On April 4, 1930, Governor Willis S. Bradley formally adopted the Official Seal of the Territory of Guam.
The Coat of Arms is the centerpiece of the Guam Seal and encircles the outer border of it with the following words: “Great Seal of Guam, Tano’ I Man Chamorro.”
Mrs. Helen Paul, a schoolteacher and architect, submitted the design plans for the Guam Flag in 1917. Though she submitted the plans, the University of Guam Research Center does not credit Paul for the design of the Seal. Many believe that the original designer is a local man named Francisco Feja Feja, who supposedly painted the scene in 1913.
Wherever the design of the seal originated, the imagery in the Seal remains the same and consists of: a lone coconut tree at the mouth of the Hagåtña River with a flying proa floating nearby, and Two Lovers’ Point on the horizon. All are within an oval that is pointed on either end.
Each of the symbols used in the Guam Seal has significant meaning of the history and the people of Guam.
The coconut tree has several different meanings. One is its ability to grow in unfertile sand. This is said to represent the determination of the Chamorro people to thrive under any circumstance. Its bent trunk attests to a people who have been tested by famine, natural calamities, genocide and war, but who have continued to endure as a race. Another meaning of the coconut tree is quite literal: it represents the Chamorro’s “Tree of Life”. Providing shelter, clothing and food, the coconut tree played a major role in the lives of the ancient Chamorros.
In the distance, a flying proa sits on the water. The flying proa symbolizes the strength, intelligence and skill of the ancient Chamorros, who built and navigated these vessels. It also symbolizes the courage and freedom of the Chamorros. Using the proa enabled the Chamorros to venture out and trade with other islands in the region. These speedy vessels were carved from tree trunks, the smaller pieces attached to the main body with plant fibers and sealed with tree sap. The sails were constructed from small sections of pandanus mats woven together in the shape of a triangle. To protect the vessel from the elements while out in sea, the hulls were painted using red dirt, lime, coconut oil and soot. When not in use, these prized boats were secured in a canoe house to safeguard them from the weather.
On the horizon, symbolizing the history and culture of the Chamorros, is Two Lovers’ Point. Jetting into the ocean, it portrays the people’s commitment to passing their proud heritage, culture, and language to the future generations.
Encircling these symbols of strength and culture is an oval pointed at either end. The Seal’s pointed oval shape mirrors that of the Chamorro sling stone, traditionally made from limestone, basalt or fire-hardened clay. The sling stone was not only used for hunting, but also in warfare as a deadly accurate weapon.
The scene is set in Hagåtña, where the Hagåtña River spills into the ocean. This is known as Guam Seal Park. This is the very spot where Feja Feja is believed to have been found painting this famous work of art. Looking out from the park you can see the exact view depicted in our Island’s Seal.