The flag of American Samoa has a unique history found predominantly in contemporary times. In fact, Samoa had no documented flags before the arrival of Europeans on the islands in the 1800’s. Once that flag was implemented, most of the subsequent ones in the 19th millennia were not well preserved or recorded. During this time the islands were also disputed between the United States, England, and Germany. The three nations agreed to partition the islands in the Tripartite Convention of 1899. As a result, the U.S. formally hoisted its own flag of stars and stripes over its territory on April 27th, 1900, where it would fly over American Samoa for the next 60 years.
As the municipality developed and extended to more Samoans, the population began to take a more active role in government. Localized designs were initially proposed in the 1950’s, were locals were invited to propose ideas. The design that we see today was completed by a combination of local government leaders and the U.S. Army Institution of Heraldry. Exactly 60 years after the U.S. flew their own, a new flag for American Samoa was raised on April 27th, 1960.
The colors and symbols on the flag of American Samoa carry a range of cultural, regional and political meanings. Many of these themes are shared with the flag of the U.S, or allude to the history between the two. Both flags carry the colors red, white and blue. The flag of American Samoa also carries a bald eagle to symbolize the United States. In its talons, it clutches a fly whisk (fue) and a war club (uatogi). Both of the are uniquely Samoan symbols. The fue represents conventional Samoan chiefs with their wisdom and tradition, and the uatogi symbolizes the energy of the state and government power. These also both allude to U.S. guardianship over the area.
The United States and American Samoa have a deeply connected history. However, it does hold on to its own traditions and practices by including cultural symbols. Yet, the two countries relationship is beautifully documented in the flag of American Samoa, showing its own citizens as well the world its value of history and partnership with the U.S.