Napoleon Andrew Tuiteleleapaga

Napoleon A. Tuiteleleapaga (I) (March 6, 1904December 31, 1988) was a prominent figure of the both Western and American Samoan culture, a lawyer and musician.

Early years

Napoleon was born in the year 1904, he was born and raised on the island of American Samoa. He attended the Marist Brothers School, Leone Village, Alataua County, Western District, Tutuila American Samoa. He graduated from the Marist Brothers School in 1921 at the age of 17. He graduated 8th grade in 1924, and went on with independent studies. He was a self taught man, and a self taught musician. He earned an LL. B. degree in Law, and attended Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, California.

He was the oldest of 11 children. He has four children and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

He was then employed by the U.S. Navy that was stationed on the island of American Samoa. After some time serving with the U.S. Navy, he was honored and privileged to receive clearance from the Navy Department in Washington to assist Lt. Cdr. Allan M. MacQuarrie, aid-de-camp to the last naval governor, Capt. Thomas F. Darden, to handle all the confidential and top-secret documents in closing the administration of the Navy and its transfer to the Department of the Interior.


Records show that Napoleon had served as a school teacher, clerk, secretary, stenographer, statistician, reporter, editor of the only government paper, the "O Le Fa'atonu," research officer for the legislature of American Samoa, translator, interpreter, chairman for the American Historical Commission, and Final Form Constitutional Comprobation-juvenile and presentencing investigation officer for the High court of American Samoa, and head of the magistrates and village courts. His Government work had taken him to nearly all the 50 states of the union and as far overseas as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and the foreign countries, Tonga, Fiji, and New Zealand; and offered him the rare and coveted opportunity of sitting, chatting, eating and drinking with kings, queens, prime ministers, and many other dignitaries.

High chief

He was then given the title "Fofogaoali'i" when he was honored by the chiefs of American Samoa. One of the bestowers of the title was High Chief and Senator Rapi Sotoa. He honored him the title in recognition and appreciation of Napoleon's services to his country. Translated, the title "Fofogaoali'i" means the "mouth of or speaker for the chiefs." Although very proud of the title, Napoleon quipped that he was very proud of the title, but stated that it was the only title without lands or properties.

On June 29, 1969, Napoleon was giving the family title, "Tuiteleleapaga" after the death of his great grandfather, Natagiala Tuiteleleapaga.

President Johnson

In 1966, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson visited the island of American Samoa. Napoleon was very instrumental for the presidents visit. Napoleon was asked by the Governor and Members of the President's visit committee to write the welcomes speech and conduct the ceremonies.

Religious life

In his religious life, Napoleon served and defended the Catholic Church loyally and faithfully. He represented the Catholic population of American Samoa in the Church Unification Committee of Samoa. He has written the words and music for many hymns and conducted the famous Leone Catholic Choir for many years. He translated the anthem "Long Live The Pope" into the Samoan Language and composed one for the first Samoan cardinal, Cardinal Pio Taofinu'u. He invited Pope Paul VI to visit Samoa during the visit of two papal emissaries. In connection with this, the "Tautai" (Fisherman), a local Catholic newspaper, in its publication in Vol. II, No. 11, November, 1970, said: ". . . and it was on this occasion that High Chief Tuiteleleapaga Napoleone asked the visitors on behalf of the bishop, priests, nuns, catechists, and Samoan Catholics, to convey to the Holy Father their request that he extend his visit to Samoa." The emissaries, Msgr. E. Macchi and Bishop Marzinkus, replied, "Your wish will be conveyd to the Holy Father; we will keep on reminding him, and you will be notified as to his decision before he stars his visit to Australia."

On the memorable and significant event, Napoleon not only showed his versatility but did something that surprised both the Samoan and white population. It was imperative that three anthems, "Long Live The Pope", "Star Spangled Banner", and "Amerika Samoa" must be played, sung or both. This was most difficult because only three minutes were allowed, due to a very tight schedule, enhanced by the fact that Napoleon had to conduct five different choirs composed of more than 400 singers, accompanied by three different bands that had not practiced together before. Despite these difficulties he succeeded in finishing the three anthems in only one minute and twenty seconds.

