click on image to view in large format Alaguan Bay Ancient Village. This ancient Chamorro village is located in a heavily vegetated valley along the southern coast of Rota. The village site is extremely rich in surface material, very extensive covering about 25 acres, and contains more than 60 latte. Although visited by several archeologists who attested to the abundance of the surface scatters, the true size of the site and the number of latte present remained unknown until an intensive survey was conducted in 1988. After weeks of survey and substantial clearing in some areas, three 12-pillar, six 10-pillar, and 42 six- or eight-pillar latte were found. Based on the distribution of these latte, seven distinct residential groups were identified by archeologists. A subsequent two-phase excavation was undertaken to sample each of the seven residential units. About 15 cubic yards of deposit were excavated. Based on the dating of charcoal samples taken during the excavation, it was determined that Alaguan was settled between 700 and 900 years ago. Significance. The Alaguan Bay site is believed to be the largest, best preserved ancient Chamorro village in the Mariana Archipelago. The site's isolation--surrounded by tall-canopy limestone forest and inaccessible by roads--has allowed the archeological features to remain in an excellent state of preservation.
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Some of the lands on Rota identified for agriculture homesteading projects have the potential to adversely affect Mariana crow habitat, as well as the habitats of other listed species. The MPLA, mindful the ESA prohibits non-federal entities from taking listed species without an Incidental Take Permit (ITP), has applied to the FWS for an ITP. To obtain this permit, the MPLA is required to prepare and submit a HCP to the FWS.

A HCP is currently being prepared to mitigate the issuance of permits for the development of agricultural homestead lots on lands determined to be critical habitat for the endangered Mariana crow. The HCP describes the expected level of take to the Mariana crow and the conservation management actions that will be implemented to minimize and mitigate that take. The HCP would preserve essential crow habitat while allowing for economic development in ecologically responsible manner.

4.2.1 Significant Prehistoric Sites
Broadly, the HCP would identify the requirements for receiving an ITP from the FWS for the Mariana crow and other listed species. Then, the FWS, the CNMI, and the residents of Rota would all need to reach agreement on the habitat requirements identified in the HCP in order for the permit application to be completed. If the high value habitat areas where future development would be restricted fall outside of identified conservation areas, then the CNMI would be required to establish additional conservation areas elsewhere on the island. These conservation areas would have to be managed to sustain and increase the populations of the Mariana crow and other listed species according to criteria that would be defined in the HCP's Management Plan.
If conservation areas identified in the HCP fall on private property, land exchanges or some other form of compensation would need to be made to local residents. As part of this agreement process, mitigation would be provided for proposed project impacts on Mariana crows and other species--this mitigation would be in the form of long-term conservation and management of habitat conservation areas. These conservation areas would be managed to sustain, and possibly increase, the populations of the Mariana crow and other listed species according to relevant recovery plans. If it turns out no agreement is reached, the HCP could not be implemented and any development project within endangered species habitat would be required to apply for an ITP.
The MPLA and the DLNR are co-applicants for the ITP issued by the FWS. These government agencies are referred to as the "Permit Applicants." The MPLA would be responsible for implementing the HCP. The DLNR would be responsible for the monitoring and management of the HCP.

The CNMI Board of Public Lands has the authority to transfer public lands to the DLNR for habitat conservation and the responsibility to ensure habitat conservation outside of project areas in perpetuity. The DLNR's Division of Fish and Wildlife would be the agency responsible for implementing the HCP Management Plan. The FWS would be responsible for enforcing the provisions of the ITP, reviewing annual status reports, and monitoring take.

Rota has been described by professional archeologists as having the most numerous, most intact, and generally the most unique prehistoric sites of any of the islands in the Mariana Archipelago. The indigenous Chamorro people have continually occupied the island for three millennia. For many Chamorros throughout the CNMI, the island of Rota is considered to be their cultural home.

The social changes and economic developments that took place and reshaped Guam and Saipan since the end of World War II have had comparatively little effect on the island of Rota. The absence of major and intensive military activities during and after World War II and the lack of a large-scale tourism industry have permitted Rota to retain many tangible aspects of its ancient cultural heritage. Rota also contains the remains of civilian and military sites or features related to the Japanese period and there are a few structures remaining going back to the German period and the Spanish colonial period.

Starting in the early 1970s, several surveys have been carried out by professional archeologists. These surveys covered major portions of Rota. The earlier surveys tended to be research oriented, while those occurring over the past 15 years have been more concerned with the management of cultural resources. Two important sites, the Mochon Latte Stone Village and Taga Latte Stone Quarry, have been surveyed several times during which excavations were carried out. During one of the surveys of Mochon, a small test pit was excavated at the base of one of the latte stones. The charcoal sample taken from the near the bottom of the test pit revealed an uncalibrated date of about 500 B.C.

