This photo essay profiles descendants of Benigno LG and Dolores M. Flores—two of Litekyan’s original landowners. The family members recount some of their favorite memories, share their knowledge of this sacred area, and express their hopes to one day have this land returned to them.
Three descendants of the original landowners at Litekyan who have been fighting to get their land back. From left to right: Theresa Flores Bejado Nellis, Joey Flores, and Lou Flores Bejado. Image by Sara Mar. Guam, 2022.
“There’s a lot of good fishing out here. This is actually a double reef. My Grandfather, my Dad, our Uncles would go out catching lobster and other fish and bring them here. They taught us a lot about how to live off the land.” Joey Flores recalled. Image by Sara Mar. Guam, 2022.
Lou Flores Bejado has been fighting to get this land returned to her family for 40+ years. “We’re Indigenous people. We have to protect our land, our culture, our language, who we are.” Image by Sara Mar. Guam, 2022.
The family recounted how their parents and grandparents thrived off the natural resources in this area. Here, Joey Flores showed off part of the coconut tree called the Heart of the Palm. “If you see a new leaf growing out of a coconut, you can pull it out, and you’ll have some of that palm at the end. You can eat it, it’s semi-sweet, and you can live off of that.” Image by Sara Mar. Guam, 2022.
"It’s painful to remember that [the land] is taken from us and we don’t have the liberty to enjoy it to the liberty we used to." Theresa Flores Bejado Nellis said. Image by Sara Mar. Guam, 2022.
“Culture is passed on generation to generation. There’s always something that draws [younger generations] back to the islands. Even if they can’t live here, something wants to come back. It’s within you.” Joey Flores said. Image by Sara Mar. Guam, 2022.
Theresa's daughter, Christina Nellis Lebrun. “I grew up in Michigan. When I was 25 I moved back [to Guam] because I had this identity crisis. I felt like there was this whole ancestral pull. I have such a history and so much more to who we are as a people that I want my son to learn. I really want him to know his Filipino and CHamoru roots, and the best way to do that is to be near family and the land where our people come from.” Image by Sara Mar. Guam, 2022.
Theresa, Joey, and Lou have many memories together in this area. “One of the things was always coming down every weekend, starting from Friday and we’d stay till Sunday. We had a ranch inside the jungle…and we grew up close as a family.” Lou Flores Bejado recalled. Image by Sara Mar. Guam, 2022.
Theresa Flores Bejado Nellis reflected on what is meaningful to her about this place. “All the love, and all the fun, and all the beautiful playtime we had as children. My Dad would come in from the ocean, and his waist would be covered with fish and lobster and we would put it on the grill to BBQ. It was just wonderful times. Fun, beautiful days of old.” Image by Sara Mar. Guam, 2022. When the Navy first took the land unjustly from their grandfather, the family was told the land would be returned, but it never was. Lou Flores Bejado said, “We haven’t given up hope. We just want to be recognized that we are the original landowners. And we want our land back.” Image by Sara Mar. Guam, 2022.