NHSC Conclusions And Recommendations

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Conclusions And Recommendations


Conclusions And Recommendations

During the past 18 months, the Native Hawaiians Study Commission has learned a great deal about the culture, needs, and concerns of native Hawaiians. This education has come through study by the Commission and its staff of expert resource documents and data, public testimony from hundreds of native Hawaiians during dozens of hours of public hearings, and close to 100 written comments from individual citizens, private organizations in Hawaii, and State and Federal government agencies on the Commission's Draft Report of Findings. From these contributions, the Commission has compiled what we believe to be the most extensive and up-to-date summary available on the socioeconomic and cultural conditions of native Hawaiians. In addition, the Commission has collected and analyzed important material on key legal and historical factors that may affect matters of concern to many native Hawaiians, such as reparations and land ownership. We also believe that our report to Congress is an important step toward increasing public awareness of native Hawaiians, their history, culture, and special needs.


1. Social, Economic, and Cultural Concerns

The detailed report of the Commission includes extensive data on social, cultural, and economic conditions. This information, in summary, supports the following conclusions:

  • After the arrival of foreigners in Hawaii in 1778, the native population drastically declined, both as a percentage of the population and in absolute numbers. This trend was reversed in the beginning of this century when the part-Hawaiian population began a rapid increase, a trend that continues today.
  • The native Hawaiian population now constitutes about 19 percent of the State of Hawaii's total population. The population is the youngest, in terms of median age, among Hawaii's ethnic groups and this fact has important implications for education and employment not only today, but in the future as well.
  • Native Hawaiians have followed the statewide trend in moving toward the island of Oahu. The Hawaiian Homes program has not alleviated this movement since the majority of applicants desire residential homesteads on Oahu. The reason is obvious: employment opportunities on Oahu are more numerous than on the other islands.
  • Although education for native Hawaiians has improved, many problems still remain. Educational data show that native Hawaiian students have high absenteeism and drop-out rates, score lower in some standardized tests, and many do not go on to college. Thus, there are fewer native Hawaiians enrolled at the University of Hawaii and fewer native Hawaiians in the educational workforce. These educational data explain to some degree the problems of native Hawaiians in the employment and income areas.
It has been shown that education is a high priority of native Hawaiian parents, and this fact will facilitate the efforts to improve educational attainment at several levels—-the students themselves, the family, the school, the community, and the State.
  • Unemployment is a greater problem for the native Hawaiian population than for other ethnic groups in Hawaii. Data also show that native Hawaiians still lag behind most other ethnic groups in terms of the percentage of their population in professional positions. Over 22 percent of native Hawaiian men have jobs classified as "menial."
  • Income levels for native Hawaiians fall below that of some of the other ethnic groups. Data for 1977 show that full-Hawaiians had the lowest median family income of civilians in Hawaii compared to other ethnic groups. Part-Hawaiians had the third lowest. As suggested above, lower employment and income are due, to a large extent, to educational and training deficiencies.
  • In 1975, over one-fourth (27 percent) of native Hawaiians were classified as below the poverty level. In 1982, the number of native Hawaiians on welfare (Aid to Families with Dependent Children and general assistance) was significantly higher than their relative share of the population.
  • The high unemployment rate of native Hawaiians generally, and the educational problems of native Hawaiian youth are reflected in criminal justice data. Native Hawaiian youth constitute the largest percent of juveniles arrested for several crime categories. Alcohol and drug abuse problems also exist for native Hawaiians, although incidence is lower than for some other groups, including Caucasians.
  • Native Hawaiians continue to have a shorter life expectancy than other ethnic groups in Hawaii and a higher infant mortality rate. The incidence of cancer is higher than that of other groups for both men and women of native Hawaiian descent. Other health problems include a high prevalence of respiratory conditions and a high mortality rate, particularly for full-blooded Hawaiians, for heart disease, cancer, and accidents.
  • Given the high cost of housing on the islands, housing problems exist for all groups in Hawaii: the median value of a house in Hawaii is two and one-half tunes greater than the 1980 national median value. The lack of adequate housing may be even more acute for native Hawaiians because of their lower income levels. For native Hawaiians on Hawaiian Home Lands, there exist impediments that prevent them from using the assistance programs of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • The State of Hawaii consists of a population of considerable racial and cultural diversity. From the earliest times, interracial marriage was accepted by
the community. Native Hawaiians have among the highest interracial marriage rates. This racial and ethnic mixture has affected the political sphere. Since the 1930's, no one ethnic group has had an electoral majority, although ethnic factors do play a role in politics in Hawaii.
  • The native Hawaiian people have a rich cultural heritage. An important part of that heritage is the Hawaiian language, as demonstrated by the attempts that are being made to revive and preserve it. Another key aspect of this cultural heritage is the native Hawaiian religion and its relationship to the needs of Native Hawaiians today. Historical preservation could play a greater role in preserving this heritage.