His only regret was not being able to shake the Pope's hand.


Napoleon, was a renowned Samoan composer. He wrote the national anthem of American Samoa, several popular songs and music for Hollywood feature films set in the Pacific islands He donated the rights to his songs to the nation of American Samoa.

"Let me hear you whisper"

He composed, with Ray Evans and Jay Livingston, the song, "Tele Ia Ole Sami." which translates to "there are many fish in the sea" although the song is also known by its English title of "Let me Hear you Whisper". This song has been recorded by many Samoan recording artists including groups such as the Samoan Surf Riders and the solo singer Lole

Pacific Isle

His film music includes 2 songs for the 1937 film Paradise Isle , "Pacific Isle" and "Hawaiian Chant", and he played a role in the naming of "Samoa" and "Talofa" streets in Hollywood CA.

"Amerika Samoa!"

His greatest accomplishment was the composition of the music for the National Anthem of American Samoa He wrote the anthem in his late 20's then went on to compose other songs. The lyrics were written by Mariota Tiumalu Tuiasosopo and the anthem was officially adopted in 1950. Rumor has it that he was very instrumental in composing the Western Samoan National Anthem, "Samoa Tula'i" or in English, "The Banner of Freedom."

On that note, It is said that he composed the music and was also the lyricist for "Samoa Tula'i", the National Anthem of Western Samoa. When Napoleon was done with the Anthem, one of his close friends, Sauni Iiga Kuresa, asked Napoleon to allow him to teach the Anthem to his people of Western Samoa. Out of their good friendship, Napoleon granted Sauni’s wish. So until now, the Westerners have an understanding that Sauni was actually the Founder of their Anthem.

This mystery was revealed by Aveolela Etevise Napoleone (his only daughter) on the night she received Napoleon’s award as the best and well known Musician within the island of American Samoa and around the entire South Pacific Region. The Award was presented by the Governor of American Samoa in 1995, High Chief Lutali.

Amerika Samoa Lryics

Amerika Samoa
Lo’u Atunu’u pele ‘oe
Oute tiu I lou igoa
O ‘oe o lo’u fa’amoemoe
O ‘oe ole Penina ole Pasefika
E mo’omia e motu e lima
E ua ta’uta’ua au aga I fanua
Ma ou tala mai anamua
Tutuila ma Manu’a
Ala mai ia tu I luga
Tautua ma punou I lou Malo
Ia manuia ia ulu ola
Amerika Samoa
Ole Malo ole sa’olotoga
Tautua ma punou I lou Malo
Ia manuia ia ulu ola
Amerika Samoa
Ole Malo ole sa’olotoga
Soifua ma ia manuia,
Teine Samoa

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

ABC Radio National referred to him as "...the eminent Samoan chief and scholar Napoleone Tuiteleleapaga" and quoted his writings regarding the derivation of the Western Polynesian word 'Papalagi' meaning "white people". As a clan chief , he played a role in improving relations between islanders and outsiders.

Other works

  • Ua mamalu
  • Minoi Minoi
  • Talofa….Sio Matou Alofa
  • Sau ia se’I e maimoa
  • Falagiga o le Nu’u ole Leone
  • Se’I Tulouna Pule Ono ma Tumua
  • O le Aso Pasikate
  • Leone…o lo’u Nu’u e
  • Pese o Moseniolo Eseese
  • Vi’I o le Fale Laumei, Falema’I I Fagaalu – LBJ Tropical Medical Center
  • Lagaali o Maugasa
  • Figota o le Sami – Pone segasega tuu’u
  • Good Bye My Friend – Tofa mai Feleni

Samoa: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Napoleon wrote a book on the Samoan culture and all the aspects of the island lifestyle.

