Marshall Islands Citizen in US Congress

•January 10, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 8.46.51 AM

60th Anniversary of Bravo Hydrogen Bomb Test Commemorated by the People of Bikini Atoll

•March 9, 2014 • Leave a Comment
Clerk of the Bikini Council, Hinton Johnson, giving his remarks on March 1, 2014.

Clerk of the Bikini Council, Hinton Johnson, giving his remarks on March 1, 2014.

Remarks of Hinton Johnson, Clerk of the KBE Local Government Council, on March 1, 2014 during the commemoration ceremony of the 60th Anniversary of the March 1, 1954, 15 megaton Bravo hydrogen bomb blast on Bikini Atoll, the largest weapon ever tested by the United States:

Today marks the 60th Anniversary of the first testing of Bravo Hydrogen Bomb, which was detonated on Bikini Atoll on March 1, 1954.  Bravo was a thousand times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Today also marks 68 years since the people of Bikini Atoll went into exile from their homeland.  The history of the testing program as well as Castle Bravo is a history that has been told many times.  However, today I want to tell that story again for the generations to come, especially for today’s young Bikinians.

The nuclear legacy of the Bikinian people started on March 7, 1946, which was the time when the US Government moved the Bikinians from their homeland and told them that they would be using Bikini Atoll to test bombs for a short period of time,  or temporarily… We can say today that “temporarily” is now 68 years long.  King Juda said the Bikinians would be willing to go with the belief that “Everything is in God’s hands.” The US relocated the people of Bikini–167 of  us–to Rongerik Atoll and then left us there and forgot about us for two long years.  During that time of our exile we endured a devastating period of starvation.

I am sad to say that during that time the people of Bikini became malnourished and one of our elderly mothers of our community passed away as a direct result of lack of nutrition. After two long years of experiencing hardship on Rongerik Atoll, the people of Bikini were again relocated to Kwajalein Atoll. Six months passed as the Bikinians then remained confused as to where they were supposed to go.  The US finally relocated them to a small island called Kili, a single, solitary island.  Kili is an island where surf breaks on both sides, where life is hard.  I am sad to say that many of our young sons have lost their lives as a result of drowning, unloading their goods from the ships, or while fishing to provide daily food for their families.

After their arrival on Kili Island this this was not the end of their struggle. Several years later, US President Lyndon B Johnson declared that it was safe for the people of Bikini to return to their homeland. But soon after some of the Bikinians returned, it was clear that the people of Bikini Atoll who returned had high levels of radiation in their bodies. Therefore, it was necessary to again move the people of Bikini away from their homeland.

From time to time, Bikinians have asked themselves, When will we return to our homeland? The previous generation answered themselves saying NEVER. The generation today is saying THEY DON’T KNOW and maybe the next generation will say MAYBE.

cropped-bravocolor1mb.jpg

The 15 megaton Bravo blast of March 1, 1954

Under the first Compact of Free Association between the US Government and the RMI Government, they agreed under Section 177 that $75 million will go to the people of Bikini Atoll and that the money will be distributed in two parts every quarter.  During these 15 years half of that money was put into a trust fund known as the Bikini Claims Trust Fund for the people of Bikini Atoll, while the other half of the money was equally distributed among the people of Bikini Atoll.

The people of Bikini and their leadership did not agree to this amount because they realized that it was not sufficient and not right. The amount given under the Compact was not based on scientific studies, so the people of Bikini knew that it was just a “political number.”

Today the money in the Trust Fund pays out to every Bikinian $46 for one month or $1.50 per day.

The USDA food Program distributes food every quarter to the people of Bikini Atoll: One bag of rice for every 2 people and one case of chicken quarter leg for every 8 people.  Also under the first Compact we learned of a new term called the Espousal Clause.  From from time to time we hear our leaders trying to explain what these words mean. Some say it washes the hands of the American people and their Government from all property damage and personal injuries as result of the nuclear testing program conducted in the Marshall Islands because it prevents the Marshallese people and their Government from suing the US Government in any US court.

Leaving Bikini, 1946

At the end of the first Compact agreement it provided that the Government of the Marshall Islands may ask for more compensation based on any new findings arising as a result of the nuclear testing program conducted in the Marshalls and Bikini Atoll.  This clause was known as the “CCP” or the “Changed Circumstances Petition.” The people of Bikini’s award from the Nuclear Claims Tribunal is over $560 million and should be paid as compensation to the people of Bikini Atoll.

Today we all understand that the money that given to the Nuclear Claims Tribunal is depleted and can no longer pay out any compensation.  Regardless, the people of Bikini Atoll and their local government continue to ask the governments of RMI and the US to kindly make these funds available to the people of Bikini Atoll as it is just and right according to the immense level of hardship they have endured since they left their homeland.  Until now they still remain in exile from their motherland.

I want to let each and every one of us who are here to know that from the 167 people of Bikini who left their homeland only a few are living among us today. The people of Bikini, along with the RMI Government, continue to ask the US Government to please “unlock the CCP door” so that fair compensation can be given to the people of Bikini Atoll and their local government as a result of the bomb tests conducted on Bikini Atoll on this the 60th Anniversary of the powerful Bravo bomb.

I want to end my brief remarks and humbly ask the pastors of each religious denomination here today to pray and ask Our Heavenly Father for His blessings and His protection for our community and the people of Bikini Atoll as they don’t know when the end of their road is. I will again quote the words of King Juda who said, “Everything is in God’s hands.”

Thank you.

MARSHALLESE:

Rainin ej mark a im kokaleik 60 iio ritto in Bravo Hydrogen Bomb eo jinoin tata im ear edeboklok ilo ailinin Bikini ilo March 1 ran eo ilo 1954 , eo im ej thousand alen an kajour lok jen Bomb ko rar wotlok ilo Hiroshima im Nagasaki. Rainin ej bar einwot mark a ak kokaleiki 68 iio in an armij in Bikini exile  ak jojolar jen kabijuknen im lemoren eo aer, bwebwenato in test bomb ak kokemelmel bomb ko ilo Bikini ekoba bomb eo je na etan Castle Bravo, emaron in juon bwebwenato eo ekadik melij im melele ad woj jela kake. Ijowot ke rainin ikonan bar juon alen aliji ilo ien in nan ebeben ko tok ilal elab tata, nan ro rej diktakin armij in Bikini rainin. The Nuclear legacy of the bikinian ear ijino ilo March in 1946, ilo tore eo k kien eo an U.S. ear komkut armij in Bikini jen aelon eo aer, ilo aer kar jiron lok er ke rej kejerbal ailin in Bikini nan aer kokemelmel bomb ak test bomb ilo juon tore eo ekadu ak temporarily, jemaron in ba rainin ke temporarily in kio ej 68 iio aetokan, ijoke ilo tore eo King Juda ear ba, kin tomak in ke ” Men Otemjej Rej Ilo Bein Anij”, rar komakut armij in Bikini rein 167 em boklok er nan ailin in Rongrik im dor er em meloklok er iumin 2 iio ko,  tore eo rar iion kole eo elap tata ilo bwebwenato in jojoler eo aer, ibiromoj  in ba ke ilo tore eo ear kanuj in jabwe on ilo anbwiner, im bareinwot juon ian lelab ro jinen jukjuk im bad eo aer ilo tore eo ear emakut jen mour in itok wot jen wewein ear walok. Elkin 2 iio in entan ko ilo Rongrik, rar komakut er nan ailin in Kwajlein, elkin 6 allon ko ion Kwajlein Atoll, rar kanouj in tarbok kin ia eo rej jibadok lok, ilo aer kar kanouj in jab melele, ijoke kien eo an U.S. ear bar komakut er lok nan ijo rej bad ie rainin, juon aelon jidikdik eo jej na etan Kili Island, eo im ejelok aeto in ak ene ko redik, eo im jen ien nan ien ej rub no ko rej jebol, im ej bareinwot juon aelon eo ejelok lik im iar, mour eo ie ekanouj in ben, ibiromoj in ba bwe elon likao ro eman detaier nejij jukjuk im bad in an armij in Bikini ion Kili emoj aer emakut jen mour in ilo kilan malon ak drawn, ilo aer kajieon akuti men ko mwier jen Tima ko, im bareinwot ilo aer kajeon eonod ek nan aer maron najidik bamle ko aer ilo kajojo ran, ijoke ear jab jemlok in ial in ilo tore eo ke rar tokekak lok ilo Kili Island, jet iio tokelik juon ian President ro an America, President Lyndon B. Johnson ear kean ke Bikini eman ak a safe nan joke, im armij in Bikini romaron in bar rol im joke ie, ijoke iumin wot juon tore eo ekadu rar lo ke armij rein rar jeblak nan ailin in Bikini elab level in baijin eo ilo anbwinier, kin menin rar bar aikuj in bar komakut er jen kabijukinen im lemoren in aer, jen ien nan ien armij in Bikini rej kajitikini er make, nat in jenaj rol nan kabijukinen im lemoren eo ad?, ebeben ko lok iman rar uak a er make em ba NEVER, ebeben eo rainin ej uak im ba DON’T KNOW im ebeben ko tokelik remaron in naj uak im ba MAYBE, ilo Compact in Free Associations  eo kein kajuon ikotan kien eo an U.S. im Republic eo an Marshall Islands, rar erra iumin Section 177 eo bwe, tarin in $75 million tala en etal nan armij in Bikini,im bwe money in en ajej ilo juon formula eo me ej ajej ilo ruo motan ko  ilo kajojo quarter, elkin 15 iio ko, jimetanin money in ear etal nan juon Trust Fund eo im na etan Claim Trust Fund for the people of Bikini, im jimetan eo juon ear wotbar nan kajojo armij , mekarta ilo tore eo armij in Bikini im ri tel ro aer rar jab erra ilo detan in, einwot aer kar make kile ke detan in ej juon detan eo ejabwe ak ejab jimwe, konke detan in rar jab bedbede ion jet ekatak ko, ak rej watok detan  in bwe ear juon Political nemba,rainin money in iloTrust Fund in, aorok in kio nan kajojo armej ej $46 tala juon armej ilo juon alon, ak $1.50 cent ilo juon ran. USDA Food Program eo ej bareinwot ajej kajojo quarter nan armij in Bikini, ej etal ilo detan in 2 armij 1 bag in rice, Im 8 armij 1 case in qtr leg. Eja ilo Compact 1 wot ebar itok juon naan eo jej ba Espousal Clause, eo im jen ien nan ien jej ronjake an ri tol ro ad kajieon komeleleiki ta melelein, jet rej ba nan kojemlok im kol lok bein armij in America im kien eo aer jen aolep joran ko rar walok ilo aelon kein ikijen Nuclear bomb ko rar test ilo aelen kein, ak jet rej ba nan bobrae an armij in Marshall im kien eo aer lieakelok kien eo an U.S. ilo jabdewot Court ko ilo U.S. im ilo Marshall in bareinwot. Eja ilo Compact 1 wot ilo an bar kalok  bwe, elane enaj jemlok, eokwe inem kien eo an Marshall  emaron in bar rol lok kin jabdewot likijab im wewen ko rekel ikijen kar kokmelme in bomb ko ilo Marshall in ekoba Bikini Atoll. Wewen in ej wewen eo jej na etan CCP ak Change Circumstances Petition. Iumi Award ko an armij in Bikini ilo Nuclear Claim tribunal eo ear alikar ke eor tarinin $560 jima million rej aikuj in kar kolla iki nan armij in Bikini,bedbed ion jet ekatak ko romol, elkin an kar jet scientise ro katatk kaki im kamoli, rainin joj kanouj in melele ke Nuclear Claim Tribunal eo emoj an ejjelok koban, mekar ta wewe in ak armij in Bikini im kien eo aer rej kajitok iban kien eo an Marshall Islands im Kien eo an U.S. bwe komin joij im na mejlan money kein im litok nan armij in Bikini bwe ejmwe im jejet im ekar nan jonan joran ko rar iioni jen tore eo rar diwojlok jen aelon eo aer nan tore in rej bad wot im jojolar jen kabijukiinen im lemoren eo aer, ikonan kalok nan koj woj kajojo ilo ien in ke ibwilijin 167 armij in Bikini ro rar diwoj tok jen aelon eo aer, eiet lok jen 10 iaer ro rej bad im mour raninin,  Armij in bikini rej bar einwot kajitok ilo aer koba lok iban kien eo an Marshall Islands, im kajitok lok iban kien eo an U.S. bwe en joij im unlock the CCP door, bwe onen ko rejejjet im jimwe ren etal nan armij im Bikini im kien eo aer ikijen Kokomelel in bomb ko Kein eo an America ear komani ilo ailon in Bikini 60 iio ko rej motlok, einwot ad ba rainin, 60th annivresery in bomb eo ekajur tata na etan Bravo. Ikonan kojemlok naan jidik in ao ilo ien in im kajitok iban ri kaki ro kajojo an Eklisha ko kajojo ekoba koj woj jimor bwe, jen jar im kajitok iban Anij lablab jemed woj ilan kin kojerman im kojbarok eo an nan jukjuk im bad eo an armij in Bikini ilo aer jaje jemlok in ial in. inaj bar code e nan eo an King Juda ke ear ba,” Men Otmejej Rej Ilo Bein Anij.”

