During World War II, the Samoans began to come to Hawaii. The U.S. Navy, which used Samoa as a wartime base, made Samoans more aware of the outside world. A number of young Samoans enlisted and came to Hawaii where some of them settled after the war. Migration increased from a few hundred soon after World War II to several thousand in the mid-seventies. The majority of Samoans lived on the island of Oahu.
Let's travel back in time to the year 1919. The Samoans have just arrived in Hawaii. This was the first group of Samoan immigrants. They are a group of immigrants that is very unique in their way of coming to Hawaii. They didn't come as plantation workers, such as the Japanese, Chinese, and Filipinos. They came as Mormons. The immigrants came to the Laie, an area of Oahu. Samoans mainly left to find a better life and better jobs, and also to escape from the overpopulated Samoa.
Traditional Samoan clothing
A Mormon temple on the island of Oahu
Mormon Samoans came when the Mormon temple was built on Oahu. But their limited education and little knowledge of the English language made it difficult to find good jobs. Instead they had to do hard jobs such as construction and tree-trimming jobs.
In 1952, about 1,000 Samoans arrived in Hawaii. It is estimated that in the 1970s, there were more than 13,000 Samoans and part-Samoans living in Hawaii. A majority of them resided on the island of Oahu.
Samoans brought some interesting things on their trip to Hawaii. They brought many crafts, such as shell leis, jewelry, and hand bags. They also brought food, like kava, which is still used today.
Kava is an old herbal drink which is used for many purposes. It was said to cure stomach pains, cramps, and headaches. It also was thought to calm nerves, cause relaxation, and restore strength. Kava is a drink made from a kava root, pounded, and mixed with some water to make a brownish drink.
Kava, a traditional Samoan drink
There are many gatherings that you will see kava. It is served for high-ranking chiefs and elders, and often as a welcome for honored guest. Drinking kava is also a sign of welcome, peace, and friendship. Kava is sometimes served in kava cups, which are made of coconut. Samoans brought some holidays and customs to Hawaii. They celebrate a Gift Giving Ceremony, and an Honoring Ceremony (when they serve kava). They used music as a way to celebrate different events.
The Samoan culture shares many similarities with other Polynesian cultures. Some of the Samoan traits are hospitality and being able to cooperate. Samoans believed in large families and had a hard time finding large houses to fit their families. Family is very important to Samoans. In 1941, when Pearl Harbor was bombed, some Samoans got jobs with the military to support their families. Other things Samoans believe in, a time and season for everything in life. There is a day to work and a day to observe, a time to laugh, a time to visit friends, and a time to remain at home. Another belief of the Samoans is sharing all their food, shelter, money, and land so that families have the same amount and there is no family is left without clothing or shelter. To them, there should be no poor or rich families in the Samoan culture.
Here are some of the Samoan cultural values:
Samoan Cultural Value Translation
Taua a le tagata
The Importance of Self
Mataalofa Ma Faapapale
Mutual Support and Patience
Control of Emotions
Cooperative and Collaborative Work Relations
Spiritual Life and Development
Freely-Given Support of Others
Faimatua or Tausimatua
Love, Care and Support for One's Parents
Love, Care and Support for One's Siblings
Brotherly Love for Sister
Sisterly Love for Brother
A forgiving heart
Support for One's Family
A Non-hurried Approach to Life
The family is the most important element in Samoan social organization. In 1952, about a thousand more Samoans came to Hawaii. In the 1970s, there were about 13,000 Samoans and part-Samoans in Hawaii, most of them on Oahu.
Samoans didn't give up when they couldn't understand English or had to do hard jobs. They kept on going. The Samoans brought a very unique culture into Hawaii. They did a very good job of preserving their special culture.
Kava Drinking Among the Samoans
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