Saturday, October 16, 2021
International

U.S. to transfer federal land to native Hawaiians

U.S. government

It includes the 80 acres of land in Ewa Beach formerly used for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center which will eventually provide up to 400 homes

The U.S. government will provide native Hawaiians with surplus land as compensation for land which were meant for homesteading but were instead used by the government. It is also meant for wrongs against the native Hawaiian people, officials said Monday.

It includes the 80 acres of land in Ewa Beach formerly used for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center which will eventually provide up to 400 homes. This will help fulfil terms of a settlement authorized by Congress in 1995 to compensate Native Hawaiians for 1,500 acres of land that were set aside for homelands but subsequently acquired and used by the federal government for other purposes, officials said.

U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said: Yes, it’s a happy day, but it’s also a sad day because we remember the tragedy that befell the Native Hawaiians throughout their tumultuous history. Since that time, our country has learned a great deal. And now we are in an era where we recognize the importance of healing the generational traumas that caused pain and heartache.

Haaland is the first Native American woman to lead a U.S. Cabinet agency.

The Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920 aimed at providing economic self-sufficiency to Hawaiians by allowing them to use land to live on. Those with at least 50% Hawaiian blood quantum can apply for a 99-year lease for $1 a year.

The transfer of land to Hawaii’s Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is a step in the right direction, but there’s a long way to go, said U.S. Rep. Kaialiʻi Kahele, noting that about 11,000 are waiting for residential homes on Oahu Overall statewide. There are 28,788 on a waitlist for land, according to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

It’s exciting to see Haaland leading the department, said Kahele, who is Native Hawaiian.

You hear the passion in her voice, he said. She understands the generational trauma that has been caused to Indigenous peoples in this country by the federal government over the last 100 to 200 years.

The transfer “helps to right the wrongs of past policy,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves said.

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