The Full Wiki

Samoans: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Samoans

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


From left to right: Mufi Hannemann, Malietoa Tanumafili II and Tauese Sunia
Upolu Flag

Upolu Flag

American Samoan Flag

American Samoa Flag

Samoan Flag

Samoa Flag

Total population
c. 1,000,000
Regions with significant populations
Samoa, American Samoa, New Zealand, Australia and the United States

Samoan, English


Predominantly Christianity of various Protestant denominations including Congregational Christians (34.8%), Methodists (15%), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (12.7%), Assemblies of God (6.6%), Seventh-day Adventists (3.5%), with Nazarenes, Anglicans, Congregational Church of Jesus, Worship Centre, Jehovah's Witnesses, Full Gospel, Peace Chapel, Elim Church, Voice of Christ, and Baptists constituting less than 5 percent of the population, and also Roman Catholicism (19.6%). Non christian minority's include Bahá'í Faith (2%), Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism.[1]

Related ethnic groups

Māori, Fijians, other Polynesian peoples

Samoans are a Polynesian ethnic group of the Samoan Islands. Due to colonialism, the home islands are politically and geographically divided between the country of Samoa, official name Independent State of Samoa (formerly Western Samoa until country name change in 1997); and American Samoa an unincorporated territory of the United States.

The Samoan population is estimated at 450,000,[citation needed] Samoans living in Samoa in 2006 were estimated at 188,000 [2] The majority of ethnic Samoans now reside in other countries, primarily in New Zealand 2001 stats (115,000)[3], the United States approx (70,000)[citation needed] and Australia 2006 stats(39,992)[4]



Young Samoan women c. 1902

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 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 arrived in the Samoan Islands approximately 3,000 years ago, settling in what has come to be known as "Polynesia" further to the east. This approximation is based on the so-called "Lapita" 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 1,000 BC and that the original settlement actually predates the arrival of those to who 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".

Early contact with Europeans was established in the 1700s. Christianity was formally introduced with the arrival of L.M.S Christian missionaries in August 1830. During the early twentieth century the Samoan Islands were partitioned by Germany, Great Britain and the USA. Tutuila and Aunu'u islands United States were claimed by the USA, and later joined by the Kingdom of Manu'a (1904) to become the current Territory of American 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 as Samoa.[5]


Some famous Samoans include Sabre Strickson-Pua of Nesian Mystik, Troy Polamalu, a famous safety for the professional football team the Pittsburgh Steelers and Mosi Tatupu of the New England Patriots. Samoans are also famous for rugby union most notably Brian Lima and Manu Samoa, the Samoa national rugby union team [6]



Traditional Samoan tattoo (tatau), pe'a (male tatau), malu (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 and Tilafaiga, 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 or light wood with a piece of tortoiseshell 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.[7]


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 Hawaiian reggae, 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, 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 rhythmns from the pate are essential in the performance of many Samoan dances. In fact in many dances, the dancers themselves add to the rhythmn by clapping their hands, and dependent upon the way in which the hand is held produce a range of different sounds. Following the arrival of the Europeans the diversity of instrumentation available increased dramatically[citation needed], but two instruments were developed that are now synonymous with Samoan music, the selo and the ukulele. 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 shell.” [8] Western string instruments such as guitars 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 bands as well as gravitate towards genres such as rap, R&B, gospel 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 member and 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 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.[9] Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. 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.[10]


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 slaping of the body in rhythmic motion to drum beats is called faataupati.[11]. 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's son or daughter. When a girl does taualuga she is called a taupo. When a boy does a tauluga he is called a manaia.


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.

See also


  1. ^ International Religious Freedom Report 2007: Samoa. United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (September 14, 2007). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ [1] History of Samoa from the U.S. Embassy web site.
  6. ^ [2] Prominent Samoans
  7. ^
  8. ^ [3]
  9. ^ Cultural Self-Esteem - The Resource | The Next
  10. ^ Rap News Network - Hip-Hop News: Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. Shows Their 'Angry Samoan' Side
  11. ^ Samoa-Dance 4 May 2004 . 11 April 2008

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also samoans




  1. Plural form of Samoan.


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address