Stamps Across the Pacific: Part 4 - Pacific Islander

A visual history of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander migrations

25c Canoe and Flag of the Federated States of Micronesia stamp (1990-09-28) by United States Postal ServiceSmithsonian's National Postal Museum

Pacific Islander

Continued from Stamps Across the Pacific: Part 3

During the twentieth century, the United States acquired numerous possessions and territories in the Pacific Ocean as a result the Spanish American War and the Second World War. Over time, several of them have become self-governing.

Whether they are citizens of independent nations in free association with the U.S. such as Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, or reside in U.S. territories like Guam and American Samoa, Pacific Islanders from these places can live and work freely in the United States.

The special historical relationship between the U.S. and these Pacific islands has been commemorated on many stamps. Many of these stamps illustrate aspects of Pacific Island heritage, such as traditional canoes and navigational stick charts, that make them distinct.

25c Stick Chart, Canoe and Flag of the Republic of the Marshall Islands stamp (1990-09-28) by United States Postal ServiceSmithsonian's National Postal Museum

In 1986 the United States, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), and the Marshall Islands created the Compact of Free Association, enabling the islands to govern themselves while receiving U.S. defense and other economic aid.

The member nations released this joint issue of stamps commemorating the Compact of Free Association in 1990.

29c Northern Mariana Islands stamp (1993-11-04) by United States Postal ServiceSmithsonian's National Postal Museum

Now a commonwealth territory of the United States, the Northern Mariana Islands are protected by the U.S., and its inhabitants hold U.S. citizenship. As such, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp in 1993 in tribute to the commonwealth’s fourteen islands.

This stamp depicts latte stones, a common feature found on the Islands. The ancient stones were created by the indigenous Chamorro people as building supports.

32c Republic of Palau stamp (1995-09-29) by United States Postal ServiceSmithsonian's National Postal Museum

In 1994, Palau voted to join the Compact of Free Association, and similar to the FSM and Marshall Islands, the United States and Palau’s postal systems worked together to issue joint stamps in celebration of Palau’s first year of independence.

This stamp illustrates Palau’s rich marine life, which draws many tourists and explorers to its islands every year.

33c American Samoa stamp (2000-04-17) by United States Postal ServiceSmithsonian's National Postal Museum

This stamp commemorating a century of political affiliation between the U.S. and the Samoan Islands was issued in 2000. It illustrates an alia, or traditional double canoe, sailing with the prevailing easterly wind.

Sunuitao Peak, on the island of Ofu, can be seen in the background. The six islands of American Samoa officially became a U.S. territory in 1929.

42c Guam Flag, Fish and Tropicbird stamp (2008-09-02) by United States Postal ServiceSmithsonian's National Postal Museum

Forever Northern Marianas Flag and Palm Tree coil stamp (2011) by United States Postal ServiceSmithsonian's National Postal Museum

The flags of several Pacific Islands were featured in the 2008-2012 “Flags of Our Nation” stamp series, marking the first time the flags of Guam and American Samoa appeared on U.S. postage.

Credits: Story

This virtual exhibition was created by Daniel A. Piazza, NPM’s chief curator. It incorporates some content from an earlier virtual exhibition, People and Places of the Pacific, originally created by Museum Specialist MJ Meredith and Web Intern Joan Flintoft.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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