Watch For The Genealogy!!!
Article by Samoa News Staff
Gov. Togiola Tulafono and a number of government leaders join the people of the Manu’a Islands in celebrating 105 years under the U.S. Flag today. Known as Manu’a Day, today is a holiday for government employees with many government leaders having traveled to Manu’a . Activities opened Wednesday evening with a church service held at the Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa- Ta’u. The event brought together a number of CCCAS churches — from Ofu, Fitiuta, Faleasao, Olosega and Ofu.
Ofu CCCAS leader Rev. Elder To’oto’o Seanoa opened the program with an invocation, followed by hymns from the congregations and words from several church leaders — Rev. Tauatua Fuiava of the Faleasao CCCAS, Rev. Setefano Pouli of the Olosega CCCAS, Rev. Maliepule Tauala of the Ta’u CCCAS.
A flag raising ceremony has been scheduled to begin this morning at 8:30 a.m. at Malaetele in Ta’u. Master of ceremony is Deputy Secretary of Samoan Affairs Nanai K.S. Afuola.
Rev. Seanoa is set to offer the invocation that will be followed by the raising of the flag of the U.S., the Amerika Samoa flag and the Manu’a flag.
(KVZK-TV will be airing a taped version of the Manu’a festivities tomorrow night or Saturday night, said Office of Public Information Director Paolo Sivia Sivia.)
Togiola will deliver the keynote address on behalf of the government and people of American Samoa and Misaalefua Hudons will speak on behalf of the people of Manu’a Islands.
Dancer performances will be presented by the five islands that comprise Manu’a — Ofu, Ta’u, Olosega, Faleasao and Fitiuta.
A recognition ceremony will take place and Department of Youth and Women’s Affairs Director Leiataua Leuga Turner will read the governor’s proclamation for Manu’a Day.
The gathering will close the celebration with the singing of “Lota Nu’u ua ou fanau ai” and Rev. Seanoa will close the program with a benediction.
Much of what we know of old Samoa history was passed down by word of mouth through the generations, and especially elusive is the old past of Manu’a which was guarded within their own people. Only snippets of that time have surfaced from documents, some shared from the last few generations, or from visitors who penned their experiences.
In commemoration of Manu’a Day 2009, Samoa News is reprinting portions of its Manu’a Centennial Souvenir Series compiled from many of these documents and originally published on July 16, 2004.
TUIMANU’A ELISARA ALALAMUA, THE LAST MANU’A ROYALTY
Tuimanu’a Elisara Alalamua, the last Manu’a royalty who ceded the Manu’a Islands and his people over to the United States in 1904 is remembered to have been a leader deeply concerned for the welfare and future of his people. He welcomed offered U.S. protection, but to give up Manu’a was to give away the land of Polynesia origin, sacred grounds destined only to ancient spirits.
What is written in many anthropology books of the Samoa Islands and Polynesia, is that in ancient Samoan native religious and spiritual beliefs, the title Tuimanu’a (King of Manu’a) is a direct descendant of the sons of the god of heaven, Tagaloa-lagi. It was the traditional belief that Manu’a was the cradle of Polynesian civilization.
Within the Samoan archipelago, this was the title of highest status, separate from the highest titles in the rest of the Samoan Islands, Tui A’ana, Tui Atua, and Malietoa.
Also known and sung throughout Polynesia including such islands as Tahiti and Tonga, is the endearing ancient chant “Tui Manu’a, lo’u ali’i e!” (Tui Manu’a, you are my lord!) that bestowed and honored the mysticism of ancient royalty to the title.
And it could only be surmised that after four years following Tutuila’s easy cession to United States in 1900, it must have been a conflicting and heavy burden upon Tuimanu’a Elisara wanting to protect the future of his people while evaluating the U.S. administration. The unrelenting persistence from the Naval government and local Tutuilans to cede to U.S. as quickly and quietly from international scrutiny, was a conflicting struggle for Tuimanu’a in resolving his ancient sacred obligation, still up until his untimely death in 1909. Part of his resolution was to decree that the royal title would die with him, so that no future Tui Manu’a would again be subservient to a foreign power.
Prior to division of the Samoan Islands by the great world powers, Tutuila was a part of the Atua district of Upolu. On the other hand, the Manu’a Islands were considered a separate and independent sovereign area.
Holders of the other higher titles, Tui A’ana, Tui Atua, or Malietoa were from Upolu, not Tutuila, but yet the Tutuilans easily forgot the revered and ancient land of their origin, Manu’a, and were ready to do battle to force Manu’a to cede. One excuse was the infamous “Ipu of Tui Manu’a” incident — an unwarranted attempt to equalize themselves to the Tui Manu’a standing.