His work was discussed in the book Samoa: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow published in 1980 with an introduction by the renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead

"The book deals with the history of Samoa as remembered and recorded, with old customes and with hew, seen though the eyes of a leaned contemporary Samoan. It is the first book of its kind written by a full-blooded Samoan, who was born, raised, and educated in the islands. Most books about a people who once depended upon oral tradition and their own distinctive religious system, and later become part of the literate Cristian world, distinguish sharply between the two." -Margaret Mead''


Napoleon had one legitimate marriage to Pousilaoleualesiameleke Pesa. Together they would have his only legitimate child, Aveolela Napoleone Tuiteleleapaga. During this marriage, Napoleon went on to have many affairs with countless woman, and would sire three illegitimate children, Fa'afua Napoleone, Saima'auga Napoleone, and Iosefo Napoleone. All of which have different mothers. He would then undergo a sour divorce with Pousilaoleualesiameleke.

After the divorce settlement, Napoleon went on to have many transgressions with many different women.

It is said that he had a 2nd legitimate wife, Thelma King. But no documents prove this.

Personal life

His private life was very colorful. Napoleon did not have the opportunity to attend high school for there were none during his time. Despite this handicap he taught himself on many subjects; some of those shorthand, music, writing, and some foreign languages. His Rosicrucian education and training had, according to him and some of the people who knew him well, helped him immensely in his ability to do things, but, in one respect, made it difficult for him to get along with many people, even his own brothers and relatives. Because of his firm belief that God is the first mover of everything, Napoleon attributed things he did to God and equally attributed and blamed everything on nature. He attributed one of his difficulties to his strict adherence to the "essence of time" and "fulfillment of promises." He felt that his fearlessness in telling the truth, though to his credit, left to misunderstandings and criticisms.

It is said that he scolded a director of the Department of the Interior because of his failure to accord honor and service deferential to the Samoan Chiefs, He chided one Governor for wearing a sports shirt to an official party, he dismissed a committee meeting after one minute past the appointed time as the members came in, and he even put his own brother-in-law in prison for killing a pig that didn't belong to him. Besides the American Samoa National anthem, he wrote many Samoan folk and love songs, one of the most popular was "Let Me Hear You Whisper."

One of his delights with his musical hobby was the time he conducted the U.S. Marines Band, the Presidents Own, during one of his visits to Washington in 1973, when the Band played the Samoan anthem. His musical talents prompted one of his American admirers to say: ". . . and give him a horse he'll manage to play a foxtrot or funeral march out of it." This because Napoleon can play any brass, wind, or string instrument, but he never owned an instrument his whole life.

His desire to be of use to his people caused him to study law by correspondence, and receive an LL.B. Degree after almost five years. (1943-1948). He was a big fan of Perry Mason, and that is the style he followed. Following that, he took another correspondence course in detective work, and received a certificate at the completion in two years time. He nearly got into serious trouble when he practiced "Shadowing" on the Captain of the Yard, naval officers and men and their wives during the Naval Administration. These studies proved very useful and effective in his work as investigator, prosecutor, probation-juvenile-presentencing investigation officer. His "burning desire" to further his legal education led him to leave Samoa for the United States in 1958. In 1962, after almost four years of trying to enter law school, he was finally accepted by the Loyola University School of Law, Los Angeles, CA. For three solid years he studied at Loyola as a special student. Despite his academic handicap and the difficult law subjects, Napoleon studied hard to return to Samoa, Rev. Father Donovan, Regent wrote to the Governor: Napoleon Tuiteleleapaga has completed a 3-year course of study at Loyola. Because of his academic background he was not required or expected to compete with the regular students, but he has studied the theory and practice of the law and sat the stiff examinations together with the regular students, and will be of great value to the people."


Napoleon's parents were Teofilo Ta’afano Iuli and Lusia Tuiteleleapaga.

He was the oldest of eleven children. The names of his brothers: Pula Nikolao Iuli, Maselino Iuli, Ropati “Papu” Iuli, Lemanu’a Maselino Iuli, Leto’a Iereneo Iuli, Aukuso “Gus” Iuli, (three died at a young age, and their names are unrevealed till this day.) and his only sister, To’asefulu Kolotita To’omata Iuli-Tavale.

