Manu’a Cession Day
Observed annually on July 16th, Manu’a Cession Day is a public holiday that commemorates the islands of Manu’a becoming a part of American Samoa on this date in 1904. It’s a holiday that has been observed for over 118 years but only became a public holiday in the early 1980s.
This is also when the first official celebration was held in the Manu’a Islands. Today, this day is a public holiday, so people have a general day off, and government agencies, as well as some businesses, are closed for the day. This day is celebrated with cultural activities of all sorts that engage both the local population and tourists alike.
The History of Manu’a Cession Day in American Samoa
During the 19th century, Germany and the U.S. agreed to partition the Samoan Islands, an archipelago that covers approximately 1,170 square miles in the South Pacific. The western portion of the archipelago came under German control, and the eastern portion came under U.S. control. On April 17, 1900, the U.S. portion of the islands became the unincorporated territory known as American Samoa.
Some of the High Chiefs of Manu’a did not wish to cede their islands to the U.S. under this agreement, so they decided to opt out. However, four years later, the King of Manu’a, Tui Manu’a Elisara, signed a Deed of Cession to the U.S. This deed swore allegiance to the United States and ceded the Manu’a Islands as a protectorate of the U.S.
Since the cession of Manu’a, July 16th has been observed as an unofficial holiday by the local population. It wasn’t until 1983 that the holiday would become an official public holiday in the Manu’a Islands.
Observing Manu’a Cession Day in American Samoa
On the Manu’a Islands of American Samoa, this holiday is celebrated with a number of activities. There’s usually a parade and a church service to commemorate the day. There’s also a flag-raising ceremony, as well as a speech by the Governor of the islands.