Local traditions and culture in American Samoa

  • You may see some old-time dress at festive events
    You may see some old-time dress at...
    by sennaya
  • banana and coconuts in hillside plantation
    banana and coconuts in hillside...
    by sennaya
  • Local Customs
    by Matai_Palagi

Most Viewed Local Customs in American Samoa

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    Agriculture- the village plantations

    by sennaya Updated Jun 8, 2007

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    Families make plantations usually on the hillsides. Sometimes the local Matai oversees the distribution of produce from the plantations for the whole village.
    An area is cleared of trees, then bananas, breadfruit, taro, papaya etc. are planted. In some lowlands a swamp can be used for water taro.
    In this warm moist climate a fallen tree rots away in about 6 months. The jungle takes over a plantation just about as fast if the weeds are not cut regularly.

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    Samoan Tattoos

    by sennaya Updated Jun 8, 2007

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    It is an old tradition for the chiefs and any man deserving respect, to have geometrical tattoos on their body from waist to knee.
    The designs have meanings like the designs on tapa cloth.
    Old-style tattoos are painful and it is right of manhood, bravery and perseverance to get the tattoo. Every big chief needs a good tattoo :)
    Photos from a tattoo festival:
    http://www.samoanews.com/2006FestPhotos/

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    Don't expect ancient traditions

    by sennaya Updated Jun 8, 2007

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    Most villages have activities for all ages with singing, traditional dance, siva siva, and Umu food. But Samoa is a modern educated place.
    You will see respect for old dress and customs, but most Samoans live with new music and dress like everywhere else.
    I include this 100-years-old picture because I like it. It brings memories of an exotic and more romantic time. The good old days. :) On special holidays, like April 17 Flag Day (secession day), you may see much time spent making traditional clothing with creative laurels and plant skirts and lavalavas to augment dress. Very beautiful.

    For most it is easier to see traditional Samoan culture in Hawaii, go to the Polynesian Cultural Center. Many Mormon students are from Samoa and demonstrate traditional customs. You might find many samoans representing other islands at the center. Samoans are the largest ethnic Polynesian group in polynesia.

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    Talofa! (Hello!) Speak Samoan

    by sennaya Written Jan 8, 2007

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    Samoan language is gernerally pronounced like a romantic language. Here is how to count to ten. We put more words on the linked page.
    1. tasi
    2. lua
    3. tolu
    4. fa
    5. lima
    6 ono
    7. fitu
    8. valu
    9. iva
    10. sefulu
    http://www.ipacific.com/samoa/speak.html

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    Samoan stamps

    by sennaya Written Jan 7, 2007

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    Samoa has had their own stamps for about 100 years and many are in circulation for collectors. Postage to American Samoa is almost the same as American states because of the close relationship between the territory and the US since April 17, 1900 when American Samoa seceded to the US and became under a US naval government. Samoa has its own elected government now.

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    Lava lava- most practical clothes

    by sennaya Written Dec 23, 2006

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    The piece of cloth in a bright color or Hawaiian print is the traditional garb of men and women. It is a great wraparound for a swimsuit now and very comfortable for men to sit.
    You can buy them inthe shops and it si a great souviner to keep and use at home, beach or swimming pool.

    The usual size needs to be wide enough to wrap around yourself 1.5 times and length from waist to over the knee for men and similar for women used from bust to thigh or longer.

    It is like sitting in your towel all day, pamper yourself!

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  • 1)Do not barter, it is...

    by crazymeg Written Aug 24, 2002

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    1)Do not barter, it is considered very offensive. If you do not like the price then don't buy it.
    2)Cabs: always ask what the fare is to where you are going first, note if travelling within town, like Aggie's to McDonalds is 2 tala.
    3)You can't just swim anywhere, if you see a great beach at the side of the road, ask the village whose beach it is if you may use it, chances are it is ok
    4)Women: outside of Apia do not wear shorts or tan tops. Dress is conservative, pick up a few lavalavas for yourself and you will be set. Bikinis are not ok at beaches, only palagi places like Tanu or Palolo Deep
    5)When you walk down the street people will smile at you and say hello, say hello back they are just being friendly and so should you!

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    Respect 'Sa' or Sacred Time,...

    by Matai_Palagi Written Aug 24, 2002

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    Respect 'Sa' or Sacred Time, usually around 6pm tho it can vary from village to village. When in doubt ask someone (they will appreciate this) and remain indoors during Sa time.

    Ask before you use any beach unless it is posted or you know who's beach it is.

    Maintain comfortable attire, but remember Samoa maintains someting of a 'beach attire' dress code (especially American Samoa where bathing attire is more likely to get you into trouble in some outer villages). Just for the ladies a modest Sarong type of wrap over (except in the water of course).

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    Fale: traditional samoan house

    by sennaya Written Jan 15, 2007

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    Built with hardwood tree posts, floored with coral gravel and thatched with palm fronds, all lashed together without nails. Still used in villages and for ceremonial gathering places.

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    Samoan flag and government

    by sennaya Written Jan 7, 2007

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    With elected legislature and governor, Samoa is a democracy fa'a samoa, in the Samoan way.

    Here is a website for Governor Togiola and the government.

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