Major archeological surveys have taken place along a nearly contiguous stretch of the north coast of Rota from Mochon west to Salug. Excavations have been carried out at most of the sites along this coast. The surveys revealed the presence of several different types of prehistoric features, including assemblages of latte, stone quarries, pottery shards, rock shelters, and water wells. Burials were uncovered at some of the sites.

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One issue now facing Rota is the federal requirements under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the conservation of three endangered plant species, two endangered bird species, and one threatened mammal species, the Mariana fruit bat. These species and other rare plant, animal and invertebrate species are all found on Rota. As noted, Rota's forests comprise some of the most intact and extensive native primary forests remaining on any of the islands of the Mariana Archipelago. Since nearly all of the native limestone forest originally found on the islands of Saipan and Tinian was either destroyed during World War II or has since been altered by commercial or residential development, the protection of the native forest on Rota is an issue of importance to the entire Commonwealth.

The 1996 Rota Economic Master Plan for Rota called for the development and implementation of an island wide Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) to address ongoing issues with regard to habitat requirements for the endangered Mariana crow while also allowing the development of agricultural homesteads. The "no take" requirements of the ESA have prevented some Rota residents from being able to obtain agricultural homestead permits. The MPLA is currently negotiating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to legally use the I Chenchon Bird Sanctuary and adjoining areas as long-term mitigation for the loss of Mariana crow habitat. The ESA requires mitigation not only for Rota's currently proposed homestead projects, but also for other future projects that may adversely impact the habitats of threatened or endangered species.

4.2 Cultural Resources
Surveys have also taken place along Rota's southern and southeastern coasts. These surveys included the Alaguan area where surface scatters of cultural materials have been described by professional archeologists as the "richest they had observed." A major (370 acres) archeological survey of the area immediately northeast of the summit of the Sabana revealed the presence of more than 200 features of the Japanese period. No evidence of prehistoric use was found in this area.
Figure 3. Archeological Surveys.
The most extensive archeological work on Rota occurred in 1992 when nearly 1,600 acres were surveyed in the Dugi, Gampana, As Nieves and Chenchon areas for the MPLC. The survey was carried out to compile baseline resource information needed for the preparation of a HCP for the homestead project area being proposed in the eastern part of the island. During the survey, a total of 79 individual sites were recorded, and 48 of these were determined to be prehistoric. Nine of the prehistoric sites were selected for subsurface testing and typical latte period features were recovered from each of the sites. The calibrated dates of these features ranged from 1000 to 1700 A.D.

Three of the four significant prehistoric sites described below are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and one has been nominated for listing on the Register. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register of Historic Places is part of a nationwide program to identify, evaluate, and protect historic and archeological resources. Properties listed on the National Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in archeology, history, and culture. The National Register helps preserve these significant historic places by recognizing their irreplaceable heritage. Sites on the National Register are recognized nationally as highly significant and worthy of preservation. CNMI residents particularly value the four sites described below for their cultural value and importance.

The island of Rota contains the best remaining examples of what is known as the Latte Phase of the cultural tradition of the indigenous Chamorro people of the Mariana Islands. This phase commenced roughly in 1100 AD and lasted until the initial European contact in the early 1500s. The Latte phase is named for the distinctive stone architectural elements that began to appear throughout the archipelago roughly 800 to 1000 years ago. Mochon Latte Stone Village. This ancient Chamorro village is located on the north coast of Rota and has been locally designated an archeological district. The district contains 46 individual latte stone assemblages, extensive pottery and artifact scatters, and stone-lined water wells. The latte stones are arranged in two parallel rows and originally capped by domed shaped stones. The columns are believed to have served as the foundations of traditional Chamorro houses at the time of European contact.

Archeological testing within the district indicates that Mochon revealed cultural strata down to a depth of eight feet. A radiocarbon sample recovered in 1983 from an early stratum yielded a date of 2920 BP (Before Present), attesting to the great antiquity of portions of the Mochon site.