Kommol.

 

Bikinian Connie Joel 2012 Teacher of the Year in the Marshall Islands

•July 16, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Connie Joel, 2012 RMI Teacher of the Year

Connie Joel, 2012 RMI Teacher of the Year

A Bikinian woman, Connie Joel, has been named the 2012 Teacher of the Year for the Marshall Islands for her work as a teacher on Ejit Island, a home on exile for the people of Bikini Atoll. Ms. Joel, Marshall Islands government Minister of Education Hilda Heine, and RMI educators are in Saipan for the 28th Pacific Education Conference.

For Marshallese, Hawaii Is The Only Home We Have Left

•May 1, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Bikinian Litha Joel Jorju

Bikinian Litha Joel Jorju

by Bikinian Litha Joel Jorju

I am Marshallese and today is the Republic of the Marshall Island’s Independence Day. I am one of the ladies you see with the handmade dresses that looks like a muumuu but not quite. Mine is one of three Pacific Island countries that the United States government signed an international agreement with inviting us to live and work legally in the United States. The other countries are the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau. These are all different countries with different languages, cultures and institutions.

Many newspaper articles over the last year claim that the U.S. invited us to live and work here as a way to make up for the permanent and devastating damage that the United States did to our islands from 1946-1958 when they used my homelands for nuclear bombing tests. That is only part of the story. The United States also keeps this agreement with our countries so that our governments will continue to allow the U.S. military to build and operate massive military bases on our islands.

My family is from Bikini Atoll. This is where the United States concentrated most of its nuclear bomb testing. In fact, the largest nuclear explosions ever conducted by the U.S. military, much larger than the Hiroshima bomb, were tested in and around my family’s villages. These were mostly atmospheric tests, so the contaminated spread far and wide. Some of those nuclear tests were so powerful that entire islands were vaporized.

The U.S. military evacuated my family twice due to the nuclear bomb testing; the first evacuation came before the nuclear bomb tests started, the second evacuation came after the U.S. military realized that they had not moved our families far enough away to keep us safe. In 1968, the United States Atomic Energy Commission announced that it was safe to resettle parts of Marshall Islands, but the International Atomic Energy Commission disputed those findings in 1994 and the families that had moved back home had to be relocated once again. The IAEA provides a good account of this history on its website.

Even today, 55 years after the nuclear tests were stopped, many scientists and nuclear safety organizations report that it is unsafe to eat crops grown on the land there and fish from the local waters. More than a dozen of my aunties and sisters gave birth to deformed babies after the nuclear tests. This is heartbreaking for families. My family and I have given up our dream of ever returning to our ancestral village.

But we are working hard to make a home here in Hawaii. It is hard, because many of us, especially those who faced evacuations and the devastating effects of the nuclear tests, came here with nothing but medical conditions and the will to live. Luckily, I attended a church school when I was young, so I learned English from a young age. This has helped my family through the turmoil of moving to a new country, getting a good job and helping my kids with school work.

Like many of the immigrant groups in Hawaii, even those of us who were teachers and principals and government employees in our home country can only get the lowest, most entry level jobs when we get the United States.
Those of us from Marshall Islands, Micronesian and Palau know that we are not yet accepted in Hawaii. We know that some people don’t like our traditional dresses and skirts, call us all “Micros” and think that we don’t know how to fit in. We are trying. We are trying hard to get an education for our kids, get medical care for our elders, and jobs that will allow us to be self-sufficient.

So today I am celebrating my home country’s Independence Day, and on July 4 I will celebrate the U.S. Independence Day. Parts of the American National Anthem remind me a lot of home, “And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air” sound a lot like the stories my people tell of the bombings of our islands.
Many of our kids are born and raised here in Hawaii and as a mother and grandmother, I pray every day that our kids will be accepted here and be able to live healthy, productive lives. We are working hard to learn the language and cultures here, please also learn a little about us so that we can all understand and accept each other.

I hear people say sometimes, “why are there so many of them here? Why do they dress like that? Why don’t they just go home?” Many of us have no home left, so we are doing the best we can.

About the author: Litha Joel Jorju is a founding member of the Maui Marshallese Women’s Club, part of Faith Action for Community Equity Maui. Jorju works in nutrition services and has five children and three grandchildren.

Bikinian Lulani Ritok stars in West Side Story

•April 25, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Lulani Ritok in West Side Story

Lulani Ritok in West Side Story

 

By Jack Niedenthal

Every year when Professor Garrod tells me what play he has decided to perform, I say to myself, Just how is he going to do this? Indeed, when he told me months ago that he was going to do West Side Story this year I honestly thought he was nuts: All that singing and dancing and intense racial drama on a stage… Here? And every year when I go to the dress rehearsal, as I did this year, I inevitably wind up thinking: No way, this is going to be such a mess, my friend Andrew may finally have to deal with a bit of failure. And every year I walk away after the last performance with my jaw scraping the ground in awe of how he manages to show us all just how deep the artistic talent runs within our own community. The 4 days of performances last week at the ICC were an overwhelming success and such a tremendous joy for our island.

Perhaps the reason West Side Story connected so well with the community here is that the actors on the stage were playing characters that were so close to their own age. When they sung the refrain from the song “Somewhere,” I couldn’t help but wonder how many of those young people on stage haven’t had that same set of feelings about finding their place in the world.

The main characters of Maria and Tony, played by Lulani Ritok and John Riklon, were outstanding. I must admit a bias here for Lulani because she has sung in each of our 4 films. Her voice has always had a way of just taking me places. I am beyond thrilled that so many people were able to experience her singing live as I have for the past 5 years, and I know I was not alone as I sat in awe of her performance. John Riklon was equally astounding. To be able to sing solo, not once but twice, in front of those huge crowds makes him one of the bravest people in the Marshall Islands. His rendition of Maria was superb and captivating and was one of the show’s best moments. The manikin scene with just John and Lulani was also one of my favorites; indeed, their interaction was intriguingly passionate and dynamic throughout the play.

The supporting roles of Anita, Riff and Bernardo, played by Jennifer Andrike, Nitan Anni and Vahid Pedro, made the play what it was. Any production is only as good as your supporting cast, and these three were so powerful. Jennifer has a stage voice and presence that is as good as I have seen in any of these plays. She has an incredible ability to show her emotion by throwing her voice and contorting her body; she mesmerized the audience with the immense amount of personality she brought to her character. Nitan has always been one of my favorites and is a veteran actor: I expect him to be brilliant, and he did not disappoint. His graceful dancing movements, his bodylines reminiscent of a talented figure skater, were downright eye candy. Nitan has learned to use the stage as an effective tool in communicating what his character is all about. Vahid Pedro gave the role of Bernardo a biting-though-entertaining nasty edge. It was nice to see Vahid get a chance to take center stage in a production like this because I have known him for a quite a while, i.e., he is a CHARACTER.

The gang members were wonderful and well cast. Chino, played by Yoda Mewa, and Action, played by Rickson Katwon, were fun to watch as they interacted with the rest of their gang. I particularly liked the performance—the dialog, singing and dancing–of the song “America,” and the scene where Brittany Johnson sings the song “Somewhere” as the cast surrounds Maria and Tony sitting on the stage. Brittany has a nice deep tone and range to her singing voice. Ann Abija as Anybodys created an instant buzz and then a laugh each time she darted onto the stage, putting her in that role was a stroke of genius as it seemed to be made just for her.

One reason I enjoy these plays is that we always get to see some “outsiders” on the stage mixing it up with the local islanders. This allows everyone in the audience to connect with the play, which is always an important goal of any production. This time, however, it was intriguing to see how the outsiders were solely cast to play the “Adult” roles in the play. The reason I say this is that universally, to a teenager, any adult IS an outsider (I have raised 6 of them, I know). Joe Naeem as Doc was perfect, and when Joe wasn’t masterfully playing his role on stage, he was over at the side working the music… I am not sure how he did this, but he did. Tom Armbruster as Shrank and Jovilisi Fotofili as Krupke livened the production with their gravity (and at times, their comedy) as officers of the law. Andrew Shanahan’s role as the nerdy-looking-Buddy-Holly-lookalike Gladhand was well played as he looked so profoundly out of place on stage—just like any adult would at a teen dance.

The two most important people that we never saw on the stage were Mona Levy-Strauss, who each year has been tasked with assembling what has been at times some enormously complicated wardrobes, and Alson Kelen, who has translated all of the plays from English to Marshallese: Imagine the powerful mind of a person who has the capability to translate 8 Shakespeare dialogues and West Side Story from English to Marshallese. Sigh.

