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to promote the process of political development and advancement toward selfgovernment.
The Office of Management and Budget has advised that there is no objection to the presentation of this report from the standpoint of the Administration's program. Sincerely yours,
HARRISON LOESCH, Assistant Secretary of the Interior.
Mr. BURTON. We have before us today two bills, H.R. 11523 introduced by myself, Congresswoman Mink, and Congressman Begich, who are members of the subcommittee, and H.R. 12493 introduced by Congressman Matsunaga who has also shown deep interest in the future of American Samoa. Both of the bills provide for an elected Governor and Lieutenant Governor for American Samoa and there is practically no difference in their language. Without objection, the two bills shall be included in the record.
I would note that this year is the 100th anniversary of official American involvement in the affairs of Samoa. In 1872, a treaty was negotiated for the exclusive use of Pago Pago Harbor. However, the treaty was not ratified by the U.S. Senate. It was not until 1900, after much big power diplomacy, that the U.S. Government began administering the territory. Since 1960, American Samoans have been electing their legislature with the lower house being chosen by popular ballot. The legislature in 1969 appointed a political status commission which recommended that American Samoa continue as an unorganized, unincorporated territory of the United States. The commission also recommended that the people of American Samoa elect their own Governor. (I would note that there has already been one Samoanappointed Governor-Mr. Peter Coleman, who is now Deputy High Commissioner of the trust territory.)
The subcommittee had hoped to visit American Samoa last year. We were very disappointed that the unexpectedly long session of the Congress prevented us from making the trip. I hope we shall have the opportunity in the future of visiting that beautiful island.
I wish to welcome the representatives of American Samoa to this hearing. I note with regret that Speaker Utu is ill, and I am sure that my colleagues on the committee join me in wishing him a speedy return to good health.
Mrs. Mink, as our first witness, is there anything you would like to present to the committee?
STATEMENT OF HON. PATSY T. MINK, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM
THE SECOND DISTRICT OF HAWAII
Mrs. MINK. Yes, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee and the chairman of the full committee, I appreciate this opportunity to testify in support of a bill which I cosponsored providing for the popular election of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of American Samoa.
April will mark the 72d anniversary of the raising of the American flag over the territory of American Samoa. In these 72 years, the association has for the most part been beneficial to both sides. This has been fortunate but also somewhat accidental. American policy toward American Samoa has often been one of neglect.
I believe a brief review of United States-American Samoa relations will be helpful in understanding the necessity for H.R. 11523. Formal relations began when the USS Narragansett visited Tutuila Harbor in 1872, and the Commander entered into an agreement with the High Chief of Pago Pago, entitled, “Commercial Regulations, and so forth.” Our primary interest was in obtaining harbor facilities and rights for a coaling station for our shipping interests in the Pacific. Although the agreement was never formally ratified by the U.S. Senate, it effectively prevented other interested nations from establishing a claim on the harbor and the surrounding area.
In 1878 a further treaty of friendship and commerce was entered into with the leaders of the villages adjacent to Pago Pago, and this treaty was ratified by the Senate that same year. This treaty remained in effect for more than 20 years. It is worth noting that the treaty was proclaimed by the United States and “the Government of American Samoan Islands.” The United States thus established a subtle, a priori future claim to eventual control of this segment of Samoa.
In 1889, the United States, Germany, and Great Britain entered into a pact to promote stability in the area among the powers and among the Samoans. It also established a government for the Islands which proved to be ineffective.
A further treaty, the Convention of 1899, was enacted among the three powers, which carved out spheres of influence. The United States received claim to the area now known as American Samoa. This treaty was ratified in February 1900, and in April, deeds of cession were negotiated with the leaders of the Islands of Tutuila and Aunu’u; and the American flag was raised. In June 1904, the leaders of Manu'a also agreed to cede their authority to the United States.
It is crucial to note that the Samoans had no part in the negotiations and development of the Convention of 1899, which effectively determined the sovereignty of these Islands. The deeds of cession were entirely after the treaty had been ratified. So, it can hardly be claimed it was enacted with the knowledge and concurrence of those most affected by it. The agreement was reached, and the Samoans had the practical choice of agreeing to it or submitting to it.
