foreign workers and recognize and applaud their many contributions to the community. The terrible attendance at the rally supports that belief. The foreign workers are their neighbors, co-workers, friends, fellow-worshippers and in some cases, relatives of the indigenous people. They have embraced the culture and some have learned the native language. They have labored to build the CNMI, to serve the residents, and to support the economy. They have contributed to the commonwealth by their hard work, by paying taxes and by filling the CNMI coffers with labor and immigration fees. They have brought diversity to the islands and have shared their cultural traditions and values.

The federal labor, immigration, and naturalization laws now apply to the CNMI. The long-term foreign workers will eventually be granted improved status and that status will be reflective of the same status that is given to other foreign workers in the mainland regardless of rallies, of protests, or of petitions from either side. Improved status will be granted because it is a basic American principle, it is the moral and right thing to do, and granting improved status to the long-term foreign workers will benefit all of the people of the CNMI, not just those who will receive the status. In every truly just and democratic society, long-term foreign workers are regarded as future citizens.

We live in a just nation, and ours is a nation of immigrants. The reason that the phrase, "we are a nation of immigrants" has become a mantra of sorts for the American people and has been repeated tens of thousands of times is because the words are simply the truth. The fact that we are a nation of immigrants is worn as a badge of pride by the American people. The life blood that flows through the veins of our nation giving us our strength comes from millions of immigrants of all races, cultures, nationalities, and ethnicities. We must never forget that a basic principle of our country is the belief that people who come to our shores to share their skills and allegiance should be embraced as future citizens with full political and social rights.

President John F. Kennedy said,
"Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners, and necessity has made us allies. Those whom God has so joined together, let no man put asunder."

This quote truly applies to the commonwealth. Thirty or more years ago the CNMI leaders had a vision to build the economy and they passed legislation to establish the foreign labor system. They brought in tens of thousands of dedicated and hard-working foreigners from neighboring Asian countries to achieve their goals. They invited hundreds of foreign investors to their shores. The foreign workers and other nonresident in the CNMI are neighbors, partners, allies and friends. It is time that the CNMI's legal long-term foreign workers and nonresidents are granted status so that they can continue to work side-by-side with the residents to further strengthen the CNMI economically, culturally, socially, and politically.

As I have said many times, the way a person treats another person reflects the character of that person; the way a nation treats the people on its soil determines the character of that nation. The xenophobic hatred of foreigners and the concept of nativism has no place on U.S. soil.

President Kennedy said, "Nativism failed, not because the seeds were not there to be cultivated, but because American society is too complex for an agitation so narrowly and viciously conceived to be politically successful."

I do not believe that most of the residents of the CNMI support keeping their homeland "pure" at the expense of keeping the majority of their population disenfranchised and lacking basic freedom and rights. The indigenous people of the CNMI were granted U.S. citizenship and accepted as members of the American family. Now it is time to welcome and embrace the foreign workers and other nonresidents as full-fledged members of the American family. It is my belief that to share your blessings with others does not reduce your own, it increases them for all.

That quotes in this post are taken from President John F. Kennedy's book,
A Nation of Immigrants. He wrote the book in 1958, but it was not published until after his death. This book should be part of the curriculum in every high school classroom in the United States. I read it many years ago, and will read it again this weekend. The words and truths put into ink by President Kennedy hold as much relevance today as they did more than fifty years ago when they were first written. Every American should read it and ponder his wise words. (The book is available at for $11.16)

Thank you to Itos Feliciano for providing these photos of the rally:


Anonymous said...

It was a sad showing of a handful of government employees that were told to show up or fear losing their job.

What was even sadder was seeing Kilili and his staff members standing in the front by the roadside greeting people and handing out his pathetic letter that he inserted in the papers the other day.

Someone needs to inform Kilili that if you always take the middle of the road approach you will eventually be hit by a car.

Anonymous said...

Let us see if the one Democratic Candidate lives up to the party ideals and embraces the DOI recommendation for status. Well Jesse?

Anonymous said...

Noni 11:07 Judging by Kilili's comments in his statement, he no longer aligns himself with the U.S. Democratic Party or Hispanic Caucus. Too bad. He just lost the election.

We need a candidate who understands federal law and will bring the CNMI in line with American principles. We need a candidate who is a straight shooter and has the respect of the Congress. Camacho is not that guy because he speaks for Fitial who has zero integrity among DC leaders and Federal officials.

The million dollar question is where does Juan Babauta stand? Was he in attendance at the rally? One thing about him is if he makes a stand he won't compromise it to gain some votes. If he is a U.S. Democrat he would support the DOI Report that is backed by the Obama Administration.

