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Aua, American Samoa

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Aua, American Samoa

Aua is located in American Samoa
Country  United States
Territory  American Samoa
 • Total 1.11 sq mi (2.88 km2)
Population (2012)
 • Total 2,336
 • Density 2,100/sq mi (810/km2)

Aua is a village in American Samoa. It is located along American Samoa Highway 001, and is the southern terminus of American Samoa Highway 006.


The village of Aua in American Samoa is well known for its ceremonial field or malae, Malaeopaepaeulupoo (Field of stacked skulls). Between the late 13th century to early 14th century, the cannibal chief Tuifeai, also known as Tuisamoa, the son of Tuifiti, lived in Malaeloa, which is adjacent to the village and ancient capital of American Samoa. The Tuifeai required sacrifices of humans as his meal everyday, this tradition is called "aso" or the king's day. Upon receiving his daily meal Tuifeai would take the skulls with him to the village of Aua, his refuge and stronghold from his enemy's. Thus, he ruled Tutuila as part of the reigning Paramount Chiefs. While Malietoa, Tuiaana and Tuiatua reigned in Upolu and Savaii, and Tuimanu'a in Manu'a, Tuifeai or Tuisamoa ruled in Tutuila (Tuisamoa is the title Malietoa gave him after he was born, from the union of the Tuifiti with Malietoa's sister). While in Aua Tuifeai would dress his ceremonial grounds in front of his "great house" with the skulls from his "aso", as a boundary or border, intimidating anyone who dared to come against him. The skulls acted as a wall or stacked border, signifying a "sa", or sacred grounds, and indicated where no one was to approach.

When cannibalism was abolishd by Malietoafaiga, after receiving his own son, Poluleuligana, as his "aso." The young prince was kept alive as he volunteered to be the aso after having compassion on two young men from Savaii who were headed to the Malietoa's village of Malie to be the main course for the king's day. Malietoafaiga, in 1323ad ordered cannibalism abolished. Tuifeai did not heed the Malietoa's order as it was his chiefly right in holding to tradition. So Lutu and Solosolo of Sapunaoa, in the District of Atua (and sub-district of Falealili) and ruled by the Tuiatua, whose district Tutuila comes under, volunteered to sail to Malaeloa and slay Tuifeai, upholding Malietoa's decree to end cannibalism.

Upon arriving in Leone, they trekked towards Taputimu through Vailoa. In Vailoa they found some of Tuifeai's warriors and a battle enraged. After slaying almost all of Tuifeai's troops, some having run off, they left one alive to report back to Tuifeai that they were here to have him "taoiseumu" (cooked in an umu). They then proceeded to Leala, in Taputimu, and chopped down the "tautu" tree where Tuifeai had his leftover victims hung. The salty seabreeze and sun made jerky out of his leftover humans. Tuifeai fled up the mountains through Aasu (Aloau was down on the north shore then), and headed towards Aua. When Lutu and Solosolo were told, they sailed from Leone towards Aua. Upon entering the Malaeopaepaeulupoo, they prepared an umu, with anticipation of Tuifeai being cooked in it when he shows up. Instead of using a "sasa'e" and "ieofi" for spreading and handling the hot rocks of the umu, they used their feet and bare hands. Remember that Tuifeai was a descendant of the Tuifiti (Fijian), who were well known as "fire walkers," walking barefoot on hot rocks during their ancient ritual dances, showing their bravery. Lutu and Solosolo were trying to show Tuifeai that they too were not afraid of fire. Word quickly spread of the "umu a toa" (umu of warriors).

Tuifeai never came back down from the mountain village route. Thus that district became known as "Aitulagi" (ghost in the sky). The two warriors patrolled the Fagaloa in their war outrigger "soatau" in case Tuifeai decided to come back down. After a while, they decided that Lutu will stay in Fagatogo, whom the Fagatogans requested for, in order to guard them against Tuifeai, and for Solosolo to stay in Aua. They ripped the sail on their outrigger in two to seal their covenant. The sealing of the covenant became known as "le launiu na saelua" (the coconut frond ripped in two), and it was historical in that it changed the course of Samoan history; the warriors will not be sailing back home to Lufilufi (their sail being purposely ripped in two) and cannibalism will forever be abolished in Tutuila, their presence remaining. Solosolo was bestowed the Paramount Chief title of Unutoa (Unu being to reform or extract the human element out of the "aso") and toa being warrior), or the reformation warrior. Lutu retained the name Lutu in Fagatogo. Solosolo's kava-cup name in Lufilufi, when ever he decides to visit, is Moetoto (slept bloody). All dates and names are found in Dr. A Kramer's "The Samoan Island" as well as many other Samoan historical documents and archeological findings.

The legend says, that a long time ago, there was a fierce war between the villages of Tutuila (the main Island of American Samoa). In a successful surprise attack, the warriors of Aua killed the Fagatogo warriors and severed their heads as a sort of religious ritual. The severed heads were buried, scattered across the village malae. To this day a skull may be found when digging for a grave or a foundation for a house around the village of Aua. The name Paepaeulupoo is also the name of the village fautasi (longboat). Paepaeulupo'o and Paepaeala are the names of the two village malaes.

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