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The Pacific Insular Case of American Sāmoa: Adverse Land Possession, Individually Owned Land, and the Future of American Sāmoa

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Item Summary

Title:The Pacific Insular Case of American Sāmoa: Adverse Land Possession, Individually Owned Land, and the Future of American Sāmoa
Authors:Kruse, Line-Noue
Keywords:adverse land possession
individually owned lands
U.S. Navy
political status
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Date Issued:May 2016
Publisher:[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2016]
Abstract:The February 19, 1900, General Order No. 540 of the United States Naval Department was enacted vis-à-vis Executive Order No.125-A, thus placing the ‘Sāmoan1 Group’ under the control of the Naval Department. The Naval Department had supreme legislative, executive, and judicial power over the Sāmoan Group with the intention of expanding the United States Naval Station in the Pago Pago harbor of Tutuila.
The Naval Administration instituted American real estate laws alongside traditional Sāmoan land tenure laws in American Sāmoa.4 One of the significant real estate laws introduced was adverse land possession. This land ownership right was determined to be a milestone of enlightened western jurisprudence for land issues where Sāmoan customary laws were deemed insufficient and without merit. The evolution of adverse land possession principles in American Sāmoa has worked to erode the traditional communal land tenure system and fa’asāmoa culture by laying the groundwork for individually owned land rights. This type of land classification is incongruent with the Sāmoan communal land tenure system. This dissertation will examine the early Naval Court decisions and the incorporation of adverse land possession rights that has evolved into the individually owned land classification in American Sāmoa.
The system of classifying land as individually owned takes away precious land holdings from communal tenureship, which is not regulated or monitored by the American Sāmoa Territorial Registrar. Since the Naval Court decisions more and more lands have become individually owned, a trend that has damaged the communal land holding system and the fa’asāmoa culture. Preserving what remains of traditional land tenure cannot be achieved without examining the political and legal relationships between American Sāmoa and the U.S. This dissertation will analyze these relationships to recommend practical alternatives to shelter Sāmoan cultural institutions within the American body-politic.
Description:Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2016.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - American Studies

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