According to the latest Census data, there are approximately 15,000 Samoans living in Hawaii. The makeup of Samoan culture can be broken down into various categories. The first generation Samoans were the original Samoans who migrated to Hawaii in the early 1900s. The second generation, the offspring of the first, are in their thirties and forties, and have stayed here to raise their own families. There are the Samoans from the mainland who moved to Hawaii from San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle. They are more used to an urban lifestyle. Lastly, there are Samoans who are the offspring from interracial marriages. This is an increasing trend in Hawaii. According to the Census, Samoans have an average of 5 persons living in the household, compared to the 2.7 persons for all Hawaii families. Women have about 4.2 children, which is nearly two times the average Hawaii rate of 2.5. The unemployment rate of Samoans is 10.2%, more than twice the Hawaii rate of 4.7%.
When the Samoans came to Hawaii, they were forced to do tough jobs like construction and tree trimming just to make a living. Now, they are still hard workers, but they get the respect that they deserve. Some Samoans have become successful. There are some very famous Samoans in fields of government and politics, sports, military, education, medicine, law, religion, authors, aviators, entrepreneurs, and engineering. As you can see, their range of opportunities is not limited. While the number of Samoans entering college increases steadily, it is generally less than other ethnic groups of Hawaii. A few Samoan men have become physicians. Many important leaders of the Samoan community are ministers of various churches who serve as the matai.
Currently, many Samoans reside in rural districts of Oahu such as the North Shore and Waianae, as well as central Honolulu. Additionally, many live in the Mormon community of Laie and the surrounding small communities. These areas may resemble their home communities. The length of time plays a significant factor in the adjustment and assimilations Samoans have made in Hawaii.
Many Samoans from Hawaii participate in sports. There are many Samoans in professional sports. Samoans are professional coaches, play in baseball, basketball, women's volleyball, body building, boxing, football, rugby, diving, sumo wrestling, track and field, and wrestling. Some well-known Samoans in sports are Greg Louganis, who is a four time Olympic Gold Medalist, and is widely known as the greatest diver in history, Konishiki, who is a sumo wrestler from Hawaii, and many more. Samoans are not limited in sports either.
Konishiki is a professional Sumo wrestler.
Mufi Hanneman is a Honolulu City Council Chairperson.
The 442nd Regimental Combat Team had Samoans who are now officers in the military, such as Hugo Afamasaga, who is from Honolulu, Hawaii. There are warrant officers and enlisted Samoans in the military also. In education, Samoans receive Ph.D.s, and become sociologists or any other career. Hawaii has to have doctors. Many Samoans have become doctors. To judge what's fair, Samoans have become judges in law. Albert Wendt is an author of some popular books. Laura Fa'amoe Ale was the first female Samoan pilot. Managers and owners are Samoans, many in Hawaii. Mufi Hanneman is the Honolulu City Council Chairman in Hawaii. He was the first Samoan American to graduate from Harvard University. Also, in the past two decades, many Samoans have enlisted in the American armed services.
Residents of U.S. Samoa and United States citizens may freely travel between their islands and all the states. Hawaii and California are the two most common destinations. The number of Samoans outside the Samoan islands far exceeds the population in Samoa.
Many Samoans desire to keep their cultural heritage alive. For example, there are Fa'asamoa conferences. These days are devoted to build the understanding of what it is to be Samoan, and a day to share the "Samoan way of life." During these conferences, books on the matai system, cultural values, citizenship, education and proverbial sayings are displayed. Additionally, Samoan songs and dances are performed. Samoan community chiefs preside over ceremonies. Younger members, having learned from their adult models, are included. Dignitaries from the community receive the ceremonial drink, "kava." Gift-giving ceremonies are performed.
Many Samoans are performers who display dances such as fire dancing. The dance is called "ailao," which is a fierce dance performed by warriors seeking to intimidate their foes. According to most accounts, it was Samoan High Orator Chief Olo Letuli, a well-known ailao performer of the day, who first wrapped the ends of his baton with kerosene-soaked towels and lit them ablaze to, well, turn up the heat on his act.
Samoan Fire Dancing
From tree trimming jobs to Ph.D.s, Samoans have earned better lives. Samoans were hopeful and they knew they could make it past hard times. If they gave up, we wouldn't have chairmen, and athletes, and all the things that Samoans are today. I know that with their willingness to succeed, the Samoans are capable of doing anything.
Prominent Samoans in Sports
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