NHSC Executive Summary

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Executive Summary


The statue of King Kamehameha the Great.


Executive Summary



The conclusions and recommendations of the Native Hawaiians Study Commission immediately follow this Executive Summary. They are not summarized here.


Part I of the Final Report of the Native Hawaiians Study Commission presents information and statistics on various socioeconomic and cultural factors affecting the lives of native Hawaiians. The contents of each chapter are summarized below.


This chapter presents a demographic profile of native Hawaiians in the following areas.

Characteristics of the Population

After the the arrival of foreigners in Hawaii in 1778, the native population drastically declined. This trend was reversed in the beginning of this century when the part-Hawaiian population began a rapid increase , a trend that continues today.

This section also summarizes the present characteristics of the native Hawaiian population. According to the State of Hawaii, in 1980 there were 9,366 full-Hawaiians and 166,087 part- Hawaiians, comprising about 19 percent of the State's population. Native Hawaiians are a young population — in 1980, the median age for males was 22.0, and the median age for females was 23.2. The male/female ratio for native Hawaiians is fairly equal -- in 1980 males accounted for 49.5 percent of the native Hawaiian population , and females accounted for 50.5 percent.

Geographic Distribution

The majority of the native Hawaiian population (as well as the majority of the State's population) lives on Oahu. There still exist pockets of native Hawaiians located in economically deprived, rural areas on many islands.


The percentage of native Hawaiian children between the ages of 14 and 17 who were enrolled in school in 1970 was lower than that for any other group in Hawaii (91.6 percent for females and 90.7 percent for males, compared to an overall State figure of 94.8 percent). The median number of years of school completed by native Hawaiians over 25 years of age in 1970 was 12.0, compared to a State median of 12.3. Only 49.7 percent of native Hawaiians over 25 had graduated from high school in 1970. In 1970, only 4.2 percent of native Hawaiians over 25 had completed four or more years of college, a figure lower than that for any of the other ethnic groups in Hawaii.

State of Hawaii data for 1977 show little improvement: only 46.9 percent of native Hawaiians over 25 had graduated from high school. Figures for that same year also showed that only 4.6 percent of native Hawaiians over 25 had completed four or more years of college, a percentage still lower than that for any other ethnic group. A 1976 Alu Like, Inc., Needs Assessment Survey indicated, however, that education for their


children was a top priority for native Hawaiian parents.


In 1970, 4.3 percent of native Hawaiian men and 5.2 percent of native Hawaiian women were unemployed, compared to State figures of 2.6 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively. Of all native Hawaiian males over the age of 16, 76.4 percent were in the labor force in 1970, compared with the total State figure of 81.5 percent. Also in 1970, 47.9 percent of native Hawaiian women over the age of 16 were in the labor force, compared with 49 percent for the State as a whole.

A 1975 Census Update Survey estimated that the unemployment rate for native Hawaiians was 11.6 percent, compared to 6.5 percent for the State of Hawaii as a whole. The present rate is probably even higher. Other data for 1975 show that only 17.8 percent of native Hawaiian men have professional/managerial positions, while 53.6 percent are classified as blue collar workers.


In 1949, the proportion of native Hawaiian males in the lowest income brackets was above that for all other groups. Their median income for the same year was higher than the "all races" and Filipino groups but below that of the Chinese, Caucasian, and Japanese groups. By 1969, the situation of the native Hawaiians had improved somewhat. According to the U.S. Census, they were no longer over-represented in the lowest income categories.

According to the 1975 Census Update Survey, however, native Hawaiian personal income was still below the Caucasian and State-wide figures. Other data for 1977 show that the (civilian) median family income of pure Hawaiians was lower than the part-Hawaiian, Filipino, Caucasian, Japanese, and Chinese groups. The part-Hawaiian group was third lowest (Filipinos were second).

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.

Criminal Justice

The percent of native Hawaiian adults arrested in Hawaii in 1981 was higher than the native Hawaiian percentage share of the population. The percentage of native Hawaiians arrested for specific crimes was also larger for many types of crime than their share of the population.

The picture for native Hawaiian juveniles arrested is even more striking. Native Hawaiian juveniles comprised the largest percent of those arrested for each crime examined.


