(Extensions of Remarks - May 22, 1997)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1029-E1031]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                       HON. ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA

                           of american samoa

                    in the house of representatives

                         Thursday, May 22, 1997

  Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Speaker, I rise to honor the memory of a 
distinguished Pacific leader, the late Uifa'atali Peter Coleman, former 
Governor of American Samoa, who passed away last month after a long 
battle with cancer. A dedicated public servant with more than 50 years 
of public service, Governor Coleman was our first American Samoan 
statesman, a Pacific American with a truly regional vision. It is that 
vision for which he will always be remembered by our people.
  He was someone important for whom I had tremendous respect. Governor 
Coleman was always cordial and courteous to me and always extended the 
hand of friendship. Although we disagreed on certain issues, we agreed 
on many others, and among them the importance of a strong American 
presence in the Pacific region.
  I learned from him how to handle the stress of political life, how to 
take the storms in stride and never make a disagreement into a personal 
matter. He was the kind of individual of whom political opponents like 
former Governor A.P. Lutali could say, ``Uifa'atali and I may have been 
adversaries in politics, but in life we were always friends.''
  Mr. Speaker, Governor Coleman exemplified all the traits of a true 
Samoan leader. He was a soldier and a warrior, a pioneer and a man of 
vision, a statesman and a man of wisdom. He possessed that quality 
which Samoans value most in our leaders, that of tofa mamao, which 
denotes a leader with a sense of vision or understanding and 
anticipating future events. Above all, Governor Coleman was a humble 
person who thought less of how he would be remembered in the future 
than of what he could accomplish today.
  Uifaatali Peter Coleman was born on December 8, 1919, in Pago Pago, 
American Samoa. He received his elementary school education in Tutuila 
and graduated from St. Louis High School in Honolulu, where he joined 
the National Guard and enlisted in the U.S. Army at the beginning of 
World War II. Assigned to the Pacific theater, he was stationed in the 
Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Hawaii. By the end of the war, he had 
risen to the rank of captain. In 1982, for his military service, he was 
inducted into the U.S. Army Officers' Candidate School Hall of Fame in 
Fort Benning, GA.
  After the war, Governor Coleman enrolled in Georgetown University, 
and in 1949 he received a bachelor of science degree in economics from 
that institution. While in college he worked as a staff secretary to a 
Member of Congress, became a member of the U.S. Capitol Police Force 
and in what was then the Office of Territories at the U.S. Department 
of the Interior. He became the first Samoan to my knowledge to receive 
a law degree from a major U.S. university. After that, he returned to 
American Samoa, where he became the first Samoan to serve as public 
defender and later became attorney general.
  In 1956, he was appointed Governor of American Samoa by President 
Eisenhower, one of the first Pacific Islanders to serve as governor in 
the Pacific. he held that position until 1961.
  During those years he chaired the Convention which drafted American 
Samoa's Constitution and his administration laid the foundation for 
what has later become known as the American Samoa Government. To 
properly understand his achievements, Mr. Speaker, we must remember 
that at that time he had limited resources and hardly any staff to 
speak of--i.e., there were no younger, educated American Samoans to 
fill the positions in government. All that came later.
  From 1961 until 1965, Governor Coleman served as Administrator of 
what is now the Republic of the Marshall Islands. So great was the 
regard in which he was held that he became, by special act of the 
Nitijela (the Marshallese Parliament) the first U.S. citizen ever 
accorded an honorary Marshall Islands citizenship.
  During his subsequent 17 years in the northern Pacific, Governor 
Coleman served as Deputy High Commissioner of the U.S. Trust Territory 
of the Pacific Islands and, subsequently, as Acting High Commissioner, 
which position he held until 1977. His performance firmly established 
him as a regional statesman.
  When American Samoa held its first gubernatorial election in 1977, he 
ran for office and became the first elected Governor, a position which 
he held three times. During his elected years in office, he continued 
to forge close ties between the territory government and Washington DC 
and with Federal and State agencies and institutions. He was 
responsible for American Samoa's membership in both the National 
Governors Association and the Regional Western Governors Association. 
In 1980 he became the first territorial Governor to serve as chairman 
of the Western Governors Conference. He was elected a member of the 
executive committee of the NGA in 1990.
  As a regional leader, Mr. Speaker, Governor Coleman's record is 
equally distinguished. He co-founded the Pacific Basin Development 
Council in 1980 and was its first elected President in 1982. In 1982 he 
hosted and chaired the South Pacific Commission's annual conference in 
Pago Pago, American Samoa. At a special SPC meeting in 1983 and later 
in a conference in Saipan, he argued Strenuously for equal membership 
in SPC for Pacific territories. This he ultimately was successful in 
obtaining for the territories.
  He was two times a member of the standing committee of the Pacific 
Islands Conference of Leaders. He was on the founding board of the Pan-
Pacific Alliance for Trade and Development and a founding member of the 
Offshore Governor's Forum, which he chaired from 1992 to 1993.
  Governor Coleman was loved and respected by the people he served--
both in American Samoa and in the region. I know that everyone who ever 
had the privilege of working with him had tremendous respect for his 
common sense, his intelligence, and his decency.
  His generosity of spirit was well-known. He was a role model and a 
mentor to many young people, myself included. As he gained political 
stature, he helped younger aspiring leaders--he opened up windows of 
opportunity and it is as a mentor that many of us will remember him 
best. From the ``teaching stories'' he shared to the examples of 
achievement which his own life offered, he inspired many of us to 
consider public service. As my distinguished colleague from Guam, 
Congressman Robert Underwood, has said, ``He accurately saw himself as 
a developer of indigenous governments, bringing Pacific islanders to 
full recognition of their right to self-government and their capacity 
to implement the same.''
  His regional stature was widely acknowledged, Mr. Speaker. In 1970 he 
was granted an honorary degree by the University of Guam, who cited him 
as a ``Man of the Pacific.'' In 1978, he received an honorary doctorate 
from Chaminade College in Hawaii, Pacific Magazine called him, ``a man 
who is probably on a first name basis with everybody from the heart of 
the Pacific islands to their most distant corners.''
  This stature as a regional leader led to a number of special 
assignments. He was a member of numerous U.S. delegations to treaty 
negotiations, observances and regional conferences, among them the U.S. 
delegation which negotiated the 1981 Treaties of Friendship with 
Kiribati, Tuvalu, Tokelau and the Cook Islands, the second Pacific 
Islands Conference of Leaders in Rarotonga in 1985, the Pacific 
Democrat Union Conference in Fiji in 1987, the centenary observance of 
the U.S. Tonga Treaty of Friendship in 1988, and the American Samoa 
delegation to the Wellington Conference which banned driftnet fishing 
in the South Pacific in 1989.
  In the words of his longtime political rival, former Governor A.P. 
Lutali, ``I am proud that my friend Uifa'atali earned a place in 
history for his devotion and service to our people and the peoples of 
the Pacific.'' Whether we remember the dedicated public servant, the 
leader, the regional statesman, the role model for Pacific youth, the 
good friend whose personal warmth was always evident--or any of his 
other remarkable aspects, we all mourn his loss.
  What stands out in my mind is Governor Coleman's regional stature. 
Here was a man, a Pacific islander, who saw beyond the shores of his 
own island--a man who clearly saw the link between the welfare of 
American Samoan and the welfare of other Pacific islanders. He fought 
for a responsible U.S. presence in the region, he cofounded, 
encouraged, and nurtured regional organizations and he inspired a whole 
generation of young Pacific islanders to strive to better themselves by 
following his example and his vision.