Napoleon has many grand children and many great grand children that are scattered across American Samoa and the Western part of the United States.

Legal actions

In his third year at Loyola, he was allowed by the school authorities and permission of the judicial officials to help his countrymen in California who got into trouble with the law. He successfully defended three young Samoan men who were charged with kidnap and rape in San Francisco. On this occasion the San Francisco chronicle wrote an article about the case and referred to Napoleon as "The Samoan attorney from Los Angeles with a hula skirt."

Three months later, a law firm in Santa Ana, California, asked Napoleon to help in the defense of a Samoan woman who was charged with the murder of her newly-born grandchild. He saved the woman from the gas chamber or life imprisonment. He cherished a letter by one of the firm attorneys who handled the case, Mr. Samuel Taylor, Jr. The letter said " . . . and certainly though your efforts the whole affairs was made much more manageable, and I am sure we could not have gotten the same result without you. Surely, much credit is due to you for everything you did, all the time you sacrificed, and all of this during your most difficult law school period."

Professional resume

High Chief Napoleon A. Tuiteleleapaga, Bachelor of Laws.
Judicial Department - Government of American Samoa

  • Grand Knight, International Mark Twain Society
  • Chairman, American Samoa Historical Commission
  • Chief Probation - Pre-sentencing Investigation Officer, High Court of American Samoa
  • Liaison Officer between High Court & Village Magistrates
  • Private Detective - Legal Adviser
  • Musician - Composer
  • Consultant: Domestic Relations, All matters relating to Samoa, Government, and People
  • Government of American Samoa, East West Center Selection Commission
  • Visitor Industry Board
  • Copra Board
  • Member: Samoa Church Unification Committee
  • International Association of Investigators & Special Police Inc.
  • Rosicrucian Order
  • Sierra Club
  • Loyola Law School Alumni

(Resume pictured here)

Chief Lutali

At one point in Napoleon's life, he and his grandson Napoleon Jr. had worked long and hard to put High Chief Lutali into office. Both of them were very instrumental with installing Chief Lutali in the Congressional House of the United States of America. Soon after, Chief Lutali would once again call on the help of the Tuiteleleapaga family to help him with his campaign to run for the position as Governor of American Samoa. Chief Lutali praised the men as, "Masters of Politics." The Lutali and Tuiteleleapaga families have remained close friends ever since.


In the later years of Napoleon's life, He spent some time with his grandson, Napoleon A. Tuiteleleapaga II in America. Soon after he returned to the island of American Samoa. He enjoyed his visit to America when he had learned that his grandson was to have a male child. This filled his spirit and gave him true happiness, his words to his grandson Napoleon were, "The bloodline continues." When he returned to American Samoa in the month of December, he spent a few days there then died. For a New Year's eve celebration, local children were lighting off fireworks in the village of Leone. He walked outside of his home to urge the young children to quiet down. Later, a certain child had let off a firework. The firework reached Napoleon and went off right in front of him. He then had a sudden heart attack and died.

Many people attended his funeral on the Island of American Samoa. He had an enormous funeral as well as many dignitaries from various places and countries attending his funeral. It was truly one of the saddest days in history for not only American Samoa, but around the world.


Napoleon is survived today with a vast clad of the family name "Tuiteleleapaga." His family is scattered across the western United States and the Polynesian Islands. His title, is still in effect and is held by, Ioane Fue Tuiteleleapaga, a close relative.

His name is survived by his beloved grandson, whom he considered, his "only" grandson as well as his "only" real son, Napoleon Andrew Tuiteleleapaga II. Napoleon's hopes of continuing the Tuiteleleapaga Bloodline was entrusted to his son Napoleon Tuiteleleapaga II. On March 8th 1989, Napoleon's wife Katherine Tuiteleleapaga gave birth to their first son. Thus continuing the Tuiteleleapaga bloodline.

External links


  • Samoa: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.
  • Tautai (Fisherman), a Samoan Catholic newspaper
  • Family Documents.
  • First hand stories from his grandson, Napoleon Tuiteleleapaga.

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