2. Federal, State, and Local Relationships

The Final Report of the Native Hawaiians Study Commission also analyzes issues related to Hawaiian history and land ownership. This information and analysis support the following conclusions:

  • The history of land ownership and tenure in Hawaii is unique and complex. In the mid-nineteenth century the king developed a process and had enacted a series of laws to change the ownership patterns to fee simple ownership. These laws, the way they were implemented, and other economic, social, and political forces in Hawaii at the time put a large amount of Hawaii's land in the hands of westerners by 1890.
  • Native Hawaiians have expressed concern about a number of specific legal questions that affect land ownership. Some of these questions, such as ownership problems arising from the exercise of kuleana land rights, are unique to Hawaii and will take time to resolve. Others, such as laws affecting rights to water and adverse possession, are similar to problems existing in many other states.
  • Hawaii has a long and rich history. As a separate sovereign nation, it developed, relations with the United States through treaties and other dealings prior to 1893. For example, treaties were developed between the two countries to facilitate trade and to serve the interests of those in Hawaii seeking economic development to improve the country's financial situation. The treaties also promoted the economic, security, and defense interests of the United States. In addition to these foreign policy considerations, tensions between the monarch and the legislature also affected Hawaiian politics during these years, as did efforts by the native Hawaiians to regain power from reformers. The culmination of these trends occurred in 1891 when Liliuokalani became queen and attempted to reassert the power of the throne against the legislature and the reformers.
  • In 1893 the monarchy was overthrown. The overthrow, and the lack of resistance by the queen and her cabinet, was encouraged in part by the presence of United States forces, consisting of one company of Marines and two companies of sailors (approximately 100 men), acting without express authority from the United States Government.
  • President Cleveland, inaugurated just after the landing of United States forces, dispatched Representative Blount to investigate the events. His report blamed the American Minister, John L. Stevens, for the revolution. The United States Senate then commissioned the Morgan report, which reached an almost opposite conclusion. The Commission believes the truth lies between these two reports.
  • In 1897, Hawaii's new government and the United States entered into an agreement that Hawaii would be annexed to the United States. The annexation question was submitted for consideration by the Hawaii legislature. In the United States, it was passed by Joint Resolution of both houses of Congress, rather than as a Treaty requiring a two-thirds majority of the Senate. President McKinley's concern to secure a foothold in the Pacific for the United States in the face of the Spanish-American War prompted use of a Joint Resolution. (Texas is the only other territory that was annexed to the United States by Joint Resolution.) The relations between the United States and Hawaii up to the time of annexation were relations between two separate, sovereign nations, not between a sovereign and those subject to its sovereignty.
  • Determining if any native Hawaiians signed annexation documents is difficult without extensive genealogical research. An estimate is that six native Hawaiians were in the Hawaiian legislature when it adopted the 1894 Constitution calling for annexation.
