In re Native Hawaiians – Native Americans/Indigenous Peoples’ Rights – CCR Docket Fall 1992

Native Hawaiian groups are requesting that CCR investigate international law claims regarding the denial of their land rights and other fundamental indigenous peoples’ rights.

When Captain Cook arrived at the Hawaiian Archipelago in 1770, there were 800,000 to one million Hawaiians residing on their traditional lands, enjoying a thriving, self-governing culture. In 1893, the U.S. Marines violently overthrew the government of the Kingdom of Hawaii, the loss of which had serious effects on the religious and cultural life of the Hawaiian community.

In 1920, the U.S. Congress set aside 200,000 acres of land to homestead those persons whose ancestry was 50% Native Hawaiian. But for more than 70 years, these lands have been utilized by the state, federal and county governments for military bases, quarrying, airports, harbors, and parks.

Private developers and politicians-who are not Native Hawaiians-have obtained lucrative leases for commercial and industrial uses.

At present, only 50,000 Native Hawaiians can meet the federally-imposed “blood quantum” requirements to qualify for these lands. During the past 70 years, less than 6,000 Native Hawaiians have received land awards. At present, 23,000 remain on waiting lists, and thousands have died waiting.

Both the federal and state governments have failed to provide any land entitlements for those whose ancestry is less than 50% Native Hawaiian. The Native Hawaiian community has the poorest living standards and the lowest educational levels and life expectancy in the state. They are over­ represented in the prison system and have twice the unemployment rate of the general population in the U.S.

The State Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, which manages the Hawaiian Homes Trust, and the State office of Hawaiian Affairs, which oversees the Ceded Land entitlements of Native Hawaiians, are both under attack for mismanagement.

CCR has agreed to investigate violations of international law which protects rights of indigenous people, including those of land ownership and cultural expression, to be heard before an international body. This case is in the developmental stage.

Jose Luis Morin and Michael Ratner