State of Hawai’i v. OHA: Showdown in Washington, D.C.


Source: March 2009 Ka Wai Ola o OHA Column

`Ano`ai kakou…  In 1994, OHA joined Pia Thomas Aluli, Jonathan Kamakawiwo’ole Osorio, Charles Ka’ai’ai and Keoki Kamaka Ki’ili in suing the State of Hawai’i to prevent it from selling ceded lands.  At that time, the State was about to sell nearly 500 acres in Lāhaina in a project called Leiali’i and another 1,000 acres in Kona in a project referred to as La’i’ōpua.  The lawsuit argued that the State, as trustee of the ceded land trust, should not sell ceded lands until Native Hawaiian claims to ceded lands had been resolved.

In 2002, Circuit Judge Sabrina McKenna ruled in favor of the State and held that the State was authorized under the Admission Act to sell ceded lands.  Then, in January, 2008, the Hawai’i Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, reversed the lower court decision, and held that in light of the Apology Resolution and similar State legislation, the State possessed a fiduciary duty to preserve the corpus of the Public Land Trust, specifically, the ceded lands, until such time as the unrelinquished claims of the Native Hawaiians have been resolved.

The Lingle administration appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and in October of 2008, the court said it would hear the case.  OHA has asked the Lingle administration to withdraw its appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but they refused to budge.  Oral arguments before the court in Washington, D.C., are scheduled for February 25, 2009.

The Supreme Court will specifically look at whether the Joint Resolution to Acknowledge the 100th Anniversary of the January 17, 1893, Overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii strips the State of Hawaii of its authority to sell lands ceded to it by the federal government until it reaches a political settlement with the Native Hawaiians about the status of those lands.

The stakes could not be higher for us since the U.S. Supreme Court could rule that all ceded lands are the property of the State of Hawaii and end up undermining all Native Hawaiian programs and assets as well as the legal basis for federal recognition.

What could possibly be motivating Governor Lingle to want to sell ceded lands?  Why can’t she just offer 99-year leases like the provisional and territorial governments after the overthrow?  A cynical person might conclude that it must have something to do with her political career.  It’s also not hard to imagine that the urgent move to sell ceded lands is probably motivated by developers who are promising great things for her political future.

It is also shameful that the State of Hawaii has to rely on native lands in order to continue operating.  It has been far too easy for this state to rob our native resources to balance its budget.

Thankfully, OHA will not be alone in Washington.  Among those filing legal briefs in opposition to the Lingle administration’s appeal are:  Abigail Kawananakoa, former Gov. John Waihee, former Hawai’i Supreme Court Chief Justice William Richardson, Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, the entire Hawai’i congressional delegation, the Equal Justice Society, the Japanese American Citizens League, and the National Congress of American Indians.

Most of the briefs ask the U.S. Supreme Court to not hear the case, arguing that it is better to deal with the issue at the state level.  Others argued that the court shouldn’t get involved since there wouldn’t be a substantial federal impact.  The briefs also argue that the Hawai’i courts did not say that the Apology Resolution itself provided us with any rights or claims, but it did recognize that we have unrelinquished claims over the ceded lands and that it foresaw our future reconciliation of those claims with the state and federal governments.

Abigail Kawananakoa wrote that “The State of Hawai’i has trust obligations to Native Hawaiians that are in the process of being reconciled by the nonjudicial branches of government.  The trust and moral obligations of the State of Hawai’i arise from Hawai’i’s complex history.”

Equal Justice Society and Japanese American Citizens League wrote that since the U.S. has admitted that the 1893 overthrow was illegal, “the ceded lands hold unique cultural, spiritual and political significance for the Native Hawaiian people — they are not fungible or replaceable.”

The U.S. solicitor general and attorneys general for 29 states have filed briefs in support of Governor Lingle’s position.  The briefs argue that the Hawai’i Supreme Court misinterpreted the Apology Resolution and that preventing a state from selling, transferring or exchanging state lands would hurt not only the state but also all of its citizens.

The Native Hawaiian Caucus of the Hawaii State Legislature is trying to head-off the U.S. Supreme Court’s February 25th hearing by quickly passing a law that would stop all sales of ceded lands.  Senate President Hanabusa has even proposed a compromise that would allow the sale of ceded lands, but only with the approval of two-thirds vote of both the State House and State Senate.

