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Manu’a Cession Day (in lieu) – July 16, 2023

Manu’a Cession Day (in lieu) on July 16 is a massive celebration. It is American Samoa’s acknowledgment and celebration of the date when the islands of Manu’a decided to join with the rest of American Samoa and become a U.S.-held territory. This public holiday is observed with a lot of fanfare and events and is a day off for everyone on this group of islands.

History of Manu’a Cession Day (in lieu)

The Samoan islands were formed approximately a million years ago by volcanic activity and were only discovered by Europeans in 1721 when a Dutch trader named Jacob Roggeveen stopped by on his route to another region to trade with the islanders. The islands were largely populated by various Polynesian tribes before the discovery — and subsequent entrance of additional Europeans. Historians believe that this location has one of the world’s earliest surviving Polynesian cultures, which arrived around 1,000 B.C.

The colonial powers began to covet this luxuriant region and its wealth almost two decades after its discovery. In the late 1800s, a conflict erupted amongst the main rivals — the Germans, the English, and the Americans — that would last until 1899, following a long civil war. Nine islands in the west were given to Germany, while the eastern islands became a U.S. colony and naval base. However, the High Chiefs of Manu’a islands did not wish to become a United States territory, even if they were to be incorporated — meaning a place where only select portions of the U.S. Constitution apply and which are not incorporated into the U.S. territory. So, the Manu’a High Chiefs opted out of this agreement, at least initially.

When they finally agreed to cede control, the region was governed by the U.S. Navy until 1951, after which it was supervised by the Department of the Interior (D.O.I.). Samoans from this region observe the day Manu’a swore allegiance to the U.S. with events, talks, and various activities each year.

Manu’a Cession Day (in lieu) timeline

1900
A Cluster Of Islands Divided

The Samoan islands of Tutuila and Aunu'u, along with other eastern islands, sign the Treaty of Cession of Tutuila and Aunu'u, becoming the U.S. unincorporated territory known as American Samoa.

1904
Allegiance to the U.S.

On July 16, the King of Manu'a, Tui Manu’a Elisara, signs an agreement — ‘The Deed of Cession of Manuʻa’ — agreeing that the Manu'a Islands would now be a part of American Samoa.

1929
It's Official

On February 20, the U.S. gives formal consent to the original treaty of American Samoa in 1900 — the ‘Treaty of Cession of Tutuila and Aunu'u’ — and the ‘Treaty of Cession of Manu'a’ with the Ratification Act of 1929.

1967
Making Their Own Path

American Samoa adopts its own constitution this year, holding the first constitutional elections a decade later.

1983
A Public Holiday

Manu’a Cession Day becomes a public holiday in American Samoa, and the first celebration has parades, church services, and even cultural activities.

2004
A Samoan Honor

A proud Samoan from his mother's side, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson has another title to add to his list — Seiuli — which is bestowed upon him by His Highness the Head of State, Malietoa Tanumafili II for Johnson's service towards the Samoan people.

Manu’a Cession Day (in lieu) FAQs

Does American Samoa celebrate the Fourth of July?

Yes, American Samoa does celebrate the Fourth of July as Independence Day, in keeping with their close relationship with the U.S.

Is American Samoa a country?

American Samoa is not a country but an unincorporated overseas territory of the U.S.

Do American Samoa pay taxes?

Native American Samoans are not required to file U.S. taxes in most cases. The territory has its own taxation department and policies.

Manu’a Cession Day (in lieu) Activities

  1. Discover American Samoa and Manu'a

    Between the tropical landscape, the fascinating age-old culture, and the different customs, American Samoa has a lot of ground worth exploring. You can read articles, watch documentaries, and talk to people who boast this heritage.

  2. Try a few Samoan cultural activities

    Maybe it's learning the language. Maybe it could be tasting your way through popular Samoan cuisine. Or maybe, it could simply be hearing traditional Samoan music. Connect with and immerse yourself with a new culture in any way you prefer, and you can even get friends and family involved!

  3. Learn about America's unincorporated territories

    While you're researching American Samoa, spare a thought to the various U.S. territories that are unincorporated. Learning about their history and what makes them different can be a wonderful experience. And who knows, it might just be fodder for planning your next vacation.

5 Cool Facts About Manu’a And American Samoa

  1. American Samoa is called 'football island'

    The islands have produced many major football players, and more than 30 players in the National Football League are from here, while almost 200 play Divisional N.C.A.A. Football.

  2. They're nationals but not citizens

    Unlike other unincorporated U.S. territories, American Samoans are not automatically U.S. citizens but are only U.S. nationals.

  3. The Tui Manu'a title isn't around anymore

    The title the king of Manu'a once held — Tui Manu'a — is not to be used anymore under an understanding between the U.S. and Tui Manu’a Elisara, the king of Manu'a when they signed the Deed of Cession of Manuʻa in 1904.

  4. They chose to remain with the U.S

    When the U.N. offered them a chance to reunite with the Independent States of Samoa in 1966, American Samoa refused, instead choosing to stay a territory of the U.S.

  5. Their location is unique too

    They're the only U.S. territory, unincorporated or otherwise, that is south of the equator.

Why We Love Manu’a Cession Day (in lieu)

  1. It's a biodiverse rich archipelago

    The area is a veritable treasure trove of ecological wonders. They have the world's largest coral, a fish diversity so diverse that even if you dive every day for 15 years, you'll see a new species, and an abundance of native plant and bird species.

  2. We learn new stuff too

    Like the fact that with every passing year, the Pacific plate the Samoa volcano is on moves three inches toward China. In 1,000,000 years, American Samoa will actually be 50 miles closer to the Asian continent!

  3. We're glimpsing an ancient culture

    Their Polynesian roots are among the world's oldest — about 3,000 years old — and their culture is still alive and well today. Even as they are inspired by American music, movies, food, and television, their traditions and culture have an impact on how people on these islands live today.

Manu’a Cession Day (in lieu) dates

YearDateDay
2023July 16Sunday
2024July 16Tuesday
2025July 16Wednesday
2026July 16Thursday
2027July 16Friday

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