The Mochon Archeological District encompasses both the earlier and later periods of prehistory in the Mariana Islands. Based on radiocarbon determinations, it is possible Mochon may have been among the first locations to be settled on Rota. The area may have had a continuous occupation until the beginning of the eighteenth century. The profound changes which took place in the traditional Chamorro life-style resulting from Spanish military and religious policies caused Mochon to be abandoned during that time.
Figure 4. This archeological base map accompanied the nomination of Mochon to the National Register of Historic Places (survey location points are removed). Note that the nearly 50 sets of latte are arranged generally parallel with the shoreline. The solid lines of latte represent sets still intact.
In 2004 the Mochon ruins are intact and appear remarkably similar to the sketch made by Arago in 1823.
The reconnaissance group visited the Mochon site on June 13, 2004.
The Mochon Archeological District remains in an excellent state of preservation. There was some impact on the site during the Japanese period when trenches were dug here as part of the island's defense system. The trenching caused the destruction of small portions of the site's subsurface deposits and a few of the latte stones. The stones may have been utilized for strengthening the defensive positions. After World War II, a local family took up residence in the area, constructing a small house, a storage shed and a chicken coop. The family carefully maintained the integrity of the Latte stones. Significance. The Mochon Archeological District is significant for two reasons:
(1) It is the most extensive and best-preserved ancient Chamorro village site in the Mariana Archipelago. Since the site was occupied continuously for nearly three thousand years and contains extensive subsurface cultural deposits, Mochon is potentially valuable for the scientific study of a number of aspects of the earlier period of Marianas prehistory, including the time period and geographic origin of the first Chamorro settlers. The Mochon Archeological District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

2) Latte stone houses are judged to be the most spectacular tangible remnants of the ancient Chamorro culture. Since few intact latte stone villages still exist in the Marianas, the Mochon Archeological District has enormous potential as a site to interpret the Chamorro culture, not only to the people of the CMNI but to international visitors.

The Mochon site is rich in smaller lithic scatter and artifacts in place such as this mortar and pestle Chugai Pictograph Cave. This natural limestone cave is located in the eastern portion of Rota on the rim of a plateau immediately above the second terrace inland from the coast. The cave consists of a single passageway about 185 feet in length and averaging about 15 feet in width. The cave is accessible via a rock stairway constructed by the Japanese during World War II. Within the cave approximately 90 pictographs of prehistoric origin have been painted on the walls. The drawings were executed in what appears to be a black, dark gray, and brown charcoal-based pigment. Most of the drawings are linear or rectilinear, possess a geometric character, and do not appear to be representations of natural subjects. Some of the drawings do exhibit anthropomorphic and zoomorphic characteristics; two are well-executed drawings of sea turtles and one drawing is of a large billfish measuring more than a yard in length.
Sketch diagram of pictographs on the north wall of Chugai Cave.
Sketch diagram of pictographs on the south wall of Chugai Cave.
The pictograph wall has artistic images of two sea turtles.
The Chugai pictographs were undoubtedly created in prehistoric times by the ancient ancestors of the present day Chamorros, however, very little information exists concerning ancient rock art in the Marianas. Individual pictograph sites also have been documented on Guam, Tinian and Saipan. The Chugai pictographs have not been analyzed through radiocarbon dating as this method would require the destruction of some of the images to acquire datable material. The fact that rock art on Rota tends to be located near latte settlements suggests it was produced relatively late in the prehistoric sequence.

Near the entrance to the cave are the remains of Japanese quarters dating from the World War II period as well as scattered Japanese artifact material. Significance. The pictograph cave at Chugai contains one of the most impressive examples of ancient Chamorro rock art documented in the Mariana Islands. The pictographs on the cave walls derive their significance from the presumed association with ancient Chamorro religious systems, particularly ancestor worship. The pictographs are suspected of being directly linked to the activities of Chamorro shaman. The pictographs represent an indigenous art form that no longer is practiced and about which there is little scientific knowledge.
Figure 5. The Chugai Cave complex.
Further study of the Chugai Pictograph Cave is likely to yield information important to increasing the understanding of Chamorro prehistory. In 1998, the CNMI Office of Historic Preservation nominated the Chugai Pictograph Cave for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Taga Latte Stone Quarry. This site where the quarrying of latte stones took place is located in the As Nieves area of the island near the eastern end of the airport runway. The site consists of several latte stone columns and capstones in various states of being cut away from the solid coral limestone. The edges of the columns and capstones have been separated from the limestone rock by excavating trenches. The site consists of eight columns (each column approximately eight by twenty feet) and eight capstones (approximately twelve feet in diameter) in varying states of having been quarried out of the rock. One capstone has been elevated to nearly the surface of the ground.

