Organization of the Fono

The Fono is administered entirely by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House.
The Senate: The Senate is presided over by a president who is elected by the senators from among themselves. The senators also elect a president pro tempore who takes over the responsibilities of the president in the president’s absence. Each serves one legislative term and is eligible for re-election.

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Territorial Legislature of American Samoa

This article will provide the reader with basic information about the Territorial Legislature of American Samoa. To fully appreciate the status of the Legislature at present, an understanding of American Samoa’s “political marriage” to the United States of America is necessary.

American Samoa became a territory of the United States in 1900.

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History of the FONO

Up to 1900: Legislative functions were “fa’a-Samoa” (the Samoan way or in the traditional manner) by the village, county and district councils.

1900: On April 17, Chiefs of Tutuila and Aunu’u ceded their islands (Manuan’s ceded theirs four years later) to the United States. The Department of the Navy was assigned to administer the islands, and the Commandant of the Naval Station, Fagatogo, was authorized as the sole executive, legislative, and judiciary authority. The commandant was advised on matters pertaining to local government by the Secretary of Samoan Affairs as well as the district governors who submitted to the commandant recommendations for legislative action and/or improvement of government operations from their respective district councils. The district governors kept the district councils informed of decisions and activities of government.

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American Samoa Geography

American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States in the central Pacific Ocean. These islands in the Pacific are divided into groups. The eastern Samoan island of Tutuila, Aunuu and Rose, along with three islands Tau, Olosega, and Ofu of the Manua group and Swains Islands make up the total American Samoan territory. Their total area is approximately seventy seven square miles.

American Samoa Map

The American Samoa capital is Pago Pago, (pronounced Pahn-go, Pahn-go) which is on the Island of Tutuila. The population is estimated at nearly 600,000 people for the American Samoa territories.

Tutuila accounts for more than two-thirds of the total area and is the largest island of American Samoa. It’s located in the westernmost region of the island group and is less than one hundred miles from the Western Samoan island of Upolu. The Naua island group which is about sixty miles east of the Capital city is the second largest area; Tau is the largest of the three islands in this group. The remaining islands are quite small. Aunuu is located off the southeastern tip of Tutila and Rose Island is a privately owned coral atoll some two hundred and eighty miles northwest of Tutila.

Except for the atolls of Swains and Rose, the islands are rocky. They were formed from the remains of extinct volcanoes. Central mountain ranges are prominent over the landscapes of Tutuila and the islands of Manua. The highest peak of Tutuila is Mount Matafao at two thousand, one hundred and forty one feet high, but the most popular and well known Mount is Mount Pioa which is only one thousand, eight hundred and forty seven feet. This Mount is known as the “rainmaker” because of its frequent cloud cover. Tau is a cone-shaped island rising to more than three thousand feet at Lata Mountain, the highest peak in the territory. Low-lying Swains Island rises to only twenty feet above sea level.

The islands are characteristically surrounded by coral reefs, which in some cases form barriers that create lagoons. The mountain ranges and the coral reefs tend to limit the width of the coastal plains in most areas. Most of the island’s streams do not reach the ocean, instead they seep through the porous basalt rocks that form the islands.

The tropical climate is moderated by ocean trade winds and frequent rains. Pago Pago receives more than one hundred and twenty inches f rain each year, the majority of which falls between November and March. Temperatures are constant throughout the year as daily lows average about sixty eight Fahrenheit and afternoon high at about ninety degrees Fahrenheit. The humidity is almost always high.

About seventy percent of the land area is forest with tall ferns and trees such as the Barringtonia asiatica, the breadfruit tree. The pandanus and coconut trees are also in the American Samoa forests. More than thirty species of birds have been observed, including parrots, doves, wild duck and the tooth-billed pigeon, which is only found in American Samoa.

Because about seventy percent of American Samoa is bush, growing on the slopes of volcanic mountains, these animals are well protected. The coral reefs that surround much of the islands have a delightful and inviting South Seas climate.

There is a National Park of American Samoa that lies in the territory. The park was established primarily to protect the area’s tropical rain forest on the islands of Tutuila and Tau. The rain forest, as stated earlier is home to many kinds of plants and animals including two species of large bats called the flying foxes. A white sand beach and coral reef on the island of Ofu are also part of the national Park in American Samoa. In certain areas of the park, the people continue to practice traditional methods of farming and reef fishing. Established in 1988, the National Park of America Samoa is over nine thousand acres and would be a tourist attraction with hiking, scuba diving and snorkeling once the transportation accommodates these types of travelers.

