Fa'afofoga Sāmoa : 'ua sāunoa mai tua'ā i tiasā the ancestors are speaking

Hannemann, Susan Eve
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2013]
A story that is often presented as history is dependent upon not only accumulated data, but also on three other key factors, the position of the writer, the reason he or she is writing the story, and finally the intended audience. These factors have a direct effect on the telling or the writing of any history (Terence Wesley-Smith 2009, pers. Comm.; Greg Denning 1989). In presenting the oral-turned-written history of the Anoalo line of the Young family of the Tuimanu'a, and illuminating the differences between the knowledge of the Western and the knowing of the Samoan, this paper shows the value in multiple views of history told through the multi-colored and multi-faceted lenses of the guardians of that history. Indeed, if we were to say that there is only one story, or that all histories must agree, we would be fooling ourselves. Memory is selective. How and what we remember is both selective and subjective. Moreover, how we view that event is affected by our constructs, and, literally, by where we are sitting or standing as an event unfolds. Thus if we have ten people from ten different backgrounds viewing an event. from ten different positions, there will be ten different versions of that event. An issue therefore is not that there are ten different versions, but that there is one version which will be chosen to be published and become canon. Does this make the other nine versions less valid simply because one has been privileged above them? The purpose of this paper is two-fold. It is written with the intent of re-examining the extant written history of Manu'a and to privilege the oral-turned-written history of the Young family of the Anoalo or male line of the Tuimanu'a2 through their own family 'api or books of genealogical writings. When Samoans became literate, they began to keep written historic records in these notebooks. Many were dictated by the keepers of the family's oral traditions and tended to follow a similar island-wide format containing creation stories, family genealogies, legends, and generally all the oral knowledge that families consider significant. The second purpose of this paper is to illuminate and show how the history of Sāmoa can be divergent, especially when filtered through the eyes and ears of Westerners and even other family members. In order to do this, it is necessary to look at the historiography through which Westerners, as outsiders, recorded history and to juxtapose it with the historiography of the oral-turned-written tradition of the Samoan 'api format. The documents in my possession consist of portions of a handwritten copy of the original 'api, or notebooks, which were dictated, by Tauānu'u3 to Tuimanu'a Matelita Young, who held the title from 1890 until her untimely death in 1895. These 'api were copied and augmented by her younger brother Tuimanu'a Taliutafa Le'iesilika (Chris) Young Sr., as well as his son Le'iesilika Young Jr., and Le'iesilika Sr.'s granddaughter, Emily Young.
M.A. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2013.
Includes bibliographical references.
Manu'a, Tuimanu'a, noalo, Taliutafa
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