Tightening the Grip of the State

Posted by Marti Townsend at Feb 10, 2009 10:47 PM |

From our intern, Koa Luke:

From the Hawaii Independence Blog.  Click here to sign the petition in support of protecting Hawaiian land.

From the Hawaiian Independence Blog.

The State of Hawai’i and Governor Lingle are vying for the right to clear title (that is, to sell) ceded/seized lands.  The case will be heard by the United States Supreme Court in a few weeks: February 25th.
The ceded/seized lands were those lands identified by the Hawaiian Kingdom as crown/public lands.  These lands were illegally and unwillingly transferred from the Kingdom (from the time of the occupation) through the Republic and Territorial eras to eventually be held by the State of Hawai’i.  These lands, accounting for 1.8 million acres across the archipelago, were to be used for five purposes one of them being for the betterment of Native Hawaiians. These lands are to be held in public trust until a Hawaiian political structure is established to govern itself.
Unfortunately, this is something that has been severely abused; no programs or land from these ceded/seized lands was ever created or given to the descendants of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Instead, these lands are abused and used by the state for things such as the Honolulu International Airport and the University of Hawai’i Manoa campus where Hawaiians are sorely underrepresented in the student population.
On February 25th, the Lingle administration will argue to the U.S. Supreme Court that they have clear title to all of these ceded/seized lands.  Stemming from a case beginning during former Gov. Waihe’e's term, OHA (and four other individuals) sued the Housing and Community Development Corporation of Hawai’i (a state entity) for attempting to clear title on a portion of these ceded/seized lands for housing.  In January 2008 the State of Hawai’i Supreme court ruled in favor of the people citing the 1993 U.S. Apology bill which correctly admits that these lands were never willfully transferred from the Kingdom of Hawai’i during the illegal overthrow.  In their ruling, they also stated that the State of Hawai’i is to hold these lands in trust until the unrelinquished rights of Native Hawaiians are resolved.
Tightening the grip that the State of Hawai’i already holds on Native Hawaiians, Gov. Lingle and Attorney General Mark Bennett went outside of the State of Hawai’i to seek a more favorable ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court.  Even former Gov. Waihe’e , at a panel discussion organized by the Kupu ‘Aina coalition, noted his dismay with the administration on going beyond the jurisdiction of the State Supreme Court.

One of the administration’s main arguments is that the 1993 has no legal standing and its writ claims the apology bill is merely symbolic. On their website, www.stopsellingcededlands.com, Kupu ’Aina correctly explains that “allowing the sale of ceded lands before those claims are resolved is detrimental because it reduces the bargaining power of the Native Hawaiian community to resolve these claims.”

This important issue deserves all of our attention.  We need to continue to come together as a community to protect the land rightfully belonging to the Hawaiian people.  The Ku I Ka Pono march on January 17th was beautiful, we came together regardless of our different political mana’o.  We need to continue this momentum, do all you can to educate your neighbors, family and friends; organize a protest or rally, fly a Hawaiian flag on the 24th and 25th of February; do all that is in your power and means to educate people and stand against the actions of the State.  Here is also a link to a petition calling for a moratorium on the selling of these lands.  Please sign it and pass it on.

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