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37.0204 Restrictions on alienation of land.

Cite as [A.S.C.A. § 37.0204]

(a) It is prohibited for any matai of a Samoan family who is, as such, in control of the communal family lands or any part thereof, to alienate such family lands or any part thereof to any person without the written approval of the Governor of American Samoa.

(b) It is prohibited to alienate any lands except freehold lands to any person who has less than one-half native blood, and if a person has any nonnative blood whatever, it is prohibited to alienate any native lands to such person unless he was born in American Samoa, is a descendant of a Samoan family, lives with Samoans as a Samoan, lived in American Samoa for more than 5 years and has officially declared his intention of making American Samoa his home for life.

(c) If a person who has any nonnative blood marries another person who has any nonnative blood, the children of such marriage cannot inherit land unless they are of at least one-half native blood.

(d) This section does not prohibit the conveyance and transfer of native land for governmental purposes to the United States Government or to the Government of American Samoa or to a lawful agent or trustee thereof, or the conveyance and transfer, in the discretion and upon the approval of the Governor, to an authorized, recognized religious society, of sufficient land for erection thereon of a church, or dwelling house for the pastor, or both; provided, that the reconveyance and retransfer of such land shall be to native Samoans only and in the discretion and upon the approval of the Governor.

(e) The true children of the present record titleholder of Swains Island, which became a part of American Samoa some 25 years subsequent to the original enactment of this section and is not under the matai system, and their lineal descendants born in American Samoa, shall, notwithstanding any other provision of this section, be deemed to have heritable blood with respect to said island or any part thereof, and an otherwise valid devise of said island or any part thereof to any such true child of such descendant shall not be construed to be alienation in violation of this section.

History:1949 Code § 12-82: readopted 1980, PL 16-88 §§ 1, 2: 1982, PL 17-31 §§ 1, 2.

Case Notes:

Individually owned land cannot be alienated to any person who has less than one-half native blood. Craddick v. Territorial Registrar, ASR (1979).

As used in this section, “Samoan” Includes Western Samoans and is not limited to American Samoans. and “native.” which under this chapter 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 section. Moon v. Falemalama. 4 ASR 836 (1975).

Under this section. freehold land may be alienated to a person with less than one-hall Samoan blood, alienation of communal land to any person who is not a full-blooded Samoan is prohibited unless he was born in American Samoa and is a descendent of a Samoan family and lives with Samoans as a Samoan and has lived in American Samoa for more than 5 years and has officially declared his intention of making American Samoa his home for life, and any other land may be alienated to a person with at least one-half Samoan blood.  Moon v. Falemalama. 4 ASR 836 (1975).

The protection of Samoan lands is a permissible state objective “independent of the racial discrimination which it was the object of the Fourteenth Amendment to eliminate”. We find the prohibition against the alienation of land to non-Samoans to be necessary to the safeguarding of these interests. Douelas 0. Craddick and Magdalene v. Craddick v. Territorial Registrar of American Samoa. ASR (1980).

Conveyance not prohibited to recognized religious society. Reid v. Tavete. 1 ASR 2d 85 (1983).

Conveyance not prohibited to United States government. ASG. or authorized agents. Burns Philip Co. and ASG v. Mageo. 1 ASR 2d 95(1983).

The Governor and the Land commission must approve conveyances of communal land. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0203-37.0204. Maggie v. Atualevao, 19 A.S.R.2d 86 (1991).

A matai’s alienation of land must comply with certain statutory procedures, including the approval of the Governor of American Samoa. A.S.C.A. § 37.0204. Alaimalo v. Sivia, 17 A.S.R.2d 25 (1990).

Common law rule against perpetuities is designed to protect the free alien ability of land and therefore has no application to Samoan communal property, which are not freely alienable. A.S.C.A. § 37.0204. Tufele v. Mose, 7 A.S.R.2d 157 (1988).

Land registration statute gave competing claimants sixty days in which to urge any objection to the proposed registration, including objection that the land was communal and that no sale was approved by the Land Commission or by the Governor. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq., 37.0204. Ifopo v. Siatu’u, 12 A.S.R.2d 24 (1989).

Where objections to land registration based on statutory procedures for alienation of communal land were not raised within sixty days of proposed registration, the law conclusively presumes either that the procedures for alienation of communal land were met or that the land was not communal. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq., 37.0204. Ifopo v. Siatu’u, 12 A.S.R.2d 24 (1989).

Where statutory scheme including land registration procedure and restrictions on alienation of communal land effected its own reconciliation of competing policies, there was no need for a court to fashion a new and different one by refusing to enforce land registration statute. A.S.C.A. §§ 37.0101 et seq., § 37.0204. Ifopo v. Siatu’u, 12 A.S.R.2d 24 (1989).