For the first 51 years after annexation, American Samoa was under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Navy and administered by a Naval oslicer appointed by the Secretary of the Navy. This administrative arrangement in itself suggests a policy of colonization rather than the governance of American Samoa for the human, social, economic, and political and development of the people.
In 1951 President Truman transferred by Executive order the administration of American Samoa to the Secretary of the Interior who has since then appointed its Governor and Secretary. The list of appointees since 1951 is as follows: Phelps Phelps--
July 1, 1951 to June 30, 1952. John C. Elliott
July 16 to Dec. 1. 1952. James A. Ewing-
Dec. 1, 1952 to Mar. 4. 1953. Lawrence M. Judd.
Mar. 5 to July 31, 1953. R. Barrett Lowe
Oct. 1. 1953 to Oct. 15, 1956. Peter T. Coleman.
Oct. 16. 1.956 to Vay 26, 1.961. H. Rex Lee.-
May 27, 1961 to July 31, 1967. Owen S. Aspinall.
Aug. 8. 1967 to Oct. 4, 1969. John M. Haydon..
Oct. 5, 1969 to present.
Many appointments were of persons who had little previous knowledge of American Samoa or its people. I do not mean to belittle the persons who have held these positions, for many of them have been truly, genuinely concerned with the welfare of the Samoan people. The fact remains, however, that the pride and sensitivities of the residents have often gone unnoticed in the administration of these islands on the policy of "what is best for them."
Significant progress has been noted in vital categories since the transfer of control to the Interior Department, including education, health facilities, public works and economic development. However, the progress achieved, and when viewed over our 72-year reign of control, is not a record of which we may be proud.
Our stewardship of these islands has come under increasingly more pointed criticism in the world community. The United Nations Special Committee in studying the situation of American Samoa issued a report in November 1971, which was highly critical of the United States' perpetuation of this relationship, without providing for the political development and eventual self-determination of their political status.
One of the decisions of the Special Committee (No. 7) states:
the Special Committee reiterates its view that all options, including independence, should be left open to the people of the Territory, and urges the administering Power to take steps aimed at reducing the dependence of the Territory on the United States and to allow Samoans to participate fully and freely in an act of self determination in conformity with the Declaration contained in General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV).
American Samoa's present status is that of an unincorporated territory, and its citizens are U.S. nationals. A political status commission comprised of American Samoan leaders recommended in 1970 that the territory remain an unincorporated part of the United States—for the present—but that they should be allowed to elect their own Governor.
As U.S. nationals they may request citizenship on an individual basis at any time, if they wish to do so. The desire to remain an unincorporated territory also provides for greater choice in the future for determining their eventual political status. An abrupt change at this point to another political status contains dangers of which the political status commission was well aware.
It is clear from the content of the report of the political status commission that American Samoans not only desire but are capable of self-government. There are many residents of American Samoa who have the capability, the education, and the experience to fulfill the responsibilities of chief executive, and we should avail them of the opportunity.
It is said to be the credo of stateside workers that success is measured by whether they are able to work themselves out of their jobs by training Samoans to replace them. This credo should also apply to our Governor and Secretary. If they have done their job well, they should be replaceable and that really is the purpose of H.R. 11523.
American Samoa now has a population of more than 28,000 people. It is on the threshold of many changes and it is vital that the pressures for change be guided and controlled to complement, not disrupt, Samoa's unique cultural and societal structures. Foremost among possible changes (aside from political status) is the visitor industry which is emerging as a significant factor in the island's economy. There is the danger that this new force will come into conflict with the traditional Samoan society, which has remained largely intact under territorial status. The communal ownership of lands is closely tied to the extended family relationship, which comprise the villages.
