Hearing tomorrow in Senate on “Tusi Fa’alupega”- Book of Salutations
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The Senate Samoan Affairs Committee has scheduled a hearing tomorrow, Wednesday, to hear testimony and an update from the Office of Samoan Affairs on reports that the “Tusi Fa’alupega”- Book of Salutations has reached classrooms for use by students despite objections and calls by the Senate not to distribute the book, which was done without input from traditional leaders of the territory’s various counties.
The hearing followed a request at last Friday’s Senate session by Sen. Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono, who spoke about the “Tusi Fa’alupega” prepared by Samoan Affairs Office for distribution and he recalled that the Senate has voiced its opposition to the book.
However, Soliai said reports indicate that Samoan Affairs has already moved forward full force with distribution of the book. He says senators had opposed this book over concerns that it was completed without the knowledge and input from traditional leaders from the various counties of the Territory.
He said county leaders should have been asked for the right “fa’alagiga” — or saluation — of their respective county.
Even more pressing and important now, says Soliai is that the book — based on reports he received — has been distributed to schools for use by students in Samoan studies.
And that causes more problems when the salutation of districts is incorrect, according to the Ituau senator.
Soliai argued that the districts’ traditional leaders should provide the correct and appropriate salutation to be printed in the book and used in schools —not what was gathered by Samoan Affairs.
Senate Samoan Affairs Committee chairman Sen. Muagututia Tauoa agreed with Soliai, saying that he is also not clear as to what’s published in the book and that Samoan Affairs and the special ASG committee responsible for the book project need to be called in to answer questions and provide an update.
Secretary of Samoan Affairs, Mauga T. Asuega is among the witnesses expected for the committee hearing tomorrow.
Two days after the previous 37th Legislature convened on Jan. 11, 2021, concerns and criticism of the Tusi Fa’alupega were echoed by senators who spoke during the Senate session, with Sen. Tuiagamoa Tavai saying that he has heard that this book had been launched and made available without input from several traditional leaders in the territory.
And during a Senate committee hearing at the time, and afterwards, several senators noted their concerns with the interpretation of the Tusi Fa’alupega, which has been rejected by several traditional leaders as incomplete or incorrect.
In late January 2021, senators — through a Senate Resolution — requested that “Gov. Lemanu Peleti Palepoi Sialega Mauga” as well as “Secretary of Samoan Affairs Mauga T. Asuega” retrieve all copies of the Tusi Fa’alupega or portions that were released to the public.
The non-binding resolution, also requests that the governor, Mauga and Samoan Affairs get the committee that oversaw the book project to refrain from further distribution of the Tusi Fa’alupega and bring all writings intended for publication to the Senate for assessment, correction and approval. (See Samoa News online Jan. 20, 2021 for details.)
The book project, an initiative of the Lolo Administration, with funding from the US Department of Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs, was officially launched on Dec. 31, 2020. Then-governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga directed that copies of the First Edition be made available to the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) and the Education Department for teachers and students. (See Samoa News edition Jan. 4, 2021 for details.)