  • In 1959, Hawaii became a State of the United States. The history of its admission to statehood, like that of other states, is unique.
  • The Commission examined both common law and statutes to determine whether there currently exists any legal basis for compensation for loss of land. The Commission also reviewed articles and reports making the legal argument for compensation. Generally, the most likely possible theories for the award of compensation to native groups for loss of land were aboriginal title or recognized title doctrines:
-The law has developed specific tests for establishing aboriginal title: the group must be a single land-owning entity; there must be actual and exclusive use and occupancy of the lands; the use and occupancy must be of a defined area; the land must have been used and occupied for a long time before aboriginal title was extinguished. Additionally, title must have been extinguished by the government of the United States, not by another body, such as the government of Hawaii before the United States annexed Hawaii. Finally, some law must give the native group, here the native Hawaiians, a right to compensation for loss of aboriginal title. The Commission finds that the facts do not meet the
tests for showing the existence of aboriginal title. Even if the tests had been met, the Commission finds that such title was extinguished by actions of the Hawaiian government before 1893, and certainly before annexation, which was the first assumption of sovereignty by the United States. Finally, even if these tests had been met, neither the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution nor current statutes provide authority for payment of compensation to native Hawaiians for loss of aboriginal title.
-The law also has developed specific legal requirements for compensation of loss of lands by recognized title. The Commission examined the question of whether treaties and statutes, the Joint Resolution of Annexation, or the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provide a basis for payment under the theory of recognized title, and concluded that no basis exists.
-The Commission examined whether a trust or fiduciary relationship exists between the United States and native Hawaiians and concluded that no statutes or treaties give rise to such a relationship because the United States did not exercise sovereignty over the Hawaiian Islands prior to annexation, and the Joint Resolution of Annexation, No. 55 (July 7, 1898) did not create a special relationship for native Hawaiians.
  • The Commission considered whether native Hawaiians are entitled to compensation for loss of sovereignty, and found no present legal entitlement to compensation for any loss of sovereignty.
  • A report prepared by the Inspector General of the Department of the Interior summarized a number of problems with regard to the Hawaiian Home Lands program. A Federal/State Task Force was created to propose solutions to these problems and its report is due to the Governor of Hawaii and the U.S. Secretary of Interior by mid-1983.
  • The State of Hawaii has taken a number of steps to respond to the unique needs of native Hawaiians. These include acquisition and disposition of revenue pursuant to Section 5(f) of the Statehood Admissions Act; establishment of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs; and establishment of particular programs specifically for native Hawaiians within other departments of the State Government.
  • A number of private and local organizations have also worked to meet the unique needs of native Hawaiians. These groups' have been funded either by endowments (often from the estates of kings or queens of Hawaii), or by the Federal Government.

