Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he has written to the Tokelauan Government Council to request that United States citizens and nationals of Tokelauan descent be included in the formation of an independent Tokelau. The Congressman has requested that representatives of the thousands of U.S. citizens and nationals of Tokelauan descent be allowed to attend and participate in some meaningful manner in the upcoming meetings on self-determination to be held in Nokunonu in August of this year.
A copy of the Congressman’s letter dated June 15, 2005 to the Honorable Pio Tuia, head of the Tokelauan Government Council, is included below:
Dear Chairman Tuia:
Per our recent discussions regarding your determination to redefine Tokelau’s political status and your relationship to New Zealand, I want to add my commendation and support for your ongoing efforts over all these years. To establish your own independent state, in free association and with the full support of New Zealand, is a tremendous accomplishment. The entire Polynesian community rejoices with you.
I need to express my serious concern, however, regarding one aspect of the new government: the lack of inclusion of the thousands of U.S. nationals and U.S. citizens who are of Tokelauan descent.
As you are aware, the recent Flag Day event that took place last month in American Samoa commemorated the 80th anniversary of the raising of the American flag on Swains Island. This event also celebrated the Tokelauan and Samoa ancestral bonds of the inhabitants.
While our fellow Tokelauans whose descent is from Olohega have been acknowledged by your new government, I wish to call your attention to the fact that there are thousands of Tokelauans living in the United States not of Olohegan descent who, in my opinion, deserve to be involved as well.
In years past, I have had the opportunity to meet many Tokelauans in the United States, Samoa, and New Zealand. In fact, in examining my own genealogy, I have traced my family origins back to Atafu and I have hundreds of relatives currently living in Samoa and in the United States who bear this same descent – descended from Atafu, Nukunonu, and Fakaofo. We are Tokelauan, yet we are being disenfranchised from our roots because we are either U.S. citizens or U.S. nationals.
Therefore, I respectfully request the opportunity to consult with the Tokelauan Chiefs’ Council, to ask that you consider treating the thousands of Tokelauans who are Americans in the same way you intend to treat the Tokelauans living in New Zealand and elsewhere. I offer a personal recommendation that serious consideration be given to Tokelauans also living in the United States and other countries of the world. This would benefit the Tokelauans who are U.S. citizens by allowing us to re-establish our family ties, and would provide a positive economic and political contribution to an independent Tokelau that has established a compact of free association with New Zealand.
In summary, I write this letter on behalf of several thousands of Tokelauans who are U.S. citizens/nationals living in American Samoa, Hawaii, and the Mainland U.S. I respectfully request that we be allowed to re-establish our cultural roots and participate in the formation of an independent Tokelau, and allow our representatives to attend the upcoming meeting in Nukunonu in August in order to continue consultations with you and the members of the Council.
I look forward to continuing our dialogue on this historic event and I wish you the very best in your efforts.
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA
Member of Congress
“Again, I commend the Tokelauan Government Council for the progress it has made in moving Tokelau forward and, as Tokelau now enters discussions to become a freely associated state, I am hopeful that members of the Council will allow everyone of Tokelauan descent, regardless of nationality, to be involved in this momentous event,” the Congressman concluded.