Infant mortality remains significantly higher for native Hawaiians compared to the other groups in Hawaii. Part-Hawaiians have a birth rate of 23.1, compared to 17.5 for full-Hawaiians and 19.5 for the State. Part-Hawaiians and full- Hawaiians also have a significantly higher rate of illegitimate births than the other ethnic groups.

Native Hawaiians have historically had a lower life expectancy than other groups in Hawaii. This trend continues—in 1970, the native Hawaiian life expectancy was 67.62 years, compared with an average for the State of 74.20 years.


A study published by the State of Hawaii Department of Health examined mortality rates among full-Hawaiians, part-Hawaiians, and all other races in Hawaii from 1910 to 1980. The study concluded that:

  • Part-Hawaiians' mortality rates for heart disease were generally higher than the "all races" group except for some years, while the rate for full-Hawaiians was consistently higher than that for the other groups;
  • Part-Hawaiians and the "all races" group had similar mortality rates for cancer, while the rate for full-Hawaiians was much higher than both of the other groups; and
  • The mortality rate for accidents did not differ for part-Hawaiians and the "all races" group but was two times higher for the full-Hawaiian group.

Statistics from the Hawaii Tumor Registry show that native Hawaiian men had the highest incidence of stomach and lung cancer for the period from 1973 through 1980, compared to Caucasian, Chinese, Filipino, and Japanese. Native Hawaiian women, compared to these same groups, had the highest incidence of lung and breast cancer.

The Hawaiian and part-Hawaiian group reports the highest prevalence among ethnic groups in Hawaii of "acute conditions," especially respiratory conditions. For chronic conditions, the prevalence for the native Hawaiians is high, relative to the other groups, only for asthma, mental and nervous conditions, and bronchitis/emphysema. Native Hawaiians, according to this data, report the lowest prevalence of cancer, compared to the other groups. According to the Hawaii substance abuse needs survey:

  • Of the total number of estimated substance abusers in Hawaii (103,748, or 14.7 percent of Hawaii's general population), 20.9 percent were Hawaiian or part-Hawaiian.
  • Hawaiians and part-Hawaiians account for 19.4 percent of alcohol abusers, 22.3 percent of drug abusers, and 22.8 percent of the population abusing both alcohol and drugs.
Socio-political Profile

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.

In 1978, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs was created, which has a board of trustees that is elected only by native Hawaiians. For the first board election in 1980, 31 percent of the total native Hawaiian population registered to vote, 80 percent of those who registered actually voted, and 100 candidates ran for the nine board positions.

The 1981 Hawaii State Legislature consisted of seven part-Hawaiians in the House of Representatives (out of


a total of 51), and three in the Senate (out of a total of 25).

"Health and Social Services"

Two main topics are included in this chapter. First, the historical and cultural background of native Hawaiian health is discussed. This section (written by Dr. Richard Kekuni Blaisdell) includes information on the health and illnesses of native Hawaiians in three distinct time periods: prior to contact with foreigners (1778 and before), contact with foreigners (1778 to 1893), and from the overthrow of the monarchy to the present (1893 to 198 3). The second part of the "Health and Social Services" chapter describes the State and Federal programs available to native Hawaiians. Programs include those in the mental health area, medical and family health, and communicable diseases.


The education system in Hawaii is reviewed in this chapter. The historical development of the education system is traced from ancient times through the activities of the missionaries and the education system of the Territory of Hawaii. The chapter also includes a discussion of the present system, reviews programs initiated specifically for native Hawaiians, and discusses native Hawaiian participation in the educational community, including the problem of underrepresentation of native Hawaiians in higher education and in the teacher workforce.


Housing costs and characteristics for native Hawaiians and other ethnic groups in Hawaii are examined in the chapter entitled "Housing." Among the findings of this section are:

  • The median value of a house in Hawaii is two and one-half times greater than the 1980 national median value.
  • The native Hawaiian group has the lowest median value of owner-occupied housing units of all ethnic groups in Hawaii.
  • In comparing owners versus renters, native Hawaiians and Filipinos are split almost equally between owners and renters (similar to the State average), while over twothirds of Chinese and Japanese households are owner occupied. For the White group, only 43 percent of households are owneroccupied.

The "Housing" chapter also discusses some unique features in the housing situation of native Hawaiians that result from the Hawaiian Home Lands program. It reviews the programs of the Hawaii State Department of Hawaiian Home Lands for homestead homes construction and repair, cost and financing, and loans. Impediments to the use of programs of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by native Hawaiian homesteaders are' also identified.

