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Samoan Houses – Pic of the Week

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Black and white photograph of a traditional Samoan house taken in the early 20th century
“Samoan house” – date unknown (possibly 1900s to 1920s). Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Talofa! The 49th anniversary of Samoa‘s Independence Day took place this week on June 1.  In honor of this event, I thought I’d share a couple of pictures from the Library of Congress collections and from my own trip (back in time) to Samoa in 2006.

A traditional Samoan house stands next to the ocean. It consists of wood beams standing in a circle holding up a thatched dome roof. There are no permanent walls and the house is open all around.
Photo of a traditional Samoan house, taken by the author in 2006. A house is called a “fale” (pronounced fah-leh) in Samoan.

The country previously known as Western Samoa (the change to just “Samoa” occurred in 1997) became independent on January 1, 1962 – although Independence Day is celebrated June 1.  Prior to this it had been administered by New Zealand under a League of Nations mandate.  This followed the capture of the country (on Britain’s behalf) from Germany in 1914 at the start of World War I.  Germany, Britain, and the United States had previously agreed to formally partition the Samoan archipelago into German Samoa and American Samoa through a treaty signed in 1899.

This week is also Samoan Language Week in New Zealand – Samoan is the third most spoken language there!

Comments (2)

  1. This is an atoll booth. (Sorry – couldn’t help myself.)

  2. Thank you for sharing this. One of these days, it would certainly be worth visiting the Library of Congress to appreciate the ‘pacific’ collection from our homes, then.

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