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Cultural Heritage Informatics and Sustainability: empowering the indigenous population of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands

Cecilia Lizama Salvatore , Emporia State University, USA


Session: Information Policy

In the new millennium, sustainability is a construct that will be especially significant in the developing and emerging nations of the Pacific. Sustainability as it is being discussed and debated has measurable components, such as food in development and ecological and environmental issues. With the way various natural phenomena are having a tremendous impact on the development and the survival of island nations in the Pacific, this is not surprising. This paper posits that in reality cultural identity and cultural informatics do as much for sustainability in the fragile Pacific and thus should be integrated in the debate and discussion. The author draws from personal experience as a librarian at the Micronesian Area Research Center, as Director of the Guam Public Library and Guam Archives, and as a member of the Guam Museum Board, as well as from printed sources and legislation, to propose a framework for a discussion of sustainability and for an eventual resource database on sustainability. The paper is divided into two parts. The first part has three subparts: first, the complex nature of identity in Pacific island nations, such as how it is continually redefined by and emerging because of a history of outside rule and influence, is discussed; second, the way in which legislation and policy and other attempts by local leaders, as well as attempts by the indigenous populations, such as photo digitization, to maintain the supposed "indigenous" culture (i.e., in spite of the above discussion) make explicit the paramount significance of the notion of cultural identity and cultural informatics in the Pacific is discussed; and third, the construct of sustainability and its place in Pacific island nations is discussed. In the second part, a potential resource database on sustainability, in which cultural informatics holds a central place, is extensively described.