To summarize the Commission's findings with regard to the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy: Based upon the information available to it, the Commission concluded that Minister John L. Stevens and certain other individuals occupying positions with the U.S. Government participated in activities contributing to the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy on January 17, 1893. The Commission was unable to conclude that these activities were sanctioned by the President or the Congress. In fact, official government records lend strony support to the conclusion that Minister Stevens' actions were not sanctioned.

Besides the findings summarized above, the Commission concludes that, as an ethical or moral matter, Congress should not provide for native Hawaiians to receive compensation either for loss of land or of sovereignty. Reviewing the situation generally, including the historical changes in Hawaii's land laws and constitution before 1893, the Hawaiian political climate that led to the overthrow, the lack of authorized involvement by the United States, and the apparent limited role of United States forces in the overthrow, the Commission found that on an ethical or moral basis, native Hawaiians should not receive reparations. In reaching this conclusion, the Commission did not find the Hawaiian circumstances analogous to the time when Congress voted payments to Colombia, as a result of the U.S. role in Panama. Those payments were based, in part, on the breach of commitments by the United States Government under an 1846 treaty guaranteeing to Colombia the "right of sovereignty and property" over the Isthmus of Panama, and, in part, on commitments owed to Colombia pursuant to certain contracts.

Nevertheless, the Commission strongly recommends that the issue of reparations not impede the important steps that should be taken now to improve the condition of native Hawaiians. Based on the information it has collected, the Commission believes that the social and economic problems of native Hawaiians deserve immediate action and that these needs should be addressed promptly.


Based on its findings, the Commission would recommend consideration of early action in the following areas:

  • Additional educational and training opportunities to better equip native Hawaiians for employment.
  • Information services and technical assistance to assist both job applicants and small business concerns.
[These measures should help deal with problems involving education, unemployment, crime, and alcohol and drug abuse, which appear to be related.]
  • Additional nutrition education programs and research to assist in reducing incidence of disease and accidents, and to reduce mortality rates.
  • Specific assistance to native Hawaiians in finding housing.
  • Continued efforts to offer opportunities for native Hawaiians to learn about and develop a sense of pride in their culture.

Steps can be taken by private individuals and organizations and by governments at all levels to address these areas of concern. The Commission feels that private groups


and local governmental units may be most effective in addressing many of these problems because they are closer to the native Hawaiians, better understand their needs, and can most easily adjust their priorities. The next most effective level is the State Government, which already has in place several programs that address specific needs of native Hawaiians. Finally, there are existing programs within the Federal Government that also may be of use in addressing these needs. Therefore, as an action program is developed, the Commission recommends that, in order of priority:

  • First consideration should be given to efforts that are undertaken by private native Hawaiian groups. In fact, such groups have made significant contributions, which can and should be expanded. Examples of effective private groups that could expand and/or redirect their activities include: Alu Like, Inc., the Hawaiian Civic Club, and the Bishop Estate.
  • Second consideration should be given to efforts of local governmental units. Local governments should be in a good position to work directly with native Hawaiians in formulating solutions for their particular needs.
  • Third consideration should be given to existing State government agencies that specifically deal with concerns of native Hawaiians. The primary examples are the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. (It should be noted that the Federal/State Task Force on the Hawaiian Home Lands program will make specific recommendations on how this program can better serve its constituents.)
  • Fourth consideration should be given to efforts of State government agencies and the Governor who administer various State and Federal programs that apply either (a) only to native Hawaiians, or (b) to various citizens including native Hawaiians.
  • Fifth consideration should be given to a wide variety of Federal programs that are already available or that could be made available to help address specific needs. Private, local, and State officials in Hawaii should take the initiative to become aware of available programs, secure and disseminate information on them, and ensure that native Hawaiians have equal access to those programs.

Possible Specific Actions

Within this framework, it appears to the Commission that a number of specific actions can be taken to speed the application of resources to needed areas. For example, the Commission recommends that:

1. In the area of education, appropriate private, local, and State organizations should consider:

  • Instituting a program to encourage educational development that emphasizes the importance of education for native Hawaiian youth, and recruits eligible native Hawaiian students to pursue higher education.
  • Expanding the Hawaiian Studies Program to meet the goal of promoting the opportunity for all age groups to study Hawaiian culture, history, and language in public schools.
  • Establishing a clearinghouse, perhaps under the auspices of the University of Hawaii, to provide information on financial aid available to prospective college students from Federal and State Governments, and from private individuals and organizations; and to make this information available to high schools throughout the State.
  • Making sure that Federal programs for vocational training funded through block grants are targeted to groups most in need, including native Hawaiians.

2. In the area of health, appropriate private, local, and State organizations should consider:

  • Systematically collecting, recording, and analyzing critical health data on Hawaiians for use in specific health benefit programs.
  • Including a specific focus on the special needs of native Hawaiians in nutrition education programs (Federally and State-funded) for children and adults.
  • Using the clearinghouse organization suggested in number 5 below to assist organizations in applying for Federal grants to tailor nutritional information specifically to the native Hawaiians and their lifestyle.
  • Initiating efforts to ensure that information on specific Federal programs (for example, supplemental food program for women, infants, and children) is disseminated through native Hawaiian organizations, and recruit eligible native Hawaiians to participate in these programs.
  • Ensuring that a fair share of Federal block grant monies are directed toward alleviating specific health problems, including those of concern to native Hawaiians, such as infant mortality and child and maternal care.

