Lt Governor Insists American Samoa’s Self Determination Must Be Preserved
News Release from Office of Rep Aumua Amata (R-AS)
Washington, D.C. – Wednesday, Lieutenant Governor Talauega Eleasalo Va’alele Ale and Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata took part in a congressional hearing, in which the Lieutenant Governor testified in “strong opposition” to a proposed Insular Cases Resolution, and the Congresswoman agreed and supported the Lieutenant Governor’s call to ensure protections of American Samoa’s culture, land and traditions. Instead, they urge that Congress must consult with American Samoa, and distant courts should not decide the status of the people.
The legislative hearing was before the full House Committee on Natural Resources on the Insular Cases Resolution.
Talauega testified, “Our voice and our message are extremely clear: We want any change in our political status and rights under federal territorial law to be decided by elected leaders in the local government, our people and our elected representative in Congress and fellow members of Congress, not by unelected federal judges who we have no voice in nominating or confirming, who handed down the Insular Cases the last time Congress deferred to the courts on the question of political status of territories in 1901.”
Lieutenant Governor Talauega’s entire opening statement is available to read here.
Video of the Lieutenant Governor’s statement is here.
In introducing her questions, Uifa’atali reinforced the Lieutenant Governor’s message to Congress, “One may disagree with the racist tones underlying the Insular Cases, but don’t abandon the wishes of the residents of American Samoa in the process,” she said. “Finally, I want to point out that American Samoa is unique by virtue that it became the only U.S. territory by deeds of cession, starting in 1900. The matai (local chiefs) of Tutuila, the largest island in American Samoa, voluntarily ceded the island to the United States in 1900. And Manu'a followed in 1904.”
Video of the Congresswoman’s remarks leading to question and response here.
Excerpt from Statement of Lieutenant Governor Talauega
…Each US Territory is unique, and any new legislation should recognize the history of the individual territories and their relationship with the U.S. and Congress. A "one size fits all” approach will not work. American Samoa as an example:
• We are the only one of the five insular territories that did not come under U.S. sovereignty as a result of conquest of or sale by a European or Asian power;
• We are the only territory that controls its own immigration and customs systems;
• We are the only territory that selects part of its legislature through customary means;
• We are the only territory that prohibits the alienation of most of its lands;
• We are the only territory whose residents are not automatically U.S. citizens at birth and prefer to keep it that way.
• We believe being patriotic non-citizen U.S. nationals is not a second-class status but a unique first-class status. Despite not being U.S. citizens, American Samoa has the highest enlistment rate in the U.S. military of any of the U.S. states or territories….
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