All of the OHA trustees have been encouraged to attend the oral arguments and I am planning to attend.  I have no doubt that we will prevail because I believe the US Supreme Court will clearly see that the Governor Lingle’s claims are not only historically wrong but also morally bankrupt.  Aloha Ke Akua.

Land and Sovereignty

By: Trustee Rowena Akana
February 3, 1999

No two words have so captured the attention of this archipelago’s residents as “land” and “sovereignty”. Despite developments since the 100-year anniversary of the 1893 illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy, as well as the United States’ apology and admission of the illegality of the overthrow, many people do not grasp what either word means or will mean for their future.

The general goal of sovereignty advocates is the transfer of control of Hawaiian Home Lands and ceded lands directly to a native Hawaiian government. Currently, the state and federal government hold in trust about 1.2 million acres of land for the benefit of Hawaiians. Yet, the first people to these lands have seen very few benefits.

Hawaiian Home Lands are scattered tracts comprising about 197,075 acres, which Congress set aside in 1920 for native Hawaiian homesteaders. Ceded lands are the remains of an estimated 1.8 million acres of public, private and crown land illegally annexed by resolution from a provisional government to the United States in 1898.

Hawaiian land, once farmed communally, is now some of the most expensive real estate on Earth. Housing prices, driven up by mainland retirees and foreign speculators, are out of reach for Hawaiians living, working and raising families in the islands.

Hawaiian waters, once kept in ecological balance with humans through a complex kapu system, are now oversold to the highest bidder, or treated as a toilet for raw sewage.

Hawaiian culture, once a living history of genealogy, geography, and spirituality, was nearly obliterated by Calvinist missionaries and is usually obscured with tourist-pleasing luaus.

Today, 70-80,000 people (depending on the source) – of Hawaii’s more than one million residents are full-blooded Hawaiians. One fifth, or about 225,000 people claim some Hawaiian blood. Yet Hawaiians remain the poorest, sickest, least educated, worst housed, and most frequently imprisoned segment of Hawaii’s population.

Since Kamehameha the Great, foreigners have enjoyed some measure of control over Hawaiian land. The concept of land ownership was foreign to Hawaiians. How can you own what belongs to God? The king and his chief provided land grants to the people–some of them outsiders, who chose to grow large tracts of crops to be sold overseas, rather than to be eaten at home.

In 1825, when 12-year-old Kamehameha III ascended to the throne, the Council of Chiefs adopted the western practice of inheritance after the death of a king. However, foreigners, protective of their agricultural interest, sought more secure forms of land tenure. They and their governments applied considerable pressure on the young king.

In 1840, the year he drew up Hawaii’s first constitution, Kamehameha III granted the right to property by declaring that all land belonged to the chiefs and the people, with the king as trustee. In 1848, true ownership of land came to Hawaii, when the king accepted a land apportionment plan, called the Great Mahele, or division.

The Mahele completed the transition from a feudal redistribution land system to a fee simple land ownership system, by dividing the land among the king, government, chiefs and the people. The land was split into three parts: about 1 million acres of crown lands to which the king held title; 1.5 million acres of government lands for public use; and, the remaining 1.5 million of Konohiki lands set aside for individual ownership by the chiefs and the people.

The Mahele was an unmitigated disaster for the maka’ainana, the people of the land, or commoners. While the king intended to make available one-third of Hawaii’s lands to maka’ainana, they received much less than one percent of the total land. The maka’ainana’s land holdings and rights were further diluted in 1850, with the passage of additional legislation which authorized ownership and conveyance of the land, regardless of citizenship.

The stage was set for a massive land grab by Westerners. In the next half century, with a population no larger than 2,000, Westerners took control of most of Hawaii’s land, and manipulated the economy for their own profit.

Many Native Hawaiians pleaded with their last elected monarch, Queen Lili’uokalani, to protect the sovereignty of Hawaii. At the urging of her people, the queen attempted to regain some of the monarchy’s power, which had been lost during the reign of her predecessor and brother, King Kalakaua through the Bayonet Constitution.

Her efforts to change Hawaii’s Constitution and cabinet unnerved a group of the wealthiest American merchants and sugar planters. These men wanted to be part of the United States to avoid high import tariffs. So, backed by a contingent of 162 U.S. Marines, the businessmen imprisoned the queen, and took over the islands, including the acreage that was supposed to be available to the maka’ainana.

Despite Lili’uokalani’s steadfast belief that the United States government would honor its treaties with the Kingdom and reject the provisional government, Hawaii went from a sovereign nation to an American colony in five years. In 1898, under President William McKinley, Hawaii was annexed to the United States constellation, along with Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines.

President Grover Cleveland, who had opposed the coup, but failed to reverse it, wrote after leaving office: Hawaii is ours. But as look back upon the first steps in this miserable business, and as I contemplate the means to complete this outrage, I am ashamed of the whole affair.”

Meanwhile, the provisional government sold chunks of crown and Konohiki lands to fellow merchants and planters. When the islands were annexed illegally to the United States, Hawaii’s government acknowledged that this acreage (now 1.8 million acres) belonged to Native Hawaiians, and ceded it with the stipulation that it be held in trust for Native Hawaiians. The federal government summarily lopped off about 20 percent of the land for its own use, mostly for military bases and parks.

By 1920, the plight of the true inhabitants, Native Hawaiians, had become desperate. The population had dropped as much as 96 percent. Some scholars estimate that a one-time population of 1 million Hawaiians in pre-contact Hawaii had plummeted to 40,000.

However, a bill was being prepared that would allow Native Hawaiians to lease a small sliver of their former land. The Hawaiian Homes Commission Act began as a well meaning effort by Prince Jonah Kuhio, the Hawaiian territorial delegate to Congress, who saw urban slums and disease rapidly killing off Hawaiians, and hoped that returning Hawaiians to their aina, their agricultural land, could save them. In 1920, he said: “The Hawaiian race is passing, and if conditions continue to exist as they do today, this splendid race of people, my race, will pass from the face of this earth.”

No sooner did Prince Kuhio float his plan in Congress than it was co-opted by pineapple and sugar planters, who saw it as a way to secure their own uncertain futures. Their leases on 26,000 fertile acres were about to expire, and a general homestead law threatened to transfer their lucrative holdings to other hands.

So the planters struck a deal with territorial politicians: Get rid of general homesteading, allow us to keep our lands, and in exchange, you may allot 200,000 acres of “fourth class” lands to native Hawaiians for homestead. This land was arid, inaccessible, soilpoor, without infrastructure, and otherwise unfit for cultivation. Before long, Hawaiians abandoned agrarianism, and the bulk of homestead awards became simple house lots.
The sugar planters ensured that the Hawaiian Home Lands’ first executive was an ally. Its executive secretary was George Cooke, of Castle & Cooke, one of the Big Five plantation powers. The planters even pushed the 50 percent Hawaiian blood requirement, believing that interracial marriages would dilute the native population to extinction.

After statehood in 1959, responsibility for managing the homestead program was transferred from the federal government to the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL). Because the state failed to appropriate sufficient funding, until recently, the DHHL’s main source of revenue to manage and improve the land was income from general use leases granted non-Hawaiians on land “not immediately needed” for homestead. As a result, DHHL leased more land to non-Hawaiians than to Hawaiians.

For decades, the administration of the Hawaiian Home Lands trust went unquestioned. Subsequent investigations revealed mismanagement of the trust by both the federal and state governments. DHHL estimates that territorial and state governors issued between forty and sixty executive orders, which set aside Hawaiian Home Lands for military use. In 1978, a federal district court ruled that all governors’ executive orders were illegal.

In 1984, Governor Ariyoshi rescinded nearly thirty of these illegal acts, covering 30,000 acres. The Hawaii Attorney General also decreed that the U.S. Navy’s occupation of 1,400 acres of prime homelands near Honolulu was a “fundamental breach of trust”.

Rather than evicting the offending land users, which included state and federal agencies, the DHHL opted for monetary settlements totaling less than $10 million.

As of June 30,1997, only 6,428 homestead leases were awarded statewide, representing a mere 20.5 percent of the total Hawaiian Home Lands property. Meanwhile there are an estimated 29,162 qualified applicants on the Hawaiian Homes waiting list, many of whom have been waiting for forty years or more. Many have died waiting.

In 1959, when the Admissions Act turned responsibility for the remaining 1.5 million acres of ceded lands over to the new State of Hawaii, the federal government “retained” several hundred thousand acres for its national parks and military installations. Today, more than 100 facilities crowd the eight Hawaiian Islands, a land area approximately the size of Rhode Island and Connecticut combined. All the military bases occupy some ceded lands, and at least six occupy Hawaiian Home Lands, without consent or compensation.

