18 Sep 2013

Move in American Samoa to re-open registration of chiefly titles

10:00 am on 18 September 2013

There has been another move in the Fono in American Samoa to reopen the registration of chiefly or matai titles.

A bill is now before the House of Representatives that, if enacted into law, will reopen the matai title registration for a period of six months next year.

Current statute states that every matai in American Samoa must have registered his title and designated name with the Territorial Registrar before 1969.

Similar amendments have been proposed in the past, including one introduced in 2011, but none made it out of the committee stage.

The push to reopen registration comes because several matai titles currently vacant or being used today were not registered by the January 1969 deadline.

More than six years ago, some traditional leaders argued that re-opening the registration period will allow new chiefly titles that were never part of a family clan to be registered.

A House committee hearing is set for later this week to hear testimonies on the bill.