I believe it is crucial that the development of this industry be wholly within the framework of its impact on the traditional island society, and the Governor involved in this planning must understand and be completely sensitive to its potential for disrupting the entire culture. The decisions in this matter must not be made through American eyes and American economic orientation at the expense of the Samoan culture and mores. In short, the Governor involved in this decision should be an American Samoan elected by and responsible to its citizens.
There is a final and perhaps most compelling reason for the passage of this legislation, Mr. Chairman. Self-government is the inherent right of all peoples; and to the degree that this condition is desired, they should be allowed to freely exercise that right. Our history, indeed the history of all peoples, is replete with conflicts arising out of the frustrated desires of a people for self-government. The people of American Samoa are now expressing this desire and their voices will become increasingly louder and more pointed in this area.
Our own history is, of course, based on this very point, and it has continued to be one of the basic principles of our society,
In fact, the right of any people to self-determination has, at least in theory, been the thrust of our foreign relations, including innumerable wars. To deny the distant but distinct voices of American Samoans in this regard is tantamount to denying one of the most basic principles of our own system of government.
Mr. Chairman, passage of H.R. 11523 will be in the best interests not only of American Samoans, but also in the best interests of the United States in maintaining a warm and mutually respectful relationship with these people. We will not be altering our relationship; instead, we will be strengthening our bond by expressing our trust and confidence in their right and ability to govern themselves.
I, therefore, urge favorable consideration of the pending matter. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Burton. I would like to commend our distinguished colleague from Hawaii, Representative Vink, for this well-conceived statement of position and further note to all present here today the continuing leadership that Representative Mink has given to the cause of all the offshore islands, not the least of which has been her effort not only on this subcommittee and the full committee, but on the Education and Labor Committee to see that the people living in American Samoa were given whatever Federal assistance was being provided to any. one living on the mainland or on any of the offshore islands.
So I commend you highly, Representative Mink. We are all deeply in your debt for the leadership you have given, particularly in the area of the interest of the people of American Samoa.
Mrs. Mink. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. ASPINALL. Mr. Chairman, I have two questions.
I thank you very much, Patsy, for what I consider to be a very complete statement of the development of the relationship between the islands and the United States.
I do have a couple of questions. You have a statement on page 3:
It is crucial to note that the Samoans had no part in the negotiations and the development of the convention of 1899, which effectively determined the sovereignty of these Islands.
By that do you mean the people or do you mean the leaders of the people had no part?
Mrs. Mink. The people themselves.
Mr. ASPINALL. Was there any opportunity at that time under the life which they led by which the people themselves could have expressed a position, or didn't their chiefs speak for them in these matters as they do at the present time to a great extent?
Mrs. Mink. Probably not. The point that I was trying to make is that having come these 72 years now and having been responsible for their government and for the development of their society, that in recognition of the fact the initial relationship was really not one which was put to the people, it is time for us to take the next step which we indeed have not in the 72 years since annexation was actually consummated.
Mr. AsPINALL. Of course, the people themselves have had nothing to say about their own government until Congress provided for the election of the members through the assembly, isn't that true.
Mrs. Mixk. Well, I don't know-I am not quite clear as to how their legislature became an elected body, and I would have to defer to the chairman in our research, and as I noted this morning, that was one area which we had not really determined except to note that their senate is still an appointed body as distinguished from their house of representatives which is elected.
Mr. ASPINALL. Then on page 6 you have a statement which bothers me a little bit. I just want your explanation.
American Samoa's present status is that of an unincorporated territory.
Is this your understanding, that they do at the present time as far as the relationship of the United States have a relationship of an unincorporated territory to the Government of the United States, or is it just more or less a relationship of one of a national country to a mother country without any designation of unincorporated territory?
Mrs. MINK. Well, I really can't respond to that except that the report issued by the Status Commission of American Samoans refer to themselves as being of that status. I realize that this committee has had many discussions as to the legal implications of the term.
Mr. AsPINALL. They are not in the same position, is what I am trying to Mrs. Mink. They are not. Mr. ASPINALL. As Guam or the Virgin Islands. Mrs. Mink. That is correct. Mr. ASPINALL. All right, thank you.