Samoans

Samoans

Overview
The Samoan people are a Polynesia
Polynesia
Polynesia is a subregion of Oceania, made up of over 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are termed Polynesians and they share many similar traits including language, culture and beliefs...

n ethnic group of the Samoan Islands
Samoan Islands
The Samoan Islands or Samoa Islands is an archipelago covering in the central South Pacific, forming part of Polynesia and the wider region of Oceania...

, sharing genetics, language, history and culture. Due to colonialism, the home islands are politically and geographically divided between the country of Samoa
Samoa
Samoa , officially the Independent State of Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa is a country encompassing the western part of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It became independent from New Zealand in 1962. The two main islands of Samoa are Upolu and one of the biggest islands in...

, official name Independent State of Samoa (formerly Western Samoa until country name change in 1997); and American Samoa
American Samoa
American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of the sovereign state of Samoa...

, an unincorporated territory of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

.

Samoans living in Samoa in 2006 were estimated at 188,000 The majority of ethnic Samoans now reside in other countries, primarily in New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 (115,000 in 2001) and Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 (39,992 in 2006)

Although the Samoan Natives (Tagata Mao'i) have long claimed to be the indigenous people of their islands, holding firm to the belief that Samoans were birthed by special creation
Special creation
In Creationism, special creation is a theological doctrine which states that the universe and all life in it originated by unconditional fiat or divine decree....

 in Samoa, it has been theorized by many linguists and anthropologists, based on linguistic commonalities as well as archaeological findings, that migrants from Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

 arrived in the Samoan Islands approximately 3500 years ago, settling in what has come to be known as "Polynesia
Polynesia
Polynesia is a subregion of Oceania, made up of over 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are termed Polynesians and they share many similar traits including language, culture and beliefs...

" further to the east.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Samoans'
Start a new discussion about 'Samoans'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
The Samoan people are a Polynesia
Polynesia
Polynesia is a subregion of Oceania, made up of over 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are termed Polynesians and they share many similar traits including language, culture and beliefs...

n ethnic group of the Samoan Islands
Samoan Islands
The Samoan Islands or Samoa Islands is an archipelago covering in the central South Pacific, forming part of Polynesia and the wider region of Oceania...

, sharing genetics, language, history and culture. Due to colonialism, the home islands are politically and geographically divided between the country of Samoa
Samoa
Samoa , officially the Independent State of Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa is a country encompassing the western part of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It became independent from New Zealand in 1962. The two main islands of Samoa are Upolu and one of the biggest islands in...

, official name Independent State of Samoa (formerly Western Samoa until country name change in 1997); and American Samoa
American Samoa
American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of the sovereign state of Samoa...

, an unincorporated territory of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

.

Samoans living in Samoa in 2006 were estimated at 188,000 The majority of ethnic Samoans now reside in other countries, primarily in New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 (115,000 in 2001) and Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 (39,992 in 2006)

Migration


Although the Samoan Natives (Tagata Mao'i) have long claimed to be the indigenous people of their islands, holding firm to the belief that Samoans were birthed by special creation
Special creation
In Creationism, special creation is a theological doctrine which states that the universe and all life in it originated by unconditional fiat or divine decree....

 in Samoa, it has been theorized by many linguists and anthropologists, based on linguistic commonalities as well as archaeological findings, that migrants from Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

 arrived in the Samoan Islands approximately 3500 years ago, settling in what has come to be known as "Polynesia
Polynesia
Polynesia is a subregion of Oceania, made up of over 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are termed Polynesians and they share many similar traits including language, culture and beliefs...

" further to the east. This approximation is based on the so-called "Lapita
Lapita
Lapita is a term applied to an ancient Pacific Ocean archaeological culture which is believed by many archaeologists to be the common ancestor of several cultures in Polynesia, Micronesia, and some coastal areas of Melanesia...

" pottery that has been dated to that time; it is possible, as the natives suggest, however, that the Samoan Islands were in fact settled some time prior to 1000 BC and that the original settlement actually predates the arrival of those to whom the pottery was culturally relevant. Furthermore, the Samoans have developed a language, culture, and social practice most divergent from the other ethnic groups associated with the Lapita pottery and the term "Austronesia
Austronesia
Austronesia, in historical terms, refers to the homeland of the peoples who speak Austronesian languages, including Malay, Filipino, Indonesian, Maori, Malagasy, native Hawaiian, the Fijian language and around a thousand other languages...

".

Early contact with Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

ans was established in the 18th century. Christianity was formally introduced with the arrival of L.M.S
London Missionary Society
The London Missionary Society was a non-denominational missionary society formed in England in 1795 by evangelical Anglicans and Nonconformists, largely Congregationalist in outlook, with missions in the islands of the South Pacific and Africa...

 Christian missionaries in August 1830. During the early 20th century the Samoan Islands
Samoan Islands
The Samoan Islands or Samoa Islands is an archipelago covering in the central South Pacific, forming part of Polynesia and the wider region of Oceania...

 were partitioned by Germany, Great Britain and the USA. Tutuila and Aunu'u islands United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 were claimed by the USA, and later joined by the Kingdom of Manu'a (1904) to become the current Territory of American Samoa
American Samoa
American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of the sovereign state of Samoa...

. The western islands became German Samoa. In 1914, New Zealand forces captured the islands from Germany, thus becoming Western Samoa. Western Samoa regained its independence on January 1, 1962. In 1997 it formally changed its name to Samoa.

Culture



Some famous Samoans include Sabre Strickson-Pua
Sabre Strickson-Pua
Feleti Strickson-Pua is a member of a New Zealand hip-hop group Nesian Mystik.- History :Feleti is of New Zealand born, Samoan ancestry. At the age of 11 Feleti was the youngest radio interviewer in NZ. He has worked extensively in radio and television over the years...

 of Nesian Mystik
Nesian Mystik
Nesian Mystik was a New Zealand Hip-Hop/R&B group formed in 1999. Their cultural backgrounds unite a remarkable diversity of Polynesia by bringing together Cook Island, Tongan, Samoan and Maori ancestry...

, Troy Polamalu
Troy Polamalu
Troy Aumua Polamalu is an American football strong safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League. He was drafted in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Steelers. He played college football at the University of Southern California.-High school:Troy Polamalu graduated...

, a famous safety for the professional football team the Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The team currently belongs to the North Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League . Founded in , the Steelers are the oldest franchise in the AFC...

 and Mosi Tatupu
Mosi Tatupu
Mosiula Faasuka Tatupu was a National Football League special teamer and running back who during a fifteen year professional career played for the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams. His tenure with the Patriots lasted from 1978 to 1990...

 of the New England Patriots
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots, commonly called the "Pats", are a professional football team based in the Greater Boston area, playing their home games in the town of Foxborough, Massachusetts at Gillette Stadium. The team is part of the East Division of the American Football Conference in the National...

. Samoans are also famous for rugby union
Rugby union
Rugby union, often simply referred to as rugby, is a full contact team sport which originated in England in the early 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand...

 most notably Brian Lima
Brian Lima
Brian Lima is a former Samoan rugby union footballer who was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in 2011. Originally a wing, Lima moved into centre for Manu Samoa as his pace lessened, but he remained a formidable player throughout his career.He earned the memorable nickname of "The Chiropractor"...

 and Manu Samoa, the Samoa national rugby union team
Samoa national rugby union team
The Manu Samoa is the men's representative side of the Samoa Rugby Union in both the 15's and the 7's for international competitions. The Samoa Rugby Union is owned by the affiliated rugby unions of Samoa. In Samoa, Manu Samoa is in honour of a famous Samoan warrior. From 1924 to 1997 Samoa was...

 

Tattooing




Traditional Samoan tattoo (tatau), pe'a
Pe'a
The Pe'a is the popular name of the traditional male tattoo of Samoa, which was originally called the malofie, a term used in the Samoan language chiefly vocabulary and 'respect' register .-Description:...