Choreographer Marisa Clementi, Producer Max Mucenic, and Assistant Choreographer and Music Director Kristan Thatcher, and the other people from Dartmouth all have our sincere thanks for helping make this play such a marvelous experience for all of us. Bonny and Ken Taggert, who helped build the props and sets, and Scott Stege, who helped with the audio, were also essential in helping get this production off the ground and up and running.

When you think of what was accomplished with this herculean amount of effort by our small community in just two months, it makes you wonder what we could do if we actually had a permanent facility to encourage and accommodate the seemingly unquenchable desire for the performing arts that we have here in the Marshall Islands: Imagine having various forms of live entertainment in a professional venue every weekend instead of one or two weeks a year. Somehow. Some day.

The 29th Annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival to Showcase Bikinian Film

•April 24, 2013 • Leave a Comment

The Sound of Crickets at NightMicrowave Films of the Marshall Islands announced the screening date for its latest film at the 29th annual ASIAN PACIFIC FILM FESTIVAL in Los Angeles.

The Sound of Crickets at Night (Ainikien Jidjid ilo Boñ), the fourth Marshallese feature film directed and produced by the Majuro team of Jack Niedenthal and Suzanne Chutaro that features a story about the people of Bikini Atoll, will be showcased on Wednesday, May 8, 7 p.m., at the CVG theaters in L.A. (Koreatown).

“If you have friends and family in the LA area, tell them to come:  We want to fill the theater like we managed to do in Hawaii, Guam and New York:  The more people in the theater, the more fun it is to watch!” said Niedenthal.

The Sound of Crickets at Night, which premiered at the Marshall Islands Resort in Majuro on September 7, 2012, will also be featured  at the 2013 Big Island Film Festival in Hawaii on Sunday May 26th.  Niedenthal, who wrote all the original screenplays, said they are ready to shoot the next feature film, JILEL (The Shell).

The mission of Microwave Films, according to its website, is:
  • To encourage residents of the Marshall Islands to explore the Marshallese culture and life in the Marshall Islands through the medium of film.
  • To help support the educational, cultural and other institutions of the Marshall Islands via feature-length and short films, commercial, news and infomercial production.
  • To develop, encourage and promote the culture of the Marshall Islands through the medium of film.

“To date, Microwave Films has donated over $25,000 to the Majuro Cooperative School in the Marshall Islands from our film endeavors, which has helped the school with everything from general expenses to graduations and college entrance test exam fees,“ said Niedenthal.
(Note: Parts of the above story taken from Yokwe Online post of March 21, 2013)

*Information for the Los Angeles showing:
THE SOUND OF CRICKETS AT NIGHT
Screening AT 7 PM ON WEDNESDAY, MAY 8th, 2013 AT THE CVG THEATERS
621 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90005

TICKETS:
http://laapff.festpro.com/films/detail/the_sound_of_crickets_at_night_2013

Ainikien Jidjid ilo Boñ (The Sound of Crickets at Night) is the story of a family displaced as a result of  nuclear testing on Bikini Atoll and now living in exile on Ejit Island on Majuro Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Kali, a darling-though-curious 10-year-old Bikinian girl, watches in dismay as her mother and father argue bitterly, then finally separate and leave the island.

Left alone to care for her elderly grandfather, Jebuki, who has been hiding a life-threatening illness, Kali deteriorates, refusing to eat, work or play. Fearing for his granddaughter’s wellbeing, Jebuki makes a desperate decision to summon Worejabato, an ancient deity from Bikini Atoll. Appearing in the form of an unshaven American stranger, Worejabato washes up on the beach on Ejit Island, and is discovered by Kali. The deity immediately begins to weave his way into Kali’s life, but wishes from Worejabato do not come for free. 

What will Jebuki promise to Worejabato to ensure Kali’s happiness?

The 80 minute feature film in the Marshallese language (with English subtitles) stars numerous Bikinians including:
*Former Mayor of Bikini Atoll Alson Kelen (Lead character)
*Executive Council Member Banjo Joel (Lead character)
*Trust Liaison for the people of Bikini Jack Niedenthal (Lead character, Co-director, Co-Producer, Writer)
*Salome Fakatou (10 years old, Lead character)
*Lulani Ritok (17 years old, Supporting actor and lead singer in much of the music)
*Over 20 other Bikinians star in various minor roles

L to R: Jack Niedenthal, Karen Earnshaw, Alson Kelen, Banjo Joel and Salome Fakatou receive the GOLDEN HONU AWARD for Best Family Feature Film at the 2013 Big Island Film Festival in Hawaii.

L to R: Jack Niedenthal, Karen Earnshaw, Alson Kelen, Banjo Joel and Salome Fakatou receive the GOLDEN HONU AWARD for Best Family Feature Film at the 2013 Big Island Film Festival in Hawaii.

AWARDS:

-Big Island Film Festival (Hawaii), WINNER, GOLDEN HONU AWARD for BEST FAMILY FEATURE FILM, May 2013
-Guam International Film Festival, WINNER, GRAND JURY AWARD FOR ACHIEVEMENT IN ACTING, September 2012
-Moondance International Film Festival, WINNER, ATLANTIS AWARD FOR FOREIGN FILMS, September 2012
-Hawaii International Film Festival, OFFICIAL SELECTION, October 2012
-Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, OFFICIAL SELECTION, May 2013
-Northern California International Film Festival, OFFICIAL SELECTION, February 2013
-Asia Pacific Screen Awards, IN COMPETITION, November 2012

Here is the website for the film:
http://www.microwavefilms.org/Crickets.html
Here is the trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJl2a26b1vM&feature=share

Facebook page for Microwave Films of the Marshall Islands

OTHER REVIEWS:

The new film by Jack Niedenthal and Suzanne Chutaro, The Sound of Crickets at Night,  marks a new chapter in the history of Marshallese film. This meditation on loss and emotional deprivation represents the first attempt to articulate on the screen the pain the Marshallese have endured for generations and continue to endure in the 21st century. It is also a movie that is both beautifully imagined and sensitively composed: attributes that make it the first cinematic poem to come out of the Marshall Islands, and the single most ambitious film originating in this country to date... What both domestic and foreign audiences will  come to recognize by the end of this film is that the history of Marshallese exile is not merely history; it is also the present.

-Peter Sutoris, Filmmaker (The Undiscovered Country), August 2012
Read full review

THE SOUND OF CRICKETS AT NIGHT skillfully balances deadly radiation with the supernatural, family dysfunction with innocence, and isolation with inner peace. The results are oddly charming yet shadowed by darkness so that it never becomes cloying.  It recalls the restrained wonder of renowned Thai director Apichatpong Weerasthakul, as further tempered by the darkness of David Lynch. The fantastic, arty, and appeal is further carried out by a cast of local, nonprofessional actors playing themselves.  A priest plays the priest, while city workers and council people take on similar roles… What really makes the movie work is kids acting like kids— a miracle even in films with big budgets… THE SOUND OF CRICKETS AT NIGHT is rich with culture, heart, and intelligence.

-Martin Wong, Co-founder of Giant Robot Magazine, May 2013
Read full review

Marshall Islands-based filmmakers Jack Niedenthal and Suzanne Chutaro have created a provocative and moving drama  that weaves three stories of loss and rue into a memorable work of art… They brush across profound emotional issues – family disintegration, isolation, loss of self-identity and homeland, and the embrace of faith when man-made solutions fail – and plumb their territory with a low-keyed sensitivity that echoes the classic works of Satyajit Ray… Although the cast is made up of nonprofessionals, the ensemble is first-rate… This small and remarkable film is one of the year’s most engaging under-the-radar gems.

-Phil Hall, Film Threat, October 2012
Read entire review

“The Sound of Crickets at Night is part folk tale, part history lesson and part spiritual parable… Charming… Very well done… Pretty amazing… I give it high marks both for the impact it makes as a narrative and its use of a history that’s quickly falling towards the way of myth.”

-Misty Layne, Rogue Cinema, December 2012
Read entire review

The Sound of Crickets at Night at the Hawaii International Film Festival last week… Beautiful local music, skilled photography and a great supporting cast made this  film a total delight while addressing serious issues of life in the Marshall Islands today.”

-Caroline Yacoe, Hawaii, October 2012
read full review

 

Bikini Islander Johnny Johnson joined the 2012 Hapcheon Anti-Nuclear and Peace Festival in S. Korea

•April 4, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Johnny Johnson speaking in Korea.

Marshall Islands Journal, April 5, 2012: Bikini Islander Johnny Johnson joined the 2012 Hapcheon Anti-Nuclear and Peace Festival in S. Korea last month, speaking about the Bikinians’ situation today.
Hapcheon is home to people who were in Hiroshima at the end of World War II when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city, and many were exposed to radiation from the blast. They were sent home soon after the war, and did not receive medical follow up as a result of their exposure. In early 2010, the Hapcheon Peace House was established in Hapcheon, the “Hiroshima of Korea,” to aid and support the offspring of nuclear victims.
Johnson was one of many international speakers at the gathering in Hapcheon.
“For the last 29 years,” Johnson said in a speech in S. Korea, “the US government has played a game with us, switching forums for our claims and postponing again and again the payment of fair compensation that is req uired by the Compact and the US Constitution. We sought relief from the courts, then from the Nuclear Claims Tribunal, then from Congress under the changed circumstances petition, and then again from the courts.”
Johnson said the Bikinians “have done everything that the courts, the Congress and the Executive Branch have asked of us. I regret to say that the Bikinians have not been awarded the justice they seek with the US.”
He said Bikini people have persevered despite numerous relocations. “The hopeful side of me sees this as a true mark of strong people,” he said. “The more cynical side feels as though the injustice brought about by nuclear testing should never have been done.”

DELEGATION FROM BIKINI ATOLL IN WASHINGTON, DC.

•March 31, 2012 • Leave a Comment

L to R: Bikini Senator Tomaki Juda, US Senator Jeff Bingaman, Bikini Mayor Nishma Jamore, Trust Liaison Jack Niedenthal

March 31, 2012, Washington, DC- A delegation from Bikini Atoll of the Marshall Islands was in Washington, DC for 4 days this past week to meet with various US government officials regarding resettlement and financial issues related to Bikini Atoll. The delegation, led by Bikini Mayor Nishma Jamore and Bikini Senator Tomaki Juda and also included Trust Liaison Jack Niedenthal, met with US Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, who is the Chairman of the powerful Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee , and US Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who is the ranking Republican of the same committee, to discuss the status of the resettlement of the people of Bikini. The Bikinians were awarded $563 million by the Nuclear Claims Tribunal in the Marshall Islands in 2001, but because of a lack of funding this claim has yet to be paid. The Bikinians’ lawsuit against the United States that attempted to enforce the Tribunal award was thrown out by the US Supreme Court in 2011.

