Ceded lands

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In Hawaiʻi, the term "ceded lands" refers to 1.8 million acres (7,300 km2) of land that were the crown lands of the Hawaiian monarchy prior to January 17, 1893, lotted out by Kamehameha III during the Great Mahele. On this date, the government of the Hawaiian Kingdom was overthrown by anti-monarchial residents of Hawai`i. The abrogation of the monarchy led in turn to the formation of a Provisional Government (January 17, 1893 – July 3, 1894) and to the Republic of Hawaiʻi (July 4, 1894 – August 12, 1898) which was the government that sought and achieved annexation.

At the time of annexation as the Territory of Hawaii, the former Crown lands were given ("ceded") to the US federal government. When the Hawaii Admission Act made Hawaiʻi a U.S. state, the lands were transferred to the state. The federal act authorizing the transfer required that the lands be held in trust and that revenue from the land be used for five purposes: (These excerpts actually came from the Statehood Act 1959)

  1. Support of public education
  2. Betterment of the conditions of native Hawaiians as defined in the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920 (The Hawaiian Homes Commission Act 1920 did not exist in 1893)
  3. Development of farm and home ownership
  4. Public improvements
  5. Provision of lands for public use

Delegates to the State of Hawaii Constitutional Convention, believed that the second purpose had been largely ignored, amended the state constitution to create the Office of Hawaiian Affairs as an avenue for Native Hawaiians to make their own decisions as to investment of ceded lands and collect revenue generated by those lands to fund programs for the people.

Some Native Hawaiian organizations contend that these lands belong to the Hawaiian people, and that any use of or possession of them by any other body is not legal. Such groups are seeking back rent for the use of the land, as well as the return of the title to said land.

At present, control of these lands is divided mostly between the US federal government and the State of Hawaiʻi. A number of facilities, including airports and military facilities, are located on ceded lands, which in part leads to the controversy surrounding the issue.

Recent events[edit]

On January 31, 2008, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that the State of Hawaii had to resolve the unrelinquished claims of Native Hawaiians before selling ceded lands.[1][2][3] The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the portion of the decision based upon the federal Apology Resolution on March 31, 2009. The Court remanded the case back to the Hawaii State Supreme Court to reconsider its decision based upon state law.[4][5] The majority of the suit was subsequently settled out of court, and the Hawaii Supreme Court dismissed the remaining, non-settled claims as unripe.

On November 14, 2008, The Honolulu Advertiser published an editorial titled, "Resolve Claims Before Selling Ceded Lands."[6] One week later, another editorial was published in the Honolulu Advertiser titled, Ceded Lands Appeal Should Be Withdrawn.[7]

Senate Concurrent Resolution 40[8] and Senate Resolution 25[9] urged the Governor to withdraw her appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and declared "the public policy of the State of Hawaii is to honor the decision of the Hawaii State Supreme Court."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Supreme Court of the State of Hawaiʻi (January 31, 2008), "OHA vs. HCDCH" (PDF), www.courts.state.hi.us, Honolulu, HI, USA, archived from the original (PDF) on February 13, 2012, retrieved October 15, 2012
  2. ^ Silva, Alexandre Da (April 30, 2008). "Sovereignty cited in ceded land case | starbulletin.com | News | /2008/04/30/". Archives.starbulletin.com. Retrieved May 21, 2009.
  3. ^ "U.S. Supreme Court to hear ceded lands case - Bulletin". Starbulletin.com. Retrieved May 21, 2009.
  4. ^ Hawaii v. Office of Hawaiian Affairs, 129 S.Ct. 1436 (2009).
  5. ^ Emery, Chris (April 1, 2009), "U.S. high court rules in ceded lands case", The Maui News, Wailuku, HI, USA: Ogden Newspapers, retrieved October 15, 2012
  6. ^ "Resolve claims before selling ceded lands | The Honolulu Advertiser | Hawaii's Newspaper". The Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved May 21, 2009.
  7. ^ Silberstein, Evan (November 21, 2008), "Ceded lands appeal should be withdrawn", The Honolulu Advertiser, retrieved October 15, 2012
  8. ^ "SCR40". Capitol.hawaii.gov. Hawaii State Legislature. Archived from the original on May 20, 2009. Retrieved May 21, 2009.
  9. ^ "SR25 SD1". capitol.hawaii.gov. Hawaii State Legislature. Archived from the original on May 30, 2009. Retrieved May 21, 2009.