Responsibility for these ceded lands rests with the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). For the state’s first twenty years, DLNR managed ceded lands without scrutiny. Among other abuses, it allowed use of ceded lands by other state departments without compensation. It also executed a slew of summary land swaps.

State and federal laws already mandate that Hawaiians receive priority for water, to support development, traditional agriculture, and gathering rights over subdivisions, hotels and golf courses — promises seemingly forgotten. The state’s Commission on Water Resources has ignored the “Hawaiian Rights” clause of the water code, the clause that guarantees adequate reserves of water for current and foreseeable development of Hawaiian Home Lands.

At the 1978 Constitutional Convention, the state admitted that it was derelict in its duty to provide for the Hawaiian community. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) was created to receive 20 percent of all revenue generated by ceded lands for use for the benefit of Hawaiians.

Between 1980 and 1990, instead of 20 percent, OHA only received about $12.5 million in such proceeds. In 1993, OHA received $129 million from the state in settlement of those claims, including interest for back payment of monies owed by the state from 1980 – 1990, during the Waihee Administration.

In 1994, OHA initiated litigation to require the state to pay OHA past due amounts owed to Hawaiians that were not included in the $129 million settlement. In October 1996, Judge Heely granted OHA’s motion for partial summary judgment. The State filed an appeal. In December 1998, the Hawaii Supreme Court directed the parties to try to resolve the matter expeditiously. Negotiations continue.

As indigenous and first people to these islands, Hawaiians have essentially been under siege since foreign contact. In November 1993, President Clinton signed a Joint Resolution, which recognized the illegal procedure by which Hawaii was annexed to the United States, and apologized to Native Hawaiians on Behalf of the United States for the Overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii. This legal recognition has offered Hawaiians a unique opportunity to lead a renewed battle for the resurrection of the powerful principle of sovereignty. Sovereignty is not a foreign concept to Hawaiians, to Native Americans, or to states in general.

To the great nineteenth century orator, Stephen Douglas, states incorporated legally into the Union were co-equal and sovereign unto themselves. In his celebrated debates with Lincoln (echoing the Declaration of Independence, which states that “these United States are, and of right ought to be Free and Independent States”), Douglas said:


Native governments have formed under the federal government through the Department of the Interior. There are hundreds of recognized nations within the territorial United States, in which the United States is but one. The others consist of American Indians. If it is OK for American Indians to form sovereign nations, why not Hawaiians? Failure to do so would, in fact, be discrimination against Hawaiians.

As indigenous people, Hawaiians are seeking recognition from the federal government of their right to sovereignty and self determination. Hawaiians have no desire to be dependent on the state or federal government. If Hawaiians had control of their lands, they could take care of their own people. They would not be a drain on the economy. There would be no homeless Hawaiians.

Fundamental to any sovereignty concept is control over land. Hawaiians have never prospered on land held on their behalf, but outside their reach. Lands at issue consist of the 1.2 million acres currently under the control of the state and federal government, as well as lands set aside as Hawaiian Home Lands. Hawaiians are not talking about privately owned land.

Hands Off Ceded Land Revenues

By Trustee Rowena Akana
February 10, 1996

Source Star Bulletin Viewpoint

A wide variety of legal principles and historical events cloud the state’s title as trustee of Hawaiian ceded lands. Even if, purely for the sake of argument, the state were to hold clear title to these lands, countless examples showing a breach of trust responsibilities can be found. These issues, pending court cases, and the future status of ceded lands in a Hawaiian sovereign entity, have yet to be settled. Until then, the state has no right to add another chapter to the long, sad history of Hawaiian land alienation.

Gov. Ben Cayetano has made it clear that he considers Hawaiian entitlements a burden on the state treasury. While ceded land revenues are a mere drop in the bucket in the overall state budget, these revenues are certainly not his to touch in any event. Hawaiians have a right to these revenues, as affirmed and reaffirmed by a variety of laws and legal instruments.

Although it is often stated that we receive 20 percent of state income from ceded lands, our agreement with the state actually gives us much less. Imagine not one but two pools of ceded land revenues — sovereign income and proprietary income. Sovereign income includes the big ticket items like airport landing fees, Duty Free Shop income, income generated by the University of Hawaii, etc. The state holds onto all of this income; the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and its native Hawaiian beneficiaries don’t get a cent of it.

