There are several bills in the Legislature that would completely prohibit the State of Hawaii from selling any parcels of the ceded lands, or impose a rule that any such sale would require a 2/3 vote in the Legislature. About 95% of all the public lands of Hawaii are ceded lands, so such a prohibition would seriously damage the ability of the State to manage our lands.
For example, the lawsuit that caused all the fuss and awaits oral arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court on February 25 concerns the State's attempt to sell some land to a private developer to build low-income housing. The history of that lawsuit, all principal briefs and amicus briefs on both sides, and a compilation of news reports and commentaries, can be found at
For general background about what the ceded lands are, and why there is no racial ownership of them and why there should not be any racial restrictions on them, see
Various organizations, most notably OHA, have insisted that ethnic Hawaiians as a group have a claim on the ceded lands. They say this claim needs to be negotiated and settled before any of the lands should be sold. They say we should wait for the Akaka bill to pass so that the resulting Akaka tribe can negotiate a settlement with the State to carve up the public lands of Hawaii.
Some of the bills now in the Legislature regarding the ceded lands are House bills HB184, HB902, HB1667, HB1805, and their matching Senate bills SB475, SB476, SB1085, SB1677. The text of any bill can be found by putting the bill number into the search window on the Legislature's webpage at
I have submitted testimony on all those bills. Here is some of that testimony.
HAWAII REALLY IS A PART OF THE UNITED STATES
Before briefly recalling the history, let me remind you that if you do not believe Hawaii is legally and morally a part of the United States, then you must immediately resign your position in the Legislature. Before you could run as a candidate or be seated, you were required to take an oath including "I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States." There's no room for quibbling here.
Hawaiian sovereignty activists claim that the revolution of 1893 that overthrew the monarchy was "illegal." They claim that the presence of 162 U.S. peacekeepers constituted an armed invasion (like China invading Tibet or Germany invading Poland), and that the U.S. apology resolution of 1893 is a confession of a crime under international law. They claim the annexation of 1898 was illegal (for many reasons, all bogus). They claim the Statehood vote of 1959 was illegal. They claim the apology resolution of 1993 is a confession of a crime under international law which requires the U.S. to withdraw from Hawaii and provide huge reparations for 116 years of belligerent military occupation of the Hawaiian indigenous homeland.
My dear Legislator, if you believe any of those things you should immediately resign. You are violating your oath of office if you give credence to any of those assertions and, giving the benefit of the doubt to them, you then pass legislation that basically says "here's what we must do just in case this is true." You must stand firm, in public, in front of God and your fellow citizens, and you must say "I am proud to be an American, I have no doubt that Hawaii is the 50th State of the United States, and I will never support any legislation based on any doubt of that or which would in any way violate the U.S. Constitution."
Here are a few places where you can get more information about specific topics addressed above:
Historical Issues Related to Hawaiian Sovereignty -- Revolution (Overthrow of monarchy), Annexation, Statehood, Indigenous Status, Hawaiian Language Ban, Ceded Lands, Etc. This is a webpage whose purpose is to provide links to other webpages on specific historical topics.
What Does the United States Owe to Native Hawaiians? Two reports commissioned by Congress contain the answers (Morgan Report of 1894 about the revolution of 1893, and Native Hawaiians Study Commission report of 1983). Links to the full text of both reports, which are many hundreds of pages and well-documented.
The 1993 apology resolution is filled with factual errors and distortions. Constitutional law scholar, attorney Bruce Fein, wrote a monograph which includes extensive, point-by-point refutation of it. See "Hawaii Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand" at
Following the creation of the Republic of Hawaii in July 1894 by publication of its Constitution, there were Emperors, Kings, Queens, and Presidents of 20 nations on 4 continents who personally signed official letters recognizing the Republic as the rightful government of Hawaii de jure. Photos of the original letters in the state archives, plus Liliuokalani's letter of abdication and oath of loyalty to the Republic, can all be seen at
Lili'uokalani Loses A Big One (The Crown Lands) -- Liliuokalani v. United States, 45 Ct. Cl. 418 (1910)
THE PUBLIC LANDS OF HAWAII (INCLUDING THE "CEDED LANDS") BELONGED TO ALL THE SUBJECTS (CITIZENS) OF THE MULTIRACIAL KINGDOM OF HAWAII AND THE REPUBLIC OF HAWAII WITHOUT RACIAL DISTINCTION; WERE SET ASIDE BY THE U.S. AS A PUBLIC TRUST SOLELY TO BENEFIT ALL THE PEOPLE OF HAWAII WITHOUT RACIAL DISTINCTION DURING THE TERRITORIAL PERIOD; AND ONCE AGAIN BELONG TO ALL THE CITIZENS OF THE STATE OF HAWAII WITHOUT RACIAL DISTINCTION.
The Crown lands originally were set aside in the Mahele (1838) as the King's private property. But in 1865 the Kingdom Legislature passed a law to take government ownership of the crown lands in return for the government's issuance of bonds to pay off a mortgage the King had placed on the crown lands, which mortgage was in danger of foreclosure; and the King happily signed that law.
