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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Sala Samiu, American Samoa senator, dead at 62

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Sala Samiu, a high-ranking member of the American Samoa Senate and respected member of the U.S. territory, died Monday in Honolulu. He was 62.

Samiu came to Hawai'i about a month ago to be treated for an aneurism. He had surgery at Straub Clinic and Hospital and was transferred to the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific.

But on Saturday, Samiu developed complications and was transferred to Kuakini Medical Center, said Gus Hannemann, American Samoa liaison for federal, state and territorial affairs. Samiu was placed on life support, but he died Monday morning.

Hannemann said Samiu was a very popular and highly respected in American Samoa.

"He is known throughout Samoa as probably the best, most prolific orator of the two Samoas," Hannemann said. "In Samoa, orators are a very important part of our culture because it's a spoken culture, the culture is very much alive."

Samiu began his career with the American Samoa Department of Education and served in the Office of Samoan Affairs.

Samiu was elected to the House of Representatives from the Ituau district in 1996 and served as the vice speaker. In 2001, he was selected by village chiefs to represent them in the Senate.

Hannemann said Samiu was a frequent visitor to the Islands and was often asked to speak at important events and ceremonies.

Samiu is the second high-ranking Samoan official to die in Hawai'i this year. On March 26, Gov. Tauese Sunia died en route to Honolulu where he was to receive medical treatment.

Samiu's body will be returned to American Samoa for funeral.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.