Interesting is the Jan. 1900 statistic research that was done of Tutuila, Aunu’u, and Manu’a which provides a snapshot of the territory just prior to the cession of Tutuila. It provides an overall of the population, and political and religious makeup that list the territory’s leading ancestors and describes the divisions of the local traditional hierarchies.
Notably in this 1900 research, is when it came only to Manu’a, the researcher provided a character sketch that says much for Tuimanu’a Elisara and the people of Manu’a:
“There is a King over the Group — who bears the name and title of ‘Moa Tui-Manu’a.’
“The present King is a son of a former King - and has been educated for and served in the native ministry. He is between 30 and 40 years of age, and may be said to be an intelligent, capable, and well-meaning man and ruler. He was called to the office with great maturity in the customary form as followed for many generations in the group.
“Unlike Tutuila (and the rest of Samoa also), Manu’a has maintained some semblance of law on matters relating to the violation of martial relationships, acts of violence, thefts, etc., etc. Speaking generally — the natives of Manu’a are a kindly, well-behaved, and peaceable community.”
Another item that should be addressed is the concept of “king” and the other English terminology used commonly to what is popularly thought of “royalty,” which are actually foreign to the historical and ancestral hierarchy of Samoan genealogy. “Sacred” and “nobility” are probably more defining of the Ali’i, and the Tui and Tupu titles, which is in itself is a living complicated challenge to comprehend.
But briefly, there is the historical genealogies of the “sacred” Ali’i and “secular” tulafale, and the matai, the heads of families, all which are usually hereditary in nature, but not always. And within these, there may be layers of understood family title standings.
Nevertheless, the holders of “sacred” titles were generally not isolated from the people. There is the deep loyalty to these titleholders and in ceremonies or special events, the “nobility” reign above all, but these “sacred” and “secular” persons commonly live and work amongst their people.
Additionally, the concept of a central government was alien to the Samoan political system in which authority was decentralized through the villages and districts, and the traditional political decision-makers were not the Ali’i, or even Tupu or Tui; however, loyalty and respect usually gave them the last word. And it appears that with the dynamic cultural changes that are evolving, all of this can be endlessly debated.
There is so much rich history in the Samoan Islands, and in the ancient ties with each other, both Samoas, and how both, now separate countries, found themselves at the 1900 century mark, mandated to no longer belong to themselves, the Polynesia race which goes back 3,000 years, but now overtaken by foreign nations, however powerful, but nevertheless comparatively infants compared to the origins of the Samoan archipelago.
CESSION OF MANU’A ISLANDS
The Manu’a Islands Deed of Cession was originally typed up for November (Novema) 1903, and crossed out and initialed as July (Iulai) 14, 1904 by Edwin W. Gurr, Judge of the District Court of Tutuila, who certified the deed with the seal of the court on July 16, 1904.
The typed date may have been for during one of the numerous trips that the then Commandant of U.S. Naval Station, Tutuila, U.S. Navy Commander Edmund Beardsley Underwood visited Manu’a, and hoped to persuade Tui Manu’a Elisara and his ali’i to sign the cession.
Note that in the last typed provision of the cession instrument, it was manually modified, crossed out and hand-written over. The replaced phrase was:
“and that the provisions contained in the Act of Cession by the chiefs and rulers of Tutuila for the respect and protection of the rights of all people, and for their government, shall be extend toward the people dwelling in the Islands of Manua”
and changed to:
“and also that the rights of the Chiefs in each village and of all people concerning their property according to their customs shall be recognized.”
In the Samoan version signed, it was changed from:
“o Mataupu ua faasinoina ma tusia i le Feagaiga sa osia o Aii ma Faipule o Tutuila e uiga i le faaalo ma le faamamalu o pule o le nuu ma lo latou faigamalo, ina faaoo mataupu na i nuu ua mau i Motu o Manu’a”
to: “i tumau pea le pule i alii i lea nuu ma lea nuu ma tagata taitasi i a latou lava mea ua masani ai ma le ava.”
According to the Cession of Manu’a Islands document, on July 14, 1904, the document was signed at Faleula, Ta’u and certified by E.W. Gurr on July 16, 1904. It is this latter date that the U.S. Congress used retroactively, to accept officially both the Deeds of Cession for Tutuila and Manu’a.
Note that it wasn’t until July 17, 1911, that the U.S. Naval Station, Tutuila was renamed to American Samoa.