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  1. 1. Samoan Culture Power Point Presentation By: •Briar Ravencroft(Rituals) •CortneySoland(Non-Verbal Use of Clothing)•Dawn Riley (Introduction, Gender Roles, Power Point Compilation) •Donna Schreiber (Samoan vs. American Culture) •Fleta Russell (Non-Verbal Communication) •Nellie Roberson (Communicating & Samoan Culture) •Samantha Salling(Verbal Communication) Communication Studies 101 March 6, 2012
  2. 2. • The Samoan Islands are located in the southern Pacific Ocean and formspart of Polynesia.• The islands are broken up into two regions Samoa & American Samoa. • The are specific cultural differences between the two jurisdictions• The Samoan islands are very welcoming and have assimilated tocoinciding with other major cultures in the World.• Today there are many Samoan people in the USA and we will look at howtheir culture coexists with American Culture.
  3. 3. How Samoan Culture Differs from American Culture• As we interact with many different cultures, we find that there are many differences from our own American culture.• We are taking a closer look into Samoa and providing some interesting facts of their heritage.• But before that, we would like to show you some differences between Samoa and America such as health care,Holidays, and sports.
  4. 4. Health Care and Medical FacilitiesSAMOAN•Samoa’s health care facilities are equipped for regular check ups but are limited. Seriousillness, some emergencies, and related laboratory work are treated else where. Evacuationfor such things are sent to the United States and can cost thousands of dollars.•Doctors and hospitals often expect cash payment on the spot. The pharmacies may notcarry the prescription or over the counter medicines or they may be a different qualitythan those available in the United States.AMERICAN• America has thousands of hospitals spread out over the fifty-states.• Health care can cost a lot of money, but their are ways to get affordable health care. Some employers offer a health care package while you are employed with their company, as well as government programs to help families with low income.• Hospitals in the U.S. are required by law to handle a large variety of illnesses and are properly equipped for these situations.
  5. 5. Samoan Holidays• In Samoa no official business is conducted in a three-weekspandstarting a week before Christmas and ending a week after New Year’s. The post office shuts down for a week. As well as, Independence Day since the two are back to back all banks, offices, and most stores are closed as well.• A lot of countries celebrate mothers and fathers day but Samoa has made Childrens Day (White Monday, the day after White Sunday) a public holiday. On White Sunday, the children dress in white parade to church; after the service they take places of honor and eat at a family feast.• Independence Days are celebrated during the first week of June their is dancing, feasting, speeches, by tulafale (talking chief), horse races, and other sporting events. Even though Samoa attained independence on January 1, 1962 the celebration’s are held in June to avoid total paralysis around Christmas.• The Teuila Festival is held in September their are many cultural activities such as a church choir competitions, dance and beauty contests, squash and cricket finals, long boat races , traditional games ,talent shows, and many more.”• Once a year, the palo reef worm rises from the coral before dawn according to a lunar cycle (October on Upolu, November on Savai’i). The Samoans wait with lanterns and nets to catch this prized delicacy, the Caviar of the Pacific. This remarkable event takes place in Samoa, Fiji, and some other islands, but never in Hawaii.”
  6. 6. U.S. Holidays• On St. Patrick’s Day America pays tribute to the Irish culture and traditions in America. Irish music concerts, dancers, exhibitions, theatre performances and religious services are held in March ever year. Americans also wear the color green, and eat green foods, and drink popular Irish drinks.• Easter is celebrated based on one’s religious belief’s and denomination. Christians commemorate Good Friday as the day Jesus died and Easter Sunday as the day he rose. Throughout America kids get Easter baskets that the Easter bunny left for them filled with candy.• Mother’s day is a day when people young or old can show their appreciation for their mothers.• Memorial Day we pay tribute to all the fallen soldiers who have served in any branch of the service. Memorial Day first acted to honor Union soldiers but was expanded after World War 1.• Father’s Day began shortly after mothers day to show appreciation to hard working dad’s.• Independence Day is a federal holiday in the U.S. commonly known as Fourth of July. Declaring Americas independence July 4, 1716 from the Kingdom of Great Britain. This day is commonly associated with barbecues, picnics, concerts, carnivals, fireworks, family reunions, and ceremonies.• Labor Day is the first Monday is September every year. Since September 5,1882 as the Central Labor Union Of New York sought to create a day off work for the working citizens.• Columbus Day is celebrated the second Monday in honor of Christopher Columbus being the first European to have discovered the New World of the Americas.• Halloween is a time for people for all ages to dress up and go trick or treating around local areas.• Veterans Day honors over 24.9 million military veterans in the United States.• Thanksgiving Day is on the fourth Thursday in November each year at the end of harvest season, to express thanks.• Christmas is a gift giving holiday wear some jobs and family give gifts and love based on religious background.• New Years Eve is not a federal holiday but many Americans have parties and light fireworks.