Anonymous said...

11:05 Yep, he was hit by a truck. Kilili's chances are dead.

Anonymous said...

i am not sure what message the local people tried to send to Congress, but if i was in DC i would look at it as the motorcade and rally by foreigners and supporters had 5,000 or more showed and the rally by local 200 showed. The message is very clear. that the majority of the people support the report.

Anonymous said...

More is said by who did NOT attend the rally than by who DID attend. Even less than 5% of the government employees showed up! Word was that they were told to be there. Is Fitial's power disintegrating? Have the people had enough already? This is really a shocker. I expected to be reading that thousands showed up. I hope that Washington got the message. The anti-DOI protest was a complete bust.

Anonymous said...

A great post with some profoundly relevant thoughts to ponder from both you and JFK.

Anonymous said...

More like less than 1% of government employees.

Anonymous said...

There were groups around the basketball court, but they were so small they didn't even interfere with the fish sellers. We thought the "indocrination program" stretched to the end of Civic Beach, but we were wrong. From the 4H buildings north were piknickers and partiers. Guest workers have been our teachers, nurses, housekeepers, childcare, auto mechanics, accountants, food servers, cooks, road builders, construction workers, and engineers for thirty years now. People (the majority) know this and appreciate this and want the best for these guys. They more than paid their dues for this community. The only "respect" that is lacking, is by a few who tried to organize hate today. They failed miserably, because the majority of "locals" and non-locals, support fairness, goodness and justice.

Anonymous said...

1:52 Well said!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this, but I am waiting for the spin from the papers. Let's see what the Indigenous Affairs an Carolinian Affairs Office have to say. The people didn't come because... well, just put the excuse of your choice here.

They must be quite red-faced at the moment. HATERS ALWAYS LOSE.

the teacher said...

Noni 11:05 said "Someone needs to inform Kilili that if you always take the middle of the road approach you will eventually be hit by a car."

Actually kilili has already proven to be the master politician in the NMI by surviving a field of 9 as the 1st delagate, he will win again...much easier than the last time.

Nonis 11:07 Jesse is NOT for improved status.

Noni 11:20 and 11:22 Your knowledge of local politics is limited and your predictions are dead wrong.

the teacher said...

What I always thought was interesting about that book is that it was kept secret during the election...perhaps he was a better politician than everyone knew.

Anonymous said...

...taya BBQ, para hafa?

Anonymous said...

can somebody give an estimate as to how many people attended? we passed by there around 12:30, didn't see any formation or assembly yet. i understand that the event should have started at 1:00.

Anonymous said...

Angie looks like she's participating in a two minute hate.

Captain said...

It is too bad that Rasa and his people lost focus on what the original intent of the "Rally" was.
In the beginning it was supposed to be against the DOI report.
It then seemed to go to land and indigenous rights along with other things..
This shows how bad this Govt is mismanaged,nobody can stay focused on the problem, these "paid" organizers cannot even properly organize a "counter" rally.(and many are trying to manage a Govt.?)

It is also sad that they also have to order their workers to "show up or else".
If they had not, they would have even less than what showed..
Seems like the majority did not listen to the "marching orders" anyway.
So now what are they going to do, replace all who did not show?
It would be good if they did fire many so that it would make it to Fed Court and really expose the corruption in the NMI.

So it just goes to show how much weight their petition has.
Out of the almost 1k people that signed 2/3 are in the mainland and have no interest here.They signed because they were told too.
But I guess that uneducated attract uneducated, too bad that there is not one good leader amongst them in this group.Someone who could stay focused and stick to their own views.

Unless someone with integrity and leadership steps forward to run, we will be stuck with the "fence walker" Killili" again, as he is the "lessor of the evil".

Now on to the next page in this saga.
Can't wait for all the comments next week.

Anonymous said...

Someone ask me if i joined the local rally,i say no!he replied,"me too!!"

Anonymous said...

The local people didn't come because their was nothing in it for them. No free beer, BBQ, cigarettes.
This place has become a "gimme, gimme, gimme" place for the locals. Don't get me wrong, there are many (alot by number) of hard working locals. But there are some, (again, alot by number) that just want a free ride. In fairness, you have these people everywhere, but this attitude is entrenched here as firmly as any place in the USA.
I don't think alot of locals have real strong feelings about what happens to the workers. If asked to vote they will soundly say they don't support their cause. Not because they really feel that way, but because someone told them to feel that way. They are like sheep. And as the lambs become sheep they don't look at being a sheep as real negative thing.
Don't expect anything, good or bad, from sheep. They are sheep.