"Ancient History to the Reciprocity Treaty"

Knowledge about history of the Hawaiian Islands and their inhabitants is necessary to understand the culture and lifestyle of native Hawaiians. This chapter in Part I


traces the history of Hawaii from ancient times through the adoption of the Reciprocity Treaty between Hawaii and the United States in 1875. The chapter includes a discussion of: ancient Hawaii prior to the arrival of western foreigners; the arrival of Captain Cook in 1778; the changes wrought by the activities of the missionaries; the transformation of the kingdom's system of government toward an Anglo-American style; the kingdom's relationships with foreign governments and citizens; the agitation for annexation to the United States; and the growth of the sugar industry in Hawaii and its effect on the politics and economy of the kingdom.

"Native Hawaiian Culture"

The Commission was fortunate to have had the assistance of knowledgeable native Hawaiian authors in compiling the information on native Hawaiian culture and religion. The chapter on "Native Hawaiian Culture" contains a detailed explanation and description of the Hawaiian language, including comparison to other Polynesian languages, the cultural importance of the Hawaiian language, the history of the Hawaiian language, the rise of English as the dominant language in Hawaii, and the role of pidgin in Hawaii today. This section on the Hawaiian language was written by Larry L. Kimura, at the direction of and funded by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which submitted the paper to the Commission.

This chapter also contains a discussion of historic preservation in Hawaii. It examines the roles of the State and Federal Governments in preserving historic properties, and describes the practical problems in the implementation and enforcement of historic preservation regulations in Hawaii today.

"Native Hawaiian Religion"

The chapter on "Native Hawaiian Religion" was written by Rubellite K. Johnson. Professor Johnson's paper (also written at the direction of and funded by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs) discusses: the ancient Hawaiian concept of the soul of man in relation to ancestral or spiritual beings in nature, or beyond nature, during human life and in a spiritual afterlife; the relationship between the community worship of the chiefs and priests as a ruling class, and family worship from pre-contact to the present; post-conversion Hawaiian conflict in native identity or crisis in self and group esteem, including Hawaiian resiliency in adjusted identity change; the need felt by some emerging native Hawaiian groups to recover self-esteem by pledging faith in ancient religious beliefs and customs, through participation in a revitalized religious setting.


This section of the report covers two separate aspects of the unique interests and needs of native Hawaiians: their land-related claims and interests, and the responses of Federal, State, local, and private entities to their concerns about land and other issues.

"Land Laws and Relationships"

The chapter on "Land Laws and Relationships" reviews land tenure relationships among the king, high chiefs, sub-chiefs (konohiki) and maka'ainana (commoners). It describes


traditional land tenure relationships before the arrival of westerners and it reviews changes in these relationships brought about by changes in practice and law from 1778 to 1846. The chapter also sets forth the history of the Board of Land Commissioners, established in 1848 to address landholding matters, and the resulting principles that led to the Great Mahele of 1848. The Great Mahele divided the land of the Hawaiian Kingdom among the king, the chiefs, and the commoners, with designated rights. Resulting landholding relationships are described. Also, the chapter outlines subsequent laws, including the Act of 1846 that permitted sales of government lands, the Kuleana Act that provided for acquisition of land by commoners, and patterns of land acquisition by foreigners.

In response to specific questions about land ownership raised during the course of the January 1982 hearings of the Commission, the chapter also analyzes certain issues of concern to native Hawiians. These issues include a description of water and fishpond rights under Hawaiian law. Fishponds remain in private ownership today, while fisheries are in private ownership only to the extent that the owners followed specified procedures to obtain recognition of their rights. Rights to use of water are established by a series of rules unique to Hawaii and closely related to ancient Hawaii land law. Further, the chapter summarizes geothermal and mineral rights under Hawaiian law, and describes the possible effect of geothermal development on traditional native Hawaiian communities. The history of kuleana land rights (rights accorded to commoners to acquire land), including present problems in ownership of these plots, is described. The Hawaiian law of adverse possession—-a legal doctrine that allows persons who have occupied land under certain conditions to claim it for their own--is set forth, and its effect on native Hawaiian landholding rights discussed. Finally, the chapter addresses the necessity of genealogical searches to satisfy land ownership requirements of native Hawaiian landholdings.

