The Legend of the Atule
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — On Tutuila Island, there's a legend about the “atule” — also known as the “akule” or bigeye scad that appear in Fagasa Bay.
Years ago, the Polynesian navigator Liava'a sailed to Tutuila in search of the pure waters of Fagasa. The boat accidentally departed while his daughter, Sina, was still ashore collecting fresh water.
When Liava'a realized this later, he became enraged and threw his entire crew into the sea with orders for them to return to Fagasa, find Sina and protect her forever.
To expedite their return to Fagasa, the men were transformed into dolphins that then herded a school of atule to shore to make certain all who cared for Sina would be well fed.
Sina was adopted by the family of High Chief Lilio in Fagasa Village.
Liava'a, however, never gave up his search for Sina and years later they were briefly reunited. Tradition holds that, upon the death of Liava'a and Sina, their memories were forever preserved in special stones that are protected to this day by HC Lilio who is responsible for all events related to the atule harvest, thereby preserving the village's continuing appreciation for the generous gift of these fish.
The tradition continues. When atule arrive in Fagasa, an ava ceremony is held in appreciation for this bounty. The stones are cleaned and when the time is right, the villagers carry coconut fronds into the water to herd the fish into the shallows where they are collected in enu baskets, which are emptied into the ola basket.
O LE TALA O LE ATULE
Fai mai tala mai anamua, sa iai se alii folau e suafa ia Liavaa, na tau mai i ogasami o Fagasa, ae peitai, na o latou toe tu’ua ogasami o Fagasa, ae galo ai lona afafine, e igoa ia Sina. Fai mai le tala, e malaga ese atu Liavaa ma lana ‘auvaa, ae o lo o alu i uta le teine o Sina e asu vai. Ina ua malamalama Liava’a ua galo lona afafine, sa ia lafoai uma lana auva’a i totonu o le sami ma ia faatonuina i latou, e toe fo’i i Fagasa e su’e ma puipui Sina. Ina ia vave ona toe o’o i uta ia le auva’a, na liu Mumua le auva’a ma amata ona o latou tuli mai i uta le i’a o le Akule ina ia mafai ona tausi ai le soifua maloloina o Sina. Na tausia e le aiga o Sa Lilio i Fagasa ia le tamaitai o Sina. Ae peitai, e le’i tuua ai le sailiga o le tamaitai o Sina e si ona tua’a ma o ni nai tausaga mulimuli ane, na toe faatasia ai Liava’a ma si ona afafine. Fai mai le tala, a vaaia loa le Mumua i le ava, o lona uiga ua o’o i le taimi e ta ai le Akule. O se va’aiga lea i le a’e mai o le faiva o le Akule a le afioaga o Fagasa i le vaiaso ua mavae. E pei ona ta’ua e tagata o Fagasa, o le ‘Manai mai le Lagi’.