Learn More about How This U.S. Territory Is Governed
The American Samoa Government is the dominant force in the territory’s life. The government is similar to a U.S. state government, with a governor and a legislature comprised of a popularly elected House and a Senate made up of traditional chiefs. Until 1977, the governor was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Interior, but local elections have been held since that time.
Scholars and lawsuits continue to debate and adjudicate the applicability of various U.S. Constitutional provisions in American Samoa, as well as questions of federal jurisdiction in the territory. Persons born in American Samoa are considered U.S. nationals, not U.S. Citizens.
American Samoa has its own judicial system, including a High Court (and High Court appeals court), District Court, Family Court, and Land and Titles Court. The closest U.S. District Court is in Hawaii, but the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. also has jurisdiction over some activities in American Samoa.