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Get ready for the 18th Annual Tisa’s Tattoo Festival

Alega beach

Alega Beach, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Master Tattoo Artist decides on who gets inked and who doesn’t, when the 18th Annual Tisa’s Tattoo Festival takes place at Alega Preservation Institute and Tisa’s Barefoot Bar from October 24 – 28.

Founder of the Annual Tisa’s Tattoo Fest, Tisa Faamuli was very specific with her response: “Those individuals have their rights, but deciding on who gets the tattoo would have to come from the Master Tattoo Artist,” when asked if she’d allow just anybody who walks in during the festival to get a traditional tattoo — either a malofie for men or a malu for women and the faafafines?

 “My job is to promote and sustain our Tattoo Culture, but the Master of the Art (tattooing) has all the background knowledge including taboos on this tradition of our Samoan people. I don’t have a say on who gets it and shouldn’t.”

She said in 1993 the Tattoo Festival was founded but due to negative reactions from certain people locally the festival didn't eventuate until 2005. "I had to wait until people accepted it and I felt it was the right time then I started it, that was 18 years ago

"And from then on there has been an increase in the amount of people wanting to get the traditional tattoo for men and women.”

Faamuli said, during the earlier years of the festival, she'd received people from Manu'a, where the practice of this tradition is forbidden following Christian beliefs.

Some people come from the mainland in groups of eight or nine at a time. They want a mark of their Samoan pride, and getting a tattoo is a form of our culture that reunites families, Tisa said.

 "This is how powerful this tradition is as it brings us together and it’s beautiful. Tatau unites Samoans, but it's a pity that the traditional needles aren't allowed for health protection, perhaps for secular and spiritual reasons.

“The tatau practice in Samoa is also losing out on making of the traditional ink or lama powder from the lama or kukui nut in Hawaiian.

"There are taboos associated with the use of the ink produced in the traditional Samoan ways.

"There are times the spirit can rip off the pe’a. The Samoan pe’a is spirit.

"The secrets and sacredness of the tatau are lost, because it's not done traditionally. Some people care and some don't respect it. This is traditionally worn with respect in the villages. "

The Maori people and Hawaiians keep theirs while the Samoans should possess their measina as well, she said. “Tisa's Tattoo Festival is all about promoting and keeping our culture alive because if we don't then who does it?” 

This Friday, Tisa is bringing Master Tattoo Artist "Su'a Tikeri Alaivaa Loli" and his team from Samoa for the 18th Tatau Festival.

"Samoans here and abroad are making the trip of a lifetime to reconnect to their roots and culture,” she said.

“The tatau belongs to the people of American Samoa, I just want to promote and celebrate it.”

And in doing so she gets about $5,000 to $10,000 from the government, but it's the business community that helps her sustain the festival year after year.

 “Promoting the Tatau of Samoans has been a collective effort of our community, government, and the generous support of our local sponsors and business community, who have helped contribute to the revival of the Tatau, in the hearts of the Samoans Worldwide."


Opening Ceremony is at 10 AM on Tuesday, October 24, where Tufuga (Masters of the Tattoo) of the 18th Annual Tattoo Festival 2023 are welcomed.

Viewing of the Tattoo exhibition and tapping are 1-3 PM daily.

Share your Tatau Story and perspective of the Tatau at the Samaga Pe’a Private ceremony on Saturday, October 28.

Your favorite Samoan oldies music by Ulale Ulale will be played live, and indulge in beautiful island food while sipping our inter-island organic kava drinks at Tisa’s communal table with the beautiful backdrop of Alega beach.

Closing with the festival’s annual Toana’i on Sunday, October 28.

Reservations are now open for the Samoan Feast Toana’i on Sunday, the last day of Tatau Festival. You are invited to share your Tatau story at “Tatau Live” with Tisa, speakers, scholars, and guests.

For more information, please get in touch with For reservations, contact 731-7100.

See you at the annual Fest.