History of the Territory

History of the Territory

Learn More about the History of U.S. Involvement with American Samoa

The confluence of traditional Samoan culture, U.S. influence, and international interests has connected us with a diverse group of clients from all corners of Oceania and beyond. It also makes American Samoa a fascinating place to practice law.

The islands of American Samoa became a U.S. territory in 1900 through a voluntary deed of cession. The territory was governed and administered by the U.S. Navy from 1900 to 1951. After 1951, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Insular Affairs Office has held oversight responsibility for American Samoa.

Populated by about 60,000 people, this far-flung corner of America is located in the South Pacific Ocean near the Independent State of Samoa (formerly Western Samoa) and other island countries (e.g., Tonga, Fiji, Cook Islands).

American Samoa’s status as “unorganized” means that Congress has not passed an Organic Act to create American Samoa or the American Samoa Government. Its status as “unincorporated” means that the full range of federal law and constitutional protections are not incorporated into the territory’s legal system.