Napoleon Andrew Tuiteleleapaga: American Samoan musician (1904 - 1988)
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Napoleon Andrew Tuiteleleapaga
American Samoan musician

Napoleon Andrew Tuiteleleapaga

Napoleon Andrew Tuiteleleapaga
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American Samoan musician
Was Musician Composer Songwriter
From United States of America
Field Music
Gender male
Birth 17 May 1904, American Samoa
Death 31 December 1988, Leone (aged 84 years)
Napoleon Andrew Tuiteleleapaga
The details (from wikipedia)


Napoleon A. Tuiteleleapaga (II) (May 25, 1904 – December 25, 1988) was a prominent figure of the both Western and American Samoan culture, a lawyer and musician.

Early life

Napoleon was born in 1904. He hails from the island of American Samoa. Like many Samoans at the time, Tuiteleleapaga grew up in poverity. He was a self-taught man as well as a self-taught musician. He loved to learn and stay relevant with societal changes. He attended the Marist Brothers School located in, Leone Village, Alataua County, Western District, Tutuila American Samoa. He graduated the 8th grade, the highest level of education at the time in American Samoa. After his commencement, Tuiteleleapaga went on to continue his independent studies. Tuiteleleapaga sought to quench his thirst for knowledge until his final days. Tuiteleleapaga was very keen with all types of music. He fancied brass instruments the most. He had the innate ability to figure out how and instrument worked. People close to Tuitelelepaga tell stories of how he would compose songs on restaurant napkins. Napoleon's interests didn't stop there, as he would go on to earn a LL. B. from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, California.

Tuiteleleapaga was then employed by the U.S. Navy. After some time serving with the U.S. Navy, he was both honored and privileged to receive clearance from the Navy Department in Washington to assist Lt. Cdr. Allan M. MacQuarrie, aide-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.

Personal life

Napoleon's private life was very colorful. He 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 hobbies 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, although 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. Teofilo Taafano Iuli had two sisters; Faiane and Natia. Lusia Tuiteleleapaga had three brothers (Napoleone I, Posu, Falaniko) and one sister Maulalo. Lusia's brothers Napoleone I and Posu both held the High Chief Title/Matai, Tuiteleleapaga.

Napoleon was the oldest of eleven children, Leto'a Iereneo Iuli (Deceased), Pula Nikolao Iuli (Deceased), Maselino Iuli (Deceased), Ropati “Papu” Iuli (Deceased), Lemanu’a Maselino Iuli (Deceased), Penitito Iuli (Deceased), Filimino Iuli (Deceased), Aukuso “Gus” Iuli (Deceased), and his only sister, To’asefulu Kolotita To’omata Iuli-Tavale (Deceased).

Napoleon's only legitimate daughter is Aveolela Napoleone. Napoleon is also known to have sired an undisclosed amount of illegitimate children.


Napoleon had one legitimate marriage to Pousilaoleualesiameleke Pesa, with whom he had his only legitimate child, Oleaveolelaeosomaiilematasaua Napoleone Tuiteleleapaga. During this marriage, Napoleon went on to have many affairs with countless woman. Subsequently, Tuiteleleapaga would wed Thelma King.


It is believed 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.


He was then given the title "Fofogaoali'i" when he was honored by the chiefs of American Samoa. One of the benefactors of said 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 not very keen of the title, for it stated that it was the only title without any lands or properties.

On June 29, 1969, Napoleon was given the family title, "Tuiteleleapaga" after the death of his great great grandfather, Natagiala Tuiteleleapaga. The Tuiteleleapaga title hails from the village of Leone, American Samoa. In the village of Leone, the Tuiteleleapaga title is a tamaali'i title and sits as one of the highest chiefs.

President Lyndon B. Johnson

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

Religious life

Tuiteleleapaga was a devout Roman Catholic. Napoleon served and defended the Catholic Church both loyally and faithfully. He represented the Catholic population of American Samoa in the Church Unification Committee of Samoa. He composed many hymns for the Samoan Catholic community and was known to conduct the Leone Catholic Choir. He translated the anthem "Long Live The Pope" into the Samoan Language and composed his own memorial anthem for the first Samoan cardinal, Cardinal Pio Taofinu'u. [1] 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 conveyed to the Holy Father; we will keep on reminding him, and you will be notified as to his decision before he starts 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.

Music Compositions

Napoleon, was a renowned Samoan composer. He wrote the national anthem of American Samoa, several popular songs and music for Hollywood feature films that were set in the Pacific islands [1]. He donated the rights to his songs to the nation of American Samoa.

"Let me hear you whisper"/Tele I'a Ole Sami

In the early part of his life he composed with Ray Evans and Jay Livingston, the song, "Tele Ia Ole Sami" which translates to 'there are many fish in the sea'. The song is mostly known by its English title, "Let me Hear you Whisper". This song has been recorded by many Samoan recording artists including groups such as the Samoan Surf Riders, and Fatu.

Paradise Isle

Tuiteleleapaga composed two songs for Paradise Isle [2], "Paradise 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 [3]. He wrote the anthem in his late 20's then went on to compose other songs. The territorial anthem was officially adopted in 1950.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

ABC Radio National referred to him as "...the eminent Samoan chief and scholar Napoleone Tuiteleleapaga" [4] and quoted his writings regarding the derivation of the Western Polynesian word 'Papalagi' meaning "white people". As a clan chief [5], he played a role in improving relations between islanders and outsiders.

Other notable works

  • Ua Mamalu Tele a.k.a. O Le Vi'i a Leone
  • Minoi Minoi
  • Good Bye My Friend – Tofa mai Feleni
  • 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

Samoa: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Samoa: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Napoleon wrote a book on the Samoan culture and all the aspects of daily island lifestyle. The book was published in 1980 with an introduction by the renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead [1]. "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 The work is a concise telling of Samoan lifestyle in both a historic and anthropological viewpoint. Tuiteleleapaga set out to outline and vividly describe certain events of Samoan culture in which he finds to be significant. In the text, Tuiteleleapaga states that his text is not a publication that contains any scientific arguments or dissertations. The book is treasured among the people of both Samoa and American Samoa, especially the village of Leone.

Professional resume

Napoleon's business card

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

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."

Santa Ana, CA

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."

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.


Napoleon's Gravestone

In the later years of Napoleon's life, He spent some time with his grandson, Napoleon Andrew 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." He returned to American Samoa in the later part of December. During 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 by scolding them to quiet down. Soon after a firework was let off and reached him at his feet. The firework went off right in front of him. Due to the suddenness and explosion of the firework, Napoleon had a Myocardial infarction 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 for the world.


Tuiteleleapga is often remembered for both his comedic tone and harsh disciplinary methods. He is a beloved son of Leone. Napoleon is survived by a vast clan of descendants. His family is scattered across the western United States and the Polynesian Islands. His former title, Tuiteleleapaga, is still in effect and is currently, but remains vacant.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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