American Samoa Fono

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The American Samoa Legislature Maota Fono building in Fagatogo AmericanSamoaLegislatureBuilding.jpg
The American Samoa Legislature Maota Fono building in Fagatogo

The Legislature of American Samoa or Fono is the territorial legislature of American Samoa. Like most state and territorial legislatures of the United States, it is a bicameral legislature with a House of Representatives and a Senate. The legislature is located in Fagatogo along Pago Pago harbor.

American Samoa US territory in the Pacific

American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of Samoa. Its location is centered on 14.2710° S, 170.1322° W. It is east of the International Date Line, while independent Samoa is west of the Line.

State legislature (United States) legislature of a U.S. state

A state legislature in the United States is the legislative body of any of the 50 U.S. states. The formal name varies from state to state. In 25 states, the legislature is simply called the Legislature, or the State Legislature, while in 19 states, the legislature is called the General Assembly. In Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the legislature is called the General Court, while North Dakota and Oregon designate the legislature the Legislative Assembly.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.


It is the only legislature on the state or territorial level in the United States that is both bicameral and nonpartisan. The Nebraska Legislature is similarly nonpartisan yet is a unicameral body.

Nebraska Legislature Unicameral legislative body in Nebraska

The Nebraska Legislature is the supreme legislative body of the state of Nebraska. Its members are called "senators." The legislature is officially unicameral and nonpartisan, making Nebraska unique among U.S. states; no other state has either a unicameral or a nonpartisan legislative body. With 49 members, it is also the smallest legislature of any U.S. state.

Composition of the Fono

The lower House of Representatives has 21 members, elected for a two-year term. It comprises 20 single-seat constituencies and one constituency decided upon by a public meeting on Swains Island. The Senate has 18 members, elected for a four-year term by and from the chiefs of the islands.

Lower house chamber of a bicameral legislature

A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house.

American Samoa House of Representatives

The American Samoa House of Representatives is the lower house of the American Samoa Fono. The House consists of 21 representatives serving two-year terms, with 20 popularly elected members, and one representative elected by a public meeting on Swains Island.

Swains Island Remote coral atoll of American Samoa, United States of America

Swains Island is an atoll in the Tokelau chain. The island is subject to an ongoing territorial dispute between Tokelau and the United States of America, which administers it as part of American Samoa. Owned by the Jennings family and used as a copra plantation, Swains Island has a population of 17 Tokelauans, who harvest the island's coconuts. The land area is 1.5 square kilometres (0.58 sq mi).


Following the U.S. gaining sovereignty of the islands, Governor B. F. Tilley functioned as American Samoa’s sole lawmaker. The territory first controlled by Tilley’s one-man legislature as the U.S. government had no experience in governing territorial governments. Commander Tilley issued regulation no. 5 on May 1, 1900, which was called “A Declaration Concerning the Form of Government for the United States Naval Station, Tutuila.” This law declared that American laws were in force in islands. [1]

During Governor Vernon Huber's term in office, which lasted from 1947 until 1949, American Samoans moved towards greater self-government. Under Huber's encouragement, the legislature of the territory, known as the American Samoa Fono, convened for the first time. [2]

Vernon Huber United States admiral

Vernon Huber was a United States Navy Rear admiral, and the 36th Governor of American Samoa from April 22, 1947 to June 15, 1949. He was born in Philadelphia, Illinois, and was appointed to the United States Naval Academy from that state. He served as the first commanding officer of the destroyer USS Livermore upon its launch in 1940. After his appointment, he advocated the diversification of the American Samoan economy. He also helped to increase the level American Samoan self-government, and was the first governor to serve alongside a Samoan legislature, the American Samoa Fono.

A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority to make laws for a political entity such as a country or city. Legislatures form important parts of most governments; in the separation of powers model, they are often contrasted with the executive and judicial branches of government.


The American Samoa Fono is housed at the Maota Fono complex, a bee-hive shaped building based on the traditional Samoan fale. It is based on the same traditional building designs as the Fono in Samoa. A two-story main wing (housing the Legislature's and Governor's offices) is flanked by two single-story wings housing the chambers from the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Samoans ethnic group

Samoans or Samoan people are the indigenous Polynesian people of the Samoan Islands, an archipelago in Polynesia, who speak the Samoan language. The group's home islands are politically and geographically divided between the Independent State of Samoa and American Samoa, an unincorporated territory of the United States of America. Though divided by government, the culture and language remain the same.

Beach fale

A beach fale is a simple thatched hut in Samoa. Beach fales are also common in other parts of Polynesia. They have become popular in tourism as a low budget accommodation situated by the coast, built with a few posts, no walls and a thatched roof with a round or oval shape.

This Fono building is the second to be located in Fagotogo and opened in 1973. The first Fono was housed in the former home at the United States Navy Tutuila Station barracks. It was destroyed by a fire in 1970. [3] The former Fono site is home to the ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank's Head Office.

See also

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  1. Sunia, Fofō I. F. (1998). The Story of the Legislature of American Samoa: In Commemoration of the Golden Jubilee 1948-1998. Pago Pago, AS: Legislature of American Samoa. Pages 9 and 12.  ISBN   9789829008015.
  2. Sunia, Fofó Iosefa Fiti (1998). The Story of the Legislature of American Samoa. American Samoa: American Samoa Fono. p. 68. ISBN   982-9008-01-0 . Retrieved 17 May 2010.
  3. Executive Offices of the Governor American Samoa Government

Coordinates: 14°16′42″S170°41′20″W / 14.2782°S 170.6890°W / -14.2782; -170.6890