On November 30, 1921, Pollock was transferred from command of the Oklahoma to become the Military Governor of American Samoa. Events both personal and political led to a previous Governor Terhune's suicide on November 3, 1920 and the appointment of Governor Waldo A. Evans to conduct a court of inquiry into the situation and to restore order. Pollock succeeded Evans, who had successfully restored the government and productivity of the islands after a period of unrest. At this time, American Samoa was administered by a team of twelve officers and a Governor, with a total population of approximately 8,000 people. The islands were primarily important due to the excellent harbor at Pago Pago.
Beginning in 1920, a Mau movement, from the Samoan word for "opposition", was forming in American Samoa in protest of several Naval government policies which natives (and some non-natives) found heavy-handed. The movement itself may have been inspired by a different and older Mau movement in nearby Western Samoa, against the German and then New Zealand colonial powers. Some of the initial grievances of the movement included the quality of roads in the territory, a marriage law which largely forbade natives from marrying non-natives, and a justice system which discriminated against locals in part because laws were not often available in Samoan. In addition, the United States Navy also prohibited an assembly of Samoan chiefs, who the movement considered the real government of the territory. Surprisingly, the movement grew to include several prominent officers of Governor Warren Jay Terhune's staff, including his executive officer. It culminated in a proclamation by Samuel S. Ripley, an American Samoan from an afakasi or mixed-blood Samoan family, with large communal property in the islands, that he was the leader of a legitimate successor government to pre-1899 Samoa. Evans also met with the high chiefs and secured their assent to continued Naval government. Ripley, who had traveled to Washington to meet with Secretary of the Navy Edwin C. Denby, was not permitted by Evans to enter the port at American Samoa and returned to exile in California, where he became the mayor of Richmond.
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