Samoan Culture: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

Talofa! That's the way to say hello or to greet someone in Samoan. In this lesson, you'll learn about the culture of the Samoan people, including what they eat, how they live, and what they believe is most important.

Fa'a Samoa!

Samoa is an island country in the Pacific Ocean, about halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii in the area of the world known as Polynesia. The islands of Upolu and Savai'i, and eight much smaller islands, make up Samoa. Samoans believe that the god Tagaloa created these islands.

Samoan Beach
beach

People have lived on these islands for over 3,000 years. There is a strong love of history and culture among the Samoan people. They call this Fa'a Samoa, which is a philosophy of life that focuses on traditions. It means to do things in the way that your ancestors did them. Fa'a Samoa has three parts: the matai (chiefs), aiga (family), and the churches.

The Matai

In Samoa, the chiefs who lead the society are called matai. These men have responsibilities to their families and are also political leaders in their village. There are about 18,000 matai in Samoa, divided among 362 villages. Matai are chosen because of their leadership skills.

The Aiga

If you were a Samoan, your aiga would include your brothers and sisters, parents, grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles. The extended family lives together in their village. Taking care of your family, or aiga, is extremely important. Samoans live with their aiga and share the land owned by the group.

The Church

Religion is also very important in Samoan culture. Missionaries brought Christianity to Samoa almost 200 years ago and now most Samoans are Christians. Each village has many churches. Their national emblem includes a cross as well as a coconut palm and the ocean. The national motto of Samoa is ''Samoa is founded on God.''

Samoan Traditions

One of the most famous Samoan traditions is the kava ceremony. Kava is a drink that Samoans make from the roots of the pepper plant.

Traditional Kava Ceremony
kava

Kava is so important that all important visitors to Samoa are greeted with the kava ceremony, in which this traditional drink is shared. Government meetings and meetings of the matai always start with this ceremony.

Samoan Language

The language spoken in Samoa is called Samoan. It's very similar to other languages that are spoken in Polynesia. Children learn to speak both native Samoan and English in school.

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