What Flag Is That, September 9, 2020

American Samoa. The unincorporated territory in the South Pacific Ocean. There are five main islands and it is the southernmost US territory. Almost the entire population is bilingual speaking English and Samoan.

The history of American Samoa includes that unfortunate word: ‘Colonization’. Basically in 1900 the US began to understand the strategic advantage of having a place for our military to hang out and which later turned into refueling stops on flights from Asia. So, in the tradition of how we stole the North American Continent, ‘we’ said to this group of islands and the people who lived there: ‘dibs…this is ours now.’

If you are born in American Samoa, you are not a US citizen, you are a ‘US National.’ There is a long process whereby you can become a citizen. American Samoa elects one non-voting delegate to the US congress.

Interesting factoids about American Samoa include: 1. It has the highest rate of military enlistment of any state or territory. 2. In 1918, when the Spanish Flu was devastating the rest of the world, the American Governor of the territory acted quickly and there were no deaths from the pandemic. 3. Samoans are the most disproportionately over represented ethic group in the National Football League.

The well designed flag was adopted in 1960. Previously they simply used the US Flag. It is composed of a red edged white triangle pointing towards the hoist, charged with a bald eagle clutching a war staff and a fly-whisk with dark blue upper and lower triangles.

The design of the flag incorporates a modified version of the seal of the territory. The items clutched by the eagle are from the seal. It is a staff which represents authority and a ‘fly switch’ which stands for wisdom. Both items are things that a Samoan Chief would carry.

It is in my collection because it is a well designed flag and is part of our history that not enough people recognize or understand.

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