Groups Protest Sale of Hawaiian Lands

On Friday, December 26, 2008, Kanaka Maoli and allies protested Governor Lingle’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue of whether the State can sell the Crown and Government Lands of the Hawaiian Kingdom, what is erroneously called “ceded land”.  Land is the central issue in Hawai’i.  The military’s massive presence in Hawai’i depends on having ample land to conduct its training exercises. And yet, most of the military’s land, consist of these Crown and Government Lands of the Hawaiian Kingdom.  So extinguishing Hawaiian claims to land has been a priority for the US government.  Here are some photos from the demonstration from David Ma.

Rally Opposes Sale of Ceded Lands

Written by Brooks Baehr –

December 26, 2008 06:21 PM

Several Native Hawaiian groups gathered at the State Capitol in Honolulu Friday to voice opposition to the state’s position on the possible sale of ceded lands.

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in February on the state’s request to sell ceded land when it deems appropriate.

Many Native Hawaiians say selling the land will sell them short.

Almost all land owned by the state, including land under the University of Hawaii and land under the state’s airports, is considered ceded land.

The ceded lands encompass roughly 1.2 million acres of former Hawaiian government land the state acquired as part of the Admission Act in 1959.

In January Hawaii Supreme Court ruled against the state’s request, but the Lingle administration has appealed the matter all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

About 75 people gathered at the capitol Friday to urge Governor Linda Lingle to withdraw the state’s request to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“What she wants is the right to sell and transfer ceded lands. She is a trust officer. The lands are being held in trust by the state of Hawaii and she wants the right to sell or transfer them out of the inventory. We have a problem with that because there has been no discussion with the native Hawaiian people. There has been no explanation by her on why she’s doing this,” Vicky Holt Takamine, a long time Hawaiian activist and member of the group Ilio Ula O Kalani.

Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett responded on behalf of the lingle administration. He told KGMB9 the state “was given the right by Congress … to use, manage and where appropriate sell the land for the purposes specified in the admission act.”

One of those purposes, Bennett said, is development of affordable housing. He said the ceded lands dispute arose in the mid 1990’s when the state tried to transfer land on Maui for construction of affordable homes.

Twenty percent of revenue from ceded lands is supposed to go to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Those who oppose the sale of ceded lands say selling them would deprive OHA beneficiaries of a steady stream of income for things including social services.

“Now if you take away that income and it’s a one shot, what do you do? How do you take care of these people?” asked Community Leader Frenchie DeSoto.

“This is not just a kanaka maoli issue, because this land gives life to everyone here. By selling it you are stealing the future from everyone who calls Hawaii home. So we have to stand up and defend these lands from being privatized and sold off to the highest bidder,” Kyle Kajihiro, program director of the American Friends Service Committee.

People at Friday’s rally hope President-elect Barack Obama will take a personal interest in the matter.

“And if he needs to have any clarification, certainly he can contact us. We welcome the opportunity, although we know it’s probably impossible, to sit down with him for 15 minutes to give him a quick overview,” added Hawaiian activist Wayne Panoke.

Various Hawaiian groups are planning an even bigger protest in Waikiki on January 17. That will be the 116th anniversary of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

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