By Lori Lyn Lirio
THE Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands Indigenous Affairs Office is set on promoting and producing latte stone curving in a bid to revive this tradition in the islands.
This was learned after the CNMI-IAO said they are now reaching out with carver instructors in Guam in an attempt to start a latte curving program in the islands.
IAO Resident Director Roman Tudela Jr. said they recently met with Dr. Kelly Marsh, cultural and historical consultant and University of Guam adjunct professor, and carving instructor Eva Cruz to talk about the possible collaboration.
“There are some people in Guam that are teaching carving to the kids. This is something that we want to do here in the future,” Tudela said.
Dr. Marsh is coming up with a book about the latte stones, carving and quarrying, Tudela said. He added that the information on her book will play important role in the program that they will be setting up.
“Dr. Kelly Marsh has done a lot of studies on latte stones. She has done a lot of studies all over the Marianas,” Tudela noted, adding that they do not have a lot of information about the significance of latte stone carving and the texture of other stones in the Marianas that can be used for carving.
“Before embarking on the program, we want good, solid information on what we will be teaching. I don’t want to teach that I don’t have full information of,” he said, noting further that they will rely on Dr. Kelly’s information.
During the meeting at his office, Tudela said he brought Cruz to three latte sites in Saipan – at Laolao Kattan, Chacha and Unai Bapot. If collaboration will push through, Cruz would initiate the carving instruction.
“In the meeting, I asked for their help in trying to revive the cultural activities, including latte stone carving. I also extended our office to them should they want to get more information about us,” he said.
“Hopefully, this would start the exchanging of information. Dr. Kelly gave me the heads up of the book. She will be providing that book that will serve our guide to review materials and other information in the carving and quarrying,” Tudela said.