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American Samoa

American Samoa



Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, American Samoa is a far-flung U.S. territory. Polynesian settlers arrived in the area in the first few centuries CE, and later, in the 18th and 19th centuries, Europeans came to explore and colonize the area. The island’s distinctive cultural character and political standing are the products of its long and eventful past.

Colonial Polynesia

Polynesians arrived in American Samoa approximately 1000 BC and were the first permanent residents. These pioneers forged a civilization rooted in a deep affinity for both sea and land. They established a sophisticated social order and a wealth of customs that are still followed today.

Colonization and Exploration in Europe

Dutch adventurer Jacob Roggeveen discovered Samoa in 1722. Over the course of the following century, European explorers and traders, mostly from the United Kingdom, France, and the United States, visited the islands and developed trading ties with the indigenous Samoans.

It was in 1830 when John Williams, a missionary with the London Missionary Society, landed in Samoa and began preaching to the natives there. Other Christian missions, notably one from the Catholic Church, followed in his footsteps.

Samoa was colonized by Europeans in the 19th century. The United States took possession of the eastern islands, which became known as American Samoa, when they were partitioned between Germany and the United States in 1899.

The American Government

Following American colonization, the U.S. Navy administered American Samoa until 1951, when the Department of the Interior took over. During this period, American Samoa was relatively cut off from the rest of the world, and the majority of its residents still relied on subsistence farming and fishing for a living.

American Samoa’s economy began to diversify in the middle of the twentieth century as a result of investments made by the United States government on the island’s infrastructure and educational system. The government established a tourism sector that promoted the island’s natural beauty and cultural legacy, and the tuna canning business expanded to become a significant employment.

Position in Politics

Unlike other U.S. territory, American Samoa has never been granted full citizenship in the United States. Instead, American Samoans are considered U.S. nationals and enjoy some of the benefits of U.S. law without enjoying the full protections of U.S. citizenship.

The fa’amatai, American Samoa’s traditional system of government, is another thing that sets the territory apart. The fa’amatai system is a social and familial stratification structure comprised of chiefs and sub-chiefs. Samoa’s traditional chiefs play a significant role in the island’s government because of their widespread authority and prestige.


American Samoa’s past is marked by colonialism, isolation, and development. The island’s people continue to take strength from their strong ties to the land and the sea, which are reflected in the island’s distinctive cultural character and political standing. The people of American Samoa are tenacious and proud of their history and culture despite the fact that their country confronts numerous obstacles, such as economic growth and political representation.

After becoming under U.S. jurisdiction, American Samoa served as a Navy coaling station and a center for the canning of tuna. During World War II, the islands served as a strategic military outpost. When the American Samoa Government was first set up in 1900, the territory was under the control of a naval governor; it wasn’t until 1951 that the territory was transferred to civilian control under the Department of the Interior.

During this time period, Samoans were subjected to bigotry and prejudice on the part of both the military and the general public in the United States. It wasn’t until the 1940s that Samoans were finally permitted to enlist in the United States armed forces, and even then they had to serve in separate divisions. Racist housing rules also kept Samoans in overcrowded, unclean circumstances while providing white Americans with more options.

In addition, the United States’ imposition of Western education on the Samoan people was detrimental to the survival of the island nation’s indigenous languages and cultural practices. Samoan students were compelled to attend American-style schools, where they were exposed to an English-only curriculum and pressured to adopt Western values. As a result, many Samoans felt humiliated and devalued as they lost their native language and cultural identity.

Discrimination and racism against Samoans in American Samoa gained national prominence during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The United States federal government outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in the workplace in the Fair Employment Practices Act of 1967. For Samoans living in American Samoa, this statute meant greater access to the labor market.

The Constitution of American Samoa was ratified during the Constitutional Convention held that same year (1978). The constitution set up a government that better reflected Samoan society and customs. The Samoan language was made an official language, and traditional Samoan values were guaranteed.

Although things have gotten better, racism and prejudice are still problems in modern-day American Samoa. Many Samoans worry that the Western world is threatening their culture and are discouraged from pursuing higher education or finding gainful jobs. Furthermore, Samoans are still stereotyped as strange and foreign in mainstream American culture.

In conclusion, racism in American Samoa has a complex history that dates back to the islands’ colonial era. Although there has been progress toward more fair and representative governance, racism and discrimination remain pervasive problems for the people of Samoa. A more accepting and respectful society can only be achieved by acknowledging the negative effects of colonialism and racism on the Samoan people.

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