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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (February 5, 1999 - Samoa News)---American Samoa has gathered more than 8,000 signatures for its petition drive in hopes of overturning the U.S. Postal Commission's decision not to issue a Centennial stamp commemorating the 100 years since the U.S. Flag was raised here.

The Postal Commissioner informed the Tauese Administration in August of last year that the request for a postal stamp had been rejected because the U.S. Postal Service does not issue postal stamps for U.S. Territories.

Neither Governor Tauese Sunia nor the people of American Samoa and those supportive of a postal stamp for the Territory were going to take that reply lying down.

Instead, the Governor appointed DOC/Tourism Office Marketing Manager Moepologa John Pereira the task of gathering signatures for a petition that would be taken directly to postal officials, or even to President Clinton.

Since the kick-off of the petition drive, Moepologa told Samoa News yesterday that the official count as of early this week is 8,200 signatures. These are signatures from government employees, schools and the private sector.

This count, however, does not include a separate petition which was given to the canneries and a petition which was signed by tourists who arrived on various cruise ships.

Additionally, this count does not include off-island signatures from Hawai‘i and the mainland.

Moepologa said the final count locally should be compiled today and they will start shipping the signatures to the mainland in preparation for presentation of the petition to the federal government, reportedly by Governor Tauese.

"It does not matter whether you are a U.S. citizen or a U.S. national as long as the person believes in our cause," Moepologa explained. "And the tourists who arrived off the cruise ships have been very favorable in supporting our cause."

Although the Postal Commission rejected American Samoa's request, the U.S. Department of Insular Affairs informed them of their error in saying that they have not issued stamps to U.S. territories.

According to proof presented by the Department of Interior (DOI) in the form of the actual stamps, U.S. stamps have been issued in the past for the U.S. Territory of Guam along with Hawai‘i and Alaska when they were territories.

Additionally, DOI noted that U.S. postal stamps have also been issued for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Additionally, "there are even stamps for three former territories of the U.S., the now independent nations of Palau, the Marshalls and the Federated States of Micronesia. But there is nothing for American Samoa."

Governor Tauese also went further when the motherland turned down its adopted child's simple request by humbly approaching leaders of the Pacific Islands and asking them to issue their own stamps honoring American Samoa's centennial.

Samoa was the first to be asked and sources in Apia said that the Parliament is supposed to issue a final decision soon.

And when Governor Tauese attended the Pacific Basin Development Council meeting in Guam last year, a verbal request was presented to the leaders of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia and they both agreed to honor American Samoa's Centennial with their own postal stamps.

Anyone who has not yet signed the petition is encouraged to stop by at the Office of Tourism in Utulei or call them at 633-1091. For those residing in Hawaii please call the American Samoa Government's Hawai‘i office.

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to

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