Native Village Youth and Education News

May 1, 2009 Issue 198
Volume 3

U.S. Supremes rule against Native Hawaiians’ land claims
By Gale Courey Toensing
Condensed by Native Village

Washington, D.C.  The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Congress’ 1893 apology for overthrowing the Hawaiian monarchy cannot stop the State of Hawaii from selling 1,200,000 acres of land. That land was seized illegally before resolving land claims by Native Hawaiians.

The ruling in State of Hawaii v. Office of Hawaiian Affairs was issued March 31.

The state petitioned the case in the U.S. Supreme Court last year after the Hawaii Supreme Court stopped the state from selling or transferring these “ceded lands.” These lands were held in trust until Native Hawaiians’ land claims were resolved.

"This (ruling) is a legal fiction to cover up the fact that the U.S. government accepted the stolen lands from the Republic of Hawaii government," said J. Kehaulani Kauanui from Wesleyan University.  "[They] confiscated these lands after the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom. The Republic of Hawaii could not have ceded these lands in “absolute fee” to the United States because they were stolen. The U.S. government accepted the stolen goods and cannot prove title because they were stolen without Hawaiian people’s consent and without compensation.”

Hawaiian nationalists also reject federal recognition to resolve their quest for sovereignty.

“...The U.S. government knows it does not have any legitimate title to these stolen lands. Hence, the only way the U.S. will ever be able to secure its claim is by constituting a Hawaiian governing entity to give up the claim to them,” Kauanui said. He said those involved in the Hawaiian nationalist movement must “continue to draw attention to the pathological hypocrisy of U.S. Empire and insist on the legal validity of the Hawaiian claim to independent nationhood.”




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