L to R: Bikini Trust Liaison Jack Niedenthal, US Senator Lisa Murkowski, Bikini Senator Tomaki Juda, Bikini Mayor Nishma Jamore

The delegation also met with US Interior Department officials regarding a number of potential grants and development projects and they met with their money advisors from UBS and their trustees from M & T Bank regarding the status of their two trust funds. They also held a series of meetings with their attorney, Jonathan Weisgall, regarding numerous outstanding issues the Bikinians have with the US government.

New KBE Mayor Nishma Jamore and Local Government Council Members Take Oath of Office

•January 23, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Mayor and KBE Council members preparing for the swearing in ceremony

On January 23rd, 2012:  The Kili/Bikini/Ejit Local Government Mayor and Council were officially sworn in to begin public service to the people of Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands.  The elections were held in November of 2011.  The ceremony was well attended, including the newly elected President of the Marshall Islands, Christopher Loeak, many government ministers, senators and ambassadors and other dignitaries.  The ceremony was held at the International Convention Center (ICC) in Majuro, Marshall Islands and began at 3 PM and lasted well into the night with a celebration honoring the newly elected leaders.  Chief Justice Carl B. Ingram administered the oaths of office to the Mayor and the Council.

The following are the Bikinians who will now hold the positions of Mayor and Council:

Mayor
Nishma Jamore

Council:

Alap (traditional leaders)

Season Leviticus
Ricky Jamore
Matthew Joash

Chief Justice Carl B. Ingram (left) giving the oath of office to newly elected Bikinian Mayor Nishma Jamore

Ejit Island

Banjo Joel
Boaz Kilon
Jason Aitap

Kili Island

Charity Balos
Ketruth Juda
Rufina Antari
Lani Kramer
Jaja Joe
Biten Leer
Typhoon Jamore
Quincy Calep
Wilson Note
Roger Joel
Urantha Jibas
Mishimori Jamore

Honor Debrum helps prepare the food for after the ceremony

The Uliga Choir at the inauguration of the KBE local government Council

Councilwomen Charity Balos, Ketruth Juda and Lani Kramer (not pictured Rubina Attari).

Bikini Senator Tomaki Juda with RMI President Christopher Loeak and First Lady Anono

Bikini Senator Tomaki Juda makes his remarks

Mayor and Council on stage for swearing in

Mayor Nishma Jamore being sworn in by Chief Justice Carl B. Ingram

RMI President Christopher Loeak makes his remarks at the ceremony


Councilmen Urantha Jibas, Wilson Note and Mishimore Jamore swearing in.

Waan Aelõñ in Majel (WAM) Wins 2011 Global Vision Award

•October 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Global Vision Awards 2011

Illustration of a tree for the Global Vision Awards.

Wan Aelon Majol is a Global Vision Award Winner

Preservation Artisan Revival: Waan Aelõñ in Majel (WAM), the Marshall Islands The traditional Marshallese outrigger canoe was once considered among the finest sailing vessels in the world, until modern boats arrived and canoe construction became a dying art form. But thanks to the foresight of an American boat enthusiast and a few remaining experts, WAM emerged with hopes to revive the craft—and inspire a new generation. The program provides life-skills training and instruction in canoe-building to local youth, offering them marketable expertise in a place where more than 70 percent of young people are without jobs. Take the Trip: The WAM Visitors Center, on Majuro Island, lets travelers tour the workshops and sail in a canoe.  Bikinian Mayor Alson Kelen has been the Executive Director of this program for many years.

http://www.wamprogram.org/

Bikini Atoll Local Gov. Audit: A+

•October 14, 2011 • Leave a Comment

From the Marshall Islands Journal: The local governments of the four nuclear affected atolls and Kwajalein were recognized in the latest RMI Auditor General’s report to Nitijela.

Auditor Junior Patrick said it has been difficult to audit the majority of local governments because most do not keep financial records. Patrick said the only local governments that have been audited in recent years are:

• Rongelap Atoll Local Government, FY2009 final audit issued

• Utrik Atoll Local Government, FY2009 draft audit issued

• Kwajalein Atoll Local Government, FY2007/2008/2009 draft audits issued

• Kili/Bikini/Ejit Local Governments (Claims Trust and Resettlement Trust

Fund only), FY2010 final audit issued

• Enewetak Atoll Local Government (food program only), FY2009 final audit

issued.

Aside from these five, no other audits of local governments were reported. The combination of the “inability of local governments to maintain appropriate accounting records and supporting documentation” and the lack of auditors prevented most from being audited. “Most local governments have ignored the established system of accounting that was previously developed,” he added.

An audit of Jaluit Atoll Local Government “was terminated due to inadequate documentation/records,” Patrick said. A planned audit of Likiep Atoll Local Government was not carried out “due to lack of staff and lack of reliable transportation.”

Looking ahead, Patrick said he wants to work closely with the Ministries of Internal Affairs and Finance to get local governments to comply with audit requirements. He also recommended looking at ways to centralize accounting for outer island local governments that cut costs and improve record keeping.

Bikinians Meet to Discuss Proposed KBE Constitution

•October 13, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Mayor Kelen reads the proposed KBE Local gov. Constitution.

The people of Bikini met in a public forum held at the Marshall Islands Resort on Wednesday, October 12, at 2 PM to discuss the referendum of their new Constitution that will be part of the November 2011 RMI election.  About 50 people were in attendance including Mayor Alson Kelen, Senator Tomaki Juda, former Mayor Eldon Note, Mayoral candidates Hinton Johnson and Luman Benjamin, Bikini Consultant Johnny Johnson and many other Bikinians.

Mayor Kelen read through the entire proposed Constitution and then held a question and answer forum afterwards that went on for over an hour.  Most of the questions surrounded one of the new amendments that provides for the Council choosing a new Mayor in the event that the seat is vacated during his or her term of office.  The reason for this is that the national government no longer has the funds to provide for special elections should a Mayor vacate his or her office.  In the proposed Constitution all of the people of Bikini will continue to vote for Mayor in the general elections just as it has been done in the past.

The ratification of the proposed Constitution is also important because the previous KBE Constitution referred to the head of the local government as “Governor” and there were also several conflicting provisions in the previous Constitution that led to confusion in the RMI Court system.  If the Constitution gets ratified by a simple majority of the people of Bikini it will be come law once the election is certified.

Bikinians discussing their proposed Constitution

Below are Specimen ballots for the upcoming November 2011 election.  You will notice at the bottom of the ballots there is the following language regarding our Constitutional referendum:

MARSHALLESE:
Ilo S. Ct. Appeal No. 2010-001, Supreme Court eo an Marshall Islands ear ebebe im drepdrep wot im jab kommane jemlok eo an ilo an kotlok bwe armij in Bikini (“K/B/E”) ren kelet Jemen E eo aer ekaal ilo juon referendum eo enaj komman ilo November 2011.  Jemen E eo im armij in Bikini rar mour iumin ejanin kar weppen jen kajojo armij in Bikini im ear bareinwot wor jet idaaptok ko ilowan.

( ) Aet, elane kwoj erra ilo Jemen E in.

( ) Jab, elane kwojjab erra ilo Jemen E in.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
ENGLISH:
In S. Ct. Appeal No. 2010-001, the Marshall Islands Supreme Court held the appeal in abeyance to allow the people of Bikini (“K/B/E”) to approve of a new Constitution at a referendum to be held in November 2011. The Constitution under which the people of Bikini were operating had never been approved by the people of Bikini and had several conflicting provisions.

( ) Yes, indicates a voter’s approval of the proposed Constitution.

( ) No, indicates a voter’s disapproval of the proposed Constitution.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Copies of the KBE Constitutions in both English and Marshallese and the Ejit and Kili election ballots can be picked up at the Bikini Atoll Town Hall, or they can be downloaded at this link or downloaded in PDF from the links below:
http://www.bikiniatoll.com/govt.html

If there are any questions please email Jack Niedenthal at bikinijack@gmail.com

REFERENDUM DOCUMENTS

KBE Proposed Constitution in Marshallese for November 2011 referendum 

KBE Proposed Constitution in English for November 2011 referendum

KBE ballot for Kili Island for November 2011 election

KBE ballot for Ejit Island for November  2011 election

Lañinbwil’s Gift “Best of Fest” in Guam International FIlm Festival

•October 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The award for Best of Fest

From the October 7, 2011 Marshall Islands Journal: Lañinbwil’s Gift producers sat dumbfounded in the Micronesian Mall theaters as Guam International Film Festival organizers on Sunday called out their film as the winner of the “Best in the Fest” — the top award of the program. Based on comments earlier in the day, they figured a Taiwan film was headed for glory as best film. Co-producers Jack Niedenthal and Suzanne Chutaro throught after the first few awards were announced and Laninbwil’s Gift wasn’t among them that “that was it” and they would have to be satisfied with being a “finalist,” said Chutaro. Then the announcer said it was time to award the best film of the festival. “…And the winner is…Lañinbwil’s Gift.” “The air rushed out of my lungs and I just sat there,” said Niedenthal. “My wife elbowed me in the ribs and said, ‘go up to the stage.’”

Chutaro said she was stunned by the announcement. Both made speeches after receiving the award. Of the 130 films from 24 countries at the Guam International Film Festival, Lañinbwil’s Gift won the best film award. “Over the three days of the festival, everyone kept talking about ‘Night Market Hero,’ a film from Taiwan,” said Niedenthal. “It was really well done.” He figured this was the film that would get the top award. But on Sunday afternoon, before the awards ceremony, every seat in the 250-seat cinema was filled for the showing of Lañinbwil’s Gift — a mix of Marshallese and other Guam residents. “People kept commenting on how natural the acting in the film (Lañinbwil’s Gift) was,” Niedenthal said. Chutaro, Niedenthal, and actor and local attorney Philip Okney, who joined with the co-producers at the film festival, were welcomed home Monday night at Amata Kabua International Airport by banner-carrying Majuro Co-op School students who were involved in the film and relatives who congratulated them on the big win, the latest award that the “made in Majuro” film has garnered.  The film stars over a dozen Bikinian people and Niedenthal works as the Trust Liaison for the people of Bikini Atoll.

Directors and Producers Bikini Liaison Jack Niedenthal and Suzanne Chutaro accept award, also pictured, Phil Okney

The Guam Legislature in a resolution last week recognized Jack Niedenthal for his contribution to the Marshall Islands. “Jack Niedenthal wears several hats and has proven to be a true asset to the Marshall Islands and Micronesia,” said the Guam Legislature’s resolution signed by Acting Speaker Benjamin JF Cruz, Committee on Rules Chairperson Rory J. Respicio, Senator and sponsor Sam A. Mabini and Legislative Secretary Tina Rosemuna Barnes. The resolution was presented to him during the Guam International Film Festival last weekend by Senator Mabini. “Among several roles, today he is Chairman of the Board for the Marshall Islands Social Security Administration, Presidnet of the Majuro Cooperative School, Board of Director Bank of Marshall Islands, Regent on the Board of Directors for the College of the Marshall Islands, Founder of Microwave Films, Filmmaker, Author, Community Advocate, Loving Husband and Devoted Father,” the resolution said. “For this, we recognize and commend Jack Niedenthal and for all his work and his participation in the Guam International Film Festival 2011.” The resolution from the Committee on Rules of the Guam Legislature offered its official expression of recognition “on behalf of the Guam Legislature and the people of Guam.”

