The Matai are the chiefs of the Samoans. The matai are responsible for maintaining the respect, traditions, and administration of the village.
The matai are the crown of Samoa and more importantly Fa'a Samoa. At the time of European contact there was mixed opinions about from the foreign visitors as there often is mixed opinions about all people different from each other. The matai system in Samoa reflects a sophisticated system developed over time at which Samoans established a hierarchy in the society. Some of the items associated with Samoan matai are the fue and to'o to'o which represent the value of the Tula Fale (talking chiefs) , oratory and oral traditions present among matai. Oral communication was the standard in Polynesia without a formal writing system and the Lauga (Samoan oratory) is an example of the complex deveolpment of oral tradition in the Samoan culture. The Samoan Matai and the matai system account for strict policies of ownership of land in Amerika Samoa and Samoa, this attributes to 90% or more of land in all of Samoa to be owned by people of Samoan descent.
Another thing special about the Samoan matai system is that at its foundations is the very heart of fa'a Samoa, the Aiga , the family. The matai has a responsibility to their family, their village (which may be defined as an area with extended families living close together), district and their people. So the pride of the people for their matai extended past having pride in a someone above them in status but also included a pride that one feels about their own family member.
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