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current issues in the northern islands

The Honorable Joseph T. Ogumoro


This site was developed jointly by Northern Islands Mayor Joseph T. Ogumoro and Saipan Congressman William Torres with the assistance of Saipan Chamber of Commerce President Lynn A. Knight as part of their efforts to assist approximately 300 displaced residents of the Northern Islands who wish to return and resettle in Anatahan, Alamagan, Pagan and Agrigan. While their population is small, residents of the Northern Islands have yearned for a sense of identity and physical connection with their ancestral lands, a desire that has been denied from them in the absence of the housing program. Such a program would serve as an assurance that the residents will not become squatters on their own islands. For more information about the experience of living in the islands, please read, "A Snapshot of Life on Agrigan"

Resolutions by the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) 12th House of Representatives as well as the Municipality of Saipan and the Northern Islands call for the development of a homestead program. Such a program, to be put in place by the CNMI board of Public Lands seeks to extend to them the same benefits, privileges and opportunities being enjoyed by the residents of the three main populated islands of the Northern Marianas under the CNMI Homestead Program.
  A residence on Agrihan Agrihan resident  


The homestead project in the Northern Islands will require that an overall topography of the islands be developed along with the conduct of environmental impact studies and assessment. There have also been concerns about seismic activity and the safety of living among the volcanoes that are located on all but one of the islands. (For more information on the status of each island, please see the volcanic reports available on the Smithsonian Volcanology Website). It has been the position of the Mayor that residents should be permitted to co-exist with nature and live with the volcanoes just like the residents of the Big Island in Hawaii. The natural beauty of The Northern Islands presents vast untapped potential for ecotourism that could be a source of employment for residents as well as a necessary tax for the local government. Natural resources of these islands present vast opportunities for mining, fishing, farming and other industries. However, before such economic development can occur, there is a need to construct basic air and sea port facilities, as well as other basic infrastructure projects in the Northern Islands to support resettlement by residents. The Northern Islands cannot be properly developed without access to reliable transportation systems and basic infrastructure to support the community.