  7. 7. SportsSAMOAN• The Rugby League is very popular in Samoa. – In 2000 their rugby team reached the quarter finals in the World Cup. Many of Samoan descent play in the Super League and National League in Britain.• American football is growing in Samoa. – About thirty percent of ethnic Samoans, many from American Samoa, currently play in the N.F.L..• Cricket is a minor sport, the Samoan team finished last place, missing out in the 2011 World Cup.• Professional wrestling and MMA, despite the small population on the islands in the United States Samoans are very visible in these sports.• Soccer is a popular sport with the team being ranked 149th in the world at the time of this article.AMERICAN• The major professional sports in America are baseball, football, hockey, golf, tennis, soccer, and Nascar.• America has put a lot of interest in sports, paying players millions of dollars to play the game. Players go overseas to play in other countries but not many due to the exposure they would get in the United States.• America has both male and female teams in many different sports.• Soccer was founded in 1993 and began play in 1996 as a result of the U.S. hosting of the 1994 F.I.F.A. World Cup. – Soccer is the youngest of the major sports in the United States.• Basketball took it’s current form in 1949, the NFL in 1920, and the NHL in 1917 with twenty-three teams in the United States and seven in Canada.
  8. 8. Verbal Communication
  9. 9. The Role of Language in Samoan Verbal Communication • Classified as a member of the Polynesian language family and part of a subgroup of the Austronesian family of languages • Noted for a lack of consonants and increased use of vowels •Another unique aspect is the use of particles. •These are small words that function independently. •This is similar to how the English language uses prepositions, articles, and conjuctions
  10. 10. Formal and Informal Language•High talking chiefs speak a formalform of polite communication that onlythey understand•Very similar to how communicationworks in American Society•Orators or “Tulafale” operate as thechief of the family and communicatefamily stories and histories•An informal version of the language isspoken by the common people as wellas the “Tulafale” of the family•Cherished as a symbol of culturalidentity
  11. 11. Tulafale (Orator)•Samoan orators or “talkingchiefs”, also known as Tulafaleare the spokemen for thevillage and each family.•Orators use a specialized formof rhetoric to tell the historiesof the people, political andreligious insights and to informthe village of important news•Oratory is delivered in a clearand ringing cadence that isoften yelled out
  12. 12. “Siva Afi“ Fire Knife Dance•The fire knife is atraditional Samoan culturalimplement that is used inceremonial dances.•Knife dancing has a history which goes back hundreds ofyears. Tribal performers of fire knife dancing (or Siva Afi as itis called in Samoa) dance while twirling the knife and doingother acrobatic stunts.
  13. 13. Sasa Samoan Group Dance•Generally the sasa is performedby a large group of people, it isnormally performed sittingdown, but there are parts of thedance which require the group tostand up.•Every Sasa is different.• A Sasa will always begin with the faaluma yelling tulolo whichtells the group to bow their heads, and nofo for the group to sit upagain, in a Sasa you will hear chants like "Talofa" (greetings) in thebeginning and "Tofa" (farewell) at the end.
  14. 14. Pe’a Traditional Male Tattoo•The Pea is the popular name of the traditional maletattoo of Samoa.•The pea covers the body from waist to knees. InSamoan custom, a pea is only done the traditionalway, with aspects of cultural ceremony andritual, and not with European tools or needles.• Samoan males with a pea are called sogaimiti andare respected for their courage. The traditionalfemale tattoo in Samoa is the malu.• In Samoan society, the pea and the malu areviewed with cultural pride and identity as well as ahallmark of manhood and womanhood.
  15. 15. Clothing Traditions:Formal & Informal
  16. 16. How do the Samoan Artifacts Reflect their Culture?• Samoan artifacts include, but are not limited to: – tattooing, – formal clothing – informal clothing – Jewelry• Modesty is important to Samoans and it is inappropriate to show the area between the knees and thigh.
  17. 17. Informal Clothing • Informal clothing is more commonly seen at present. • All Samoan clothing begins with a traditional lava-lava, a single piece of cloth worn wrapped around the waist as a skirt worn by both men and women. • Some Samoans wear a bright colorful floral blouse or top with the lava-lava • Most Samoans prefer to wear a t-shirt over their lava-lava, as this is considered appropriate for everyday wear. • Samoan women typically wear a puletasi which is similar to a mu’umu’u and was introduced by the early Christian missionaries.
