Governor signs Samoan Language Commission law


Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga put his signature to the Samoan Language Commission bill yesterday.

The law establishes a Samoan Language Commission, which designates, both, Samoan and English as the official languages in the territory and adds Samoan to English as the languages of instructions in schools.

The signing was held virtually via Zoom, with various members of the community who have contributed to drafting the legislation participating.

Governor Lemanu said, “We have come a long way to witness this day. Your invaluable efforts, along with many others in the past, has contributed to our on-going quest to preserve our way of life, the fa’asamoa, and to preserve our language. We express our sincerest gratitude to those who have made this day possible.”

Vaitinasa Dr. Salu Hunkin and Peseta Tialuga Seloti spoke on behalf of the committee.

Governor Lemanu applauded their achievement and acknowledged a few pioneers of the Samoan Language, such as Fofo Sunia and Senator Faiivae Iuli. He also commended the Legislature for their support.

Changes will be made to the American Samoa Code Annotated (A.S.C.A.) as enacted by the Legislature of American Samoa:

1. Amendment to A.S.C.A. Section 16.0510 Language of Instruction will read as: “Instruction in all public schools shall be in the Samoan and English languages. To ensure students acquire proficiency in Samoan, English and academic subjects, the Department of Education shall develop quality literacy programs based on research and the current needs of students, but the Samoan language may be used when necessary to facilitate teaching the English language.”

2. A section will be created to the A.S.C.A. to read as: 1.0110 Official languages. Samoan and English shall be the official languages of American Samoa, except that Samoan shall be required for public acts and transactions only as provided by law.

3. A new chapter will be created in Title 16 A.S.C.A which reads: “CHAPTER 17 SAMOAN LANGUAGE COMMISSION OF AMERICAN SAMOA.”
The Commission will consist of 15 members from the following sectors: Head of the Department of Samoa Studies at the American Samoa Community College, Director or Designee from the Department of Education, three clergy members each from different denominations, a Senate member, a House of Representatives member, Secretary of Samoan Affairs, and three individuals from the public at large with demonstrated knowledge and dedication to the language.

One of the principal duties of this Commission will be to promote, preserve, and give guidance to the continuation of the Samoan language.