 

 

Lañinbwil’s Gift chalked up more international recognition by winning the “best film” award at the Guam International Film Festival last weekend.

It has already won:
• Best foreign language film in the Hawaii Ocean Film Festival.
• The International Award for Feature Films at the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival in Washington state. And the film was a “finalist” at the Moondance International Film Festival in Boulder, Colorado. It is also in competition for the Asia/Pacific Screen Awards, which will be issued later this month. It has been sent to big film festivals in Seattle, Cleveland, Atlanta and Alaska.

http://www.microwavefilms.org/Laninbwil.html

People of Bikini receive 1000 colorful paper cranes from Japanese peace group

•September 27, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Mayor Alson Kelen (left) and members of the Bikinian community with the boxes of paper cranes from Japan

The people of Bikini have received 1,000 beautiful colored paper cranes from the Japanese peace group, the 2011 Committee of The Great Peace March of Ehime Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs.  It is said that the one thousand paper cranes represent long life. The group has sent over 3 million cranes to 61 groups in 29 countries.  Their desire is for these groups to use the paper cranes for anti-nuclear purposes.  Mayor Kelen pledged to use these cranes during the Bikini Day celebrations in March of 2012 on Kili Island.

Announcement: KBE Constitutional Referendum in November of 2011

•September 22, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Below are Specimen ballots for the upcoming November 2011 election.  You will notice at the bottom of the ballots there is the following language regarding our Constitutional referendum:

MARSHALLESE:
Ilo S. Ct. Appeal No. 2010-001, Supreme Court eo an Marshall Islands ear ebebe im drepdrep wot im jab kommane jemlok eo an ilo an kotlok bwe armij in Bikini (“K/B/E”) ren kelet Jemen E eo aer ekaal ilo juon referendum eo enaj komman ilo November 2011.  Jemen E eo im armij in Bikini rar mour iumin ejanin kar weppen jen kajojo armij in Bikini im ear bareinwot wor jet idaaptok ko ilowan.

( ) Aet, elane kwoj erra ilo Jemen E in.

( ) Jab, elane kwojjab erra ilo Jemen E in.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
ENGLISH:
In S. Ct. Appeal No. 2010-001, the Marshall Islands Supreme Court held the appeal in abeyance to allow the people of Bikini (“K/B/E”) to approve of a new Constitution at a referendum to be held in November 2011. The Constitution under which the people of Bikini were operating had never been approved by the people of Bikini and had several conflicting provisions.

( ) Yes, indicates a voter’s approval of the proposed Constitution.

( ) No, indicates a voter’s disapproval of the proposed Constitution.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Copies of the KBE Constitutions in both English and Marshallese and the Ejit and Kili election ballots can be picked up at the Bikini Atoll Town Hall, or they can be downloaded at this link or downloaded in PDF from the links below:
http://www.bikiniatoll.com/govt.html

If there are any questions please email Jack Niedenthal at bikinijack@gmail.com

REFERENDUM DOCUMENTS

KBE Proposed Constitution in Marshallese for November 2011 referendum 

KBE Proposed Constitution in English for November 2011 referendum

KBE ballot for Kili Island for November 2011 election

KBE ballot for Ejit Island for November  2011 election

Marshall Islands film named ‘finalist’ in Guam festival

•September 4, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Lañinbwil

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 05, 2011 12:00AM BY GIFF JOHNSON – FOR VARIETY MAJURO — A film made in the Marshall Islands has been nominated as one of four finalists in the Guam International Film Festival.

The festival, which runs from Sept. 29-Oct. 2, on Thursday named Lañinbwil’s Gift as a finalist for “best feature narrative,” according to Kel Muna, the program director for the Guam festival. The film’s finalist nomination in Guam follows it winning the “Best International Feature Film” award at the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival in Vancouver, Washington last month.

“Only four films out of over one hundred submissions from 18 countries around the world were chosen to be honored with this prestigious recognition,” said Muna. Lañinbwil’s Gift and the other three finalists will be screened at the Micronesian Mall Stadium Theaters Sunday October 2, the last day of the Guam International Film Festival.

It is the third film made over the past three years by Majuro residents Jack Niedenthal and Suzanne Chutaro. When not filming and producing low-budget films, Niedenthal is the trust liaison agent for the Bikini Atoll Local Government, and Chutaro is the advertising manager for the Marshall Islands Journal, a weekly newspaper published in Majuro.

Lañinbwil’s Gift, a 99-minute film, presents the story of Jacob, an old island man with a complicated secret. When Jacob was a teenager, a “noniep,” a Marshallese fairy known for helping troubled souls, transformed him from a homeless simpleton into a normal young man. This favor came with a price: The noniep made Jacob promise that one day he must bestow this newfound intelligence upon another deserving person with Jacob’s only instructions being that he would know “who” when the time came.

After a lifetime of pondering this otherworldly commitment to the noniep, Jacob finally discovers Lañinbwil, a homeless young man who has been abandoned by his family. Just when Jacob begins to get close to the troubled youth, Lañinbwil unwittingly gets caught up in a war of mystical power between an evil “mejenkwar,” a demon that possesses young pregnant women, and her archenemy, the shamanic old woman, Lijimu. Black magic, intrigue and evil descend on Majuro as the film plays out.

Niedenthal, who wrote the original screenplay for the movie, said he thinks one reason the film has caught on with film festival judges and audiences is it “takes you through the whole Marshall Islands. There are scenes in the hospital, at businesses, with kids, at a kemem (first birthday party), of dancing, at a funeral, and in all parts of the island. What isn’t in there?”

For people unfamiliar with the Marshall Islands, the film offers a completely new film environment, said Niedenthal.

“Anytime a filmmaker brings an alien environment to screen, it captivates the audience because they haven’t seen it before,” he said. “We have every little facet of Majuro. The film takes you around everywhere.” And, he said, the story line of the black magic battle between a demon and the shaman Lijimu makes it a “unique story, a story no one’s heard before. That’s the cherry on top.”

“Our program committee is thrilled to include Lañinbwil’s Gift into the Festival’s programming lineup and in addition, felt that it is deserving of the nomination for this special award,” Muna said of the Guam International Film Festival decision. “The judging of the films in this category will be made by our Grand Jury that is comprised of film industry professionals.”

The film, starring over a dozen Bikinians–including the Mayor of Bikini Atoll–along with other Marshall Islanders, has already garnered the following accolades:

WINNER, BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM, Hawaii Ocean Film Festival, Hawaii

WINNER, INTERNATIONAL AWARD, FEATURE FILM,  Columbia Gorge International Film Festival, Vancouver, Washington

FINALIST, Moondance International Film Festival, Boulder, Colorado

FINALIST, GRAND JURY AWATD, BEST FEATURE NARRATIVE, 2011 Guam International Film Festival, Guam

IN COMPETITION for the 2011 ASIA PACIFIC SCREEN AWARDS

The official website for the film is here:

http://www.microwavefilms.org/Laninbwil.html

Yaizu City Mayor visits Bikinians on Majuro and Ejit Islands

•August 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Shizuoka city, Bikini Atoll mull peace ties

Kyodo

Yaizu Mayor Hiroshi Shimizu and Mayor Alson Kelen at Bikini Atoll Town Hall.

MAJURO, Marshall Islands 8/19/2011 — The city of Yaizu, Shizuoka Prefecture, on Saturday offered Bikini Atoll an alliance to promote peace-building by the two municipalities, both of which have been affected by the mid-20th century U.S. nuclear tests.”We want to build peace together with an eye to becoming peace and friendship cities,” Yaizu Mayor Hiroshi Shimizu told Bikini Mayor Alson Kelen during a meeting in Majuro, capital of the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific.

From the 1940s to 1950s, the United States carried out 67 nuclear tests in the northern part of the Pacific country, while one hydrogen bomb test in March 1954 in Bikini Atoll exposed a tuna fishing boat from Yaizu to radioactive fallout.

Kelen told Shimizu that both Japan and Bikini Atoll have been affected by the radiation damage. “We have to learn from the past, we have to learn for the future,” he said.

Kelen also expressed willingness to arrange a tieup over constructing peace memorials in Yaizu and Majuro.

Bikini Atoll residents are still forced to live far from their homes due to continued radioactive contamination.

Twenty-three crew members on the tuna boat Fukuryu Maru No. 5 were exposed to the fallout from the 1954 test and one of them, Aikichi Kuboyama, 40, died six months later.

Mayor Shimizu from Yaizu City also visited Bikini Atoll Town Hall, where he had meetings with representatives from Bikini including Bikinian Mayor Alson Kelen and Bikinian Senator Tomaki Juda and some members of the Bikini Local Government.  On Saturday he also visited the Alele Museum in Majuro Atoll and then had a luncheon with Japanese Embassy officials and guests along with representatives from the Bikini Local Government.

Yaizu Mayor Hiroshi Shimizu, Bikinian Senator Tomaki Juda and Bikini Alap Jendrik Leviticus on Ejit Island

On Sunday Mayor Shimizu attended a church service on Ejit Island with the people of Bikini, and later in the day he had a dinner meeting with the Mayors and representatives from Bikini, Enewetak, Rongelap and Uterok Atolls, which were all affected by the U.S. nuclear testing.

Mayor Kelen said, “It is our great hope that we can strengthen the relationship between our people who have so much in common.”   Mayor Kelen visited Japan earlier this year in March.

Taiwan Donates Funds for Bikini Atoll Local Government Vehicle Purchases

•August 4, 2011 • Leave a Comment

L to R: Beney Kelen, Councilwoman Ketruth Juda, Mayor Alson Kelen and Senator Tomaki Juda at truck dedication

August 5, 2011: The government of Taiwan donated funds to the Kili/Bikini/Ejit Local government for the purchase of 3 government vehicles.  Today the women of Bikini Atoll, along with Senator Tomaki Juda and Mayor Alson Kelen, dedicated the vehicle that will be used by the Bikini Women’s Group for their activities on Majuro Atoll.  The other 2 vehicles will be sent to Kili Island for use by the local government.

Councilwoman Ketruth Juda makes a speech at the vehicle dedication.

