Pacific Islander American

Pacific Islander American
Pacific Islander American
Oceanian American
Daniel AkakaMike IupatiJesse SapoluMudi HannemannKen Niumatalolo

Daniel AkakaMike IupatiJesse SapoluMufi HannemannKen Niumatalolo

Total population
1,225,195 as of the 2010 census
Regions with significant populations
Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah, and Washington

American English, Carolinian, Chamorro, Fijian, Hawaiian, Marshallese, Samoan, Tongan, Polynesian languages, others


Christianity (in particularThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)and Catholicism, others

Related ethnic groups

Pacific Islanders

Pacific Islander Americans, also known as Oceanian Americans, are residents of the United States with original ancestry from Oceania. They represent the smallest racial group counted in the United States census of 2000. They numbered 874,000 people or 0.3 percent of the United States population. They are most concentrated in Hawaii, Alaska and the West Coast, specifically California and Utah, although they are to be found in other Western US States as well.



In the 2000–2010 U.S. Census the term "'Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander' refers to people having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Tonga, Samoa or other Pacific Islands. ... They are of Polynesian, Micronesian and Melanesian cultural backgrounds." The US Census counts Indigenous Australians and Māori, the natives of New Zealand, as part of the Pacific Islander race.[1][2]

This includes Indigenous Australians, Polynesians, Melanesians and Micronesians.


In politics

Mufi Hannemann was mayor of Honolulu from January 2, 2005 to July 20, 2010. Mufi Hanneman is a German and Samoan American who was originally a history teacher.


Pacific Islander Americans have media portrayal mostly as professional wrestlers, but are also portrayed as regular people. Dwayne Johnson, also known as "The Rock", with a Samoan mother and a Black Canadian father, has been the most notable Pacific Islander American professional wrestler, branching out into movies like the The Scorpion King. Other Pacific Islander American professional wrestlers include Samoa Joe, Solofa Fatu and the late Rodney Anoa'i, better known as "Yokozuna"Anoa'i family. Lilo Pelekai and Nani Pelekai are Native Hawaiian Americans in the Disney show called Lilo & Stitch. Pacific Islander Americans portrayed two major supporting characters on the CBS television series Hawaii Five-O—Native Hawaiian Zulu as Kono Kalakaua and Samoan American Al Harrington as Det. Ben Kokua. Also, Hawaiian-American Jason Momoa plays Ronon Dex on the popular science-fiction TV show Stargate Atlantis.

Zina Pistor was the first Samoan American in the Miss USA Pageant, as Miss California 1985. The LA Times praised her business sense for owning a frozen yogurt store at 21, which she built into a franchise after graduating with honors from USC's Entrepreneur Program, where her business plan won 1st place. As Director of Creative Affairs for Morgan Freeman's production company, Zina produced charity events for children such as "An Evening of Holiday Stories with Morgan Freeman and Friends" to benefit Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw's Children's Action Network. As an actress, Zina has worked with Gene Hackman, Holly Hunter and many others. She currently dedicates her time to her children's schools and she and her husband, Peter, are actively involved in an NGO called Seacology, which provides eco-exchanges for Pacific islanders (i.e., For protecting a local reef, Seacology will build a preschool.)

Vili Fualaau is a Samoan American who made headlines with his controversial relationship with Mary Kay Letourneau.

Taylor Vaifanua (from Hurricane, Utah) is a Samoan American high school student/singer who made to the Top 36 of the reality TV show American Idol.

The most famous stage character is Bloody Mary (South Pacific) of the South Pacific musical and movie. She is a souvenir trader to US sailors stationed in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Though originally cast as Juanita Hall, an African American, she is often also cast as an Asian or Pacific Islander American in newer local productions.


Pacific islands map and Hawaii.PNG

Pacific Islander
Flag of the United States.svg

Pacific Islander Americans are well represented in American football: Peter Tuipulotu, Reno Mahe, Vai Sikahema, Nuu Faaola, Jesse Sapolu, Troy Polamalu, Pisa Tinoisamoa, brothers Ma'ake and Chris Kemoeatu, Mosi Tatupu and his son Lofa, Manu Tuiasosopo and his sons Marques and Zach, Junior Seau, Rey Maualuga, and Mike Iupati are current or former professional football players. Ken Niumatalolo, a Samoan American who was named after the 2007 regular season as the new head coach of Navy, is believed to be the first Pacific Islander American to head a major college program.

Naomi Mulitauaopele is the first full-blooded Samoan female athlete to play for both American women's professional basketball leagues, the ABL and the WNBA. In college, she competed for Stanford University and appeared in 3 NCAA Championship Tournaments. As a freshman, she was named to the All-Pac 10 team and was named to the West Regional team as a sophomore. Professionally, she was selected by the Seattle "Reign" for the 1998-99 ABL season and then selected as a 1st-Round draft pick for the Utah "Starzz" for the WNBA's 2000 season. During her off-seasons, she competed in professional leagues located in Istanbul, Turkey and Puchon, Korea. Now she is the founder of her own management company, Write Records Management, which focuses on helping other Pacific Islanders achieve their own professional goals as well. She is married to Solomona Tagaleo'o Sr. and they have a son, Solomona Tagaleo'o Jr.

