Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he is responding to a letter to the Editor printed by Samoa News on November 30, 2006 entitled “Congressional Committee” signed by a “True American.”
The “True American” suggests that American Samoa has never had a Congressional Committee in the US Congress like the American Indians have where you could go to congress and have talks to work out the government you want,” Faleomavaega said. “The writer also suggests that our elected leaders have failed and that it is the people’s fault for not making them do what they were elected to do.”
“To be clear, the House Committee on Insular Affairs was first created in 1899 and recreated in every Congress up until 1946 when the House Committee on Public Lands was vested with jurisdiction over insular affairs. In 1951, the name of this committee was changed to the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs of which American Samoa was a part. In the 103rd Congress, it was renamed as the House Committee on Natural Resources. From the 104th Congress until now, the Committee has been known as the House Committee on Resources.”
“Jurisdiction over insular affairs, which includes American Samoa, has resided in this committee without interruption since 1947. At the discretion of the Chairman, insular issues can be taken up at the subcommittee or full committee level and, as of now, the full committees both in the House and Senate consider matters brought up by American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.”
“Regarding jurisdiction over Indian affairs, from 1789-1820, their interests were represented in temporary select committees. From 1820-1947, a permanent standing committee was created. From 1946-1984, there were no standing committees and from 1984 to this day, one permanent committee in the U.S. Senate has been dedicated to represent the interests of hundreds of tribes making up more than 4.5 million Native Americans. In the House, Indian Affairs are considered by the full committee on Resources just like the insular areas.”
“In other words, American Samoa receives equal treatment even though we have the smallest of constituencies with a population of about 70,000 while, according to the Census, the estimated population of Guam is 169,000. The Virgin Islands is about 109,000, and Puerto Rico is over 4 million,” Faleomavaega concluded.