It is believed basalt tools, possibly in combination with fire, were used to dig out the huge latte stones from the solid rock. Today, erosion has back-filled all of the trenches to some extent and some of the stones have been split, either during quarrying or by subsequent earthquakes or root actions. Significance. The site on Rota is the best preserved and largest known latte stone quarry in Micronesia. Archeologists have described the Taga Latte Stone Quarry as the most unique cultural site on Rota. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The quarry represents tangible evidence of the engineering skill attained by the ancient Chamorros.
The Taga Latte Stone Quarry is the finest and best-preserved latte quarry known to exist.
The exposed quarry with work in progress shows the technique of carving in place both the vertical pillar and cap components of the latte.
The latte stone structures at the Taga site are somewhat larger than the latte stones connected with the "House of Taga" on Tinian. The Tinian site is the legendary home of Taga, the great unifier of the Marianas. It is not known if the stone latte being quarried at As Nieves on Rota were intended for shipment to Tinian as tribute or if they were to be erected on Rota by a rival clan or perhaps as the initial step in moving the capital to that island.
Figure 6. Hans Hornbostel, of the Bishop Museum, made this plan map of the Taga Latte Quarry in the 1920s. Dugi Archeological Site. The latte stone site is located atop the highest of three consecutive terraces in the northern portion of Rota. The 16 individual latte structures at Dugi are badly weathered and three have been heavily disturbed. Most of the base stones have fallen and none retain their capstones. Several stone mortars are scattered around the site. Archeologists believe Dugi may represent a relatively late Latte Period settlement resulting from population pressure or warfare. Significance. Dugi's significance is due primarily to its geographical location--it is one of the few inland latte sites to have survived the agricultural development of Rota by the Japanese in the 1920s and 1930s. The site is likely to contain information valuable to understanding the prehistory of the Mariana Islands. The Dugi Archeological Site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
4.2.2 Historic Sites
Historic sites remaining on Rota date from the Spanish Period (1521-1898), the German Period (1899-1914) and the Japanese Period (1914-1945). Japanese Period. Following World War I, the League of Nations awarded Japan a mandate over the Northern Mariana Islands. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Japanese developed phosphate mining and sugar plantations on Rota. Later, during World War II, they built defensive fortifications on the island. Ginalangan Japanese Defensive Complex. These fortifications are located just to the south of the present-day village of Sinapalo. The complex consists of a network of natural and man-made caves and tunnels set within a cliff face. Individual features include a parapet, pillbox, revetment, a rock-faced terrace, stone steps, and a stonewall enclosure. Compared to the defensive fortifications built by the Japanese on Guam and Saipan, these are small in scale. Nearby and connected with the fortifications, archeologists have documented live and spent ammunition, tools, mechanical equipment and domestic refuse.

Since Rota was not invaded by the U.S. during World War II the complex did not sustain major damage and is in an excellent state of preservation. Documentation has been prepared by the CNMI HPO to nominate the Ginalangan World War II Defensive Complex for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Nanyo Kohatsu Kabushiki Kaisha Sugar Mill, Japanese Coastal Defense Gun, Japanese Hospital. A mill to refine cane sugar was built in 1930 on the west side of Songsong Village. Some remains of the mill still exist. A hospital built by the Japanese is located on the west side of Sasanhaya Bay. A well-preserved swivel-mounted cannon is set into the side of the cliff on the south side of the island. These features are all separately listed on the National Register of Historic Places. German Period. There are only a few minor buildings remaining on Rota associated with the German Period. These include a school and a small chapel. None of these features are judged to be of significance to the history of the U.S. Spanish Period. Two buildings, the Commissioner's Office and the Rectory, both related to the Spanish period are located in Songsong Village and believed to date back to the 1700s and both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The two buildings are judged not to be of significance to the history of the U.S.
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4.1 Current Status of the Study Area
The CNMI Legislative Delegation for the island of Rota, local government officials and many residents all believe their island home is presently at a crossroads for making long-term decisions about future land use. They all recognize that Rota was spared the destruction caused by World War II on nearby Guam, Tinian and Saipan, and that Rota has not experienced the widespread urbanization that has occurred and is still occurring on Guam and Saipan. These officials and the residents of Rota are now attempting to address issues that profoundly effect future uses of Rota's land base as well as the vibrancy of its local economy. Essentially, the issue is how to conserve Rota's natural and cultural resources and at the same time provide a way for the people of Rota to maintain economic sustainability.
Arago, a member of the French expedition under Luis de Freycinet, made this sketch of the Rota ruins in 1823. From Russell, The Island of Rota.
Another issue is the threat to the integrity of Rota's significant archeological sites from expanding development of homestead lots. Residential and agricultural developments have not yet intruded on most archeological sites; however, there is every indication that many of the most important archeological sites will be directly and indirectly impacted during coming decades. Any loss of the sites and features connected with Rota's Chamorro heritage would likewise be an issue of concern to island residents and to residents throughout the CNMI.
4.1.1 Habitat Conservation Plan