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Traditional art of the tatau threatened — right here in its home

Tisa and Candyman aboard his fishing boat.

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Public Health last week announced the closure of local tattoo shops, due to what is being described as an isolated infection issue. Tisa Faamuli told Samoa News over the weekend that this move is making it impossible for local tattoo artists to provide the public with tattoos at Tisa’s Tattoo Fest, since it is too late to get health certifications for local artists with the Tattoo Fest only a week and a half away. 

“I commend the Tufugas for preserving this precious art of our people, and their art form needs to be exempt from foreign intrusion and international laws. In order to fully comply with the law, this year Tisa’s Tattoo Fest will continue to support the Tufugas and the Fest will feature a demonstration of the Tatau Art as well as highlighting another very precious lost art of Samoans from before contact-times,” said Tisa.

The three day event, Oct. 25- 27, will showcase a demonstration of stone tool carvings, from the blue basalt rock, found in several quarry sites throughout the main island of Tutuila. Local Anthropologist, Lynn Holden is volunteering her expertise to bring to light this lost art.

"I am very excited to finally move on to revive other lost art forms of our island community, to include local traditional cultural arts of the Navigator Islands," said Tisa. 

She explained there is a strong connection between the art of stone tool carving and tattooing to be uncovered and shared with our community. In fact, tattooing culture and boat building, seems to be a complete package in times of long distance travel of the Polynesians, long before Columbus was born. .

Stone carving was used extensively by Polynesians for house, boat building and  was a major export of Samoan islands in the fourteenth century.

“Alega village holds this undisturbed technology site of ancient Samoa society, long forgotten and I want to revive it, as we have done with the Tatau, during the first Tatau Festival years ago,” she said.

Fagasa and Alega villages will exhibit stone carving tool arts during the fest.


Local jewelry makers will exhibit awesome jewelry made from these basalt rocks and will be available for sale. Wellness, and Well Being Guidance will be introduced to the tattoo fest goers for the first time, by JOY NOW 4 All.

There will still be the annual Tatau and Malu Art competition, during the fest, and fest-goers modeling their body art will have a chance to win the best of the fest Tatau Art award. Tatau Off the Grid is possible.  Appointments are necessary by calling 737-7100, or 1684-622-7447.

The Tattoo Fest is proud to welcome back their partners — the ASCC Arts Department and the newly crowned, Miss American Samoa 2019-2020 for the Ava Ceremony Demonstration on Saturday afternoon.

Tisa told Samoa News it took a decade for the tatau art to be nurtured and revived in American Samoa and it became a huge success and great brand, to attract visitors to American Samoa.  “Off island aigas make this special journey home to claim their birthrights of the Tatau tradition cultural art, during Tisa’s Annual Tattoo Fest.”

“We look forward to working with our local policy makers to clear the path for the journey of the precious Tatau Art of the Samoans. I will continue to fight to keep traditional cultural arts of American Samoa from extinction, based on Alega Preservation Institute’s mission “Protecting the Pe’a, our Resources, Culture, and our Samoan Way of life,” Tisa said.


The venue of Tisas Tattoo Festival at Alega village,is a family friendly atmosphere for locals and visitors alike. The event opens to the public, on Friday October 25 and continues Saturday and Sunday Oct. 26, and 27, 2019, at famous Barefoot Bar venue in Alega village. You can look forward to a fun filled weekend of tattoos, music, food, drinks  and cultural healing available to fest goers. Gates will be opened from 11:00 to 4:00 P.M daily.

Tisas Tattoo Festival is made possible, with the sponsorship of the local business community. “Candyman and I are proud to welcome them all back to the fest this year. We want to also welcome our new sponsor, PPTC to the 2019 Annual Tisas Tattoo Festival.”

Please support the local businesses listed here.

These sponsors include, American Samoa Visitors Bureau, Samoa News, South Seas Broadcasting, KHJ Radio, GHC Reid & Co Ltd/ Vailima, Ace American Industries, Harbor Maritime, Tool Shop, Samoa Gases, Tropic Traders, and McConnell Dowell Company.

Tisas Tattoo Fest is a rain or shine event.