[[Page E1030]]

  Mr. Speaker, I recently attended the funeral services which were held 
for Governor Coleman in Honolulu, HI. I am very glad to also note that 
our Governor Tauese P. Sunia and his lovely wife, Faga, were in 
attendance at the services. Additionally, the President of the Senate, 
High Chief Lutu Tenari Fuimaono and his wife Sinira, the Speaker of the 
House, High Chief Mailo Sao Nua, the Commissioner of Public Safety, 
High Chief Te'o Fuavai, plus a special honor guard from the Department 
of Public Safety in American Samoa were present.
  In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to offer my condolences to 
Governor Coleman's wife, Nora, and his children and grandchildren. I am 
sure that the proud legacy which he left them will live on in their 
hearts and in the hearts of all the people of the Pacific.
  Mr. Speaker, I recently attended the funeral services which were held 
for Governor Coleman in Hawaii. I am very glad to note that our 
Governor Tauese P. Sunia and his lovely wife Faga were in attendance at 
the services. Additionally, the President of the Senate, High Chief 
Lutu Tenari Fuimaono and his wife Sinira, the Speaker of the House, 
High Chief Mailo Sao Nua.
  In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to offer my condolences to 
Governor Coleman's dear wife Nora and his children. I am sure that the 
proud legacy which he left them will live on in their hearts and in the 
hearts of all the peoples of the Pacific.