Many Pacific Islander Americans also play the most popular sport of their homeland, rugby union and rugby league, and have a strong influence in US rugby- see Rugby league in the United States or Rugby union in the United States, with many going on to represent the USA, including David Niu (rugby league and rugby union), Andrew Suniula (rugby league and rugby union), Siose Muliumu (rugby league), Salesi Sika (rugby union), Vahafolau Esikia (rugby union), Fifita Mounga (rugby union), Vaka Manupuna (rugby league), Thretton Palamo (the youngest player ever in the Rugby Union World Cup), Albert Tuipulotu (rugby union), and Vaea Anitoni (the all-time leader in tries for the USA national team).

Pacific Islanders are also represented in sumo wrestling. Akebono Taro is a famous sumo-wrestling Yokozuna of Native Hawaiian ancestry.

Diving great Greg Louganis, although often identified with his adoptive Greek-American heritage, is of Samoan and Swedish ancestry.


Pacific Islander American Ancestries in the 2000 US Census[3]
Ancestry 1990 1990% of US population 2000 2000% of US population Percent change from 1990 to 2000
Flag of the Northern Mariana Islands.svg Flag of Guam.svg Chamorro negligible (no data) negligible (no data) 177,000 0.06% negligible (no data)
Polynesian negligible (no data) negligible (no data) 616,162 0.2% negligible (no data)
TOTAL negligible (no data) negligible (no data) 793,162 0.3% negligible (no data)

Polynesian Americans

Polynesian Americans are Americans of Polynesian descent.

Large subcategories of Polynesian Americans include Native Hawaiians and Samoan Americans. In addition there are smaller communities of Tongan Americans (link: Culture and diaspora of Tonga) and Māori Americans.

Polynesian American Ancestries in the 2000 US Census[3]
Ancestry 1990 1990% of US population 2000 2000% of US population Percent change from 1990 to 2000
Flag of Hawaii.svg Native Hawaiian negligible (no data) negligible (no data) 401,162 0.13% negligible (no data)
Flag of Samoa.svg Flag of American Samoa.svg Samoan negligible (no data) negligible (no data) 215,000 0.07% negligible (no data)
TOTAL negligible (no data) negligible (no data) 616,162 0.2% negligible (no data)

Native Hawaiians

Samoan Americans

A Samoan American is an Samoan who is of ethnic American descent and may be from either the independent nation Samoa or the American territory of American Samoa. Samoan American is a subcategory of Polynesian American. About 65,000 people live on American Samoa, while the US census in 2000 and 2008 has found 4 times the number of Samoan Americans live in the mainland USA.

California has the most Samoans; concentrations live in Los Angeles, Carson, Cerritos, East Palo Alto, Long Beach, Oceanside, San Jose, San Francisco and Upland. In 2000, there were more than 50,000 Samoans in Los Angeles County alone — about equal to the entire population of American Samoa.[4] In other states, many Samoans live in Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Portland (Oregon), Seattle, Phoenix, Houston, Kansas City, Anchorage, Alaska, and in the state of Hawaii.

Since the end of World War II, persons born in American Samoa are United States nationals, but not United States citizens. (This is the only circumstance under which an individual would be one and not the other.) For this reason, Samoans can move to Hawaii or the mainland United States and obtain citizenship comparatively easily. Like Hawaiian Americans, the Samoans arrived in the mainland in the 20th century as agricultural laborers and factory workers.


As a result of the rise of Samoan communities in highly concentrated hip hop areas such as Los Angeles and Oakland, California; American Samoans like African American have built up a reputation for themselves of being highly skilled dancers and athletes.[citation needed] This stereotyping based on physicality put pressure on Samoan communities in the United States because of nervous law enforcement officials who would frequently assault the Samoan men and women.[citation needed] Despite this racial stereotyping, dance was a way through which young Samoans could gain respect and earn social status.[citation needed] It acted as a diasporic currency where dance styles and mastery of hip hop breakdancing skills of locking, and popping signified a connection of this community which was assumed to be 'foreign' with its fellow Americans.[citation needed]

While women were mostly restrained from their expression of hip hop dance, many Samoan men became professional dancers and entered the American music industry. Suga Pop, and Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. are examples of this.[5] The involvement of Samoans in street dance and hip hop music in America has impacted the Samoan cultural production in other places where Samoans have settled. A transmission of culture between the American Samoan community and its Pacific origin (i.e. New Zealand, Hawaii) took place. This resulted in a mimicking of not only music and dance styles but of the fashion of American hip hop as well. Samoan dance crews copied the popping and locking dance forms while wearing Adidas track suits- a style very commonly associated with Queens based hip hop group Run DMC. As a result of the American Samoan community's rising recognition, performers such as Snoop Dogg and Lord Tariq have collaborated with various American-based Samoan and Pacific artists.[5]

See also

  • Pacific Island Migration and Pacific Island American Identities

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Area and San Diego, California area as well the San Francisco Bay Area is home to large Polynesian, Micronesian and Melanesian populations relocated to the mainland USA since the end of World War II.[citation needed]


  1. ^ University of Virginia. Geospatial and Statistical Data Center. "1990 PUMS Ancestry Codes." 2003. August 30, 2007.[1]
  2. ^ University of Michigan. Census 1990: Ancestry Codes. August 27, 2007
  3. ^ a b Brittingham, Angela. Ancestry 2000:Census Brief. 2004. October 30, 2006. [2]
  4. ^ Garrison, Jessica. "Samoan Americans at a Crossroads", Los Angeles Times, April 14, 2000. Retrieved 2010-10-3.
  5. ^ a b Henderson, April K. "Dancing Between Islands: Hip Hop and the Samoan Diaspora." In The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture, ed. by Dipannita Basu and Sidney J. Lemelle, 180-199. London; Ann Arbor, Michigan: Pluto Press, 200

External links

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