Delegation from Bikini Atoll Meets with U.S. Senator Boozman, Interior

•July 19, 2011 • Leave a Comment

(L to R) Bikini Trust Liaison Jack Niedenthal, Mayor Alson Kelen, Arkansas Senator John Boozman, Bikini Senator Tomaki Juda and Council Advisor Johnny Johnson

July 19, 2011:  A delegation of Bikinians led by Mayor Alson Kelen and Senator Tomaki Juda was in Washington, DC this week to work on several issues concerning the people of Bikini Atoll.  Also with the delegation was Council Advisor Johnny Johnson and Trust Liaison Jack Niedenthal.  The Washington, DC based attorney for the people of Bikini, Jonathan Weisgall, attended all of the meetings.

A meeting was held in the Hart Senate Office Building with US Senator John Boozman and his staff from Arkansas concerning the state of the Bikinian people and other Marshallese living in Arkansas.  While Senator Juda expressed his gratitude to Senator Boozman for the kindness and acceptance shown toward the Marshallese people in Arkansas, he said there is still a great need to find a way to help those Marshallese who have no medical insurance or health plans.  Senator Boozman pledged to work on this issue and also stated he hoped that there would be more of an effort by the US government to provide better medical care to the people living in the Marshall Islands before they travel to the United States.

Bikini Atoll delegation meets with U.S. Interior Department Officials

Meetings were held with the US Interior Department concerning the recent flooding that occurred on both Kili and Ejit Islands where numerous houses and food crops were damaged.  The Bikinians have begun pursuing the possibility of technical assistance grants from the U.S. Interior Department on a number of projects that would aid the people of Bikini living on Kili and Ejit Islands as a result of these unexpected calamities.

The Bikinians also met with Allen Stayman and Isaac Edwards from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to discuss a number of new developments and issues in the Bikinian community.

Meetings were held with the trustees for the people of Bikini from M & T Bank and also the financial advisors from UBS PaineWebber to discuss the current condition of their two trust funds.  Currently, as of June 30, 2011, the Resettlement Trust Fund is worth approximately $85 million and the Bikini Claims Trust Fund is worth $60 million.

The Kili/Bikini/Ejit Local Government will begin deliberations on the upcoming Fiscal Year 2012 budget next month.  The fiscal year for the people of Bikini runs from October 1 to September 30 of each year.

Lañinbwil’s Gift wins Hawaii Ocean Film Festival Award

•July 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

"Miko" played by Bikinian Lulani Ritok, and "Letao" played by Iohaan Anjolok

July 19, 2011: It was announced last week that the Marshallese feature film, “Lañinbwil’s Gift,” starring over a dozen Bikinians, won BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM at the Hawaii Ocean Film Festival, named one of the “20 Coolest Film Festivals in 2010” by Moviemaker Magazine.  The film, released in May of 2011, stars Iohaan Anjolok, Lulani Ritok, Netha Gideon, Lyel Tarkwon, Wyre Kimej, Martha Horiuchi, Randon Jack and Maxter Tarkwon and was directed and produced by Bikini Trust Liaison Jack Niedenthal and Suzanne Chutaro.

Lañinbwil’s Gift is also an “Official Selection” at the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival in Vancouver, Washington and will be shown at that festival in August.
http://www.angaelica.com/festivals/cgiff2011/

“Lañinbwil’s Gift” website:
http://www.microwavefilms.org/Laninbwil.html

“Lañinbwil’s Gift” Preview Trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGCp2ht5FEM

Moviemaker Magazine article re Hawaii Ocean Film Festival
http://www.moviemaker.com/festivals/article/20_coolest_film_festivals_2010_20101201/

July Announcement of Winners at HOFF
http://www.hawaiioceanfilmfestival.org/2011winners.html

Bikinian Jackson Aster on Gold Medal Winning RMI Basketball Team

•July 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Jackson Aster

July 14, 2011 – Ponape, FSM: The Marshall Islands national 15-and-under basketball team made history today in Pohnpei, FSM, becoming the first RMI basketball team to win gold in regional competition.   Jackson Aster, a 15 year old Bikinian who attends the Majuro Cooperative School in Majuro, was one of only 11 boys to play on the team after a lengthy tryout process.

In the championship game of the first 15-and-Under Micronesia Basketball Tournament (East Division) on Thursday night July 14, 2011, the RMI team defeated Pohnpei I 91-67.

The two teams had split their earlier games, with Pohnpei winning the first meeting Monday 68-65, and the RMI boys rebounding for a 74-65 win on Tuesday, which propelled them to the championship game Thursday.

RMI won the rubber match resoundingly. Telephoning from court side at the College of Micronesia’s gymnasium in Palikir Pohnpei minutes after the team won the gold medal, assistant coach Alber Alik reported that the RMI teenagers went into overdrive in the gold medal game and Pohnpei couldn’t keep pace. “They couldn’t run with us,” said Alik, who with Robert Pinho assisted Head Coach Paul Kattil with the unprecedented tournament result.

RMI held a strong 20-point lead mid-way through the game, but Pohnpei fought back in the third quarter to narrow the score. By the last 10 minutes of the game, however, RMI’s fast break overwhelmed the Pohnpei players, said Alik.

Further details of the game, including leading scorers will be posted as they become available.

The team returns to Majuro Friday night, July 15. Ministry of Internal Affairs Secretary Wilbur Heine has arranged for the team and coaches to be welcomed through the airport’s VIP Lounge, with a live broadcast with V7AB scheduled to happen immediately after their arrival. Parents of the players are also organizing a welcome at the airport and other festivities.

The Marshall Islands Basketball Federation wishes to recognize its many supporters that made the RMI national 15-and-under team’s participation in this Micronesia basketball tournament a resounding success. Please see our donor recognition on our home page.

Bikinian 7th Grader Danny Joel from Ejit Island to travel to Japan

•June 16, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Senator Tomaki Juda, Danny Joel, Boboni Joel and Mayor Alson Kelen at the Bikini office

June 17, 2011. Bikinian Danny Joel, a 7th grader from Ejit Elementary School, will be traveling to Japan this week for an honor student exchange and workshop.  Danny was chosen because of his scholastic achievements and will travel with other honor students from the Marshall Islands for this summer program.  He is the grandson of Boboni Joel.

Bikinians Star in New Marshallese Feature Film, Lañinbwil’s Gift

•May 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Click on poster to enlarge!

From the creators of the films Ña Noniep and Yokwe Bartowe comes a film  that explores the tradition of kindness of the Marshallese culture and people.  There are more than a dozen Bikinian people involved in this film including the female lead, Lulani Ritok, who also sings in 4 of the songs in the film, and the writer, co-director and co-producer of the film, Bikini Trust Liaison Jack Niedenthal.  Bikini Mayor Alson Kelen also has a role in the film.

Lañinbwil’s Gift is the story of Jacob, an old island man with a complicated secret. When Jacob was a teenager, a noniep, a Marshallese fairy known for helping troubled souls, transformed him from a homeless simpleton into a normal young man. This favor, however, came with a huge cost: The noniep made Jacob promise that one day in the future he must bestow  this newfound intelligence upon another deserving person with Jacob’s only instructions being that he would know ‘who’ when the time came.   After a lifetime of pondering this otherworldly commitment to the noniep, Jacob finally discovers Lañinbwil, a homeless young man who has been abandoned by his family and who lives in a large tattered cardboard box beside a government office building… Just when Jacob begins to get close to the troubled youth, Lañinbwil unwittingly gets caught up in a war of mystical power between an evil Mejenkwar, a demon that possesses young pregnant women, and her archenemy, the gifted, shamanic old woman, Lijimu.

The Mejenkwar is enraged because Lijimu has been enormously successful in driving the demon away from her human victims.  The vengeful Mejenkwar, fed up with failure, launches a two-pronged attack: First, the powerful demon transforms Lañinbwil into the legendary trickster, Letao, whose sole purpose is to drive Lijimu’s beloved and beautiful teenage grand daughter Miko insane  and thus make her grandmother miserable. Secondly, the Mejenkwar possesses Kaila, who is the pregnant girlfriend of Bartowe,  one of Lijimu’s most trusted friends. Once possessed by the demon, the lovely Kaila slips into an eerie coma that even doctors can’t comprehend.

Though the island town becomes the stage for a classic struggle between the forces of light and darkness, as the characters’ personalities battle unaccountable life-altering influences, hope awaits all in Lañinbwil’s box in the form of a simple broken telephone…

The film stars Iohaan Anjolok, Lulani Ritok, Netha Gideon, Lyel Tarkwon, Wyre Kimej, Martha Horiuchi, Randon Jack and Maxter Tarkwon.  The film was shot on location in Majuro Atoll in the Marshall Islands, and at Hershey Park, Pennsylvania in the United States. Lañinbwil’s Gift contains several new musical compositions along with some old time favorites performed by Nelu deBrum, Lulani Ritok, Mattu Lejjena, Joseph deBrum, Randon Jack, Lami Maddison, and the Marshallese bands Ri-Karere Ran and Awa Zero.

All proceeds from Lañinbwil’s Gift will go to the Majuro Cooperative School.

The film opens on May 21, 2011 at the Marshall Islands Resort.

Radio Australia Interview with co-director, writer and co-producer, and Bikini Liaison,  Jack Niedenthal

Lañinbwil’s Gift preview trailer

A Short Scene from Lañinbwil’s Gift

New Bikinian Council Members Sworn In

•April 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Mayor Alson Kelen (left) swears in (from left to right standing) Ricky Jamore, Mishimori Jamore and Jason Aitap.

The Ejit Youth Choir entertains the Council at the Swearing in ceremony

Three new Bikinian Council members were sworn in on Tuesday, April 19, 2011.  Councilman Jason Aitap takes the place of Alson Kelen on Ejit Island as Kelen became Mayor after the untimely death of former Mayor Kataejer Jibas in 2008.  Councilman Mishimori Jamore now represents Kili Island as he is taking the place of former Councilman Uraki Jibas who died this past December.  Ricky Jamore will now sit as an Alap on behalf of his grandmother, Jokonwa Aitap.  The three new Council members were sworn in by Mayor Alson Kelen.  Their terms will end this year as there is a new election in November.

Bikinians Commemorate Bikini Day in Arkansas

•March 30, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Nixon Jibas speaking at Bikini Day in Arkansas, 3-26-11

On March 26, 2011 at Springdale Arkansas about 250 Bikinians commemorated Bikini Day marking 65 years of exodus from Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands.  Kathrine Leviticus spoke for senior citizens, Donald Juda spoke for the local government, Nixon Jibas spoke for the MORIBA Club, an organization of Bikinian people living outside the Marshall islands and Lumon Benjamin was the keynote speaker.  Several people got up to speak towards the end to represent various Bikinian families.  Traditionally Bikinians all over the world take time in March to remember their history and commemorate what happened on Bikini: from 1946 to 1958 the United States tested 23 nuclear and thermonuclear weapons, including the 15 megaton Bravo shot on March 1, 1954 that irradiated most of the northern Marshall Islands and the people living there at the time.  Currently there are about 700 Bikinians residing outside of the Marshall Islands.