 (male tatau), malu
Malu
Malu can refer to:* Malu, a Samoan tattoo* Malu, Nepal* Malu, Giurgiu, a commune in Giurgiu County, Romania* Malu, a village in Bârla Commune, Argeş County, Romania* Malu, a village in Godeni Commune, Argeş County, Romania...

 (female tatau), demonstrate the strong ties many Samoans feel for their culture. Samoans have practiced the art of tattooing both men and women for over 2,000 years. To this day, a man's tattoo extensively covers from mid-back, down the sides and flanks, to the knees. A woman's tattoo is not quite as extensive or heavy. The geometric patterns are based on ancient designs, and often denote rank and status. The va'a or canoe, for example, stretches across a man's mid-back.

Samoan oral tradition generally recognizes that two Fijian women, Taema
Taema
Taema is the name of a female figure referred to in different legends in Samoan mythology.-Different Legends:*One well known legend relates that Taema and her sister Tila faiga were the goddesses of tattooers. The sisters brought the art of tattooing to Samoa from Fiti. As they swam, the sisters...

 and Tilafaiga
Tilafaiga
According to a legend in Samoan mythology Tilafaiga was one of the siamese twin sisters who brought the art of tatau to Samoa from Fiti...

, introduced the practice of tattooing. Before the arrival of Christian missionaries, starting in 1830, all Samoan males got a traditional tattoo. Though the early missionaries did not succeed in outlawing the practice, which they considered as defacement of the human body and heathenish, they eventually succeeded in refocusing the custom on the sons of chiefs.

In Samoa's cultural past most males were tattooed between the ages of 14–18, when it was determined they had stopped growing, so the designs would not stretch and suffer in beauty. Today, there has been a strong revival of traditional tattooing in the past generation, not only in Samoa but throughout Polynesia, often as a symbol of cultural identity.

Tatau, the Samoan word for tattoo has a number of meanings including correct or rightness. It also signifies the correct quadrangular figures in reference to the fact that Samoan tattoo designs do not include circular lines, although other Polynesian tattoo motifs do. Early Englishmen mispronounced the word tatau and borrowed it into popular usage as tattoo.

Traditional tattooing is a painful process. The Samoan tattoo master dips his cutting tools into black ink made from the soot of burnt candlenut shells, and then punctures designs into the skin. The cutting tool, or "needle," consists of a short piece of bamboo
Bamboo
Bamboo is a group of perennial evergreens in the true grass family Poaceae, subfamily Bambusoideae, tribe Bambuseae. Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family....

 or light wood with a piece of tortoiseshell
Tortoiseshell material
Tortoiseshell or tortoise shell is a material produced mainly from the shell of the hawksbill turtle, an endangered species. It was widely used in the 1960s and 1970s in the manufacture of items such as combs, sunglasses, guitar picks and knitting needles...

 bound at right angles at one end. A little bone comb is bound to the lower broad end of the tortoiseshell. The larger the comb, the greater the area on the skin is covered with fewer strokes. The master uses a small mallet to repeatedly tap a short handled instrument. The process takes days, and is sometimes partially accomplished over longer periods, with recuperation in between.

Tattoo designs have changed to include freehand symbols such as the kava bowl representing hospitality; the characterization of the Samoan house or fale signifying kinship; emblems of nature — shells, fish, birds, waves, centipedes; and the traditional geometric lines and angles of different lengths and sizes.

Music


Modern pop and rock have a large audience in Samoa, as do several native bands; these bands have abandoned most elements of Samoan traditional music, though there are folky performers. Recently, the Samoan population has seen a resurgence of old Samoan songs, remixed in the style of Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

an reggae
Reggae
Reggae is a music genre first developed in Jamaica in the late 1960s. While sometimes used in a broader sense to refer to most types of Jamaican music, the term reggae more properly denotes a particular music style that originated following on the development of ska and rocksteady.Reggae is based...

, but with some traditional elements, such as the use of the pate and the chord structure still in use.

