Lano village dancers ill-treatment in American Samoa denied

Samoan women performing the ma'ulu'ulu action dance

APIA: The Land and Titles Court decision on Lano village’s case, is cited as the reason why the villages dancers and entertainers ran into difficulties in American Samoa.

The group was in the territory last month for the Flag Day celebrations and were to be hosted by Pavaia’i village.

However, the village cancelled their offer to host when the Court decision went against the minority side that they supported in Lano village in Savai’i. The victors in the case were the village chiefs and orators.

The problem became public when the Lano entertainers arrived in American Samoa and there was no one to host them.

Governor Togiola Tulafono said in a statement that Lano was not officially invited to the Flag Day celebrations, but because they (Lano) requested to be part of the celebrations, Togiola and the Organising Committee then conceded.

However, no village wanted to host the Lano village entertainers.

According to reports from American Samoa, Tolofua Leiataua, the Minister of Internal Affairs who co-chairs Samoa’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations Organising Committee, said that it was a last minute decision to accept Lano but were left in a ‘limbo’ when the Committee could not guarantee a host for them.

In Apia, Tolofua said the request for two villages to be part of American Samoa’s celebration was forwarded to Cabinet hence the decision to sent Lano from Savai’i and Saleaumua from Upolu. It was also finalised that the village of Pavaia’i in American Samoa would host Lano.

However, Lano was divided into two sub villages at the time of their preparation for American Samoa, one led by the Alii ma Faipule and the other led by a minority group.

The village’s internal frictions ended up in Court that ruled in favor of the Alii ma Faipule side. When the village of Pavaia’i heard that the Alii ma Faipule has won, they deiced to cancel their hosting of Lano.

“Pavaia’i’s connections to Lano was through the minority group who lost the case,” said Tolofua.

When Lano arrived in American Samoa, they had no host. However, “a son of Lano who has lived in American Samoa for many years stepped in and offered to host the group.”

With one problem solved, another arose. Forty one members of the Lano group were stranded on the wharf when Immigration officials in American Samoa could not find their names on the list of passengers for the return trip. The stranded passengers waited around at the wharf for days until they had no choice but to return to their host. They returned to Samoa last Thursday.

The complaints from Lano that they were ill treated have been denied by Tolofua.

“They were well looked after,” said Tolofua.

“It was an unfortunate circumstance but through the efforts of the Samoa Shipping Corporation and American Samoa immigration, the problem was solved,” he said.

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