Supreme Court decides Hawaii Case

SUBHEAD: U.S. Supreme Court rules in Lingle's favor over sale of Hawaii's ceded lands By Pacific Business News (Honolulu) on 31 March 2009 image above: Kanaka Maoli demonstrates that their land was seized and not ceded. From ( The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the 1993 Apology Resolution did not strip the state of its authority to sell or transfer 1.2 million acres of ceded lands. The court’s unanimous decision overturns a previous ruling by the Hawaii Supreme Court that blocked the sale of land conveyed to Hawaii when it became a state. “I will continue to monitor the case as it is taken back up by the state courts,” said Sen. Daniel Akaka, in a prepared statement in response to the ruling. “I still believe the best way forward is through direct negotiations between the state and federal governments and a federally recognized Native Hawaiian government. For these issues to be resolved, Native Hawaiians need a seat at the table. Mainland indigenous people have this opportunity and Native Hawaiians deserve the same chance.” The case dates back to 1994, when the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and four Native Hawaiians sued the state for its plans to sell public land on Maui and the Big Island to residential developers. The property involves ceded lands, once controlled by the Hawaiian monarchy but taken over by the United States when Hawaii was annexed as a territory in 1898. The federal government turned over the land when Hawaii became a state in 1959, with the agreement that it be used generally to benefit the public and specifically the Native Hawaiian people. Some of the revenue from leases of ceded lands is used to fund OHA, which is a state agency. In 2002, a state court ruled in favor of the state, saying it could sell the lands. That decision was overturned last year by the Hawaii Supreme Court and the ruling was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court’s opinion is available here .

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