Initially in Samoan music, “there were just two instruments in use; the pate, a hollowed out log drum that comes in various sizes, and the fala
Music of Samoa
The music of Samoa is integral to life in the country. The most important and essential avenue has always been the voice. Singers mourn, rejoice, and reflect every emotion. The past, present, and sometimes the near future are put to song...

, a rolled up mat beaten with sticks. In addition to this was the human voice. This limited range of instrumentation had no effect on the importance of music in Samoan life. Because there was no written language many stories and legends were propagated through song and the complex rhythms from the pate are essential in the performance of many Samoan dances. In fact in many dances, the dancers themselves add to the rhythm by clapping their hands, and dependent upon the way in which the hand is held produce a range of different sounds. Ttwo instruments were developed that are now synonymous with Samoan music, the selo and the ukulele
Ukulele
The ukulele, ; from ; it is a subset of the guitar family of instruments, generally with four nylon or gut strings or four courses of strings....

. The selo is a stringed instrument made from a broomstick, or similar object, attached to a largish box, bucket or other object that acts as a sounding board. A single length of string joins the top of the stick to the box, which plucked to produce a sound similar to that of a bass. The ukelele is a small guitar-like instrument but with only four strings. It can be found in two forms, one which is like a miniturised guitar, the other where the body is made from half a coconut
Coconut
The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae . It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word...

 shell.” Western string instrument
String instrument
A string instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings. In the Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification, used in organology, they are called chordophones...

s such as guitar
Guitar
The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

s are also now widely available across the Pacific Islands, with many bands performing and recording both acoustic and amplified music in Samoa since the 1970s. Younger generations continue to perform in string band
String band
A string band is an old-time music or jazz ensemble made up mainly or solely of string instruments. String bands were popular in the 1920s and 1930s, and are among the forerunners of modern country music and bluegrass.-String bands in old-time music:...

s as well as gravitate towards genres such as rap
Rap
Rap may refer to:*Rapping, performance in which rhyming lyrics are used, with or without musical accompaniment ; while an MC performs spoken verses in time to a beat/ melody**Hip hop subculture**Hip hop music...

, R&B, gospel
Gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

 and soul.

As with many South Pacific peoples Samoans are heavily religious. Over 90% of all Samoans in Samoa and Amerika Samoa are Christian with over 90% of that population attending church weekly. Similarly high numbers are seen across the Samoan diaspora. Samoan choral music is vital in every religion practiced by Samoans and a number of prominent composers,are well known amongst all Samoans whether composing simple hymns or a classical "Salamo" (Psalms), a multi-movement choral piece. The most notable of these are from the Ekalesia Faapotopotoga Iesu i Samoa (EFIS or CCJS, the Congregational Church of Jesus in Samoa), the Ekalesia Faapotopotoga Kerisiano i Samoa (EFKS or CCCS, the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa), the Ekalesia Faapotopotoga Kerisiano i Amerika Samoa (EFKAS or CCCAS, the Congregational Christian Church of Am. Samoa), and the Ekalesia Metotisi i Samoa (Methodist Church in Samoa). The two pioneers and prolific composers of church music were HC Mata'utia Pene Solomona (EFIS, Apia)and his nephew Elder Dr. Ioselani Pouesi (EFIS, Apia; EFKS, Fasitoouta). They began writing music for EFIS in 1941 and for the first EFIS hymnal "Pese ma Viiga i le Atua" (220 hymns, pub.1953) and also composed music for the EFKS, EFKAS, Catholic, and Methodist churches. Prof. Ueta Solomona (Mata'utia Pene Solomona's son)who had recently retired from the University of Fiji in 2008 was one of the music committee members who also composed music for the EFKS hymnal. Namulauulu Dr. Paul Pouesi (Elder Ioselani Pouesi's son) is currently serving EFKAS in Vatia and EFIS in Pago Pago as Minister of Music. He published his second hymn book "Ole Pese Fou i le Alii" (445 hymns and psalms, pub.2005) dedicated to the EFKAS 25th Anniversary. Flo Wendt continues to write and record music for EFIS choir in Fagatogo. Dr. Polo Manuma and his father Viavia Manuma wrote music for their EFIS choir in Pago Pago. The music of all the above composers are also published in the EFIS Hymnal 'Pese ma Viiga i le Atua' 2nd Edition (361 hymns and psalms, pub.1994 – music compiled by Namulauulu Paul Pouesi).
Samoan Gospel music is a newer sub-genre in the Genre of "Pese Lotu" (Samoan Church music). Heavily influenced by African-American gospel it is most utilized in the Samoan Assemblies of God
Samoan Assemblies of God
The Sāmoan Assemblies of God Fellowship or SAOG is a Pentecostal fellowship of churches. Established in 1928 on the Islands of American Sāmoa, it reached the Western Islands and outer countries with large Sāmoan communities, such as New Zealand, America and Australia...

