9 Dec 2008

Hawai'i governor pushes to keep land from native claimants

5:05 pm on 9 December 2008

Hawaii's Governor, Linda Lingle, is to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court that Native Hawaiians do not have an ownership claim to land that belonged to the Hawaiian government before its overthrow in 1893.

At issue are 1.2 million acres of ceded lands once owned by the Hawaiian monarchy which were taken by the provisional Hawaiian government following the overthrow of the monarchy.

Those lands were then handed over to the U.S. government when Hawai'i became a U.S. territory, and finally the state of Hawai'i in 1959.

Bill Meheula, who is a lawyer for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, has described the governor's position as immoral.

He said that in 1993, the U.S. Congress approved an apology to Native Hawaiians for the federal government's role in the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai'i.

The apology, signed into law by President Clinton, calls for Congress to support reconciliation between the nation and Native Hawaiians.

But Governor Linda Lingle's office says the Hawai'i Supreme Court erred as a matter of law in finding that the 1993 Congressional apology resolution changed the legal landscape in any way.