“Correction of paraphrasing of my comments”

Dear Editor,

I wish to correct Lewis Wolman’s paraphrasing of my comments during the 4/28/12 Bar Association’s U.S. citizenship panel discussion, which paraphrasing was included in Wolman’s guest commentary  printed on page 14 of the Samoa News, Wednesday May 2, 2012.

Mr. Wolman stated that: “Fainu’ulelei noted that it is not accurate to say our forefathers negotiated the Deed of Cession, since it was hammered out by the colonial powers with no input from the Samoans…” I did not say that the 1900 or 1904  Deed of Cession was hammered out by the colonial powers with no input from the Samoans. Obviously the 1900 and 1904 Deeds of Cession were signed by our traditional chiefs and some of the wording in both Deeds of Cession reflected the desires of our traditional leaders and Samoan people.

Rather, what I said during the panel discussion (KVZK-TV and other media taped the Bar’s panel discussion), is that I would not call the 1900 Deed of Cession of Tutuila and Aunuu and the 1904 Deed of Cession of the Manua Islands, “negotiated agreements” between our traditional leaders and the U.S. government.

That is my view because the three colonial powers (USA, Germany, Great Britain) had already divided the Samoa Islands in the 1899 Tripartite Convention, which was signed by only the representatives of the three colonial powers and not signed by our traditional leaders. Both  the 1900 and 1904 Deeds of Cession mention the agreement of the three colonial powers to divide the Samoa Islands. Shortly after the U.S. ratified the 1899 Tripartite Convention, the U.S. President Mckinley issued an executive order February 1900 transferring the control of the Island of Tutuila under the U.S. Navy, about two months beforeour traditional leaders signed the Deed of Cession of Tutuila and the Aunuu islands on April 17, 1900. 

According to a historical account, Commander Tilley told King Tuimanua Elisara that whether the latter liked it or not, the Manua islands is under the control of the U.S. even before the Deed of Cession for the Manua Islands was signed by our traditional leaders on July 16, 1904.

Unlike other “negotiated agreements” involving the U.S. and indigeneous peoples of lands the U.S. conquered or possessed, both the 1900 and 1904 Deeds of Cession were not even approved by Congress until 29 years and 25 years after they were signed respectively.

I support a negotiated agreement between American Samoa and the USA, which would include protective provisions for our culture, matai and communal land systems, US citizenship for our people if that is what our people want etc. Such a negotiated agreement approved by our people and  Congress would be a more solid and “organized” foundation in our relationship with the U.S. that will also provide stronger protection for our race-based cultural laws than the protection our cultural laws have under the 1900 and 1904 Deeds of Cession.

We can also include self-governing provisions for our local government in such a negotiated agreement (e.g. legislative veto override, High Court appellate decisions and  Governor’s decisions not subject to reversal by the U.S. President or  Secretary of the Interior) should cause the United Nations to remove American  Samoa  from its  list of non-self governing territories, which is also the case with two U.S. territories: Puerto Rico and CNMI.

Respectfully submitted,

Fainu’ulelei L.P.F. Ala’ilima-Utu


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