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many young Samoans are well educated, and their lives have become such that traditional Samoan culture may mean little or nothing to them. Some consider this new attitude a threat to the Samoan way of life. Commission makes no pretense that these recommendations represent the feelings of all the people of American Samoa, the Commission believes that it has fairly reflected the view of most American Samoans.

The great majority of American Samoans are devoted and devout in their feeling for America. However, facts may arise which would make independence or union with Western Samoa the wisest course of political developm The Commission feels that while these alternatives are not practical at this time, they should not be summarily dismissed. American Samoa must continue to search its soul in the light of future developments.

The Commission makes these recommendations with one goal in mind : to give American Samoa a framework of political institutions most suitable for both present conditions and likely changes in the near future.

2. The Commission recommends that the people of American Samoa elect their own Governor.

The people of American Samoa must elect their own Governor. The question is not whether the people are "ready” to elect their own governor, but rather whether they desire to elect their own Governor. If the people desire to elect a man Governor, that is sufficient justification for his holding the post. In most instances, the right man will be elected. To continue to impose a governor on the people of American Samoa is to perpetuate an unnecessary and outdated policy, known in other areas of the world as "colonialism".

An elected governor will be a man who is a resident of the territory, rather than an outsider. A resident of the territory is familiar with its problems, and need not waste time or money trying to understand them. Time and time again, Samoans have witnessed their governors tackle the some problems without ever achieving a solution. Other times, a man is not even in the job long enough to become aware of Samoa's problems, before he is replaced-usually for political considerations.

The stop and start nature of city traffic is a close approximation of American Samoa's development. One Governor is a mover, another may be famous for slowing down. There is no sustained forward progress—again because the new man lacks knowledge of what took place before he assumed office. A locallyelected Governor would have the great advantage of familiarity with Samoa and Samoan culture as a basis upon which to make decisions.

Who decides whether or not the Governor of American Samoa is performing well? Under the present system, he is responsible to one man only, and that man is 8,000 miles away. The Governor need only be concerned with that one man's desires. What about the 30,000 or more people that he is supposed to govern? They should be the judges of his performance because they are in the best position to judge him.

In the transition of American Samoa to a truly democratic society, a local person as Governor will be able to ease the inevitable jolts and shocks. He is in a position to understand local customs and traditions and can provide his own people with the type of guidance that carries with it sympathy and understanding.

It has been argued that no Samoans are ready to be Governor-even if this were true (and we do not believe it is) the most important consideration is the desire of the people to elect their own Governor, not the number of college degrees their Governor might hold. It might be pointed out that not all Governors of American Samoa have been college educated, and that there is a large and growing pool of American Samoans who hold college degrees. It should also be remembered that a Samoan, Peter Tali Coleman, has already been Governor.

One of the arguments against local election of a Governor is that he will play favorites and place all his relatives in jobs. This is a natural tendency which will never be eliminated altogether. But there is better chance of controlling nepotism if the governor were elected locally, for the local people can percieve and respond to such actions at the next election. Under the present system there is no Constitutional or legal restriction on the Governor's power to appoint his own men to key positions.

There is also a school of thought that American Samoa must learn to crawl before she can walk. These people suggest that Samoa must follow the pattern established by other territories whereby a Governor is appointed from the local population rather than from the U.S. mainland, before the governor is elected locally. Why waste time crawling if you can walk already? If a local person is going to be Governor, it is far better to have him elected than to have him appointed.

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Even if the idea of an elected governor is accepted immediately, the earliest it can possibly be put into effort is 1974 or 1976. If the territory continues to change at the present rate, it will be a different place by then. Samoans will be increasingly well educated and politically sophisticated.

Finally, the objection that a territorial governor must be responsible to Congress, since Congress controls the pursestrings, is not valid. Would an elected governor do anything so irresponsible as to insure the end of federal support for his people? If Congress does not approve of an elected Governor's actions, it need only withdraw the support without which American Samoa would not be able to effectively function.

3. The Commission recommends that both Houses of the Samoan Legislature be popularly elected. The Commission recommends that the Legislature be a full-time body, with commensurate salaries and staff.

If Samoa is going to elect its own Governor, it should also choose both houses of its Legislature by popular vote. This would necessitate amending the Constitution of American Samoa to provide for the election of Senators by all those voters eligible to vote for members of the House of Representatives.

Many of the objections which have been raised to an appointed Governor apply (with lesser force because of the sanction of Samoan custom) to the "appointment” of Senators by the County Councils. By democratically choosing both its Legislature and its Governor, American Samoa would be well on its way to complete self-government.

The development of American Samoa requires that the Legislature be a fulltime body. The problems of Samoa are such that members of the Legislature should devote their entire energy to their solution. Such devotion is not consistent with simultaneous employment of legislators by the Government of American Samoa. One can never serve two masters well, and legislators should not be allowed to also work for the Government of American Samoa.

If the Legislature is to attract the best talent the Territory has to offer, it must pay its members a competitive salary. A fairly compensated, full-time legislator, is apt to be a better lawmaker than an underpaid, part-time legislator.