The second pool, proprietary income, involves a considerably smaller amount of money, drawn from land leases and rents of ceded lands. It is this pool from which OHA draws its 20 percent to service the needs of native Hawaiians, as required by the 1959 Admission Act.

It represents not 20 percent of our Hawaiian entitlements but 10 percent (or less) of these two revenue sources.

The state assumed fiduciary obligation upon being admitted as a state in 1959 and Section 5(f) of the Admission Act stipulated that proceeds from the sale or other disposition of ceded lands would be held by the state as a public trust for the support of betterment of the conditions of native Hawaiians, public schools, agriculture, parks, recreational areas and other lands for public use, and capital improvement projects.

In 1995, Rep. Calvin Say introduced a bill that would have diverted the ceded land revenues of OHA to state capital improvement projects. This would have crippled OHA’s ability to deliver crucial services to the Hawaiian community.

It also would have amounted to double dipping by the state, which already gets 20 percent (the same amount OHA receives) specifically for capital improvement projects. To add insult to injury, Hawaiians already pay their fair share of taxes to pay for such building programs!

Fortunately OHA’s trustees and Hawaiian organizations mobilized quickly and gained the support necessary to kill Say’s bill. Hawaiian entitlements are too vital for us to wait until another crisis situation spurs us to action. Now that the state legislative session is under way, it is in the interest of Hawaiians and Hawaii’s general public not to allow our legislators to take away what little funds OHA and Hawaiians receive.

Say and House Speaker Joe Souki have helped drive our state into the present fiscal fiasco. They try to deflect blame away from themselves with a lot of smoke and hot air. They don’t address the real issues; they invent new ones. They pit Hawaiians against non-Hawaiians by creating an atmosphere of distrust based upon unwarranted fears.

Hawaiians aren’t the only ones at risk here. Every tax-paying citizen of Hawaii will be directly affected by the decisions of lawmakers in 1996. Already there’s talk of increasing our general excise tax. Already there’s talk again of taking away OHA’s funding to pay for capital improvements. Can we allow the state to continue mismanaging our ceded land funds and our hard-earned tax dollars? I think not.

We must protect what little we have, before we all end up like the state — dead broke.

Military Has No Excuse to Continue Bellows Operations

By: Trustee Rowena Akana
May, 1994

Source: Ka Wai Ola o OHA

Why does the U.S. Pacific Command want to expand its facilities at Bellows Air Force Station? Precisely because it’s time to return Bellows to Hawaiians — and the military doesn’t want to.

Bellows occupies 1,495 acres of Windward O’ahu, of which 1,457 acres are ceded lands held in trust for Hawai’i’s inhabitants. The station’s current estimated value is more than $88 million. On the open market, the Bellows land could be worth several hundred million dollars more. Recently, the U.S. Pacific Command decided to “develop a comprehensive Hawaii Military Land Use Master Plan.” Begun a year ago, this effort worked to “evaluate land requirements to meet mission tasks from the perspective of all military services and the civilian community.” The result? Build now or give it up.

Today, activity at Bellows consists largely of rest and relaxation for the military at cottages and recreation facilities on the oceanfront spread. The land also houses an Air Force communications station and is a training site for occasional Marine Corps amphibious beach assaults.

Hawai’i Congressman Neil Abercrombie, who sits on the military installations and facilities committee, has pushed the government to make Bellows available for Hawaii housing needs. “The military is not supposed to make up reasons to keep land when there is no overriding national interest,” Abercrombie said in May, 1992. “That has been established — so the land comes back to the state, that’s it.”

Unfortunately, that wasn’t it. Through this master plan, the U.S. Pacific Command has re-invented the military’s overriding national interest in Bellows — housing. The military recently finished a round of public hearings to assess the environmental impact of a swarm of new military housing on Bellows land. The military got an earful from Waimanalo and Kailua residents who complained that the move was particularly galling since Hawaiians are desperate for housing. Bellows is ceded land, and for years the military has done nothing with this beachfront property.

When the governor of Hawai’i first explored the possibility of Bellows’ return to the state, the Department of Defense turned down the request. In a 1958 letter, the Secretary of the Interior emphasized the need for military recreational facilities, noting that 312 acres used for R&R was “some of the most attractive beach land on the island of O’ahu.”

