|April 20, 2017
Samoan Christian group hosts traditional meal and cultural performance
Some of the cultural similarities between the Samoan and American Indian cultures came to fore in the Tribal Council Chambers last week. (B.L. Azure photo)
PABLO — Nearly a dozen years ago a group of Samoan Christians paid a visit to the Flathead Indian Reservation and liked what they saw. What they saw was a group of American Indian tribal people that in many ways mirrored the cultural and spiritual ways of the South Pacific Island natives.
“I never thought we’d be here, here in Indian Country,” said Chief Sika Teleiai Misa of the Tribal Ways, and Youth With a Mission Christian groups that emigrated from American Samoa via Hawaii nearly a dozen years ago. “Upon visiting here I thought the area was just like one of our villages back home.”
The Chiefs of the local Samoan tribal group Tua Matuavao (left) and Sika Teleiai Misa provide the beat to the dancers. (B.L. Azure photo)
One of the first things the Samoans did when they finally settled on the Flathead Indian Reservation was to introduce them selves to the Tribal Council as well as forge a relationship with the Indian and non-Indian Christian communities. They have hosted the annual feed and cultural demonstrations since coming to the area. They also are part of a men’s prayer group that meets in the Tribal Council Chambers every Friday. They feel like they have been welcomed with open arms by the tribal community and its governing body.
Members of the Samoan Christian group paid a visit to the Tribal Council Chambers to host a feed and display some of their Samoan cultural practices. (B.L. Azure photo)
“We really appreciate the leadership the Tribal Council has demonstrated on many issues during the 11 years we’ve been here,” Misa said. “We want to honor them for the work they’ve done, a hopeful blessing of encouragement to continue the good work.”
So what are warm idyllic island dwellers doing in frigid Montana after living in Thailand, New Zealand, American Samoa and Hawaii.
“We do the Lord’s calling,” said Chief Tua Matuavao. “We were living in Hawaii when the Lord called us to Montana to work with the indigenous people. We’ve been to the other reservations in the state and amongst all the cold we found a people with the warmest of hearts.”
Despite the warmest of hearts Chief Matuavau said the tribal people of Montana are dealing with a common denominator of issues that include suicide, alcohol and drugs. The group sponsors youth camps on the various reservations to help in any way to combat the scourge of suicide, alcohol and drugs.
The Samoan culture was on display last week in the Tribal Council Chambers. (B.L. Azure photo)
“Be strong, we’re with you,” Misa said. “We are just a people from a different tribe here with you, your tribes. Thank you for allowing us to be here.”
“Thank you for sharing your protocol with us,” said Tribal Council Chairman Vernon Finley. “You have done so many good things behind the scenes. The good spirit you brought here is very much needed inside the walls here.”