• Fa'asamoa

    National Park of American Samoa

    American Samoa

Names Upon the Land

The Manu'a Islands, Ofu & Olosega
The Manu'a Islands, Ofu & Olosega

With so many myths and stories, some have conflicting details. This old tale has a slightly different twist on the island names than the creation story recorded by Holmes.


Ta'u Island -- part of the Manu'a Islands


In an ancient war between Papatea and Puloto some of the Papateans found refuge from attacking Pulota warriors on islands that are now Samoa. Four of the couples settled there-Sava and I'i on Savai'i, U and Polu on Upolo, Tutu and Ila on Tutuila. The other couple went to the eastern islands where they briefly laid their newborn child on the beach while they looked for food. Returning, they found their baby's back was wounded (manu'a) by rocks on the shore. And so, they named the place Manu'a.

Did You Know?

Underwater close up of a green sea turtle swimming

In Samoan folklore, sea turtles were believed to have the power to save fishermen lost at sea by bringing them safely to shore. The Samoan word for sea turtle, “I'a sa,” translates literally to “sacred fish,” presumably because of this ability. Sadly, sea turtles here are now endangered.