The First Missions in Oceania
Excavations at the Colonial Church and Cemetery of San Dionisio at Humåtak (Guam, Mariana Islands)
This essay outlines and explores the broader implications of preliminary archaeological excavations at the colonial church and cemetery of San Dionisio (Humåtak, Guam, Mariana Islands). The native Chamorro of the Marianas were the first Pacific Islanders to experience European colonialism following the inception of the Jesuit mission in 1668. Although the Marianas were once perceived as a peripheral outpost of Spanish colonialism in the 17th century, recent scholarship reveals that such locales epitomize the underlying logic of the Jesuit mission system. Moreover, it is increasingly clear that in spite of centuries of colonialism, Guam offers a striking example of indigenous resilience and the vitality of archaeological heritage in the maintenance of contemporary cultural identity.