As early as 1966, the federal government realized it did not really need the Windward land base. The director of the Bureau of the Budget determined “that the [Bellows] property hereinafter described is no longer needed by the United States” (deed dated July 25, 1966).

Since then, the military has made no serious attempt to defend the recreation facility as a necessary military activity and has admitted the communications link could be easily relocated. The Marine Corps’ small unit exercises could continue on a permit basis as they do on other state lands. However, hoarding land for no other reason other than it’s pretty to look at seems a bit foolish when compared to the dire needs in the Hawaiian community for housing.

So what has the military done? Created a dire need for housing of its own.

The Admission Act of 1959 and the Conveyance Procedures Act of 1963 require ceded lands to be returned when no longer needed for federal purposes. Hawaiians are entitled to revenue from ceded lands, and failure to move on the reversion of Bellows denies Hawaii’s original inhabitants their rightful benefits.

A Bellows Community We Can All Live With

By Trustee Rowena Akana
April, 1993

Source Ka Wai Ola O OHA

As the federal government debates whether to demilitarize Barbers Point, it continues to harbor another base far less important but far more valuable — Bellows Air Force Station.

Bellows occupies 1,493.15 acres of Windward Oahu, of which 1,456.93 acres is ceded lands held in trust for Hawaii’s inhabitants. The station’s current estimated value is more than $88 million. On the open market, the Bellows land could be worth several hundred million dollars more. As a Hawaiian-managed and planned community, the land value would be priceless for so many with so few housing options.

The time has come to make Bellows available for Hawaiians’ housing needs.

Bellows, unlike much of Hawaiian Home Lands, is a fairly large parcel of land resplendent with utilities, roads and water in place. The state has zoned the land for 5,000 single family units and an equal amount of agricultural plots. Rentals are less expensive than most of Honolulu and houses sell for half the average single family home prices, added to which most of the area is flat, on or near the beach and only two miles from Kailua.

As early as 1966, the federal government realized it did not really need the Windward land base. The Director of the Bureau of the Budget determined “… that the [Bellows] property hereinafter described is no longer needed by the United States …” (Deed dated July 25, 1966, P. 2)

Since then, the military has made no serious attempts to defend the recreation facility as a necessary military activity and has admitted the communications facility could be easily relocated. The Marine Corps small unit exercises, if ever all that vital, could continue on a permit basis as they do on other state lands. Hoarding land for no other reason than its pretty to look at seems a bit foolish when compared to the dire needs in the Hawaiian community for housing.

Aside from the operational specifics, there remains the more fundamental question: to whom does the land belong? The Bellows property, formerly public lands of the Kingdom, then the Republic, then the Territory of Hawaii, was subsequently commandeered by the president for the War Department in 1917 and 1928, and last used as an airfield during World War II.

The Admissions Act of 1959 and the Conveyance Procedures Act of 1963 require ceded lands be returned when no longer needed for federal purposes. Hawaiians are entitled to revenues from ceded lands, and failure to move on the reversion of Bellows denies Hawaii’s original inhabitants their rightful benefits. In any event, the military states a weak case for federal retention and the people of Hawaii have a strong, legitimate claim on the property.

And Hawaii already employs in its place a state agency to manage revenues from the ceded lands trust for the betterment of Hawaiians, an agency mandated to promote a body responsible to the needs of the indigenous community — a Hawaiian government.

A Hawaiian government, with a vested interest in the indigenous community, would do right by its people and prepare Bellows for a high-quality, low-cost master-planned community. Conveyances could be issued, orders given, documents signed, rules written and procedures installed to transfer control of the Bellows land to OHA or its constitutional successor which would contract to redesign and rebuild the land and its properties.

And perhaps in a short decade or two, a smartly planned, quality community would be ready to house and possibly employ several thousand Hawaiians.

Since the legislature still debates a Hawaiian ConCon, OHA remains the only existing agency that could kick-start the legislative process, hire the contractors, secure the proper papers and ensure the affordable Hawaiian housing is really housing Hawaiians can afford.

OHA has done more for the Hawaiian community than any other government agency, and is the only existing entity with the means to accomplish such a task.

But given the chance, a Hawaiian government certainly could do no worse than its predecessors with a ceded parcel of land. The military doesn’t need it, the state can’t handle it, so perhaps its time for a Hawaiian government to manage it.