Those who live in the Pacific Islands of American Samoa enjoy the constant temperatures and spend much time in the outdoors hunting, fishing and basket weaving. The water is clear and warm, making it a home to many species of fish and marine life not seen in the United States coastal waters. While the traditional Samoans way of life is exercised by many, the modernization and influence of the Western cultures continue to permeate the islands. Many high school students leave to train in the Hawiian Isalnds or in the United States. This disappoints many on the islands because the elders feel their way of life is coming to extinction.

The strong hurricanes that come to the islands between January and March have caused much devastation over the years. The Pacific Islanders are prepared for these gales and have spent much of their time rebuilding what could not be saved. While a beautiful place to visit, the Pacific Islands have their share of inclement weather.

American Samoa Culture

A photograph of American Samoa women, dated 1897.
A photograph of American Samoa women,
dated 1897. from

The Polynesian inhabitants of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific are called Samoans. These people are recognized as the best representatives of the remarkable and interesting Polynesian race, and their traditions hold that these islands were the center from which the race spread to other Pacific Islands. The Samoans have long best famous as sailors and boat builders, and they have many legends and tales of great beauty and interest. They are a folk of splendid physical build, showing marked likenesses to the Caucasians. Practically all are now Christians, and they have shown keen appreciation of the education offered by the mission schools.The Samoan people have up to twenty dwellers in their homes at the same time; all family, these people do not concern themselves with privacy. Everything is done together and as many ancient cultures do, the elders are the most respected and highly regarded members of the family. These of the elder generation are responsible for making family decisions and teaching the children about their culture, their values and traditions. Children learn about their culture on their own initiative without explanations from the elders. They in essence “watch and learn” from others in the family. At first, children perform tasks with supervision, perhaps working alongside an older brother or sister. Children are highly motivated in this race to observe the behavior being modeled and they spontaneously imitate the action, receiving corrective feedback if they do something wrong. They are never given an explanation of the nature of the wrong they did, but are expected to figure it out on their own. This may explain why there is little need for a legal system in this culture. The American Samoans must acquire knowledge of their culture by observation, imitation and incremental participation. The rules or perceptual concepts shape their skills and experiences.

In keeping with the relationship between elders and children, these cultures are organized in the minds of the people as simplified models of what the world is like, how one ought to act and feel and think. This knowledge, developed from prior experience and observation for example, would lend itself to the obvious initiation of helping an elder who is passing by with a heavy basket on a hot day. The Samoan children are raised to know that if this takes place, they should offer to carry the heavy basket, bring the elder into the shade and serve them a cool drink.

While the parents work making their wares and farming the ground throughout the week, Sundays are still today considered a day of rest. With a largely Christian population, the churches are many on the islands of Samoa and are usually very well attended. Afterwards, the American Samoans will sit and eat as a family with the elders being the first to partake of the meal. After the oldest members of the family eat, the children are then allowed to eat. The food served during the meal is consistent with island fare, coconut being used in many dishes, fruits and crayfish along with seaweed and breadfruit leaves are the most common foods eaten in this culture.

The American Samoa parents who work all week are busy making siapo, which is beaten mulberry bark with pictures painted on them. Using a natural brown dye, pictures of fish and flowers are painted on with skill and precision learned by watching the elders. Others use siapo to make clothing as well as decorations for homes. Mats, ornaments and jewelry are made in addition to hair accessories made of natural island materials like seashells and coconuts. Many parents work in modern type occupations in addition to the traditional ones. Tuna production in the American Samoa culture is very large. With about 5,000 workers, the American company StarKist exports several hundred million dollars of StarKist canned tuna to the United States.

Not everyday is filled with just work and learning, there are recreational things that the American Samoa enjoys participating in. Rugby Union and Samoan Cricket are two of the most popular sports played in the Polynesian Islands. These people have not limited themselves to competition within their own race. The Rugby World Cup has seen Samoans in the quarter finals for years as well as the Pacific Nations Cup and the Pacific Tri-Nations. There are clubs and teams that form leagues and have done very well in other major competitive gatherings such as the Rugby League World Cup and the Australian Football International Cup. There are also about thirty of the American National Football League players who are ethnic Samoans. Wrestling is also a popular recreational activity and some have seen success in the competitive wrestling arena in America.

