After an hour and a half drive up to Madison, Wisconsin, I returned home thankful to have met author and researcher, Karen Wheat. Karen Wheat is the author of her historical picture book, “Pictures of Change in Paradise.”
Karen Wheat’s published picture book is an amalgam of picture collections of American Samoa she recovered and saved from her late great-uncle, Joseph L. Dwyer. Dwyer was a secretary to a Navy commander. This commander was recalled around the time as American Samoa’s governor in the 1900’s.
Wheat’s book is a unique project of history and colonization which also reflects a significant change in paradise from grass skirts, u’a siapo apparels to the present Westernized clothing. The pictures Wheat shares hold so much value of our beginning as Samoan people.
I felt chills crawling up my arms when I first saw pictures of Fagatogo village (downtown area of American Samoa) back in the day, the governor’s house and the topless belles mixing the ava/kava.
Some of the beautiful pictures Wheat shares are of our Samoan practices somewhat foreign to us now like the topless ladies with floral necklaces. Each picture certainly can link our children to understand when palagi last names started to appear in the islands and to recognize when time swiftly transitioned over to change.
I remember a grand-aunt telling a story that people claimed that they were either German, Chinese or American. It was in the days of colonization when there was either war, migration or romance.
I was stunned by the author’s knowledge and familiarity on most of the things I’ve seen in my own homeland. Nothing makes me more proud than seeing and hearing people researching about the histories, system, cultural and colonial days of both Samoan islands.
Karen is such a sweet and thoughtful person. We shared over our meal some stories of what we had in common (of course) about my homeland of American Samoa. I enjoyed this meet and greet, even more grateful for such honest and laid back time with another writer since my meet and greet with Sia Figiel back in May 2016.
After huffing and puffing up and down the narrow bus and bike lanes of Madison; passing silent picket protesters, homeless people:(, mini alleys, disappointed Packer fans and a bunch of pubs, Karen and I shook hands, conversed and dined over sandwiches @ a Wisconsinite brewery. The restaurant was very loud with Packer fans but we managed to deliver our questions and answers smoothly.
It was nice meeting with Ms.Karen Wheat and her husband. Thank you for your thoughtfulness for my homeland. I can’t wait to see the finished product.
Our pics are mildly blurry but we wanted one right in Madison’s narrow rural street that’s always filled with bikers. One of the best places to live in the US is Madison, which is a home to supportive and heartful sports townsmen.
Her book is advertised on Samoa News and sold on Amazon.