An Obituary for Cinta Kaipat

Obituaries on Saipan tend to focus on listing the recently deceased's parents, siblings, and other close relations, without providing much more information about a person's life.  Maybe some day I'll write something about the deeper meaning in that, but today I'm mourning for my friend Cinta.  I want the world to know what she meant to me, and what she meant to our community.  Although these things don't typically get written for our people, I'm breaking with convention and writing an obituary for my friend Cinta.

Cinta was born on Agrigan and grew up with a strong connection to her culture and heritage.  She was a passionate and courageous advocate for Indigenous Refaluwasch and Chamorro rights and environmental protection in the Northern Mariana Islands. She dedicated her life to fighting for justice, dignity, and sovereignty for her people and her land.

Cinta overcame social and economic obstacles and obtained her BA from DePaul University and her JD from the University of Minnesota Law School and became the first Refaluwasch woman ever to become a lawyer.  She served as a lawmaker in the CNMI legislature and was deputy secretary of labor.

Cinta was not afraid to speak truth to power and to stand up for what she believed in. She was a fierce defender of human rights, cultural preservation, and ecological sustainability.  She co-founded Pagan Watch, a grassroots organization that opposed the US military's plans to use Pagan Island as a live-fire training range, and Beautify CNMI, a coalition of concerned citizens, private groups, and government entities united to enhance the CNMI's natural beautify and foster community pride in its residents and visitors.  She inspired many people with her vision, her wisdom, and her compassion. 

Cinta was also a talented artist, songwriter, filmmaker, and author. She expressed her creativity and spirituality through various forms of art.  She touched many lives with her kindness, generosity and humor. She was always ready to help others in need and to share her knowledge and experience. She loved her family, friends, and community deeply. She was a source of strength, hope, and joy for many.

Cinta would tell people "you're already a member of Beautify CNMI!, even if you don't know it yet."  It didn't matter if you were in elementary school, owned a business, or worked for the federal government, she made it your job to take care of our islands.  And now that she is gone, it is left to us to carry on her legacy.  

Cinta spent a lifetime planting literal and figurative seeds and was one of the bravest people I knew. Through her actions she taught me to stand up for those things we know to be right, consequences be damned. I will miss her dearly, but will never forget who she was, and what she stood for. 

Cinta left us too soon, but she left us with courage, resilience, and love. She will always be remembered as an extraordinary woman who made a difference in this world. We will miss her dearly, but we will carry on her spirit in our hearts.

This photo isn't in focus, so it's not the best, but I love it.  Cinta was volunteering to read books to young children about taking care of pets.  She was the kind of person who would take the time to give back to the community, no matter how small the act.


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