The past does not define who we are in the present, but our roots do play an immense role in the identity we forge for the future. Throughout the Samoan people's history, it seems that we were primarily known for a few staple characteristics, such as:
We were voyagers who traveled the world by sea and used the stars as our map! How cool is that? Thanks to the Disney movie, "Moana", modern Polynesians are able to witness a visual that is easy to connect to when it came to our prior source of transportation.
These "sea people" were alone in the ocean and the whole culture was surrounded by creative techniques leveraging the vast waters to their advantage.
Their technology for navigation and sailing would change how the rest of the world would colonize throughout the ocean forever.
So our "diet" and taste for meat has definitley transitioned from humans to a more family friendly palate.
I would say , for this portion of our people's history, we wouldn't mind pressing the erase button on, but I'm pretty sure every race has experienced the same feeling at some point about their past.
However, the reason why cannabilism was encouraged was because it was a sign of victory against enemies in war. Samoa, along with other islands (Tonga, Fiji, Tahiti, Hawaii, etc.) practiced the same customs whenever they conquered one another's territories.
Although it was a violent and extreme measure to announce their dominance, it was an act they simply did for the pride and love of their countries.
With that being said, don't get on an Islander's bad side. We've mellowed out a lot.
Speaking of wartime, Samoans were known to be some of the most fearless, valiant, and savage fighters in this region of the world. Very similar to the stature Gladiators had in Greece.
Their weapons were all hand-made with materials from the islands they lived to protect:
Fa'alaufa'l War Clubs (Bones from animals), Throwing Spears (Wood), Bow & Arrow (Wood), Olo Moe (Bone, Stone, or Metal).
Other than their weapons, their undying passion and drive to fight with their all is what truly sets them a part in a battle.
Even to this day, in the United States, Samoa has the highest rate of enlistment of any U.S. State or territory. Majority of our people use the military to gain citizenship into the U.S.
However, due to their reputation of "anger" problems and aggression from Western society, I feel as though the U.S. also uses these traits to their own advantage... But that's another story for a different day.
With worldly strength put aside, there is something else seeded in the people of Samoa that has brought them more power that their physical bodies could ever provide: Le Atua.
On Flag Day: April 17th, 1900.
The official seal of Samoa was established with the winning motto of "Samoa, MuaMua Le Atua", translating to "Samoa, Let God Be First".
Now it would be logical to say that this had been changed due to when Missionaries arrived to the islands in the early 1800's spreading their version of Christianity.
What many don't realize or are even aware about is that Christianity was already present before Missionaries washed ashore.
<<For more about this subject and the true history of how Samoa transitioned from paganism to our roots in Christianity: Links, documents, and detailed explanation can be further explained by my uncle, Iosua Ioene Fanene. He has been conducting thorough research for 2 years (and still going) on the Samoan history with other archaelogists and historians from around the world to uncover lost traces of our ancestral orgins.>>
To continue on with what provides the Samoan (and all Polynesian) people with distinct spirit they grasp is not from their own doing, but from One that is divine and all knowing.
Through times of great distress, uncertainty, and pain - engraved into our minds we know that the One source we can run towards for stability is Le Atua.
He is what brings that unique glow of love, passion, and unity to the Polynesian community.
This became so much clearer to me these past few weeks with the pandemic that has struck the world. That even during a time that has brought across fear and anxiety, I am blessed to have seeds of faith carved into my heart because of my heritage.
To all my fellow Samoans and Islanders: Do not forget where you came from and who you are. Western society and our old ways must find a middle ground in order to keep progressing our people towards improvement, but never leave behind the One who started it all!
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction".