Although American Sāmoa is an American territory, it is still distinctly Samoan. It has held on to its language and culture and is an exception to the devastating loss of culture in most other Indigenous populations under the United States. The Faʻasāmoa, Samoan cultural practices and beliefs, informs and instructs all aspects of Samoan life, from the political, social, economic, and the cultural. 

The Faʻasāmoa is defined by maintaining the vā - physical space that denotes social relationships - between different individuals and the collective. It is rooted in alofa (love, affection, compassion) and this dictates that the vā must be maintained with alofa to promote harmony between two or more entities, whether human or otherwise. 

There are cultural obligations and responsibilities that must be fulfilled in order to maintain this vā and this can span social and economic realms. All Samoans are part of various ʻāiga (family) and they are expected to care and provide for each other, both in the present life and in the next. All ʻāiga are connected to their own fanua (land), which in turn is situated under the nuʻu (village). All nuʻu are part of larger districts called itūmālō and work collaboratively to maintain order and promote peace for the collective well-being of their constituent nuʻu and ʻāiga. 

One of the primary reasons the native chiefs of American Sāmoa sought to form a treaty with the United States was to protect the Faʻasāmoa from foreign incursion and deterioration from western influence. This includes the economic system in which land is maintained under a communal system that prohibits alienation to foreigners. 

The Faʻasāmoa is most visible during faʻalavelave, special occasions such as maliu (funerals), faʻaipoipoga (weddings), saofaʻi (chiefly title bestowals), and faʻaulufalega (church and building dedications). 

  • Faʻalavelave

    Maintaining the vā entails providing economically for the ʻāiga, nuʻu, ʻekālēsia, and the mālō

  • Cultural Practice

    Culture is maintained through story, song, and dance, and is displayed collectively through synchronization

  • Transmission

    A way of life will not survive if it is not passed down to the next generation


Does the U.S. Constitution Follow the Flag in American Sāmoa?