The Legislature must have additional staff. If it is to adequately cope with the many pressing needs of American Samoa, the Legislature must have more than one overworked attorney to serve as its legislative counsel.

The Commission feels that implementation of these suggested changes would result in a Legislature more satisfactory to both the people of American Samoa and to the United States Congress.

4. The Commission recommends that the local Governor be given exclusive veto power over all legislation dealing with local matters. Decisions affecting both the United States and American Samoa should be referred to Congress for final disposition

If the Governor of American Samoa is going to be popularly elected, he should have the exclusive right to veto bills proposed by the Legislature and having only local import. An elected Governor is responsible to the people who make up his constituency, and as their representative he should be the final arbiter of the fate of local legislation. (Of course, the Legislature would retain its right to over-ride the Governor's veto). If the Governor is popularly elected, rather than appointed from Washington, there is no reason to retain the right of the Legislature to appeal to higher authority in Washington.

Of course, American Samoa realizes that as an American Territory, Congress must resolve all questions relating to change in the citizenship or nationality of its people. Likewise, American Samoa realizes that Congress must have the final word on all other issues which are of vital import to both the United States and American Samoa.

5. The Commission recommends that the educational system of American Samoa be reeramined. If American Samoa is to become self-governing, Samoans must receive sufficient training to enable them to do the job well.

American Samoans cannot assume complete responsibility for their own affairs if they are not trained to cope with those responsibilities. Hence, the educational level of Samoans must be considered in the choice of Samoa's political status.

Thus far, there has been no master plan evolved to train Samoans in the specific skill areas necessary for the orderly running of their government. Under the present, haphazard system, there are no Samoans studying law at an accredited law school, although there is a great need for trained Samoan lawyers to assume responsibility for the legal needs of their people. Similarly, the Government of American Samoa has had to recruit many stateside accountants in recent years, thus spotlighting a serious gap in the G.A.S. scholarship program.

In order to insure the success of self-government, there must be an intensive effort made to prepare Samoans for higher education, so that they may return from college equipped to cope with the problems of administering American Samoa. Similarly, there is a great need for trained clerical and secretarial help in American Samoa, and salvation can only come if the present school system is changed.

The Commission is aware of the fact that some years may pass before Samoans will be fully qualified to assume all of their own government's operations, but a start towards this goal must be made now by improving the educational system.

6. The Commission recommends that Congress be requested to grant the people of American Samoa the opportunity and right to be officially represented in Washington.

Next year, American Samoa will be sending its own representative to Washington. He will have no official status in Congress other than his role as an agent of his people, charged with the responsibility of making known their desires and interests. The Commission believes that granting this delegate official status will be a great help in making the problems of American Samoa known to Congress.

The Commission realizes that requesting an official delegate while wishing to remain an unincorporated territory is an unusual step, but it does not see any inherent inconsistency in these requests. American Samoa is unique among United States possessions in that it has retained its traditional social structure after long years of American rule. Yet American Samoa is unqualifiedly “American". Thus, the Commission wishes to recommend not only that American Samoa retain its unincorporated status, to protect its traditional ways, but that it be allowed an official delegate in Congress, to present its modern needs.

American Samoa's expenditure of money and effort to send a non-official delegate to Washington illustrates the strong feeling in Samoa that such a representative is needed. Granting the delegate official status will both aid in his effectiveness and further cement the ties between the United States and its distant island possession.

7. The Commission recommends that a program be instituted to identify, survey and register monership of all the land in American Samoa.

Preservation of Samoa's land tenure system figured importantly in the Commission's deliberations and decisions. Land is the scarcest and most valuable item in Samoa. There are only 76 square miles of land in all of American Samoa, and most of this is so mountainous that it is useless for agriculture or residence. Ninety-eight (98%) percent of the land in American Samoa is presently held by families as communal property under the trust and care of a family matai.

The Commission believes that protecting Samoan ownership of Samoan land is vital to the future political and economic well-being of American Samoa.

However, at present, land ownership in American Samoa is terribly confused. Families often find themselves in dispute over the boundary between communal lands, and different families have different methods of apportioning communal land among family members. The Commission recommends that a thorough survey be taken of all the land in Samoa, in order that boundaries may finally be firmly fixed, and land be registered in the name of the family which owns it. Such a survey will doubtlessly inflame a number of latent disputes, but the Commission feels that facing up to this problem now and solving it, will do much to insure that Samoans retain control of their land.

8. Finally, the Commission recommends that a joint committee be established to study further the potentialities of Commonwealth and Organic Act status. The committee should be composed of Representatives from both the U.8. Congress and the American Samoan Legislature. The costs of the committee should be shared equally by the U.S. Congress and the Samoan Legislature.

The Commission believes that intensive study needs to be made before the United States Congress and the people of American Samoa can finally accept or reject Commonwealth or Organic Act status for American Samoa. The Commission suggests that the Committee consider the following questions, among others, in its study.