Bikini Atoll Mayor Alson Kelen Attends Bikini Day Forum in Yaizu City, Japan

•March 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment

By Giff Johnson, Marshall Islands Journal

Kili/Bikini/Ejit Mayor Alson Kelen gave Bikini and the Marshall Islands high visitbility at Bikini Day Forum in Yaizu City, Japan earlier this week. Yaizu was homeport for the “Lucky Dragon” fishing vessel that was exposed to high-level radioactive fallout from the Bravo hydrogen bomb test at Bikini on March 1, 1954. Kelen met with many of the Lucky Dragon survivors who were affected by Bravo. “I was a panelist in a youth workshop along with victims from the Lucky Dragon and other boats,” Kelen told the Journal. He met with the vice mayor and the council of Miura City and the mayor of Yaizu City about possible sister city relationships. The Yaizu City mayor is planning to visit Majuro in May, and bringing with him a large media group including television and newspaper news crews. Kelen said Japan’s major network, NHK TV, interviewed him and officials from the network said they aim to come to Majuro this summer. “I was very impressed with the Bikini Day Forum and rally here,” he said. “Many people came from all over Japan, as well as from the US, Australia, and South Korea. During the march, which was probably three miles long, there were many old people actually walking, lots of them were in their late 60s and 70s.”

Ejit Island gets hit by Waves during Highest Tide of 2011

•February 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Ejit Island of Majuro Atoll, home to the people of Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands who were evacuated from Bikini Atoll in 1979 due to high levels of cesium 137 in the soil, was overcome by waves during the highest tide of 2011 on Saturday, February 19, 2011.  The high tide measured 6.23 feet (1.9 meters) at about 5 PM local time.  While no one was hurt by the waves washing over the island, many of the local food crops such as breadfruit, pandanus, bananas, papaya and coconuts were damaged.

Ejit Island, Majuro Atoll 2/19/11

Ejit Island, Majuro Atoll 2/19/11

Ejit Island, Majuro Atoll 2/19/11

Ejit Island, Majuro Atoll 2/19/11

Bikini Atoll mayor to visit Japan on H-bomb date

•February 16, 2011 • Leave a Comment
Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011
Kyodo News (The Japanese Times)

Bikinian Mayor Alson Kelen will visit Japan to commemorate the 57th anniversary on March 1 of a U.S. hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific that exposed some members of the local population as well as a Japanese tuna boat to radioactive fallout, organizers said.

Mayor Alson Kelen

The Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs, commonly known as Gensuikyo, announced Tuesday that Kelen will be attending a gathering and meet with Hiroshi Shimizu, the mayor of Yaizu, Shizuoka Prefecture, the home port of the tuna boat Fukuryu Maru No. 5.

Kelen said in a statement he hopes to share with others the damage and suffering of his people, who cannot return to their home island due to strong radiation remaining in the area to this day.

Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands was a major hydrogen bomb testing site of the United States, and a number of local residents were exposed to radiation in the process.

The trip is being funded by The Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs.

 

Kili Island Gets Hit by Wave at High Tide

•February 13, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Kili Island in the Marshall Islands was hit by a wave during a high tide on January 21, 2011. Kili, a single island in the North Pacific Ocean, has been the home of the nuclear refugees from Bikini Atoll since 1948. Bikini was used by the United States for nuclear testing from 1946-58. 23 nuclear and thermonuclear weapons were tested on Bikini rendering those islands uninhabitable.

No one was hurt during the January flood, but some houses and public buildings were damaged. On Friday, February 11, 2011, Bikini Atoll Mayor Alson Kelen and Bikini Atoll Senator Tomaki Juda accompanied a delegation comprised of a USAID official from the US Embassy, an official from the RMI EPA, an engineer from the Ministry of Public Works, and an oceanographer from the College of the Marshall Islands to assess the situation.

Flood waters near the airport on Kili Island.

Flood waters surround Kili Island Elementary School.

Flood waters surround truck by the Kili Island Airport.

Flood waters surround house by the Kili Island Airport.

Inside of house on Kili Island the day of the flood.

Fire Destroys Buildings Across from Bikini Atoll Town Hall

•November 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment

On Friday, November 12, 2010, at 3 PM a huge fire engulfed several buildings across the street from the Bikini Atoll Town Hall located on Majuro Atoll of the Marshall Islands. The Town Hall has been without power since Thursday, as were the other buildings that burned, because of some MEC engine mechanical and repair problems. No one was hurt in the tragic fire, but the Town Hall now has an issue with the inside of the building smelling like smoke as the wind blew the smoke and debris onto the Town Hall for about 5 hours.

Discount Store across the street from the Bikini Atoll Office, Nov-12-2010


Smokes pours out of the Discount Store and blows toward Town Hall Nov 12, 2010


Bikini Atoll Town Hall engulfed in smoke from buildings on fire across the street. 11-12-2010

Huge 50 Foot Sperm Whale Washes up on Kili Island Reef in the Marshall Islands

•October 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

On the morning of Friday, October 22, a huge 50 foot adult Sperm whale washed ashore on the reef of Kili Island in the Marshall Islands. The whale was dead when it was discovered. Kili Island is the home for over 1000 Bikinians who were removed from their homeland in 1946 to make way for the U.S. nuclear weapons testing program.

Whale on Kili Reef


Whale washes up on Kili Reef

Bikini Atoll women’s club open Handicraft Shop at Bikini Atoll Town Hall

•October 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The women’s club of Bikini Atoll opened a handicraft shop on Saturday, October 9, 2010, at Bikini Atoll Town Hall.  The shop will sell handicrafts handmade by women from Bikini Atoll and will benefit their organization. The club is called MORIBA, which stands for Men Otemjej Rej ilo Bein Anij (Everything is in the Hand’s of God).

MORIBA handicraft shop grand opening


Food being served at shop opening


Senator Tomaki Juda makes his remarks at shop opening


Mayor Alson Kelen makes his remarks at shop opening


MORIBA President Regina Niedenthal makes a speech at shop opening


Penny Kelen and Councilwoman Ketruth Juda cut the ribbon to open shop


First Lady Penny Kelen inside the handicraft Shop

Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Passed by KBE Council

•September 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The fiscal year 2011 budget was passed last week by the Kili/Bikini/Ejit Local Government Council.  The amount totaled $6.07 million, which is over $500,000 more than last year.  The budget goes into effect on October 1 and will last until September 30 of 2011.

Bikinian Rani Hadley Awarded Gates Millennium Scholarship

•August 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

By James Roth, The Plano Star

Rani Hadley, Gates Millennium Scholar

With graduation right around the corner, some high school seniors are looking for scholarships to help pay high tuition fees. After winning her award, one Newman Smith senior no longer has to worry about funding for college.

Rani Hadley recently won the 2010 Gates Millennium Scholar award, which will reward her up to $30,000 a year. Out of the 20,500 applicants for the scholarship, only 1,000 were selected to receive the award, Hadley being one of them.

“I first applied in December and then I found out I was a finalist at the beginning of March,” said Hadley. “When I found out I won, I was so happy. I opened the letter and started crying.”

The Gates Millennium Scholarship award is funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It provides funds to minority scholars to attend any accredited college or university in the United States.

“Other than being a minority and my GPA, I think the biggest requirement that the award focuses on is leadership,” said Hadley, who is a captain on the basketball team. “It is a leadership scholarship through and through; I think they looked for someone who was in leadership positions.”

This is the second consecutive year that a Newman Smith High School student has won the Gates Millennium Scholarship. Celeste Russell won the award in 2009.

“Celeste and I actually played on the basketball team together. I would call her and ask her questions through the application process. She was definitely a big help,” Hadley said. “She would clarify the questions they were asking on the application, and gave me tips as to what they were looking for, like writing every essay.”

For the award, Hadley had to write eight essays over various topics, as well as provide academic and extra curricular information.

“All the essays required in-depth answers. I had to answer essay questions like ‘what subject do you excel in?’ and ‘what subject do you not excel in?’” said Hadley. “I found it odd that they asked what I was not good at but had to explain how I would work through it.”

The award could continue to support her all the way through her doctorate if she chooses to pursue one. Hadley is considering a career in international missions.

“I really like religious foreign ministry. It is an odd major; most people who win this award I think major in science or math,” said Hadley. “I am going to attend Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. They have a specified program for international missions.”

Hadley admitted she will be homesick because she has four younger siblings and a close-knit family, but she is looking forward to her future. By winning this award, Hadley has helped her family tremendously.

“I have three younger brothers here at school with me who are graduating consecutively,” said the senior. “Four simultaneous college tuitions would be a lot for my parents. With my tuition off the table, it will give my brothers more of an opportunity to do what they want to do.”

With the help of the Gates Millennium Scholarship, Hadley can now pursue any career she wants. The senior is thankful for the award and hopes more students with unique majors can win the award in the future.

“I was very surprised and thankful to know that they would fund me, knowing my major was different than most,” said Hadley. “I would really like to show them that even though my major is not a traditional one, I can still put the funds to good use. It is very generous.

Rani is the daughter of Scott and Carol Hadley.

BIKINI ATOLL INSCRIBED ON WORLD HERITAGE LIST

•July 31, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Mayor Alson Kelen in Brazil for the World Heritage meeting

August 1, 2010

Today the Bikini Atoll Nuclear Test Site was inscribed on the World Heritage List.

The Bikini Atoll was the site of atomic weapons testing during the period predating Cold War. Between 1946 and 1954, 67 nuclear tests were carried out in the Marshall Islands, 23 of them in Bikini. This equates 7000 times the force of the Hiroshima bomb.

“The people of Bikini were removed from their island in March 1946 prior to the commencement of the first tests, on the understanding that this was their sacrifice ‘for the good of mankind and to end all world wars.” Mayor of Bikini Atoll, Alson Kelen, who traveled to Brasilia to present at the World Heritage Committee said “We left reluctantly and with great sadness- as out beautiful island became the location of the greatest destruction humankind is capable of, and we lost our way of life.”

“Inscription of Bikini Atoll Nuclear Test Site is an opportunity for the dramatic events that occurred to be remembered. The experience of nuclear testing, the displacement of our people from our homeland and the devastating contamination of our country is a story that has been repeated in many places around the world. As a World Heritage site, Bikini Atoll will forever tell the story of this period for human history,” said Kelen.

It seems that finally, the sacrifice of the Bikinians is recognized by the world. Bikini Atoll has been inscribed today on the prestigious World Heritage List by the 34th meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Brazil.

“Bikini Atoll stands as a monument and memorial to the dawn of the nuclear age,” says Nicole Baker, an Australian who has worked on developing this nomination with the Government of the Marshall Islands over the past 5 years.

