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Legend of Puntan and Fu‘una
The Story of Creation
The Bird Island Sanctuary, Saipan; courtesy of Riex

In the beginning, before the creation of the earth and the sky, there lived an all-powerful being named Puntan. As time went by, Puntan felt himself about to die. So, he called upon his sister, Fu‘una. Like himself, Fu‘una had been born without the help of a father or mother. Puntan gave her instructions as to the disposal of his body, and gave her all his powers. He said that upon his death, his yes should become the sun and the moon; his breast, the sky; his back, the earth; his eyebrows, the rainbow; and the rest of his body parts, the lesser things of the world and the nether regions.

In due time, Puntan died and Fu‘una carried out her brother’s wishes, as so the world was created. When Fu‘una thought about the beautiful earth that had been brought into being by her brother’s command, she decided that it should be peopled with men and women created in the likeness of her brother and herself. In order to better accomplish her purpose, she established herself as a rock in the southern part of Guahan. After she had done this, she decreed that a certain kind of earth on this rock should first become a stone that would in time give birth to all people.

So she gathered a great quantity of this earth, mixed it with the waters of the sea, and caused it to solidify into a great stone. Then she commanded that this stone divide itself into many stones, a great number of which she gave life to. Thus, they become the first humans from which the races of men were disseminated throughout the world.

About the Legend of Puntan and Fu‘una

Traditional beliefs about creation are told through the legend of Puntan and Fauna, siblings who were responsible for the creation of mankind. When Puntan died, his eyes became the sun and moon, his eyebrows became rainbows, and his breast became the sky; the sky and seawater created a great rock, which divided into small stones that became people. [1] [2]

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)

Sankattan Siha Na Islas Mariånas
Flag of the CNMI; courtesy of Wikimedia
Map of CNMI; courtesy of Wikimedia

Capital: Saipan
Population: 46,050 (2011)
Land Area:464 sq km (179.2 sq miles)[3]
Languages: Chamorro, Carolinian, English, Spanish, and others (e.g., Chinese, Korean, Palauan, Yapese, Chuukese, Pohnpeian, Marshallese, Bangladeshi, Filipino, Nepalese)
Indigenous Ethnicities: Chamorro, Carolinian
Greetings: Buenas dihas/tatdes/noches (formal), Hafa adai or Maolek ha (informal)

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The Mariana Islands includes the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to the northwest and Guam, the southwestern-most island in the archipelago. To the west of CNMI is the Philippines and Taiwan. Southeast of CNMI are the Caroline Islands, including the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau. The southern islands are limestone, with level terraces and fringing coral reefs. The northern islands are volcanic, with active volcanoes on Anatahan, Pagan and Agrihan.[4] [5]

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Climate & Climate Impacts

The CNMI has a tropical marine climate cooled by seasonal northeast trade winds with very little seasonal temperature variation. The dry season runs from December to June, and the rainy season from July to November and can include typhoons.[6]

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History & Way of Life

Latte site at As Mochong, Rota; courtesy of Dirk HR Spennemann
The Mariana Islands—including the CNMI and Guam—have been inhabited by Chamorro peoples for over 4,000 years. Chamorros are known for their monolithic structures called latte stones (pronounced "lattee"). These islands were among the first Pacific islands encountered by the Europeans, starting with Magellan in 1521.

The Chamorro population was moved to Guam in the early 1700s by Spanish colonists, with the exception of a small group on Rota. And in the early 1800s, Carolinians from the outer islands of Yap and Chuuk arrived. Chamorros then moved back from Guam, creating a mixed population. Now, majority of the CNMI’s population resides on Saipan, Tinian and Rota.[7] [8]

Traditionally, the people of the CNMI took pride in great ocean navigators, great healers, language, music, and dance. Today, families and communities continue to preserve Chamorro and Carolinian cultural history through poems, local publications, and arts and crafts. Much of ancient Chamorro and Carolinian cultural history and ways to explaining natural phenomena are preserved in legends and stories, songs and chants, dances, and superstitious proverbs. Language—including jokes and gestures—also plays an important role as a keeper of cultural knowledge.[9] [10]

World War II reminants in Tinian; courtesy of ctsnow

The CNMI has three official languages: Chamorro, Carolinian, and English. Chamorro and Carolinian are used to communicate information and other important issues within families and extended families. English has become universal, dominant in the workplace and government offices, and is used to give instructions and directions. Japanese was taught in schools during the Japanese occupation and is used in hotels and businesses. Other ethnic groups, including Chinese, Koreans, Palauans, Yapese, Chuukese, Pohnpeians, Marshallese, Bangladeshis, Filipinos, and Nepalese, speak their native languages.[11]

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Formal education in the modern sense was non-existent in traditional Chamorro and Carolinian communities. A child’s education happened at home, through observation and training by a parent or role model, and was relevant to the role that the child was expected to take on in adulthood. Today, education is still valued in Chamorro and Carolinian communities. Teachers are respected authority figures and parents expect that the children who go to school will be more successful, as completing formal education is important to acquiring work and some influential positions in the community.[12]

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Photo Gallery

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Tell Your Climate Story

You can share a story about how climate change is affecting your community in two ways

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Or Create a New Wiki Page with Pictures and Links

  1. Create a new wiki page
  2. Give it a title that includes your name
  3. Tag your page as CNMI story.
  4. Tell us your story (you can even include pictures and links!)
Your new page will appear in the list of CNMI Climate Stories here.

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  1. ^ Pacific Resources for Education and Learning. (n.d.). Teach ReSPECT: Teacher resource on selected Pacific cultural topics. In TEAMS: Teaching educators about Micronesian students. Retrieved from
  2. ^ More on the legend of Putan and Fu‘una can be found at
  3. ^
  4. ^

    Pacific Worlds. (2003). Location of Tanapag. In Northern Mariana Islands. Retrieved from
  5. ^ Farrel, D.A. (1991). History of the Northern Mariana Islands(P. Koontz, Ed.). Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands: Public School System, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
  6. ^

    (Farrel, 1991)
  7. ^

    (Pacific Worlds, 2003)
  8. ^ Teach ReSPECT: Teacher resource on selected Pacific cultural topics. In TEAMS: Teaching educators about Micronesian students. Retrieved from
  9. ^

    (Teach ReSPCT, n.d.)
  10. ^ Pacific Resources for Education and Learning. (2010, February). Cultural snapshot: Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands [Fact sheet]. Education Northwest.
  11. ^
    (PREL, 2010)
  12. ^

    (PREL, n.d.; PREL, 2010)