"Diplomatic and Congressional History;From Monarchy to Statehood"

This chapter continues on from the history section of Part I. It divides the history of Hawaiian-United States relationships into four sections. The first covers this history from 1875 to 1893. As background, it outlines the events leading to the signing of the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875 between the United States and Hawaii. It also sets forth the relations between the king and certain American advisors who, throughout this period, had a strong influence on Hawaiian policies. The next part of this section encompasses the events from 1881 to 1887, including financial problems in Hawaii and internal political struggles among different American advisors to the crown. The next portion of this section describes the events surrounding the writing of a new constitution in 1887 and the establishment of cabinet government, which subsequently curtailed the power of the king. The period from 1887 to 1893 was marked by efforts of native Hawaiians to take back some of the power that had been removed from them with the formation of a cabinet government. In 1891, King Kalakaua died and Princess Liliuokalani became queen. The final part of this section covers the efforts of the queen to take back authority for the crown and annexation movements during this same period, leading to the sequence of events that resulted in the overthrow of the monarchy.


The second section of this chapter addresses the fall of the monarchy and the annexation of Hawaii to the United States. Because of the sensitivity of this period of history, this section was prepared by a professional historian. It sets forth relationships within Hawaii and between Hawaii and the United States, providing background for the fall of the monarchy. It also details the events of the days and weeks leading up to the establishment of a provisional government and the queen's resignation in January 1893. Further, the section outlines the unsuccessful steps that the queen took in an effort to regain her kingdom. Finally, the section describes the United States' response to the developments in Hawaii, and the resulting efforts to annex Hawaii, first by treaty, and eventually, by joint resolution of both houses of Congress in 1898. Formal transfer of sovereignty occurred on August 12, 1898, when the Hawaiian Islands became a territory of the United States.

The third section of this chapter analyzes a number of specific questions regarding the process of annexation. These include a review of Hawaii's annexation by joint resolution rather than by treaty. The primary reason for the use of the joint resolution was expediency: the United States was concerned about protection of its strategic position in the Pacific; waiting to obtain the required two-thirds majority in the Senate for annexation by treaty could have been too slow to guarantee that protection. This section also describes the Congressional debate surrounding annexation. It then compares the procedures for annexation of Hawaii to the procedures used to annex other territories of the United States, including Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. The final portion of the analysis reviews whether any native Hawaiians signed annexation documents in Hawaii, noting the difficulties of making such an assessment with the genealogical data now available.

The fourth section of the chapter describes the history of Hawaii's admission to statehood, and compares Hawaii's admission to that of Louisiana, Florida, Texas, Oregon and Alaska.

"Existing Law, Native Hawaiians, and Compensation"

The question addressed in this chapter is "whether native Hawaiians are entitled to compensation for loss of land or sovereignty." In light of the history of landholding laws in Hawaii and the history of the fall of the monarchy and annexation, the Commission has examined whether native Hawaiians have any claims under present law for compensation from the United States for loss of land or sovereignty. The chapter first describes the background of law on these matters, and states that much of the law has developed in relation to American Indians. Second, the chapter analyzes whether native Hawaiians meet the legal requirements for holding "aboriginal title" to Crown and Government lands and whether they are entitled to compensation for loss of any such title. It reviews each of the factors that must be met to establish aboriginal title, in light of the history and sociological facts about native Hawaiians. The requirements that must be met are: the group must be a single landowning entity; there must be actual and exclusive use and occupancy of the lands; the use and occupancy must be of a defined area; and the land must be used and occupied for a long time before aboriginal title was extinguished. While the native Hawaiians may meet some of these requirements, they do not meet all of them.


Further, if aboriginal title existed, the question of whether the United States could be responsible to compensate for its loss is determined by when that title was extinguished. The assumption of sovereignty over the area by the United States must have acted to cause the extinguishment of aboriginal title in order for compensation to be considered. The chapter reviews the history of Hawaiian land law, and finds that acts of the Hawaii legislature before 1893 had the effect of extinguishing aboriginal title, if it had indeed existed. Because the United states did not extinguish any such title, it is not responsible to compensate for its loss. Further, any such loss cannot be compensated under either the Fifth Amendment or under the Indian Claims Commission Act, as presently written.

