Forming part of Polynesia, American Samoa is 64 km to the west of Samoa and is an unincorporated territory of the United States. Although it shares common myths, traditions and environmental characteristics with the rest of the archipelago, American Samoa has remained separate from Western Samoa since the end of the nineteenth century. This has led to a cultural divide between the two regions, with American Samoans tending to emigrate to the US and adopt American customs, whereas Western Samoans have largely emigrated to New Zealand and adopted the local customs there.War has had a deep cultural impact on American Samoa; during WWII, the number of US Marines in Samoa outnumbered the local population. During this period, a significant number of young male Samoans were enlisted by the US military to serve in various capacities during WWII.
These islands have experienced drastic effects due to colonialism, illustrated clearly inPaul Theroux’s book, The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific, which explores the Americanisation of American Samoa.Albert Wendt is one of the Pacific's most distinguished writers, having written many poems, novels, short stories as well as being a strong advocate of Pacific literature. His epic masterpiece Leaves of the Banyan Tree (1979) spans three generations and is considered a modern classic. Containing elements of traditional mysticism and symbolism, the novel explores the effects of colonisation on traditional culture.
Sia Figiel is an award-winning contemporary Samoan novelist, poet and painter. Her novel Where We Once Belonged has been awarded the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for fiction in the South East Asian/South Pacific region and her works have been translated into many languages.Lemi Ponifasio is a leading choreographer who is now based in New Zealand. Ponifasio's works show a concern with spirituality and combine traditional elements of ceremony and dance with contemporary elements. Ponifasio also deals with political issues in her works; her 2001 piece Tempestis concerned with human rights.Michel Tuffery is a renowned printmaker, painter and sculptor who has become famous for his 1994 work Pisup lua afe - made from flattened and riveted recycled corned beef tins - which was influenced by his Polynesian heritage.