“At first glance Bikini looks like the quintessential tropical paradise, an image beloved by our modern culture as a place of peace and simplicity. However, when we look closer, we see the scars of the craters and the bunkers and equipment. Now you can see nature recovering – the vegetation is coming back, the birds are coming back and the coral reef is very healthy with an abundance of fish and an amazing population of sharks. It is this evolving landscape that memorialises the vast and terrible power of nuclear weapons and their interaction with nature.”

Jack Niedenthal, a spokesperson for the people of Bikini who also worked on the nomination for Bikini Atoll, says it is now safe to walk on the islands and to stay there for extended periods of time. “People can go and stay there for as long as they want – there’s no problem with gamma radiation – the reason that people aren’t living there now is that there is still cesium-137 in the soil, and this gets into the food crops, so people can’t eat food grown on land.”

Bikini Atoll is the first World Heritage site for the Marshall Islands.

For information about Bikini Atoll contact:
Jack Niedenthal
Bikini Atoll Liaison Officer
bikinijack@gmail.com
Majuro, Marshall Islands
(+692) 625-3177

Bikini Atoll a World Heritage Site? We find out this week.

•July 26, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Mayor Alson Kelen, along with Nicole Baker, are in Brazil this week to attend the session. The Mayor’s trip was generously funded by the Australian government (many thanks):

World Heritage Committee to meet in Brasilia to inscribe new sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List

Tuesday, July 6, 2010
The World Heritage Committee will consider requests for the inscription of new sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List when it meets for its 34th session in Brasilia (Brazil), from 25 July to 3 August.

During this year’s session – to be chaired by João Luiz Ferreira, the Brazilian Minister of Culture and President of the World Heritage Committee – 35 States Parties to the World Heritage Convention will present properties for inscription on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Three of those countries – Marshall Islands, Kiribati and Tajikistan – have no properties inscribed on the World Heritage List to date.

Thirty two new properties in total were submitted for inscription on the World Heritage List this year: 6 natural, 24 cultural and 2 mixed (i.e. both natural and cultural) properties, including four transnational nominations. In addition, 9 extensions to properties already listed have been proposed (see list below).

The Committee will also review the state of conservation of the 31 World Heritage properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger and may decide to add to that list new properties whose preservation requires special attention. The In Danger List features sites which are threatened by a variety of problems such as pollution, urban development, poorly managed mass tourism, wars, and natural disasters, which have a negative impact on the outstanding values for which the sites were inscribed on the World Heritage List.

To date, the World Heritage List recognizes 890 properties of “outstanding universal value,” including 689 cultural, 176 natural and 25 mixed properties in 148 States Parties.

The Convention encourages international cooperation to safeguard the common heritage of humanity. With 187 States Parties, it is one of the most widely ratified international legal instruments. When signing the Convention, States Parties commit to identifying sites for potential inscription and to preserving sites on the World Heritage List, as well as sites of national and regional importance, notably by providing an appropriate legal and regulatory framework.

The World Heritage Committee, responsible for the implementation of the 1972 Convention, comprises representatives of 21 countries, elected by the States Parties for up to six years. Each year, the Committee adds new sites to the List. The sites are proposed by the States Parties. Applications are then reviewed by two advisory bodies: cultural sites by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), and natural sites by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which inform the Committee of their recommendations. The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Conservation of Cultural Heritage (ICCROM) provides expert advice on conservation and training in restoration techniques.

The World Heritage Committee also examines reports on the state of conservation of inscribed sites and asks States Parties to take appropriate conservation and preservation measures when necessary. The Committee supervises the disbursement of over USD4 million annually from the World Heritage Fund, aimed, among other purposes, at emergency action, training of experts and encouraging technical cooperation. UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre is the Secretariat of the World Heritage Committee.

Accredited journalists will be able to attend the opening ceremony of the 34th session (25 July), which will include the participation of the President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the Brazilian Ministry of culture, João Luiz Silva Ferreira and the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova. Journalists will be informed of the work and decisions of the Committee in regular press conferences during the Committee session.

Cultural properties submitted for inscription to the World Heritage List:
Bikini Atoll, nuclear tests site (Marshall Islands)
Australian Convict Sites (Australia)
City of Graz – Historic Centre and Schloss Eggenberg (extension of “City of Graz – Historic Centre”) (Austria)
Augustowski Canal – a work of man and nature (Belarus / Poland)
Major Mining Sites of Wallonia (Belgium)
São Francisco Square in the Town of São Cristóvão (Brazil)
Historic Monuments of Dengfeng in “The Centre of Heaven and Earth” (Originally “Historic monuments of Mount Songshan”) (China)
Konso Cultural Landscape (Ethiopia)
Episcopal City of Albi (France)
Upper Harz Water Management System (extension of “Mines of Rammelsberg and Historic Town of Goslar”) (Germany)
The Jantar Mantar, Jaipur (India)
Matheran Light Railway (extension of the “Mountain Railways of India”) (India)
Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil (Islamic Republic of Iran)
Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex (Islamic Republic of Iran)
The Triple-arch Gate at Dan (Israel)
Fort Jesus, Mombasa (Kenya)
Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (Mexico)
Prehistoric Caves of Yagul and Mitla in the Central Valley of Oaxaca (Mexico)
Seventeenth-century canal ring area of Amsterdam inside the Singelgracht (Netherlands)
Røros Mining Town and the Circumference (extension of “Røros Mining Town”) (Norway)
Historic Villages of Korea: Hahoe and Yangdong (Republic of Korea)
Church of the Resurrection of Suceviţa Monastery (extension of the “Churches of Moldavia”) (Romania)
At-Turaif District in ad-Dir’iyah (Saudi Arabia)
Palaeolithic Rock Art Ensemble in Siega Verde (extension of “Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley”), (Portugal, Spain)
The Mercury and Silver Binomial. Almadén and Idrija with San Luis Potosí (Spain / Mexico /Slovenia)
Sarazm (Tajikistan)
Kiev: Saint-Sophia Cathedral with Related Monastic Buildings, St. Cyril’s and St. Andrew’s Churches, Kiev Pechersk Lavra (extension of “Kiev: Saint-Sophia Cathedral and Related Monastic Buildings, Kiev Pechersk Lavra”) (Ukraine)
Darwin’s Landscape Laboratory (United Kingdom)
Ngorongoro Conservation Area (re-nomination under additional criteria) (United Republic of Tanzania)
Mount Vernon (United States of America)
Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – Hanoi (Viet Nam)

Bikinian Delegation Meets with US Officials in Honolulu

•July 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

A delegation of Bikini local government officials were in Honolulu this week to meet with US Department of Energy and State Department officials regarding the ongoing radiological monitoring of Bikini Atoll. Attending the meeting for the Bikinians were Senator Tomaki Juda, Mayor Alson Kelen, Executive Council members Biten Leer and Preacher Balos, Councilwoman Ketruth Juda, and Trust Liaison Jack Niedenthal. The 2 days of meetings also included representatives from the RMI government led by Foreign Minister John Silk and RMI Ambassador to the US Banny Debrum, and also delegations from Enewetak, Rongelap and Uterok Atolls.

Old Photos from Kili Island online

•July 2, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Dretin Jokdru and Uraia Jibas after spear fishing in the early 1960's

Dr. Robert Kiste, an Anthropologist from the University of Hawaii, has posted about 300 old photos from Kili Island online. The photos are from the early 1960’s when Dr. Kiste was living there and also from 1988 when Dr. Leonard Mason visited Kili Island for Bikini Day.

For the Kili Island collection of photos, go here:
http://digicoll.manoa.hawaii.edu/kiste/Pages/browseby.php?s=browse&by=city&city=Kili+Island

For the entire collection of Marshall Islands photos, including Enewetak Atoll and Bikini Atoll, go here: http://digicoll.manoa.hawaii.edu/kiste/index.php

Bikinian Brandon Johnson an All American Diver in Hawaii, also Student Body President

•July 2, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Brandon Johnson

Brandon Junior Johnson, a 17-year-old Bikinian boy who has been living in Hawaii for the last 10 years, has been named a High School All-American in diving by the National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches’ Association. Only the top one percent of divers from throughout the United States earns this distinction.

The recently-elected student body president at the Hawaii School for the Deaf and the Blind, Johnson also broke two longstanding public school diving records this past season during Oahu Interscholastic League Competition, the 18-year old OIA Eastern Division record and the OIA Championship record. He then eclipsed both of those records with his close second place finish at the Hawaii High School Association Championships. It was his outstanding performance at this meet that earned him All-American Honors. He is the son of Bill Johnson.

Brandon Johnson at diving competition

Bikinian Leaders in Washington, DC, for Congressional Hearings

•May 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Mayor Alson Kelen (left) testifies before Congress. With him is Senator Tomaki Juda (second from left)

The Kili/Bikini/Ejit Local Government Council sent a delegation to Washington, DC for two Congressional hearings this week regarding nuclear issues that remain unresolved even though the US nuclear weapons testing ended in the Marshall Islands over 50 years ago.  The Bikini delegation consisted of Mayor Alson Kelen, Senator Tomaki Juda, Executive Councilmen Typhoon Jamore and Urantha Jibas, and Trust Liaison Jack Niedenthal.

There were also many other Marshall Islanders attending the hearings.  There was a delegation from the RMI government that was headed by President Jurelang Zedekiah and Minister of Foreign Affairs John Silk.  There were also delegations from Enewetak, Rongelap, and Utrok Atolls, and also a delegation of landowners from Kwajalein Atoll.

Councilman Urantha Jibas, Councilman Typhoon Jamore, Mayor Alson Kelen, Senator Tomaki Juda

On Tuesday, May 18, there was a Senate hearing on Bill 2941 that would allow for better medical care for the nuclear victims of the Marshalls.  Because the Bill has both Republican and Democrat support, it came as a surprise when the Obama Administration opposed the Bill.  It is uncertain as to when this Bill might be moved forward.

On Wednesday, May 19, there was a 4 1/2 hour hearing and a briefing at the House of Representatives, chaired by Eni Faleomavaega, concerning all of the outstanding issues leftover from the nuclear testing era.  High on the agenda for the people of the 4 atolls were:

US Congressman Eni Faleomavaega

1) An attempt to get a Congressional referral of our lawsuits against the US so they could get back into the US Federal Court of Claims.   They were all thrown out by the Supreme Court earlier this year.  This Congressional action would basically force the courts to review our cases.

2) Better medical care and more USDA food for the nuclear victims of the Marshall Islands.

The Bikinian delegation met with their money advisors, USB, to begin discussions about the next fiscal year budget, and they also held discussions with their attorney concerning the budget and other issues concerning the people of Bikini.

The Bikini delegation meets with their attorney Jon Weisgall

The Bikini delegation will be back in the Marshall Islands on Tuesday, May 25.

For more information on the hearings and for photos and transcripts of the testimonies from the Marshall Islands delegations, go to http://www.yokwe.net/

All photos by Jack Niedenthal.