 churches (Lotu PatiPati) although the style is very popular amongst youth groups (Autalavou) in several different religions amongst Samoan people known for its often upbeat and Black gospel influence.
Although originally most pieces were written for choir and Piano or organ, electronic keyboards and synthesizers are very popular. Brass and orchestral accompaniment though less common in early church music are often specified by composers today.
Typically though, Samoan Christian music is most commonly heard in the daily Samoan worship held by most Samoan families around the world. In the Samoa's themselves this time is sacred as most villages and towns ban any traffic through the streets during evening family worship or simply "Lotu". Families raise their voices in song without accompaniment which can heard all throughout the village. Whether out of love for God or out of unbreakable tradition; families, young and old, sing the hymns of old or newer songs of praise to preface their prayers to God.

The nearly three decades of Samoan involvement in street dance and rap music in the United States has significantly impacted cultural production in other places where Samoans settled, particularly New Zealand. Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E.
Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E.
Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. are a hip hop group from Carson, California, composed of the Devoux brothers Paul, Ted, Donald, Roscoe, Danny, and David. Their family is from Samoa. They first began playing music in their father's Baptist church. Before anyone else arrived, they would play P-Funk and experiment...

 hails from Carson, California and have been working with music since 1988. Boo-Yaa came into the hip hop game at the same time as the world renown Ice Cube, and they often resemble the West Coast hip hop style.

Wales based u.k alternative rock band 'Samoans', feature no actual people of a Samoan descent, the name is understood to be an ironic statement due to their pale complexion.

Dance


Traditionally, Samoans have incorporated dance in their customs. The original Samoan dance form is known to be one of the few areas of their culture which has not been heavily influenced by American tradition. The fire dance or Siva Afi also a big part of the Samoan culture. The slap dance, a dance performed by males, consist of fierce slapping of the body in rhythmic motion to drum beats is called faataupati. Other Samoan dances include the maulu'ulu which is an all female dance and is more elegant. The taualuga is a dance for the chief son or daughter. When a girl does taualuga she is called a taupou. When a boy does a tauluga he is called a manaia.

Government



American Samoa is an unincorporated and unorganized territory of the United States. Officials from the U.S. Department of the Interior administer the territory. Through Congressional legislative action, the Samoans drafted their own constitution and from that constitution their government exists.

A non-voting Congressional delegate is sent to represent the Territory of American Samoa. The 2008 Congressional delegate is Eni Faleomavaega.

The American Samoan constitution was written to incorporate a governor, lieutenant governor and the legislature. Both the governor and lieutenant governor are elected every four years. The legislature, known as the Fono, is bicameral. The Samoan Senate consists of 18 members chosen from the 14 Samoan counties. The House of Representatives consists of 20 members who are elected through popular vote. Swains Island residents select one representative to serve as a non-voting member in the House of Representatives.

From 1900 until 1929, American Samoa was known as a U.S. Naval coaling station. In 1929, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that officially recognized the eastern islands as, American Samoa. Until 1951, the United States Navy selected the governor for American Samoa. In 1956, the U.S. Department of Interior took over that responsibility. In 1977, the governor was elected by popular vote.

External links