       Pursuant to the authority vested in the Governor of 
     American Samoa, under the flag code prescribed by the 
     Congress of the United States of America shall be flown at 
     half staff as a mark of respect and a tribute to the memory 
     of Uifatali Peter Coleman, former Governor of American Samoa, 
     and one of the fathers of the government and the territory of 
     American Samoa from April 28, 1997, until May 28, 1997.
       Furthermore, by the authority vested in me by the 
     constitution and laws of American Samoa, as executive head of 
     this territory, I hereby order the flag of American Samoa to 
     be flown also at half staff. I would also like to ask all the 
     departments, agencies, and offices of the American Samoa to 
     observe in the most appropriate manner and custom befitting 
     the occasion of the passing of this great leader.
       In witness whereof I set my hand and seal on the 28th day 
     of April, 1997, at Utulei, American Samoa.
                                                Tauese P.F. Sunia,
                                       Governor of American Samoa.

             [From the Hawaii Star-Bulletin, Apr. 29, 1997]

                 Peter Coleman, ``Man of the Pacific''

                           (By Mary Adamski)

       Honolulu.--Peter Tali Coleman was called ``a man of the 
     Pacific'' in one of the many honorary degrees he was awarded, 
     but that was not a fanciful title. It would serve as a 
     summary of his life.
       He was the first Samoan to be appointed governor of 
     American Samoa, a US territory and later the first elected 
     governor there.
       His service as governor bridged five decades, first from 
     the appointment in 1956-61, to three elected terms, the most 
     recent ending in 1993.
       He spent nearly 17 years as an American appointee in 
     administrative roles in the former U.N. Trust Territories of 
     Micronesia. Then he served as an advisor to the government 
     and the emerging Western Pacific nations as they gained 
     independence. He founded PTC Inc., a government relations 
     firm specializing in Pacific island matters, was the 
     Republican national committeeman from American Samoa, and an 
       Coleman, 77 died yesterday (Monday) at his Honolulu home 
     after a two-year struggle with cancer.
       ``He was early recognized as a leader and will be 
     remembered as one of the forerunners in the Pacific among 
     native-born leaders who helped their nations chart their own 
     destinies,'' said Hawaiian Governor Ben Cayetano.
       ``His contribution will be long and recalled with respect 
     and affection.''
       Governor Tauese P.F. Sunia of American Samoa ordered the 
     United States and American Samoa flags to be flown at half-
     staff for 30 days in Coleman's home islands. Sunia will 
     attend services in Honolulu next week, according to his Chief 
     of Staff.
       ``There is no question of Peter Coleman's place in history, 
     not only in American Samoa, but throughout the Pacific,'' 
     said Sunia in a message to the Coleman family ``I am proud to 
     say I knew him, that I worked for and with him, and that I 
     witnessed the progress and change he brought to American 
       Kitty Simonds, Executive director of the Western Pacific 
     Regional Fisheries Management said: ``He really knew the 
     heart of the Pacific people.'' She recalled Coleman's effort 
     to affirm native islanders' fishing rights, a move not 
     popular with the American fishing industry or the tuna 
     packing firms in Pago Pago.
       City Councilman Mufi Hannerman said: ``He was definitely a 
     role model for many Samoans. Through his example, he embodied 
     the best ideals and value of a public statesman.''
       D.E. ``Rags'' Scanlan, president of Royal Guard Security, 
     said Coleman was ``distinguished by his work for the 
     betterment of all in the South Pacific.'' Scanlan whom 
     Coleman tapped to coordinate relief efforts after a 1981 
     hurricane devastated Samoa, said the man was ``very 
     unpolitical. He was in politics but wasn't a politician, he 
     worked behind the scenes.''
       J.E. Tihati Thompson of Tihati Productions said: ``I will 
     always respect him for the assistance he gave not only to the 
     people of Samoa, but also to the Tokelau people of Swains 
     Island Atoll while in office. He grew into a very gracious 
     statesman who many would consult for political advice.''