The cultural influences are largely European with Scottish and Irish as well as some southern influence from Asian cultures. The Chinese New Year (this year, the year of the Pig) and Diwali are celebrated by the American Samoans and large festivals (Pasifika) are held in honor of these holidays. Music and film are also prevalent in the American Samoan culture. The most famous for its international success is Jane Campion’s Academy Award winning film The Piano. The Lord of the Ring’s trilogy was filmed in New Zealand, also part of the Polynesian Islands and another famous actress, Lucy Lawless who played Zena in the once popular warrior show also comes from these islands.

With so much of the responsibility for protecting and defending the American Samoans, it is amazing that more is not known about these people by American citizens. A fascinating group of individuals, the society of the American Samoan could benefit us greatly overseas if more of their values were reflected in our own society.

American Samoa History

 American Samoan man and young boy with captured sea turtle. 1940.
Wayne A. Forde Collection

With a rich heritage and an even richer land, Polynesuians first migrated to the Samoan Islands more than three thousand years ago. According ot the traditions as told by their ancestors, the Samoman islanders had contat that was sometime hostile with Fijians and other Pacific Islanders. In 1722, Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen became the first Eurpoean to arrive in the beautiful islands, but for most of the 18th century European influence was limited to sometimes trading with the ships that passed through the islands. A conflict between Utuila islanders and a French ship party resulted in 51 deaths in 1787. This incident and a later dispute with another ship, a British ship, gave the islanders a reputation for being violent, though they weren’t. Missionaries from the London Missionary Society arrived in the 1830’s and with great success converted a lot of the Samoans to Christianity.Pirates and whalers sailing in the Pacific were among the first Europeans to visit Samoa. By the mid-nineteenth century, Pago Pago was on of the prime whaling ports in the entire Pacific Ocean! By the early 1800’s, European traders made frequent stops at these islands. The traders were on their way to China, carrying goods for sale. Some of them like the climate and scenery of the South Pacific so much that they settled there. Sadly, they brought with them some unwelcome diseases to which the natives had no immunity. A number of Europeans settled in the Samoan islands in the next twenty years and established their own communities and laws. For a long time the two groups lived in peace with one another.

United States influence began in 1872 when the United States Navy Commander Richard Meade met with Tutuila’s Chief Manuma to establish a harbor in Pago Pago. By the end of the century, Britain, Germany and the United States were engaged in a power struggle to control the Islands. American Samoa became United States territory by a treaty with Great Britain and Germany in 1899. Local Polynesian chiefs gave up their claims to the islands in 1900 and 1904. Before this, the United States Navy had used the harbor at Pago Pago as a fueling station and American Samoa’s first “presidents” of the islands were United States Navy officers who ran the islands as a military base. The welfare of the Samoan people was neglected, except by a handful of missionaries.

 Two young American Samoan girls with pineapple plants. 1940.
Wayne A. Forde Collection

As an unincorporated and unorganized territory of the United States and administered by the Office of Insular Affairs and the United States Department of the Interior Independence, the America Samoa military activities take place within the United States. With no military of its own, the America Samoans depend upon the United States for military support. Being the responsibility of the United States Military, the 1,133 square miles (about the size of Rhode Island) of America Samoa territory is located about one half of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand. American Samoa became even more important to the United Stated during the Second World War when Pago Pago was a naval base and staging point for the Navy offense in the Pacific. The islands were run by the United States Navy until 1951 when United States president Harry Truman transferred responsibility for American Samoa to the U.S. Department of the interior. A new constitution was drafted in 1960 and in 1978 the first election took place. In the 1960’s the United States started providing new opportunities and a large amount of money to the Samoan Island through trading and exportation. Wanting to become a larger force in the economic sector, the Samoan Islands location is actually prohibitive to trading any more than they do now because of its remote location.Today, schools have been built, roads paved, housing has expanded and a new jet airport has been constructed. About a third of people from the islands work for the American Samoan government as the others work in the fishing and canning industry. As it was in ancient Samoa, the land is still communally owned by most families living in rural areas. They still maintain a small amount of taro and banana plantations for their own families to eat, and approximately twenty members of the same family live under one roof.

While tourism is not prevalent in this part of the Pacific in part, because of its remote location, traffic has become very congested, especially in Pago Pago. One of the most interesting attractions in the Samoan Islands is their National Park. This lies in the South Pacific Ocean and was establish to protect the area’s tropical rain forest on the islands. Because it is home to plants and animals, including the flying fox (which is actually a bat with a wing span of over three feet!). There are many islanders who choose to continue practicing the traditional forms of farming and reef fishing in the park. Therefore, the white sandy beach and a large corral reed on the island of Ofu are also protected.

