Use of the language supports and develops survival of fa’aSamoa
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Through a Feb. 23 proclamation, acting governor Talauega Eleasalo Ale, declared March 2023 as “Samoan Language Month” and a “kick-off wave” is set for tomorrow morning from 7a.m to 8a.m at Suigaula o le Atuvasa beach park in Utulei.
In the proclamation, Talauega pointed out that “a vibrant and robust use of the Samoan language supports the survival and development of the fa’aSamoa.”
It notes that at least 90% of American Samoans speak Samoan as their first language but a Samoan Language Survey in the territory in 2001 raised concern as only 67% of those interviewed indicated that they use Samoan to converse at home.
He declared that, “vigilance and planning is needed as preventative measures against language loss already found at the shores of some of our Pacific neighbors like Hawaii which has only 1000+ recorded speakers.”
The “Samoan language is declared by territorial law as one of the official languages in American Samoa and is recognized as of equal importance with the English language in education, government, economic and social life of the people of American Samoa,” he said, referring to the legislation approved by the Fono in the last legislative session and signed into law.
(Samoa News notes that it's this particular law, which established the Samoan Language Commission.)
According to the Talauega, “knowledge and use of the Samoan Language is crucial in preparing individuals for more effective participation in this society and the Samoan way of life.”
In the proclamation for Samoan Language Month, the acting governor, called on the territory to “celebrate our identity, our language, and our culture to instill in our youth the importance of the preservation and protection of our customs and traditional practices.”
Meanwhile, acting deputy chief of staff, Lydia A. Amisone, through a Feb. 22 memorandum, informed cabinet members of the Samoan Language Month, and that it starts on Mar. 1 and a “kick-off wave” is for tomorrow morning, Mar. 01, at Suigaula.
She explained that the Samoan Language Month is an effort by the Samoan Language Commission to introduce to the public the interest in the language and for all to join together in its value.
Amisone noted that the Commission was established during the previous 37th Legislative session to — among other things — preserve, stabilize and keep the Samoan Language thriving. And it's the language that records Samoan heritage and culture.
According to the memo, the Commission will conduct various events throughout March in order to see if the public is clear about the danger that the Samoan language is in.
Representatives from churches, Department of Education, ASCC Samoan Studies department, Office of Samoan Affairs and members of the public are asked to join in these efforts. (More details are to be announced in the coming days.)
For tomorrow’s “kick-off wave”, Amisone requested ASG departments and agencies participants to wear yellow or brown, as well as having banners with words that calls for the preservation of the Samoan Language.