The Samoan Studies Institute (SSl) at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) held its launching ceremony for the second volume of “Ua Tala le Ta’ui” on Tuesday, March 22nd. “’Ua Tala le Ta’ui is a book series which we began in 2009 with the first volume,” said SSI Director Mrs. Okenaisa Fauolo-Manila. “It’s a collection of oral traditions from the islands of American Samoa, and the stories then are either about how a village got its name or its village green (malae), or even about particular natural features such as the red corals or rocks with certain names like papa o Penuasua.”
With Teleiai Christian Ausage as principal researcher and writer, assisted by former SSI staff member and current third year student at Kanana Fou Seminary Mr. Apisaloma Toleafoa, 28 short stories were compiled from 13 villages, namely Vailoa, Faleniu, Aasu, Nuuuli, Fagaalu, Utulei, Fagatogo, Leloaloa, Fagasa, Aua, Afono, Vatia and Laulii. “The launch was basically our way to acknowledge and express gratitude to the community elders who shared with us the stories of their villages,” explained Mrs. Fauolo-Manila. When the stories had been gathered, Mrs. Sia Achica contributed English translations, the SSI staff as a whole had input into the initial configuration of the text, and Mrs. Fauolo-Manila made the final edit. The SSI director said the book is intended for a general reading, as a college text, and as a resource for anyone doing research.
The launch ceremony was attended by many community dignitaries, and ASCC faculty, staff, and administrators, including President Dr. Seth Galea’i. SSI Assistant Translator Mago Tipa got things underway with salutations, followed with a blessing by Rev. Iasepi Ulu of CCAS Fagatogo. ASCC Vice President of Administration and Finance Ti’a Dr. Mikaele Etuale made welcoming remarks, in which he highlighted the cultural significance of the new publication, and young men and women of the Student Association for Faasamoa (SAFF) performed a siva and pese composed especially for the occasion. Teleiai Christian Ausage gave a heartfelt acknowledgment of the storytellers, some of whom were present and others who were represented by family members. SAFF students presented the storytellers or their family members with the first copies of “Ua Tala le Ta’ui” to be received by the public.
Acknowledged storytellers who shared their village traditions were Afoa Moega Lutu (Utulei); Faumuina Tagisia (Leloaloa); Mailo Atonio Pio (Fagatogo); Tuiasina Salamo (Vailoa); Afuola Nanai Kalasa (Vatia); Tautai Aviata Faalevao (Fagaalu); Lili’o Alitai Lili’o (Fagasa); Sua Vaiuli Matautia (Afono); Vaimoana Faavetai Lavali (Laulii); Moafagatauolelatua T. Isaia (Faleniu); Aofetalaiga Lualemanafaiga (Aasu); Lauagaia Tago Fuataga Taufetee (Nuuuli); and Taealii Maria Toomalatai (Aua).
“The SSI has a research and publication component and the books we do are dictated by our mission statement.” reflected Mrs. Fauolo-Manila, who also mentioned that in addition to “Ua Tala le Ta’ui” the SSI has a second book series, a coloring book titled “Samoa Anamua.” “We have finished the second volume,” said the SSI Director. “There won’t be a launch, but it’s available for the general public through our office as well as the ASCC Book Store.”