"The stories shared here embraced the significance of knowing who we are and where we came from."

The aggregation of five volcanic islands known as Samoa came into the light of modern history in 1900 when the US flag was raised there, signifying Samoa’s new status as an American protectorate. But Samoa embodies a much earlier culture, lore, and legend. Interwoven in the descriptions of places in this guide are old photos showing how the islands appeared at the earliest incursion of foreigners along with vivid color illustrations of modern-day attractions. The collection begins in the village of Fagatogo on the island of Tutuila, one of the most naturally protected harbors in the Pacific. Its name denotes the mangrove trees that used to grow in the bay, but which were later uprooted for a wharf and coaling station by the US Naval Administration. Another example among the places described is the village of Leona, named after an ancient famine time. Leona is important to the native political structure and carries memories of a mysterious ringing sound that used to be heard in the nearby mountains.

A production of the Amerika Samoa Humanities Council, this attractive book bears no single authorship. It seems to have been created with a twofold purpose: to serve as a guide for any newcomer wishing to visit Samoa and to awaken civic and cultural pride among the regions’ indigenous population. Composed in a highly organized manner, each section focuses on a village on the islands. Current attractions—parks, hotels, scenic features—are helpfully featured along with the traditional folk memories of each locale which comprise intriguing recollections of the cultural practices and beliefs of Native Samoans stemming from pre-modern times. This eye-catching volume in its large, coffee-table format contains a wealth of fascinating facts about a land that is modern with facilities built and maintained by the US, but which still retains echoes of an alluringly mystical past.

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