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American Samoa Culture

The culture of American Samoa is almost the same as in Upolu (Western Samoa). The U.S. sovereignty distinguishes the civilization of American Samoa from the sovereign Samoa.

The Samoan culture is Polynesia’s oldest. It is believed that, the first people on the Samoan Islands came by sea from southwest Asia about 3,000 years ago. Over the centuries, distinct cultural traits emerged that we now call fa’asamoa (fah-ah-SAH-mo-ah). From Samoa seafaring explorers and settlers journeyed to other Polynesian island groups hundreds of miles away.

The language is part of the Austronesian linguistic family. The Samoic subgroup includes Samoan and the languages of Tokelau and Tuvalu.

The Samoan is spoken at home, but most residents also speak English. English is taught in schools from the early grades, and the 1990 census reported that fewer than a thousand people age five or older did not speak English.

The Samoan Children’s Mass is a special day, as big as Christmas, when all the children of the island receive new clothes and gifts. The day is focused around the children, who round up all the adults and run the festivities, from cooking in the early morning hours to conducting services and singing in angelic choirs in all the churches. Services are conducted and songs sung in Samoan, a dialect similar to other Polynesian languages.

Samoans have a strong christian community which dates back to the days of Reverend Williams who came to the Samoan islands in the early nineteenth century, representing the London Missionary Society.

His benevolent ways, and wise counsel soon convinced the Natives to turn from their pagan worship to christianity and brotherly love. Soon after the London Missionary Society arrived tribal wars between villages stopped, and were replaced by friendly dance competitions and dugout canoe races.