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"Magellan doesn't live here" 2017

Wall text

Wall text

Mariquita 'Micki' Davis 
Born 1982, Gainesville, Georgia, Cherokee Territory. 
CHamoru. Lives and works in Yaanga/Los Angeles, Tongva Territory. Pronouns: she/her

"Magellan doesn’t live here" 2017


single-channel video with sound
21:50 minutes 


Courtesy of the artist, Yaanga/Los Angeles. 

Micki Davis’s documentary-style film follows CHamoru canoe builder Mario Borja, who reconstructed a sacred CHamoru ladjak (canoe) called the sakman. The film documents the sakman’s return to Guåhan from San Diego, California, simultaneously capturing the process of reviving CHamoru wayfinding traditions.


The title references navigator Ferdinand Magellan (1480–1521), whose voyages paved the way for the Portuguese and Spanish Crowns to expand their colonial empires from the 16th century onwards. Their empires included the Mariåna Islands, of which Guåhan is the largest and southernmost island. The figure of Magellan, who erroneously described the Pacific Ocean as placid, serves as a reminder of ongoing colonial violence to people and places in the Great Ocean.


The sakman is the largest of CHamoru ladjaks and an integral part of life that enabled voyaging across open oceans for fishing, trade, and transportation. In the Spanish imperialist period, the CHamoru were banned from using the sakman, leading to the decline of their building and wayfinding traditions. As a counterpoint to the ‘passersby of history’ such as Magellan and other Europeans, Borja and his crew aboard the Sakman CHamorro Che’lu reclaim and celebrate the skill and power of their Ancestors. In its voyage home, the sakman brings together the crew and CHamoru community in an act of love for their recovered heritage.


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