by John Wasko (First published in BusyCorner Magazine)
On April 17th 1900 American Samoa and the United States of America formally ratified their unifying deed of cession. American Samoa officially became a territory of the United States. Flag Day in American Samoa commemorates the first raising of the flag in American Samoa. 2011 is the 111th anniversary of the first flag raising.
American Samoa’s great Pago Harbor served as a coaling station for the United States Navy begininng in 1847. The Naval era ended in 1951. Since then, American Samoa has enjoyed properity from the tuna processing industry, blue water fishing fleets and the relationship with the United States.
As a reminder of American Samoa’s long and distinguished military history, the United States Marine Corps Band performed at this year’s Flag day ceremony.
At American Samoa’s Flag Day Arts Council 3 nights of performances, several groups performed their Sa Sa’s (sah’ sa) We were excited when a new group took the stage. After a while the challenge was to decipher the story telling action and gestures. Samoan rhythmic clapping is a music art form. Hand clapping, body slapping, gestures, percussion, actions, voice and beat convey emotion and story telling. In unison, the performers align to a beat with transitions that signal new actions and themes. The performance is punctuated with contrapuntal rhythms; often a division between the men and women of the group.
Here in American Samoa we take our national sport, long boat racing, seriously. This 4 minute video is an emotional 2011 Flag Day Fautasi Race ride of anticipation, hope, jubilation and reflection.
Two teams, Nuuuli Satani and Samoana High School were inspired: Nuuuli by the untimely death of their captain and Samoana by an aging boat builder and energetic young captain who asserted that the impossible is possible; that the power of spirit is an unmeasurable force. Enjoy American Samoan fautasi fever from race beginning to an unlikely finale.