March 31, 2009, 7:44 AM HST (Updated March 31, 2009, 3:20 PM) · 0 Comments

The Supreme Court issued a ruling in a ceded lands case that overturns an earlier decision that had favored of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

According to the court opinion, a congressional resolution that apologized for the US role in the overthrow of the kingdom of Hawaii, was not intended to serve as a settlement of any claims against the United States.  The justices ruled unanimously that the 1993 Apology Resolution is not grounds, of itself, to halt the state from selling former Kingdom of Hawai’i crown lands.

There are an estimated 1.2 million acres of crown lands in the state.  Today’s decision overturns a ruling by the Hawaii Supreme Court that blocked the sale of lands until unrelinquished native claims to the property were settled.

One of the large projects to be affected by the outcome of the case is a state proposal to develop ceded lands mauka of the Wahikuli and Leialii areas of West Maui for additional housing.  The crown lands at Leialii have been held by the state since 1959 as part of the Admission Act trust.  The Office of Hawaiian Affairs had agreed to remove the parcel from the trust in exchange for compensation and a disclaimer preserving any native Hawaiian claims to lands transferred for redevelopment-but the state did not agree.

In response to today’s ruling, U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka said he believes the best way forward is through direct negotiations between the state and federal governments and a federally recognized Native Hawaiian government.

The ruling appears to send the case back to the Hawai’i State Supreme Court for reconsideration.

Click HERE to view the 15-page U.S. Supreme Court Opinion.


(Posted by Wendy OSHER © 2009; Place holder images courtesy: Office of Hawaiian Affairs.  Photo by:  Blaine Fergerstrom)



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