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Samoans were renown through the Pacific for their seafaring culture and thus was named the Navigator Islands by the first European visitors upon witnessing first hand the Samoan people's seafaring skills. The Samoan people and culture form a vital link and stepping stone in the formation and spread of the Polynesian culture, language and religion throughout Eastern Polynesia. A Polynesian culture of trade, religion, war, colonialism are important identifying markers within the Polynesian culture that almost certainly formed its roots within the Samoan culture.

Samoa's colonial history with the kingdom of Tonga, Fiji and French Polynesia forming the impases for what is the modern Polynesian cultural marker points. Matai , otherwise known as the head of the family and extended family, is a very important figure in the Samoan culture.

There are many aspects that go into fully understanding the term Matai , such as how one is elected and what their role is. The election of a Matai is a lengthy process that can last up to several weeks and is often a highly competitive race. In this race different branches from each family put forth a male candidate, accompanied by reasons why he would be a good candidate.

However, if the son of a matai meets these requirements, he is typically given a major edge in the race. The election of a matai is under the guidance of another matai who is related to the family, allowing for a fair election. Once a new matai is chosen, a feast is thrown for the family, followed by a bigger feast for the whole village at a later date. At the larger feast, the matai is expected to give a traditional inaugural speech, displaying his abilities to speak publicly, his wisdom and retelling of Samoan myths. The newly elected matai is expected to host a village wide feast where he is tasked with providing food for the meal, as well as getting the other matais gifts.

Once this task is completed the newly elected matai is officially considered the matai of his household and will hold the position for the rest of his life, should he lead correctly. In certain cases where a matai is deemed cruel or ineffective, the title is stripped and a new matai is elected. However, a more often occurrence is the current matai becoming elderly or ill and requesting that a new matai be elected in order for there to be a more stable and effective leadership in place.

The role of a matai is a very large and important one. He is expected to provide leadership in all aspects of family life. He encourages warm family relations, offers advice, directs religious participation, and oversees disputes.

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As well as watching over the family land and representing the family in village affairs. Overall, a matai must have different demeanor than everyone else, especially other males in the family. Matai's are also in charge of economic situations. For example, a matai must manage the amount of food his family brings in and must stores one away for when times are hard. While chiefs, talking chiefs and matais all have a title, there are men in the village that are untitled. These men are placed in a group titled the aumaga. These men are the labor core of the community as they perform most the hard labor.

American Samoa

The aumaga are tasked with building houses, repairing roads, planting and harvesting the garden, fishing and cutting coconut meat and selling it. The aumaga also have ceremonial responsibilities, such as helping the chief in ritual cooking and serving the food at ceremonies. They also serve as informal keepers of peace, interacting with each other as a large group of friends. They often play cards, cricket or gather for dances and parties with each other. The Aumaga are under control of a relative of the chief, called the manaia , who helps organize the aumaga and plan their activities.

Despite not always being the true son of the chief, the manaia is still referred to as son by the chief. The main leader of each individual household is named the Aiga of the family. One person, predominately a male figure, is elected to become the Aiga of his extended family. Elections take place after the former Aiga has died or is no longer to fulfill his duties, either for ethical reasonings or old age. Elections are a long and strenuous process for members of the extended family. For one portion of the family is going up against the other portion, leading to tensions within the whole family.

Each Aiga is the owner of their family's land. On that piece of land, extended families live, grow crops, cook and do other household chores. Also on that piece of land is where another elected member resides, the Matai.

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Due to the large amount of households within a single village, there are a large amount of Aiga. So much so that some are able to trace back their Aiga timeline over a dozen different Aiga. The reasoning for the large amount of Aigas is that the title could be claimed through blood ties, marriage, and adoption. It is possible, as the natives suggest, that the Samoan Islands were settled some time before BC and that the original settlement predates the arrival of those to whom the pottery was culturally relevant.

It is also generally a wide spread Cultural belief throughout Samoa that the Island's were the central base point for the beginning of the great voyages, the Polynesian expansion to the East and South. The voyages still spoken of in ancient Polynesian Chieftain Oratory poetics lauga are called 'Taeao'; a recalling of past histories and contacts within the Polynesian archipelago by Samoan Oral High Chiefs. Early contact with Europeans was established in the 18th century.

Christianity was formally introduced with the arrival of L. Christian missionaries in August The western islands became German Samoa.

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Western Samoa regained its independence on January 1, In it formally changed its name to Samoa. Marriage ceremonies are considered important within the Samoan culture. Marriage involves the transfer of property of the female property, the toga, to the male property the oloa. It is a village event, with two ceremonies and a feast at the conclusion. In the first ceremony, the bride and groom march through the village to a district judge.

The judge then conducts a civil ceremony. Concluding that official ceremony, the newlyweds next gather in a church where a religious ceremony is performed by a member of the church.

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At a feast, families provide food from all over the village. After the conclusion of the wedding, the newlyweds choose which side of the family they would like to live with. After moving in with a particular family, they are expected to do work around the land and the house to help provide for their family.

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When families have children, they too are expected to help with duties and chores around the land. However, they are not expected to do much until ages three or four. The young girls take care of other children and housework, while the boys help with cultivation, animals and water gathering.

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By the time the children reach the age of seven or eight, they are supposed to know and are acclimated to the life and chores of the Samoan culture. This includes being adept in "agriculture, fishing, cooking, and child care" [10] to go along with a multitude of other chores that their elders have directed them to do in past. As the Samoan people age the most tasks they are given and the most responsibilities they hold, until they can take over fully for the aging members of their extended family.

When a member of extended family dies, the funeral preparations start almost immediately. The deceased body is bathed and dressed in white.

They are placed on woven mats before the funeral less than hours later. A feast concludes the event, with food being served to mourners and people who helped with the burial. Other family members take over the responsibilities of the deceased while still serving their own personal chores around the land. The elected Matai of the community is the controller of every portion of a village land.

The village Matai says what cultivators will do with land and "hold sway over allocation of plots and the ways in which those plots are used. This is to avoid it being controlled by one family for a long period of time. There are four categories that land is divided: Village house lots is where individual houses or huts of single person or family lives. These houses are built in clusters. The clusters include multiple different aspects, but all look the same. Each house includes a main sleeping house, a guest house and a latrine.

The underbrush covers the entirety of the land. Federated States of Micronesia: Federated States of Micronesia This diverse country stretches for thousands of miles and has the diversity to prove it, including the people from Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Yap among others. Samoa Among the most famous of the South Pacific's many countries, Samoa sits in the heart of Polynesia and has a culture to match.

Most dating in Samoa is done by the man visiting a girl in the presence of her family.

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During these interactions gifts and presents are presented to the girl's family and communication is either done in the presence of her family or through a soa , which is a communicator; one for each of the two "dating. If a young man tries to spend time alone with a girl, her male relatives will often take matters into their own hands so dating without a chaperone is very uncommon.

The first marriage ceremony in Samoa is generally a civil ceremony, which makes the marriage legal, then about a week later a church ceremony is often undertaken. In some areas couples will live together and even have children prior to these marriages; something that was once very common so long as they had their families' approval , but today is becoming rarer. Your Guide to Samoa: Despite the official civil and church weddings, many people don't consider the marriage complete until their first child is born, at which time some families will exchange a mostly symbolic dowry.