Thursday, May 3, 2018


Preparing for the Field Trip to the Northern Islands in 1967
L-R Pilot Emmet Kay, Father Arnold of Saipan, Father Sylvan
who made the trip north

After World War II, when the northern islands were more or less depopulated, small numbers of Chamorros and Carolinians from Saipan gradually moved north to Pagan, Agrigan and the other northern islands.

By the 1960s, the numbers were bigger. Since they were all Catholic, a priest missionary from Saipan would periodically go up to these islands to say Mass for them and perform other religious duties. The Trust Territory Government, aware that the islanders were Catholic, provided the ship transportation for the priest, alongside the government workers also making the trip.

Here's a report on those islands made by one of the missionaries who made the trip there in 1967.


Population in 1966 : 43
Population in 1967 : 18

Mainly Carolinian.

That's a reduction of 25 people in one year!

Industry : Copra

Landing : open sea on rocks along the beach and only good in fair weather.

No springs or natural water. Only rain water can be collected.


Population in 1966 : 15
Population in 1967 : 3. All males. Chamorros.

Industry : Copra and pigs.

Landing : Poor. Only possible in good weather.

The population dropped in 1967 to just three males because the community leader was treating the people like slaves, and stealing from them, according to Father Sylvan.

To go from the ship to land, one had to use a smaller boat and hopefully manage to jump on the rocks and not land in the sea!


Population in 1966 : 48
Population in 1967 : 19

Mainly Chamorros.

Industry : Copra, pigs, some cattle. Over 60 pigs exported when ship came the last time. Has large citrus supply, but little is exported.

Landing : can be made at two villages, Perdido and Songsong, but only by jumping from vessel to the rocks. Guaranteed wet landing! Unsafe to do so in bad weather.


Pågan was the only northern island with an airstrip.

Population in 1966 : 89
Population in 1967 : 53

Mix of Chamorros and Carolinians. Even a Palauan here and there.

Industry : Has the greatest potential of all the northern islands, but, so far, money to be made is mainly from collecting brass shells from Japanese war remains in caves.

Only northern island with a dock for small boats.

Only northern island with an airstrip.

Only island with roads good enough for cars to use.

Pågan has two lakes and a natural hot spring.

The island could easily support 1000 people if developed.

But both volcanoes are active.

Catholic Chapel
Possibly on Pågan


Population in 1966 : 153
Population in 1967 : 100

Mainly Carolinian.

Most devout Catholic population.

Landing : One good beach possible to land in almost any weather.

Industry : Copra.


No comments:

Post a Comment