I’ve heard that the traditional leaders of American Samoa have always been against U.S. citizenship. Is that correct?


No.  On April 17, 1900, when the American flag was raised over Pago Pago harbor, American Samoa’s traditional leaders believed they had become American citizens.  And throughout the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, American Samoa’s traditional leaders repeatedly petitioned Congress for full U.S. citizenship.  Indeed, had it not been for opposition from the U.S. Navy at the time, it is likely that the issue of citizenship would have been resolved long ago.  During the 1930s, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously on two separate occasions to recognize American Samoans as citizens while continuing to preserve American Samoa’s land and title systems, only to see the legislation fail in the House due to Navy opposition.


American Samoan Attorney Charles Ala'ilima has written more extensively abut this history here.


Excerpts of historical materials relating to citizenship in American Samoa (1900-1948) are available here.  Primary resources are available here

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