A. Tariffs and Commercial Policy

1. Advantages and disadvantages of the status quo.

2. Effects of Commonwealth or Organic Act status upon tariffs and commercial policy.

3. Effect of American Samoa's political status upon its ability to participate in regional economic groupings, such as a South Pacific common

market. B. Transportation

1. Costs and benefits of present air and water links between American Samoa and the United States.

2. Effects upon American Samoa if the coastal shipping laws were eliminated or modified vis a vis American Samoa. C. Wage and Labor Standards—

1. Effects upon present wage and labor standards if Commonwealth or Organic Act status were adopted. D. Money and Credit

1. Effects of change of political status upon the use of money and credit policies to promote development of local capital.

2. Access to foreign capital as a function of American Samoa's political status. E. Federal Funding and Taxes

1. Examination of alternative methods of federal funding under the present political status.

2. Changes in the level of federal support of Organic Act or Commonwealth status were adopted.

3. Federal tax policy: (a) Effects of complete elimination of federal taxes in American Samoa; (b) Effects of full imposition of federal taxes in American Samoa; (c) Effects of American Samoa's assuming a responsibility to contribute a proportionate amount to the general expenses of the

U.S. government.
F. Resources of American Samoa—

1. A thorough analysis of the natural and human resources of American Samoa.

2. Projected economic growth rates under the status quo, Commonwealth and Organic Act status.


A. The present status of American Samoa

1. Extent to which the U.S. Constitution presently applies in American Samoa.

2. Demarcation of the power of the Secretary of the Interior to alter the present form of government. B. Future status of American Samoa

1. Action necessary to achieve Commonwealth or Organic Act status.

2. Effects of Comonwealth or Organic Act status upon the present judicial and legal structure of American Samoa.


A. A thorough study of the present culture and social structure of American Samoa.

B. The probable effects on culture and social structure if the status quo is retained.

C. The probable effects of Commonwealth or Organic Act status upon the culture and social structure.


The first American to land in Samoa was Lt. John Wilkes, who arrived in 1839. However, it was not until 1872 that the first agreement was reached between America and one of the High Chiefs of Samoa, and formal cession of the islands to America was not accomplished until 1904. Congress did not formally accept the Instruments of Cession until 1929.

At present, American Samoa is an unincorporated, insular possession of the United States, governed by an appointed Governor and an elected legislature, acting under authority granted them by the Secretary of the Interior, who in turn has been delegated his authority by the President, to whom Congress granted authority over Samoa in the Act of February 20, 1929.

The political history of Samoa under American rule is comparatively brief. For hundreds, if not thousands of years prior to American hegemony, Samoa's political history can be understood only in terms of the “matai" system.

Samoa has traditionally been ruled by “matais” or “chiefs". The basic political unit has always been the extended family, composed of related kin tracing their origins bilaterally back to mythological ancestors. Within the extended family, a collective family economy prevails. The matai is responsible for control of family lands and property and represents the family in political affairs.

Matais, including the most powerful ruling matais, are selected by democratic means. A matai, whether he is a "family" matai or a Paramount High Chief, is elected by those family or clan members over whom he exercises authority. When chiefs higher than "family” chiefs are chosen, the electors are themselves a select group, who have been selected by their families to cast their vote on behalf of the family. Thus, the election of a High Chief can be roughly analogized to the American Electoral College. The matai system, and the method of selecting matais, continue little-changed in present day Samoa.

Upon this basic social structure, has been built a framework of representative institutions, modeled after the American system. Even in the days of the Navy Administration, the Naval Governor would consult with the traditional leaders of Samoa before making a major decision.

However, the Samoan people became dissatisfied with their small voice in the government and in 1948 Congress approved the establishment of a bicameral legislature. At first the legislature's powers were severely limited, but after the Department of the Interior accepted responsibility for Samoa in 1951, it gradually was allowed to extend its authority.

In 1960, a major step towards self-government was taken when the first Samoan Constitution was approved. Today, the Revised Constitution of American Samoa provides for a popularly elected House of Representatives of 20 membe and a Senate of 18 members, "chosen in accordance with Samoan Custom.” The Legislature has complete authority to enact laws of local application, which do not conflict with the Samoan Constitution or federal laws applicable in American Samoa.

[Senate Bill No. 59—Public Law 11-39)


(First Special Session-Begun and held at Fagatogo, Tutuila, American Samoa on Tuesday, the first day of July one thousand, nine hundred and sixty-nine)



Preamble: The Legislature finds that there is an emergency need to begin work on a future political status report for the next regular session of the Legislature.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of American Samoa that Title II of the Code of American Samoa is hereby amended by the addition of a new Chapter 2.12 to read as follows:

Chapter 2.12. Future Political Status Study Commission SEC. 2.1201. FUTURE POLITICAL STATUS STUDY COMMISSION: There is hereby established the Future Political Status Study Commission of American Samoa, referred to in this Chapter as “The Commission.” The Commission shall consist of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, one Senator appointed by the President of the Senate, one Representative appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and three members of the community appointed by the Governor. The members of the Commission shall elect a Chairman by majority vote. The Commission shall, exist only until the adjournment of the Second Regular Session of the Eleventh Legislature.

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