Land laws in Pacific U.S. territories examined in new book

Photo Credit: 
Monica Miller
BOOK LAUNCH: Dr. Line Memea Kruse in American Samoa.

(SAMOA) — A book that examines land rights and laws in five U.S. territories in the Pacific, was launched over the weekend at Tradewinds Hotel in American Samoa.

Today, May 7, the book's Author Dr. Line Memea Kruse will lead a seminar in which she'll discuss the new title — "The Pacific Insular Case of American Samoa: Land Rights and Laws in Unincorporated U.S. Territories" — at the National University of Samoa.

The event is part of the Seminar & Film Series hosted by the Centre for Samoan Studies at NUS.

"Prior to American Samoa becoming an unincorporated and unorganized territory of the United States, virtually all land in Tutuila, Aunu'u and Manu'a was held communally under the pule of the matai," the CSS explains in a statement.

"Dr. Kruse's archival research of land disputes and High Court decisions since 1890s unfold the introduction of adverse possession principles to resolve land disputes."

Adverse possession principles evolved into a judicially created anomaly in land tenure — "individually owned lands."

"A land tenure classification that apportions communal lands restricts access and usage for cultural purposes and destructures the fa'amatai system," the statement continues. "

The book examines the political, legal, social and historical changes in American Samoa's land laws.

Also dissected in the book are U.S. Supreme Court decisions over all five territories; citizenship and the impacts to communal land tenure and the fa'amatai system within the unique federal-territorial status.

Dr. Kruse holds a Ph.D. from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa and is currently a lecturer at Brigham Young University-Hawai'i teaching Political Science and Religion. She also teaches American Studies at Honolulu Community College.

Dr. Kruse is a former Faculty of Arts World History lecturer at NUS and freelance writer for the Samoa Observer.

Meet the author 12 p.m. at the Seminar Room of Niule'a Building at the NUS campus.