                  [From the Samoa News, May 15, 1997]

                A Eulogy in Memory of Peter Tali Coleman

       (The following eulogy was presented by William Patrick 
     ``Dyke'' Coleman at the recent funeral of his father, former 
     Governor Peter Tali Coleman. Dyke was Governor Coleman's 
     chief of staff in his most recent administration (1989-
       Dad introduced as to Samoa during the summer of 1952 when 
     we first arrived in Pago Pago Harbor on board the Navy 
     transport vessel the USS Jackson. We kids were just 
     overwhelmed and excited by the beauty of the Harbor and the 
     majesty of the surrounding mountains on that July morning.
       Grandma Amata had accompanied us on the trip from Honolulu 
     and Chief Tali, Aunty Mabel and Snookie and other family 
     members were there to welcome us.
       The living quarters we were assigned to was the old nurses' 
     quarters at Malaloa, the house was spacious, wide open and 
     structurally sound and we kids loved it. Mom and Dad learned 
     later that these quarters had been condemned but that really 
     never bothered us because we didn't know what that meant and 
     didn't care anyway.
       To Dad, as long as the family's safety and health were not 
     being compromised, the label was of no consequence and the 
     condemned house he viewed as a minor, temporary inconvenience 
     that was not worth complaining about.
       The house, for now, served our purposes. He adapted and 
     taught us to do the same. Don't get hung up on the minor 
     things. He never lost focus of his larger destiny.
       Things that would bother many of us never seemed to bother 
     him. He handled criticism the same way. Those who knew him 
     well can attest to that. He reserved his energies for life's 
     larger problems.
       Only he knew that, very soon thereafter, he would occupy 
     the best house on the island, the governor's mansion. 
     Occupying the governor's house itself was not the goal. He 
     aspired to lead his people and never lost focus of that 
       Dad practiced law during these early days and his clients 
     would often instead of cash pay him with live chickens and 
     pigs. The house was the perfect place in which to learn and 
     develop responsibility to raise and care for them.
       Of course some of these animals soon became pets. We had a 
     pet pig named Porky that we let into the house all the time, 
     and Grandma Amata would get angry and chase the pig out with 
     a broom. On school days Porky would always greet us when we 
     got home. One day Porky didn't meet us. We combed the entire 
     area around the house and the mountainside. We couldn't find 
       Dad had now become Attorney General and we kids had become 
     so upset and distraught that Dad called the police force to 
     help look for our pig. We never found Porky. We knew he ended 
     up in someone else's umu. It took a long time for us to get 
     over that loss.
       Dad used to cut our hair, even after he became Governor. 
     His haircuts made us very sad and we cried every time we had 
     to get one. We wanted to look like Elvis but ended up looking 
     like Fred Flintstone. The hairline was almost always uneven 
     and so we would get teased and slapped in the head by the 
     other kids.
       One time my brother Milton ran away from home because he 
     didn't want his hair cut. Anyway he finally returned home 
     when he got too hungry. And of course the rest of us promptly 
     reported him to Dad. Misery loves company. Milton got his 
     spanking, which made us gleeful and after his haircut, lost 
     his appetite.
       As kids we didn't fully appreciate that those haircuts 
     showed Dad to be a true visionary. Today these haircuts are 
     considered fashionable and quite stylish with the younger 
     crowd. Dad was ahead of his time.
       Mom was always behind the scene, providing her strengths to 
     support Dad and the family. For all this intelligence, 
     strength of character and self-discipline, his sense of humor 
     was how he kept life in perspective, everything in balance.
       He used humor to fend off criticism, to laugh with others, 
     to tolerate the inflated egos his line of work brought, and 
     even to laugh at himself. His sense of humor was his way of 
     remaining within himself.
       One day when he was still at Queen's Hospital I went to 
     visit with him. He had just awakened and I sat there making 
     loose talk and joking with him. I told him casually that 
     Amata had called earlier from Washington.
       He asked what she had wanted. I told him she asked how he 
     was doing and that he should start thinking about the 
     governor's race for the year 2000. He laughed so hard he 

[[Page E1031]]

       God bless you.