This month, we celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month!

In National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, fa'a Samoa – or the Samoan way of life – is the cultural context for all sanctuary activities and functions. Fa'a-Samoa places great importance on the dignity and achievements of the group rather than individuals. Here, a group from the island of Ta'u practices for the annual Flag Day fautasi (longboat) regatta. 

(Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA) 


Every year American Samoans celebrate Flag Day, which is to commemorate the year they became a territory of the United States. It’s a huge deal and everyone decorates their houses, repaints bus stops and other buildings, and gets ready for the most monumental moment: the fautasti boat race. A fautasi boat is basically just a long rowing boat. Some boats hold up to 40 rowers. Most of the villages have their own boat so everyone is extremely territorial and supportive of their respective boat. This year the village I stay in, Utulei, hosted a boat from Western Samoa called Don Bosco. It was the only boat that was still wooden and not fiber glass and it was also the only boat with a female captain. On the day of the race Nikki, Allison, and I decided to climb Mount Alava to get the best vantage point to watch the race. Unfortunately, the race was cancelled because the waves were too large and actually sunk two of the boats (whoops), but it was still a great hike and a beautiful day to enjoy the weather. Manulele Tausala (Nu’uuli’s boat) ended up winning the rescheduled race!