Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Robert Donmoyer, Chair; Fred McFarlane; Kenneth Galea'I


Social sciences, American Samoa, Chiefs, Responsibilities, Village, Village Council of Chiefs


The study examined the leadership roles of chiefs in the Council of Chiefs System (Nu'u o ali'i fa'amatai) within the contemporary traditional culture structure of one village in American Samoa. To provide an understanding of the Council of Chiefs cultural system in this village in American Samoa, the study examined and described Samoan chiefs' duties and responsibilities within the culture; considered how the Council of Chiefs System operates in the village structure; and examined how the chiefs are selected and what criteria are used in the selection process. Chiefs from this village have also served as leaders within the official government structure in the Territory that is modeled after the governmental structure of the United States.

The researcher interviewed 16 out of 38 chiefs who were residing in the village during the time of the study. Interviewees were purposefully selected from the 38 chiefs in the village to ensure that chiefs with various statuses were adequately represented in the group that was studied.

The study revealed that chiefs in the Samoan culture are leaders of extended families and the extended families' representatives on the Village Council of Chiefs. This Council plays a very important role in the operation of the village; in effect, it is the local government. In addition to functioning as a local government official, chiefs also had many duties and responsibilities within their extended families, including serving as custodian and trustee of family communal land.

This study should be of interest to non-Samoans concerned with leadership; this group includes Western leaders, administrators, and researchers who study leadership. The study should also be of interest to Samoans who have been raised abroad and who may not be familiar with American Samoa culture, in general, and the leadership roles of the Council of Chiefs operating within a village setting, in particular.

Document Type

Dissertation: USD Users Only