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Reading articles re US territories, two terms are given significant (e.g are in the heading chapter AND sidebar header of relevant Wikipedia article) reference: Incorporated/Unincorporated and Organized/Unorganized.

I'm trying to understand the significance of Organized/Unorganized. So this term relates to self-governance given by Congress. Of all current territories, only five are (significantly enough) permanently inhabited. Meaning, the concept of organized has really no meaning for the other territories. Of the five inhabited territories, only American Samoa is unorganized. Trying to identify the significant governance difference between this unorganized territory and the others is not a simple task. All territories are self-governed and it seems each territory has its unique relationship with the US federal government including US citizenship/nationality (which does not run parallel to the organized denominator).

So my thought is that perhaps the Organized/Unorganized term is mostly historical, with more significance to territories before becoming organized-incorporated?

Main Wikipedia article: Territories of the United States

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Q: Significance of the organized/unorganized attribution of US territories

The distinction between organized and unorganized is whether the territory obtained its local government organization through an Organic act passed by Congress.

In United States law, an organic act is an act of the United States Congress that establishes a territory of the United States and specifies how it is to be governed, or an agency to manage certain federal lands. In the absence of an organic law a territory is classified as unorganized.

In the case of American Samoa, the distinction has little significance since a level of self-governance was achieved through other means.

In 1949, Organic Act 4500, a U.S. Department of Interior–sponsored attempt to incorporate American Samoa, was introduced in Congress. It was ultimately defeated, primarily through the efforts of Samoan chiefs, led by Tuiasosopo Mariota. The efforts of these chiefs led to the creation of a territorial legislature, the American Samoa Fono, which meets in the village of Fagatogo. In 1950 the Department of the Interior began to administer the American Samoa.

By 1956, the U.S. Navy–appointed governor was replaced by Peter Tali Coleman, who was locally elected. Although technically considered "unorganized" since the U.S. Congress has not passed an Organic Act for the territory, American Samoa is self-governing under a constitution that became effective on July 1, 1967.


Q: So my thought is that perhaps the Organized/Unorganized term is mostly historical, with more significance to territories before becoming organized-incorporated?

That does seem to be the case.

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