  18. 18. Formal Clothing• Typically, for formal wear Samoans stick with the lava-lava or a ‘iefaitage (a sarong with pockets) but add more formal tops, such as a white shirt, tie, suit coat, or leather sandals.• Most Samoans prefer to wear white to church on Sundays.• Bikinis, swimming suits, and sometimes swimming pants are banned at many traditional villages.• Darker colored tops are considered more appropriate for formal occasions.• Civil servants often wear darkly colored uniforms.
  19. 19. RitualsFaa Samoa meaning “the Samoan way” makes up the traditions, language and culture of Samoa.
  20. 20. Tattoos• Marks the transition into adulthood. – Traditionally only mandatory for men and the chief’s daughter.• A man with a full tattoo is seen as having courage and one without any tattoos is marked for ridicule.• Tattoos have a basic form with a stylized version of a bat and a small black triangle on the back.• Tattooist is highly respected and served first at ceremonies. They are also feared and were thought to possess magic.• At the end of the tattooing, traditionally an egg is cracked over the head of the person getting it and the legs are anointed with coconut oil/tumeric as a symbol of life. Ryman, Anders (2004, June 01). PetisMalu: Traditions of Samoan Tattooing. World & I, (6), 160, Retrieved from
  21. 21. ‘Ava Ceremonies • Revolves around the creation and ritual consumption of a beverage made from the ‘ava root. • Guests are arranged according to rank and served in the same fashion. • Provides a ceremonial area for meeting and decision-making. • Tradition has survived missionaries and has even migrated with Samoans to the U.S. • Traditionally the drink is prepared in one large bowl and a single cup is used to drink amongst the chiefs according to rankRyman, Anders (2004, April 01). The Sacred Root. World & I, (4), 174, Retrieved from
  22. 22. Gender Roles•Traditionally, Samoa has been a male-dominated society. Today, women areallowed more social power due totransition of a cash based economy(Advamea Inc., 2012).•There are more than 2 genders inSamoan Culture:Male, Female, &Fa’fafine•Historically men would work andcook, while women would tend to thechildren and household•A family unit consists of all extendedfamily and is presided over by one male.
  23. 23. Fa’aFafine: A 3rd Gender •Fa’afafine are known as “homosexuals” in American culture. •There are no social stigmas against the Fa’afafine in Samoan Culture •They have a varied sex life, but mainly their relations are with men. •Fa’afafine are transvestite males who fulfill the duties of a women •They perform all of the domestic roles a women would in a household •They are very hard workersSchmidt, J. R. (2001). Redefining faafafine: Western discourses and the construction of transgenderism insamoa . Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, 6,
  24. 24. Males•Primary role is to be the Head of the Household•Strives to be elected Matai Chief •If elected he will preside over all extended family •The Mataimanage all land and properties held by the family •Settle domestic disputes •Coordinate household labor •Promote unity and maintain tradition•Males will predominantly hold jobs and be the bread winner•Jobs tend to be centered around hard manual labor (Binden et. al.1997)•Bindon, J. R., Knight, A., Dressler, W. W., & Crews, D. E. (1997). Social context and psychosocial influences on blood pressure amongamericansamoans. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 103, 07-18.•Advameg, Inc. (2012). Culture of americansamoa. Retrieved from
  25. 25. Females•A woman’s primary role is to be a wife and child bearer•A woman’s status reflects her husband’s title•Must maintain a clean and orderly household•Women take care of the children•They will partake in numerous crafts and domestic labor •Sewing, weaving mats, laundry, most of the cooking (TODAY)•Today women are able to hold jobs much like men •They also have more social power in Samoan Society •Nursing has been a long accepted role for women •Women in some cases may be the Matai (Binden et. al., 1997). •Bindon, J. R., Knight, A., Dressler, W. W., & Crews, D. E. (1997). Social context and psychosocial influences on blood pressure among americansamoans. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 103, 07-18. •Advameg, Inc. (2012). Culture of americansamoa. Retrieved from
  26. 26. How Samoan & Other Cultures Can Communicate Effectively
  27. 27. •Samoa is a beautiful, fascinating tropical destination, and it also has anextraordinarily welcoming culture.•As a non- samoan in order to be able to communicate better with asamoan you must learn to first understand its culture and tradition.
