Politics of American Samoa

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This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
American Samoa

Politics of American Samoa takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic dependency, whereby the Governor is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. American Samoa is an unincorporated and unorganized territory of the United States, administered by the Office of Insular Affairs, US Department of the Interior. Its constitution was ratified 1966 and came into effect 1967. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of the legislature. The party system is a copy of the United States party system. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

There is also the traditional village politics of the Samoa Islands, the "faamatai" and the "faasamoa", which continues in American Samoa and in independent Samoa, and which interacts across these current boundaries. The Fa'asamoa is the language and customs, and the Fa'amatai the protocols of the "fono" (council) and the chiefly system. The Fa'amatai and the Fono take place at all levels of the Samoan body politic, from the family, to the village, to the region, to national matters. The "matai" (chiefs) are elected by consensus within the fono of the extended family and village(s) concerned. The matai and the fono (which is itself made of matai) decide on distribution of family exchanges and tenancy of communal lands. The majority of lands in American Samoa and independent Samoa are communal. A matai can represent a small family group or a great extended family that reaches across islands, and to both American Samoa and independent Samoa.

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