From that point forward the crown lands were merged with the government lands and became jointly the "public lands" except that the income from the crown lands was set aside by statute for the purpose of financing the official functions of the head of state (at that time the King). After the revolution there was no more monarch, so the "crown land" revenues went to support the functions of government in the same way as the old "government land" revenues.
Please note that throughout the history of the Kingdom of Hawaii there was never any racial set-aside of any lands communally for native Hawaiians as a group. There were crown lands, government lands, and private lands; but there were never any "Native Hawaiian" lands.
In 1909 ex-queen Lili'uokalani filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Claims demanding money for herself as compensation for the "confiscation" of "her" crown lands resulting from the annexation. In 1910 the court ruled that Liliuokalani had never personally owned the crown lands and therefore was not entitled to any compensation. Today's Hawaiian activists would do well to note that their hero Lili'uokalani never asserted that the ceded lands belonged communally to ethnic Hawaiians; and if she had won her lawsuit the money would have been paid to her personally and not to ethnic Hawaiians communally.
SECTION 5(f) OF THE 1959 STATEHOOD ADMISSION ACT DOES NOT REQUIRE THAT ONE PENNY MUST BE SPENT SPECIFICALLY FOR ETHNIC HAWAIIANS TO THE EXCLUSION OF OTHERS. ETHNIC HAWAIIANS HAVE ZERO CLAIM TO ANY RACIAL SET-ASIDES.
Section 5(f) says ceded land revenues can be spent for ANY ONE OR MORE of 5 purposes. One of those purposes is public education; and for the first 20 years of statehood virtually all the ceded land revenues was given to the public schools. Since 26% of the school children were ethnic Hawaiians, therefore ethnic Hawaiians received 26% of the ceded land revenues without any explicit racial set-aside.
One of the five purposes identified in section 5(f) is "for the betterment of native Hawaiians as defined in the Hawaii Homes Commission Act of 1921." The reason for including that among the 5 purposes was to allow ceded land revenues to be used to support the Hawaiian Homesteads, which are restricted to Hawaiians of at least 50% native blood quantum.
It may well be that HHCA of 1921 was unconstitutional. It is likely that section 5(f) of the Admission Act is unconstitutional to the extent that it is construed as giving the State of Hawaii permission to violate the 14th Amendment by setting aside some or all of the ceded land revenues to be used for a racially exclusionary purpose.
In any case, the racial set-aside apparently allowed under section 5(f) is exclusively for Hawaiians of 50% native blood quantum, and does not require or even contemplate any racial set-aside for all "one-drop" Hawaiians (the class eligible to sign up for Kau Inoa and join the much-anticipated Akaka tribe).
It is ludicrous to imagine that "Hawaiians" or "Native Hawaiians" as a group (as defined by statute according to the one-drop rule) have any legal or moral claim to the ceded lands. There are no legal or moral race-based claims which needs to be resolved before parcels of ceded lands can be sold. The only way such claims might be established is if you, the Legislature, decide to create such claims. Please don't do that. Just say no.
THE BIG PICTURE
I believe the single most important issue facing Hawai'i in the foreseeable future is the imminent and continuing threat that the lands, resources, government and people of Hawai'i will be divided along racial lines.
The Legislature has repeatedly passed resolutions favoring the Akaka bill to create a racially exclusionary government empowered to negotiate with YOU, the legislators. It is expected that you will give away massive amounts of land, money, and jurisdictional authority.
Numerous bills in the Legislature in recent years have tried to implement massive give-aways even before the tribe is created, and before any negotiations have started. That's absurd! No responsible negotiator gives away important concessions before the opponents even arrive at the table.
Please read "Hawaiian Apartheid: Racial Separatism and Ethnic Nationalism in the Aloha State" at
THE PROPOSAL TO REQUIRE A 2/3 VOTE TO AUTHORIZE A SALE OF CEDED LANDS
The Legislature in session this year cannot bind any Legislatures of future years. Any future Legislature could, by simple majority vote, repeal this 2/3 requirement and make its own decision whether to sell ceded lands and by what voting process to authorize such a sale. The only way to bind future Legislatures is to pass a Constitutional amendment.
Also, there is something terribly unbalanced about this proposal, because it prohibits the state or any of its agencies from selling any ceded lands without a 2/3 vote, but it does not impose any restriction on the state transferring public lands to the control of OHA or to the control of a future Akaka tribe aka "Native Hawaiian Governing Entity."
I find it legally unconstitutional and morally reprehensible for the State of Hawaii, or any of its agencies, to give any public lands to any government or private entity which practices racial discrimination or exclusion, even if such racial discrimination occurs under the euphemism of "indigenous people." Therefore, if you choose to pass this bill despite the fact that you cannot bind future Legislatures, then please at least amend this bill to add the following language in the appropriate place (or words to this effect):
The State of Hawaii, and any of its agencies, are hereby prohibited from selling or giving away or leasing any of the public lands of Hawaii (including the ceded lands) to any government or private agency or institution which practices racial discrimination or racial exclusion, including providing benefits or services to beneficiaries who are restricted according to race, gender, or national origin.
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(c) Copyright 2009 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved