Indigenous peoples in Guam

Guåhan (meaning “we have”), more commonly known as Guam, is the largest and southernmost island in the Mariana Islands archipelago, encompassing approximately 212 square miles.

The indigenous peoples of Guam, the Chamorus came to the Marianas over 4,000 years ago. The Chamorus of Guåhan comprise around 37% of the 175,000 population, making them the largest ethnic group on the island, albeit still a minority.

Other ethnic groups include those of the Asian community (Filipinos, Japanese, Koreans, and Chinese to name a few), the outsider Micronesian community (Marshallese, Chuukese, Palauans, Yapese, Kosraens, and Pohnpeians) and Caucasians.

Non-Self-Governing Territory

Since 1521, Guåhan has been under the colonial rule of Spain (1521-1898), the United States (1898-1941), Japan (1941-1944) and, again, the U.S. (1944-present) and is the longest colonized possession in the world.

Currently under the U.S., Guåhan is an unorganized unincorporated territory and does not have its own constitution but does have what is known as the Organic Act, which was created in 1950 and granted U.S. citizenship to the Chamorus of Guåhan. Only part of the U.S. Constitution applies to the Chamorus of Guåhan, as the people are not allowed to vote for the U.S. president and do not have a voting delegate in the White House.

Guåhan has been on the U.N. list of Non-Self-Governing Territories (NSGTs) since 1946, meaning that its indigenous Chamorus have yet to practise their right to self-determination.


The Chamorus are currently being challenged by the re-militarization of their islands, which has come to be known as the “military buildup,” a devastating move by the U.S. against the indigenous population and the place they call home.

Yearly update

Download the 2011 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in Guam to read more about major developments and events during 2010


IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. Read more.

Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide. The Indigenous World 2019.

Contact IWGIA

Prinsessegade 29 B, 3rd floor
DK 1422 Copenhagen
Phone: (+45) 53 73 28 30
CVR: 81294410

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