Samoan Americans are Americans of Samoan origin, including those who emigrated from the Independent State of Samoa or American Samoa to the United States. Samoan Americans are Pacific Islanders in the United States Census, and are the second largest Pacific Islander group in the U.S., after Native Hawaiians.
American Samoa has been an unincorporated territory of the United States since 1900, and Samoa, formally known as the Independent State of Samoa and known as Western Samoa until 1997, is an independent nation that gained its independence from New Zealand in 1962. America Samoa and Samoa together make up the Samoan Islands, an archipelago that covers 1,170 sq mi (3,030 km2). Like Hawaiian Americans, the Samoans arrived in the mainland in the 20th century as agricultural laborers and factory workers.
There are more than 180,000 people of Samoan descent living stateside, which is roughly the population of the Independent State of Samoa, which had an estimated population of 179,000 in 2009. Honolulu, Hawaii has the largest Samoan population, while Long Beach, California has the largest Samoan population in the mainland United States: one percent of the city's population, or 4,513 people, as of 2010. There are also significant Samoan communities throughout the state of California, and in Washington, Utah, and Alaska.
|109,637 alone, 0.04% of U.S. population
184,440 including partial ancestry, 0.06%
|Regions with significant populations|
|Alaska (Anchorage) · California (Southern California, San Francisco Bay Area, Monterey County, Stockton, California) · Hawaii (Honolulu) · Utah (Salt Lake City) . Washington (King County, Tacoma)|
|American English, Samoan|
|Congregationalist, Roman Catholicism, Methodists, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Assembly of God, Seventh-day Adventists|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Native Hawaiians, Tongans, Maori, Polynesians, Pacific Islanders|
Since the end of World War II, persons born in American Samoa are United States nationals, but not United States citizens. For this reason, Samoans from American Samoa can move to Hawaii or the mainland United States and obtain citizenship comparatively easily. Many Samoans settled on the west coast of the U.S., as well as in Alaska and Hawaii, seeking better opportunities from their homeland.
There are 184,440 Samoan people in the United States stateside population, including those who have partial Samoan ancestry. 60,876 people of Samoan origin reside in California, meaning one-third of the Samoan population lives in California. Carson, Long Beach, Compton, in Los Angeles County, and Oceanside in San Diego County have the highest concentration of Samoans in Southern California. Also in San Diego, the very first Samoan church in the entire United States, which was founded in 1955 by Rev. Suitonu Galea'i. From there many of the Samoan churches branched from the First Samoan Congregational Christian Church of San Diego. Garden Grove in Orange County has a Samoan community, as well as a church located off Century Boulevard. In Northern California, the housing projects Bayview-Hunters Point, Sunnydale and Potrero Hill neighborhoods in San Francisco and San Leandro in the East Bay are home to sizable Samoan communities, as well as in Daly City, East Palo Alto, and Hayward, which all are at least 0.5% Samoan. In Daly City, Samoan restaurants and businesses are located off Geneva Avenue. Smaller communities of Samoans can be found in Sacramento, Modesto and Stockton.
The Seattle−Tacoma, Washington area is also home to a sizable Samoan community, especially in the cities of SeaTac and Federal Way. The First Samoan Christian Congregational Church in the Washington State was established in 1964 in southeast Seattle, where Samoans settled in the Pacific Northwest. Nearly 6,000 people of Samoan ancestry reside in Pierce County, Washington, making up 0.7% of the county's population. The Dalles, Oregon has a Samoan community as well. In Salt Lake City, Utah and surrounding cities, there is a large Samoan population of 13,086. There is a Samoan community in Colorado Springs, Colorado,
Outside the mainland U.S., many Samoan Americans have settled in Hawaii and Alaska. 1.8% of people in the city of Anchorage, Alaska are of Samoan descent. Alaska has a relatively high proportion of Samoan Americans, comprising about 0.8% of the state's population.
Samoan Americans are well represented in many American sports such as football. Despite being a small ethnic group in the country, more than 30 NFL players are of Samoan descent. NFL players Troy Polamalu and Junior Seau, who were both born in the contiguous U.S., are among notable Samoan American NFL players. The San Francisco 49ers has two Samoan Americans playing in Super Bowl XLVII—Mike Iupati and Isaac Sopoaga. Marcus Mariota, the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner and former Oregon Ducks quarterback, is of Samoan descent through his father.
Samoan Americans are also well represented in professional wrestling. Former 3 Times WWE heavyweight champion Roman Reigns is Samoan-American, and former WWE champions Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Rodney "Yokozuna" Anoa'i are also of Samoan origin. Other notable wrestlers of Samoan ancestry include Rikishi, his twin sons The Usos, and Samoa Joe. Samoan Americans can occasionally be found in other sports, such as basketball player Peyton Siva, who briefly played in the NBA before continuing his professional career in Europe.
In highly concentrated hip hop areas such as Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, Samoan Americans have also built up a reputation as highly skilled dancers and hip hop musicians. Suga Pop and Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. are notable Samoan American hip hop acts. They have also been involved in the mainstream hip hop industry in other countries with sizable Samoan populations, such as New Zealand.