Posted by: austronesia | December 28, 2008

Broad Native Hawaiian Constituency demands Withdrawal of Appeal

Broad Native Hawaiian Constituency demands Withdrawal of Appeal


BY GORDON Y.K. PANG
Honolulu Advertiser Staff Writer


Members of the normally conservative Royal Order of Kamehameha I and the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs joined other Native Hawaiian groups at the state Capitol yesterday to protest Gov. Linda Lingle’s position on ceded lands — lands that once belonged to the Hawaiian government before the 1898 overthrow.

“It’s not so much the number of people here today but it’s which came out,” said Vicky Holt Takamine, a kumu hula and president of the çIlioçulaokalani Coalition, which coordinated the rallyattended by roughly 100 people.

Members of the pro-independence umbrella group Hui Pü and the newly formed Hawaiian Independence Alliance also were among those taking part. The groups are protesting the state’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn a Hawai’i Supreme Court ruling in January temporarily barring the state from transferring or selling ceded lands pending unresolved claims by Native Hawaiians.

“If you’re going to have a nation, you need an economic base,” Khan said. “We’d like to have a decision made by the Hawaiian nation as to what happens to those lands.”  Others at the rally such as Takamine and Clifford Hashimoto, ali’i nui for the Royal Order, said they do not believe the state should sell or transfer ceded lands — period. Hashimoto, in a statement read by Royal Order spokesman William Souza, said “the fall of the Crown Lands will result in the final solution of Hawaiians. The actions of the Old Order are back.”

Former OHA Trustee Adelaide “Frenchy” DeSoto said ceded lands should be used to benefit Native Hawaiians by providing them housing and health services. “Maybe our people don’t have to be on their knees all the time begging,” DeSoto said.

Native Hawaiian rights attorney Dexter Kaiama took issue with the state’s position that Hawaiians may have a “moral” but not “legal” high ground when it comes to ceded lands. Rather than have a U.S. court decide what happens to ceded lands, “ask your country to submit itself to the international courts,” Kaiama said. The Lingle administration has insisted that it has and will con- tinue to support Native Hawaiian causes and that its appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is being backed by a brief supporting the appeal by 29 other states, does nothing to diminish that. Attorney General Mark Bennett, after yesterday’s rally, also reiterated his view that the state’s position on the case has not changed since it was filed against the Cayetano administration in 1994.

The original lawsuits brought by four Native Hawaiians and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and then later joined, sought to temporarily halt the sale of about 1,500 acres in Lahaina and Kona to private interests to finance affordable-housing projects for moderate- and low-income families regardless of whether they have Hawaiian blood, until Hawaiian claims to the lands had been resolved. “We continue to believe that the Hawai`i Supreme Court’s de-
cision was legally incorrect and that it’s our responsibility to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to re- verse the decision because we believe it was fundamentally, legally incorrect,” Bennett said. The Lingle administration believes the issues raised by Native Hawaiian groups should be addressed by the legislative branch of government, he said. That’s why both he and Lingle have lobbied hard for Congressional passage of the Akaka bill, which creates a process that leads to federal recognition of a Native Hawaiian government entity.

There is no inconsistency in arguing that ceded lands are the managerial jurisdiction of the state government while lobbying for the Akaka bill, he said.

Some of the groups at yesterday’s rally oppose the Akaka bill while others support it. Ceded lands are the 1.2 million acres once owned by the Hawaiian government and subsequently taken over by the U.S. as a result of the 1898 annexation. Those lands were then passed to the state and designated for five purposes, including but not exclusively for the betterment of Native Hawaiians. They make up a bulk of state- owned lands and 29 percent of the state’s land mass. Takamine said her group planned yesterday’s rally to coincide with the Christmas vacation visit by President-elect Barack Obama in hopes in gaining his attention on the matter. Takamine’s group is planning a larger event that will take place in Waikïkï on Jan. 17, the anniversary of the 1893 overthrow of Liliu`okalani, Hawai`i’s last monarch.

Reach Gordon Y.K. Pang at gpang@honoluluadvertiser.com or 690-8908.Technorati Tags: ,

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