  28. 28. UNDERSTANDING SAMOAN CULTURE• The Samoan hierarchy is taught at a young age. – “While children are young, they are taught that there are certain ways to do certain things. There are different ways to look at people. There are different ways to talk around people. Everything is done with faaaloalo. Faaaloalo is the first thing taught.• Faaaloalo is more than respect. It is a way of living in a community with harmony. Faaaloalo is culture and its what keeps the Samoans together. – Taking off shoes when entering the home of a host. This shows faaaloalo because it is treating a person’s home like holy ground that can’t be walked on with shoes. – Taking a gift known as a faaoso when visiting a family. One should never go empty handed when invited to someone’s home. In return, the hosting family gives the guest the best of what they have. – Lowering oneself and saying tulou (pardon me) when passing in front of or near a person. – Helping elderly people. Giving up your seat for an elder, or stopping to assist an elderly person with a heavy load or chore is not uncommon in Samoa. – Not raising your voice after dark. Once the sun sets at about 6:00 p.m. in Samoa, each person is expected to be in his/her home with family. Anyone who is not inside must show respect for the family by their peaceful silence.• Faaaloalo is a governing attitude or behavior that determines ones Samoanness. To know the faasamoa one must understand faaaloalo because it is the faasamoa in a sense that the culture revolves around the faaaloalo.
  29. 29. SAMOAN CULTURE COMMUNICATION FAMILY•When you communicate with Pastors or High Chiefs •The Samoan culture family plays a huge role in theyou must communicate with in the formal pronunciation household. Everybody works and lives together toof the language with a T vs. speaking in the relaxed support the family. Samoans are very close and this hasversion of the language with a K. carried on with Samoans who have left the islands. •In samoa weddings and funerals are a big part of their•Where as the word Tasi (formal) is spelled with a T you culture. With both weddings and funerals there iscan pronounce is Kasi (informal) with a K. always a formal presentation called the sua that is given to those of high status. “(L.Tanner, personal communication, 1/18/2012)” SUA Mealtime•Sua is usually made up of vailolo (drink with money in •Mealtime at the village is the best example of everyoneit; originally it was a coconut and a coconut frond called knowing the proper role in the village faaaloalo. Thetuaniu) currently they use a soda can with money family presides and leads all village activities from theslipped under the top ring, amoamosa (tray of biscuits matai (high chief of the village). When mealtime comesand material or a combination of other small foodstuffs around, his family eats first. Following the matai’s familylike a can of corn beef), and a suatalisua (a box of corn would be the next ranked chief and his family.beef and chicken or similar). This is followed by a finemat or several fine mats. Family members will usuallypresent the sua before the wedding or funeral and thanthe items that are received are than returned as a thankyou for supporting.
  31. 31. 3-5 Questions about Samoan Culture1. How does verbal communication and language play a role in Samoan culture, Why?2. What are some non-verbal differences in communication between Samoan and American Culture?3. What is one major difference between Samoan & American culture, how do you think this affects communication?4. How do the rituals of the United States compare to the rituals presented here?5. What is the role of a Fa’afafine. Do you think American culture would openly accept this 3rd gender? Why or Why not.
  32. 32. References•Afatasi.(2005-2012 SAO Inc) Sa’o fire knives & more. Retrieved,1/19/2012.•Advameg, Inc. (2012). Culture of American Samoa. Retrieved from•Beebe, S. A., Beebe, S. J., & Ivy, D. K. (2011). The Blue Book of Communication Studies (TCC Custom Edition ed., pp. 65-89). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.•Bindon, J. R., Knight, A., Dressler, W. W., & Crews, D. E. (1997). Social context and psychosocial influences on blood pressure among americansamoans. American Journal ofPhysical Anthropology, 103, 07-18.•Cox, P. (2012). Samoan americans. Samoan News. Retrieved from•Holmes, L. D. (1969). Samoan oratory. The Journal of American Folklore, 82, 326. Retrieved from•L.Tanner, personal communication, 1/18/2012•Lotonuu. 2010, August. Samoan Clothing – Does it matter what you wear while you’re there?. Retrieved from•Maps of World. Samoa Clothing. Retrieved from•Ritz, M. K. (2006, August 06). [Web log message]. Retrieved from•Ryman, Anders (2004, June 01). PetisMalu: Traditions of Samoan Tattooing. World & I, (6), 160, Retrieved from•Ryman, Anders (2004, April 01). The Sacred Root. World & I, (4), 174, Retrieved from•Schmidt, J. R. (2001). Redefining faafafine: Western discourses and the construction of transgenderism in samoa . Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in theAsian Context, 6,• The official Samoa tourist site. A page on local culture. Retrieved on 2/9/2012•Wikipedia. 2012, February. Culture of Samoa. Retrieved from