Shapiro wrong on ceded lands

By: Trustee Rowena Akana

Source: Letter sent to the Honolulu Advertiser Editor, January 8, 2009

I take issue with Mr. David Shapiro’s December 10, 2008 statement that, “No state can operate effectively with its ability to manage its resources in indefinite limbo.”

I agree with the principle of his statement but he cannot compare Hawaii with any other state.  No state other than Hawaii relies on native lands to function.  It is a shame that this state cannot find other sources of revenues to meet its needs and has to continually rob “native” resources.  It has been too easy for this state to use our native resources to balance its budget.  We acknowledge the right of the state to use ceded lands to satisfy other purposes mentioned in the Admissions Act, OHA has never disagreed with that fact.  However, we do disagree that the state has a right to sell ceded lands that satisfy the Hawaiian requirement of the Admissions Act.

A whole new attitude of respect must be initiated at the state level regarding ceded lands so that Hawaiians are not short changed.  Only then can the state expect to have the cooperation of the Hawaiian community.

The state must also change its stance that it has the legal right to all of our native lands, which is clearly not the case.  Hawaiian Home Lands are ceded lands and its mandate was created by federal law.  For the state to say that “they” have the legal right to all of our lands while we only have a moral one is not only arrogant but also ignorant.