Vaitogi is a village in American Samoa. It has many missionaries and tourists who are attracted by the shopping for local products. Vaitogi might be most famous of its legends about the Turtle and Shark (Laumei ma Malie). It is said that once, at a time when food was scarce, an old woman took her granddaughter to the bluff at Vaitogi, and holding hands, they leapt into the sea down below. While the young girl was transformed into a shark, the blind grandmother became a turtle. It gives its name to a local U-shaped cove in town, which was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2014.
Vaitogi was visited by Robert J. Maxwell in 1965-1966, who sampled 52 participants in a 22-month research project inspired by the theories of Hans Eysenck concerning Extraversion and introversion behavior.
Vaitogi villagers gather once every year to commemorate an incident that happened over a century ago. At one point, a fire raged through the village for days and could not be extinguished, threatening lives and destroying scores of acres of vegetation and crops. After the village chiefs gathered to pray for the fires to end, heavy rain supposedly fell extinguishing the flames. The village observes a 24 hour curfew once per year to mark the event.
Archaeologist Margaret Mead stayed in Pago Pago for six weeks when she studied the Samoan language. She later spent ten days in Vaitogi as the guest of the local chief in town. The chief and villagers treated her like royalty, and provided her with a bed made of twenty woven mats topped with a blanket and sheets. The villagers also gave her information and access to elders in distant villages. She was on the island of Tutuila for a total of two months. Vaitogi was Mead’s favorite Samoan village, and she wrote to a friend: “Here they love me and I love them”.
She also described her stay: “It was there [in Vaitogi] I had all my essential training in how to manage Samoan etiquette… I learned to eat and enjoy Samoan food and to feel unabashed when, as a guest, I was served first and the whole family sat about sedately waiting for me to finish so that they, in turn, could eat… Day by day I grew easier in the language, sat more correctly… I learned how to relate to other people in terms of their rank and how to reply in terms of the rank they accorded me."
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