American Samoa is served by one major airline today and two commuter, or smaller, airlines. There is television (two channels) and one daily newspaper in print. Surprisingly though, telephone (including cellular phone service) and internet service is readily available and used by almost everyone on the island.

American Samoa Demography

The islands of the western Pacific are generally divided into three groups – Micronesia, meaning “small island”, Polynesia, meaning “many islands” and Melanesia, meaning “dark islands.” Together, these three groups are known as the Pacific Islands. Micronesia lies almost entirely north of the equator. Melanesia and Polynesia lie on both side of the equator. American Samoa and the Hawaiian Islands are in Polynesia. The other inhabited islands that have a relationship with the United States are in Micronesia.

Polynesia is the largest section of the Pacific Islands. If you draw a large triangle with the three points at Midway Atoll in the north, Easter Island in the southeast, and New Zealand in the southwest, you will have a rough idea of where Polynesia is. Midway and American Samoa are not the only United States territories in Polynesia. Other United States possessions include Johnston and Palmyra Atolls, Kingman Reef and Howland, Baker and Jarvis Islands.

The Samoan islands are about 4,800 miles southwest of San Francisco, California. The nine western islands make up the independent island nation of Samoa. The seven eastern islands make up the territory of American Samoa. American Samoa, located in the South Pacific Ocean, sixty miles east of the Independent State of Samoa; has five main Islands – these are Tutila, Aunu’u and the Manu’a Islands of Ofu, Olosega and Ta’u. Tutuila is the largest island and the center of government and commerce. This territory also includes two coral atolls: Swains Island which is 240 miles north of the main land and Rose Atoll, an uninhabited nature preserve to the east of the Nauy’a Islands. The entire land area of the territory is approximately 77 miles, slightly larger than Washington, D.C. With over ninety percent of its 600,000 people living on the main island, Tutuila is one of eleven districts, some of which are divided between two different islands.

The largest island in American Samoa is Tutuila. Its fifty-three square miles make up almost seventy percent of the total land area on all seven islands. Pago Pago, on the southeastern coast is the territorial capital and the main port. Huge mountains rise up all around the Harbor. Aunuu Island, a small volcanic crater, lies just offshore.

Steep, volcanic mountains are a major part of the landscape of the five big islands. Covered with lots of trees and other vegetation, the land drops to the ocean with steep, rocky elevations as high as 3,170 feet on Ta’u and 2,142 feet on the main land. Streams and bays create small coastal plains and in some wide areas, sandy beaches are prevalent. Because the north shores of the islands are all subject to severe marine erosion; they consist of mostly steep cliffs. Except for the atolls, most of the islands are rocky. They were formed from the remains of extinct volcanoes. Central mountain ranges and corral reefs surround the islands. Most of the islands’ streams don’t reach the ocean but seep through the rocks.

The climate in the islands is warm and humid. Temperatures range between 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 85 degrees Fahrenheit year round. The islands are subject to strong hurricanes and typhoons between the months of January and March and most rain comes between November and March. Even during the rainy season, it is sunny for much of the day. The National Park of American Samoa preserves the wildlife, fruit bats and freshwater eels. About eighty percent of the land is forest and the breadfruit, the pandanus and coconut trees are plentiful. In Pago Pago there is a dry goods store that was a hotel before when the British were there. Author Somerset Maugham wrote “Miss Thompson” set in the South Pacific. As Pago Pago is the only usable seaport in American Samoa, most of its population and trading is concentrated nearby. With its current population of 58,000, American Samoa is growing at less than one percent annually. Tens of thousands of citizens of Independent Samoa live in American Samoa to take advantage of greater employment opportunities. Likewise, even more of the American Samoan high school graduates migrate to Hawaii or the United States mainland each year for education or employment purposes.

More than 100 earth and stone mounds built by prehistoric people are scattered across the Samoa Islands. The mounds are roughly star-shaped with points radiating out from the center. Some believe the ancient inhabitants used the mounds for sport and religion. Pigeon-snaring was the islander’s major sport. Feasting and partying went on with hunting games, and were used for important religious rituals. With archaeological evidence dating back as along as 1000b.c, Samoans believe that their ancestors were the first Polynesians. The legend of the god Tagaloa displays the Polynesians belief that the world was created (although by a god named Tagaloa) and man and woman were created along with the rest of the world. Approximately 98% of American Samoans are Christians, spread out among many churches. These people are extremely honorable and the American Samoan motto is Samoa Muamua Le Atua, which means “In Samoa, God is First”.

