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37.0201 Definitions.

Cite as [A.S.C.A. § 37.0201]

As used in this chapter:

(a) "Alienation" means the sale, gift, exchange, or any other method of disposal of property.

(b) “Freehold lands”, means all those lands included in court grants prior to 1900 which have not at the request of the owner, been returned to the status of other land in American Samoa surrendering their freehold characteristics.

(c) "Native" means a full-blooded Samoan person of Tutuila, Manu’a, Aunu’u, or Swains Island.

(d) “Native land” means communal land.

(e) “Nonnative” means any person who is not a native under subsection (c) above.

History: 1949 code § 12-80; readopted 1980, PL16-88 §§ 1,2; 1982, PL 17-31 §§ 1,2; 1999 PL 26-6.

Case Notes:

Individually owned land is land which was not freehold land in 1900 and which is not communal land. Craddick v. Territorial Registrar, ASR (1979).

As used in this chapter, “Samoan” includes Western Samoans and is not limited to American Samoans. and “native,” which under this section means “full-blooded Samoan,” includes full-blooded western Samoans; thus, person of 75 percent Western Samoan blood; though not an American Samoan. Has at least one-half Samoan blood for purposes of this chapter. Moon v. Falemalama, 4 ASR 836 (1975).

The only ways communal land can become individual land are by adverse possession for thirty years or by compliance with the statutory procedures for alienation of communal land, including the approval of the Land Commission and the Governor. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0120, 37.0201 et seq. Ava v. Logoai, 19 A.S.R.2d 75 (1991).

The mere filing of a document with the Registrar, without compliance with either the procedures for the registration of land or those for the conveyance of communal land, conveys no title. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq., §§ 37.0201 et seq. Magalei v. Atualevao, 19 A.S.R.2d 86 (1991).

Unilateral and secret attempt by matai to give his daughter sole authority over family land to the exclusion of his successors in matai title would be inconsistent with Samoan tradition and contrary to territorial statutes regulating alienation of family land. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0201 et seq. Gi v. Temu, 11 A.S.R.2d 137 (1989).

Although Samoan custom requires family consultation before a sa’o conveys communal land, the court cannot impose this as an additional condition to such a conveyance absent statutory direction from the Fono. A.S.C.A. §§ 1.0202, 37.0201 et seq. Vaimaona v. Tuitasi, 18 A.S.R.2d 88 (1991).

Registration of land not performed in accordance with statutory procedure is void. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0102, 37.0201 et seq. Faleafine v. Suapilimai, 7 A.S.R.2d 108 (1988).

Communal land may not become individual property except in accordance with statutory procedures for alienation of communal lands. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0201 et seq. Faleafine v. Suapilimai, 7 A.S.R.2d 108 (1988).

Territorial statute dealing with “alienation of land” provides substantive restrictions on alienation and also sets forth procedures for the lawful alienation of land, which are designed to ensure that land will not be alienated lightly even in the absence of a specific substantive restriction. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0201 et seq. Vaimaona v. Tuitasi (Mem.), 13 A.S.R.2d 76 (1989).

Distinction between separate statutory procedures for registration “of the land” and “of the deed” is best characterized as a distinction between substance and procedure: compliance with the land registration statute protects the landowner by precluding rival claimants from attacking the record owner’s title, whereas the statute on land alienation leaves rival claimants procedurally free to object to the record owner’s title but provides that anyone who complies with its provisions becomes the lawful owner of the land. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq., 37.0201 et seq. Vaimaona v. Tuitasi (Mem.), 13 A.S.R.2d 76 (1989).

It would be to the advantage of a party who purchases land that has never been previously registered to apply for registration in accordance with both the “titles” chapter and the “alienation” chapter. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq., 37.0201 et seq. Vaimaona v. Tuitasi (Mem.), 13 A.S.R.2d 76 (1989).

Matai cannot alienate land without complying with certain statutory procedures, including the approval of the Governor of American Samoa. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0201 et seq. Sivia v. Alaimalo, 13 A.S.R.2d 95 (1989).

Freehold land is all those lands included in court grants prior to 1900. A.S.C.A. § 37.0201(b). Vaivao v. Craddick, 14 A.S.R.2d 108 (1990).

Because statute permits freehold land to revert to communal status at the request of the owner, it follows a fortiori that the same process is available for individual land. A.S.C.A. § 37.0201(b). Fauolo v. Satele, 15 A.S.R.2d 141 (1990).