Our Island Community

1300 BC Proto-Polynesians Living on Western end of Upolu (Upolu is currently the most populated island of Samoa, the independent nation, and seats their capital.)
Early Settling Through South East Asia from China
1300 – 900 AD Period of Linguistic, Social and Cultural Development
300 – 900 Period of Stonework
500 Evolution of Social Systems – A social order that is rather militaristic in its emphasis on rank and status evolved. Status remains to be valued highly among Samoans to this date.
1250 -1800 The Tongan Wars and Aftermath – Roughly 200 years of Tongan influence on Upolu, Tuituila and Savai’i is estimated to have occurred during this period. Manu’a, however, was always ruled by the Tuimanu’a, and at no time was ever dominated by any other Pacific Islander. This period is noted for being a time of warfare and political rivalries.
1722 – 1839 The Coming of Explorers
1722 Samoan Islands first sighted by European Explorers.
1799 First European explorer sets foot on Samoa
1839 Navy Lt. Wilkes of the U.S. Exploring Expedition lands on Tutuila.

1800-1850 The Coming of the Missionaries – Missionaries were generally embraced by the local population. Their impact has been profound as the vast majority of Samoans are Christian. Much of current village life centers around the church.
1899 Samoan Islands Divided Between Germany and U.S. (and Tonga given British protection.)
1900 American – Samoan Group Under U.S. Naval Administration Control (Considered to be a benevolent dictator by historians and Samoans alike.)

1900 Deed of Cession Signed by Chiefs of Tutuila – (Tutuila is the largest and by far the most populated island of American Samoa. All government offices are located on Tutuila.)
1920 The California Mau Also know as The Samoan Council of Chiefs, organize opposition to the Naval administration. Ironically, this opposition started outside of American Samoa, namely in California and Samoa, the independent nation. It didn’t have much support of the people on Tutuila and died 10 years after its inception.
1941 WWII – The presence of servicemen introduces consumerism, improved medical services (a higher birth and lower death rate).
1951 U.S. Department of Interior Takes Over Administrative Role of Territory – The transition to a civil government with complete autonomy and nearly unlimited aid begins.
1952 Era of Emigration of American Samoans to Hawaii and US Mainland Begins – Today over 250,000 Samoans live on the mainland U.S. compared to 65,000 living in The Territory.

1953 Canneries Begin (Van Camp an Starkist) – The vast majority of employees of this industry are from Samoa, the independent nation. Until 1991, the high strength waste of the canneries were simply dumped in Pago Pago Harbor which has been a major contributor to the current harbor conditions which are not safe for swimming nor are its fish safe to eat. The canneries are not taxed by the American Samoan Government. In 2009, two canneries were shut down causing further unemployment in The Territory.
1956 The First Samoan Governor, Peter Tali Coleman, Takes Office

1965 The US Enters the Vietnam War – Samoans lose more men per capita in Vietnam than any other American community.
1973 National Rainforest Park Dedication by Department of Interior
1980 American Samoa Elects Fofo Sunia as its First Representative to the US Congress – Although there were two other representatives of American Samoa before Fofo Sunia, A.U. Fuimaono and A.P. Lutali, these men did not serve in the US Congress since Congress had not yet passed federal legislation to authorize their elections.

1970 To Date American Samoa Faces Environmental and Cultural Challenges –
Coastal areas of Tutuila become especially stressed since this is where most of the population resides. The island begins to face such problemsas overfishing, pest and weed species, solid waste, sedimentation from land erosion onto coral reefs, and a limited supply of drinking water. Most remarkable is rapid population growth. It is expected that the population will more than double by 2020.Much of Fa’aSamoa (the Samoan way) is still observed. The Samoan language in intact, and the fa’alavelave (an important occasion in which families gather to feast andexchange gifts) is alive and well. However, the modern day American Samoan has more of a choice to participate in Fa’aSamoa. The rigid traditional ranking of ones place in society has changed with the introduction of consumerism; wealth also holds status. Youth have generally lost interest in their heritage and knowledge of historical sites, genealogies, traditional farming and fishing methods, and traditional arts are being lost.

1994 Pacific Horizons School founded, recognized and certified by the American Samoa Government Department of Education.
1999 Pacific Horizons High School added to Pacific Horizons School.
2000 The Unborn, Newest Island of the Samoan Archipelago is Named Vailulu’u – In 1975, an underwater volcano is discovered 28 miles off the coast of Ta’u. It is originally named Rockne Volcano. In 1995, this volcano is discovered to be active. In 1999, it is mapped and is informally named Fa’afafine “wolf in sheep’s clothing” (among other meanings) Volcano. Vailulu’u remains active to date.
2005 Pacific Horizons School’s first National Merit Semifinalist
2006 Pacific Horizons School’s second National Merit Semifinalist

2009 Tsunami Strikes American Samoa – On the morning of September 29, 2009 an 8.3 magnitude earthquake, located 120 miles southwest of American Samoa, shakes the islands and generates a tsunami that devastates many coastal villages of Tutuila.

2011 Senate Resolution (SR 32-17) passed recognizing Pacific Horizons School for its relatively high SAT– Link One& Link Two
2016 Pacific Horizons School reaches historic milestone by securing property rights to the school with a low interest loan from USDA. Given the unique property laws in American Samoa, this is the first-ever loan made by USDA of a property purchase and long-term lease.– Link
2017 Dartmouth College admits first student from American Samoa, a PHS graduate.


American Samoan Government. Island Lines Flag Day Centennial flier. The American Samoa Telecommunications Authority, American Samoa, 2000.

Cohen, David. Ravaged Samoa. http://www.forbes.com/2009/10/01/samoa-tsunami-earthquake-opinions-contributors-david-cohen.html. Date of Access: 1/5/2014

Craig, Peter. Environmental Trends in American Samoa, Year 2000. National Parks of American Samoa, 2000.

Development Planning Office, American Samoa, 1981. U.S. Scientists Prove Samoan Underwater Volcano is Active, Samoa News, Tuesday, May 23, 2000, p. 1

Theroux, Joseph P. American Samoa History, from A Coastal Zone Management Atlas of American Samoa, 1981.

United States Census Bureau. U.S. Census Bureau Releases 2010 Census Population Counts for American Samoa. http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/2010_census/cb11-cn177.html. Date of Access: 1/5/2014.