American Samoa Tourism

American Samoa. Papa stream falls
American Samoa Water Quality

In American Samoa, fishing and tourism are major industries. The territory’s gross national product is growing about as rapidly as the population as the GNP per capita is one of the highests among the Pacific Isalnds. Fish are caught for processing and canning in American-owned factories and canned tuna accounts for almost all of American Samoa’s export income. The export fotuna is the principal reason that the islands have maintained a blance of trade surplus for so many years. Most of the paved and unpaved roads are located on Tutuila. An interntionap airpot is located on Tutuila and smaller airports operate from Tau and Ofu islands. Pagp Paago is the major port.The territory’s most popular sport is the local version of cricket, known as kirikiti. Village teams from throughout the islands vy for the annual territorial championsih. Rugby is also a favorite sport and enjoyed by tourists as a sporting event to watch. With a team representing the territory in international tournaments, the United States football sport was introduced in the high school in the 1970’s and inter-school games draw large crowds. Baseball, softball, volleyball, basketball, golf and tennis are other common sporting events for tourists to enjoy. On the weekends, tourists can find barbeques on the beach and swimming in the shallow lagoons, scuba diving and snorkeling along with land activities like hiking.

A guide is present for most tourists to follow and elarn all they can about the Pacific Isalnds, their people and their traditionas. The tourism trips one can take make sure that during your stay, you enjoy watching the basket weavers make their baskets, the reef fisherman get their daily catch and other traditional forms of American Samoa life is observed.

Traditional arts include siapo, wood carvings on bowls, staff, and fly witch handles, and tatos. The art of creating siapo has recently enjoyed a renaissance and can be observed just by walking through the villages. Wood carving has been preserved through programs for senior citizens and tattooing, at one time banned under the United States Navy administration, has also enjoyed a popular comeback. May men now receive the traiditional pe’a, an intricately designed tattoo covering the torso from mid-bak to the knees. A revival has also occurred in women’s tattoos, called malu, which voer the top of the t hights to the knees. Tourists can watch these tattoos being placed through windows and in open markets.

Singing and dancing are also a big part of celebrations that take part throughout the year. Many tourists have seeen the sasa, which is group dancing involving slapping, clappin and stylized hand, arm and leg movements, much like the Hawiian dancing style. The taualuga, which is performed only on special occasions and only by women require either specific athletic or graceful hand and body movements.

Don’t be afraid to visit the Pacific Isalnds during an American Holiday, because all United States public Christian holidays, such as Christmas and Easter are observed in the territory. Whitesunday, which is the second Sunday in October, honors children and involves really long church services, children’s plays and a lot of eating. Also held in Octover is the Moso’oi festival, names after the flower moso’oi which is a plant. The week-long festivities make it an ideal time to visit the island. These include sports competitions like long-boat racing, kirikiti and rugby as well as cultural demonstrations, and displays of ulumoeaga, siapo and other arts. Villages put on plays and provide singing and dancing performances for visitors. Flag day, which in American Samoa is in April (on the 17th) commemorates the first raising of the United States flag on the islands in 1900. The months of October and November are marked by the swarm of the Palolo, which is a coral worm that appears on the reef during the final phases of the moon’s monthly cycle. People gather on reefs with lanterns, canoes and nets to capture the delicacy. This provides a wonderful feast for tourists and some are allowed to participate in the hunt.

There are Museums in historic villages and Marine Sanctuary tours that are exotic tourism attractions. The ethnobotonical plants and the history of the Samoan medicines used to heal family members before the intervention of Western medical practices can also be explored with a guided tour on the islands. Viewing the canneries and tuna plants, the Tisa’s Alega Waterfall and the hiking treks around the American Samoa National Park round off the many tourists’ activities that await you on the Pacific Isalnds. Don’t forget the peaceful and quiet sandy beaches along the coast. Whatever you’re looking for, the Pacific Island of American Samoa has it.

American Samoa Politics

The American Samoa Legislature Fono building in Utulei

American Samoa is governed by the United States Department of the Interior. It is classified as an unorganized and unincorporated territory. American Samoans adopted a constitution in 1960 and they elected a governor to a four year term. American Samoan has a legislature with a Senate and a House of Representatives. The Senate has eighteen members chosen by the county councils to service two to four year terms. The House has twenty members elected by the people to two year terms. Samoans who are eight years old or older may vote in the elections. American Samoans elect a delegate to the United States House of representatives and that delegate may only vote on House committee issues. While American Samoans are considered to be United States nationals, they are still not citizens of the United States. As United States nationals, American Samoans have freedom of entry into the United States and may apply for United States citizenship. However, Samoans are no longer permitted to move freely between American Samoa and the Independent State of Samoa.Like most Unites States states and territories, the government of American Samoa is divided into three branches, the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judicial branch. The governor and lieutenant governor are elected for four-year terms. The legislature, called the Fono, has two sections, the senate and the House of Representatives. There are eighteen senators, each elected from local chiefs to a four-year term. The house has twenty-one members and twenty of those are elected for two-year terms. The other one seat is appointed as a nonvoting delegate from the privately owned Swains Island.