3. In the area of housing, appropriate private, local, aid State organizations should consider:

  • Instituting efforts to disseminate information on federal housing programs to native Hawaiians.
  • Assisting individuals and builders in applying for these programs.

4. In the area of culture, appropriate private, local, and State organizations should consider:

  • Giving higher priority to native Hawaiian sites in considering nominations for the National Register of Historic Places; activating the State Historic reservation Plan and revising, in consultation with native Hawaiians, the plan in an effort to ensure protection of ancient Hawaiian artifacts and sites.
  • Instituting a mechanism, perhaps under the Bishop Museum, to collect information on existing federal programs in the area of the arts and humanities and assisting native Hawaiians who wish to apply for these programs.

5. The Governor should consider creating, perhaps within an existing agency or organization, a group to:

  • Act as a clearinghouse for information on existing federal programs that can be of help to native Hawaiians. The existing Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance can provide an excellent starting point; and
  • Perform a "facilitating" role by assisting individuals and groups in identifying relevant programs, contacting appropriate officials, and writing applications and proposals.

6. During the course of its study, the Commission found a diversity of data uses and collection methods among State agencies and between State and Federal agencies, resulting in data on native Hawaiians that are not comparable. Therefore, the Governor should consider reviewing the use of population figures and the methodologies used in data collection on native Hawaiians to ensure consistency among State agencies. Then, the Governor should make recommendations to the U.S. Bureau of the Census on specific changes for the 1990 Census that would ensure comparability between State and Federal data.

Actions by Federal Agencies

The Commission also recommends that the heads of all Federal departments and agencies act to ensure that the needs and concerns of native Hawaiians, to the extent identified and defined in the Commission's Report, be brought to the attention of their program administrators; that these administrators consult officials in Hawaii for further guidance on specific programs; and, once this guidance is received, consider actions that could be taken to ensure full and equal access by native Hawaiians to various assistance programs. Among those programs that appear to the Commission to warrant special attention are the following:

1. In the Department of Education, guaranteed student loans; program grants for educationally-deprived children; educational opportunity grants.

2. In the Small Business Administration, programs to provide technical assistance, advisory services, and grants and loans to small businesses, such as Economic Opportunity Loans for Small Businesses, Management Assistance to Small Businesses, Management and Technical Assistance for Disadvantaged Businessmen, and Small Business Loans.

3. In the Department of Labor, the employment and training programs for Native Americans (including native Hawaiians) under the Job Training Partnership Act.


4. In the Department of Health and Human Services, programs for native Hawaiians under the Administration for Native Americans, including financial assistance, training and technical assistance, and research, demonstration and evaluation; Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration project grant and information programs; Maternity and Child Health Program; Head Start.

5. In the Department of Housing and Urban Development, programs to assist native Hawaiians in obtaining adequate housing, including guaranteed/insured housing loans, interest reduction programs, mortgage insurance, home improvement programs, guaranteed/insured loans for rental units, and housing programs for the handicapped and elderly.

The Commission also supports legislation pending in the U.S. Congress that would change the National Housing Act to allow FHA single family mortgage insurance to be extended to lands administered by the Hawaiian Homes Commission for the use and benefit of native Hawaiians, without regard to limitations regarding marketability of title.

6. In the Department of Agriculture, rural housing and farm operating loans from the Farmers Home Administration for Hawaiian Home lands.

7. In the National Institutes of Health, programs dealing with heart disease of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; grants and contracts relating to cancer, funded by the National Cancer Institute; other programs in NIH that address the special health problems of native Hawaiians, such as infant mortality.

8. In the Department of the Interior, programs in the area of historic preservation, and educational/cultural programs in conjunction with National Parks and Monuments in Hawaii.

9. The Federal Property Review Board should continue to consider the unique needs of native Hawaiians when property use is reviewed and when disposition of surplus federal property is considered.