TIP OF THE SPEAR (2022, on hiatus)


On the unincorporated American territory of Guam in the western Pacific islands, the tense political climate between China and the United States can be felt in rapid moves towards fortification among the three military branches present. Where they attempt to protect the United States as a whole through preparation, the indigenous CHamoru community on the island attempts to protect their sacred lands by leaving it untouched and cared for. Japan’s occupation of the island during World War II permanently altered the lives of many, influencing the ways in which the CHamoru community connects with their homeland and the ways in which the American military maneuvers to defend U.S. interest in Taiwan and maintain the first outpost in United States defense as a whole. 

Regarded as the new frontline against China, or “the tip of the spear,” the Department of Defense owns 30% of the island's land, and according to recent study from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Guam is a likely target in any attacks on Taiwan from China. As the community attempts to heal from the trauma of past conflicts, the possibility of future conflicts and militarization in the name of strategic power amidst geopolitical tensions further affect the same lands where the traditional healers, or yo'amte's, harvest medicinal plants.

The first chapter of Tip of the Spear is a visual study exploring a relationship to the land which is entwined with the far-reaching impacts of war, both in legacy and in expectation. Guam's yo'amtes, or traditional healers, connect with their homeland and its healing plants despite the scars of past and possible future conflicts. This first section was funded by Ohio University's Student Enhancement Award, Experiential Learning Award, and the School of Visual Communication's Kyra Kurt Wilner Scholarship.

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