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American Samoa Facts

Samoa is a group of twelve islands in the South Pacific. They lie about 4,200 miles southwest of San Francisco, California and were once called the “Navigators Islands” Nearly all of the islands are volcanic formations, and most of them are surrounded by coral reefs. The islands cover an area of 1,200 square miles and have a population of about 60,000 people. Slightly larger than the United States’ Washington, D.C. the lowest point is the Pacific Ocean and the highest point is the volcanic Lata Mountain. Before the beginning of World War I, Germany and the United Stated shared ownership of this area. Germany owned the Samoan territory west and the United States owned the islands east. At the outbreak of war in 1914, the British troops seized the port of Apia on the German Island of Upolu. In 1920, the League of Nations awarded all of the area owned by the Germans to New Zealand. This territory is officially known as the Territory of Western Samoa. The two largest island groups in New Zealand Samoa, or Western Samoa are Savaii and Upolu. For a long time, Robert Louis Stevenson lived on Upolu. His grave is on Mount Vaea, near the town of Apia, the chief town and government seat of Upolu.

Considered to be an Insular Area, the government of American Samoa is under the supervision of the United States Navy. Tutuila is the most important American possession in Samoa and covers an area of forty square miles with a population of almost 10,000. The United States has had a naval and coaling station on the island since 1872. The port of Pago Pago (pronounced pahngo pahngo) is the only good harbor in Samoa and is on Tutuila. The United States naval base on Tutuilla is an important link in the chain of American Pacific bases. During World War II, the number of American troops actually outnumbered the local population. This being the case, the cultural influences of the West eventually lead too the creation of a local legislature as an organization of their self-governing principles.

Most of the Samooan Islands are very colorful. Mountain slopes dip into fertile valleys. Rich forests and flat lands slope gently toward the sea. The climate is generally pleasant but hurricanes do come between January and March with Typhoons coming from December to March. The rainy season is from November to April with May to October being the driest of seasons. There is little temperature change on these islands throughout the year. The thick forests of Samoa have many different kinds of trees, including sixteen types of coconut palm trees and twenty different kinds of breadfruit trees. The islanders export copra, which is the dried meat inside a coconut, as well as bananas and cocoa. In American Samoa, they raise oranges, limes, mangoes and alligator pears. Other agricultural products include vegetables, taro, yams, pineapples, papayas, dairy products and breadfruit. The only animals on the islands are rats, snakes and a few birds.

The native Samoans are Polynesians. They are tall, well built brown-skinned and physically attractive. They are simple people, but generous and honorable in their habits. Most Samoans are Christians, but they don’t have the elaborate church services of the United States. The primary language on the islands is very closely related to the languages spoken by Hawaiians. English, Tongan, and other languages are spoken as most people speak at least two languages fluently. As their ancestors did, the American Samoans communally own about 90% of the land on the islands. These familial relationships are actually what have contributed to The Manu’a island group maintaining their independence. While most people born on the Pacific Islands are considered to be United States nationals, they are not technically United States citizens. While these individuals participate in our sporting events, they do not represent the United States or compete on any United States teams in the Olympic Games.

The American Samoa’s Independence Day is January 1st, with it’s first Independence Day being in the year 1962. While there is no written constitution, there is a House of Representatives, Members of Parliament and the Governor-General, who heads the Executive Council and consists of all members of the Crown. Queen Elizabeth the II is the most famous New Zealand member of the Crown and heads a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. Members of the United Nations, The East Asia Summit and the Commonwelath of Nations, the American Somoas have free trad agreements and are a strong force in agriculture.

As Samoa advanced its development of tribes, the Maori was born. This was a tribe that broke off from the subtribes to adapt their own culture based on the eastern Polynesian cultures. As a new indigenous culture, the Maori lacked metal tools and therefore sought out the European and North American trading ships. For timber, food, sex, artifacts and water, the ships occupants traded with the Maori and eventually this tribe was able to establish itself and acquired a lot of land. This led to wars over land and today is still a source of a lot of confusion.