The question of whether native Hawaiians are entitled to compensation for loss of any "recognized" title to Crown and Government lands is also examined in this chapter. It reviews the definition of the possible laws by which the United States may be regarded as having "recognized" that native Hawaiians have title to Crown and Government lands. The analysis determines that the United States did not recognize title of native Hawaiians to these lands. Further, even if there were recognized title, no compensation for loss of that title would be available under present law.

The next section of the chapter considers whether native Hawaiians are entitled to compensation for loss of sovereignty. The section defines sovereignty, primarily as that concept has been developed in the context of Indian tribes. Since the United States Congress can take away sovereignty of native groups at will, loss of sovereignty is not compensable under the Fifth Amendment. Moreover, it cannot be compensated under the Indian Claims Commission Act. Therefore, native Hawaiians have no present legal entitlement to compensation from the United States for any loss of sovereignty.

The next section of this chapter considers whether there is any trust relationship arising from statutes or other laws, between the natives of Hawaii and the United States. It examines each possible source of such a trust relationship and determines that if there is any such relationship, it is at most a very limited special trust that would not entitle native Hawaiians to any compensation. Finally, the chapter compares any possible native Hawaiian claims to claims of native Alaskans, for which the latter were compensated in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.

"Review of Hawaiian Homes Commission Programs"

The review of the Hawaiian Home Lands program was conducted by the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of the Interior, in response to a request in February 1982. The Inspector General submitted a report in September 1982, and it is that report, along with the reply by the Governor of the State of Hawaii, that appears as this chapter of Part II. The report discusses problems concerning the status of the Hawaiian Home Lands, program accomplishment, financial management, applicant eligibility lists, and leasing activities.

"Federal Responses to the Unique Needs of Native Hawaiians"

The steps that the Federal Government is taking to meet the unique needs of native Hawaiians are outlined in this chapter. These include identification of federal programs for


which native Hawaiians nay be eligible, particularly those programs that meet needs identified in Part I of this report. These responses also include a study of military property requirements in Hawaii, which identifies possible surplus military land. The chapter describes the work of the President's Federal Property Review Board, and states that the federal members of the Commission will work with that Board to ensure that it is aware of the needs of native Hawaiians inconsidering property dispositions. Finally, the chapter describes the present status of the establishment of the Kaloko/Honokohau National Historic Park.

"State of Hawaii's Responses to Native Hawaiian's Unique Needs"

This chapter describes three groups of steps that the State has taken to address the needs of native Hawaiians. The first section outlines Section 5(f) of the Admission Act. Section 5(f) provides that the State must hold certain lands, including the proceeds from their sale or disposition, as a public trust for the support of the public schools and other public educational institutions, for the betterment of the conditions of native Hawaiians, for the development of farm and home ownership on as widespread a basis as possible, for the making of public improvements, and for the provision of lands for public use. The chapter describes the implementation of this provision, including the return of federally-controlled lands (ceded lands) to the State of Hawaii, the State's responsibilities in relation to the ceded lands, and the State's exercise of those responsibilities.

A second section of this chapter describes the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), established by an amendment to Hawaii's Constitution in 1978. A primary motive for establishing OHA was to secure a pro rata portion of the public land trust fund for native Hawaiians. OHA also provides an opportunity for all native Hawaiians to choose leaders and exercise self-government and self-determination. OHA's purposes and operations are described.

A final section notes that other existing State programs for education, health, and other needs of native Hawaiians are described in Part I of the Report.

"Private and Local Responses to Special Needs of Native Hawaiians"

The last chapter of the Final Report describes four private organizations that work to meet the needs of native Hawaiians. These are the Kamehameha Schools/Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate, the Queen Liliuokalani Children's Center, the Lunalilo Home, and Alu Like, Incorporated.


The Appendix contains four main sections. First, it includes Title III of Public Law 96-565, the Act that created the Native Hawaiians Study Commission. Second, it contains the substitute "Summary of Findings, Conclusions, and Recommendations" section that was submitted by three of the Native Hawaiians Study Commissioners at the Commission's last meeting in March, 1983.

The next section of the Appendix contains a summary of the written comments received by the Native Hawaiians Study Commission during the public comment period on the Commission's Draft Report of Findings. These written comments are reproduced in their entirety, as required by statute, in the final section of the Appendix.



Volume II contains the dissenting views submitted by Native Hawaiians Study Commissioners Kina'u Kamali'i, Winona Beamer, and H. Rodger Betts.