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From these findings, it is quite clear that the ceded lands trust was never intended nor construed to be restitution to Native Hawaiians.
The provision for Native Hawaiians, however, persuasively argues that Congress has extended a preliminary recognition of Native Hawaiian interests in those lands.
The State of Hawai'i, further, in the State Constitution of 1978, acknowledged the beneficiary interests of Native Hawaiians and provided a pro rata share of the ceded lands revenues be set aside for the "betterment of Native Hawaiians." These funds are administered and managed by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs whose Board of Trustees are elected by all Hawaiians.
(It should be noted here, and will be discussed in detail later, that the Native Hawaiians definition of the Hawaiian Homes Act is different from that guiding this Commission.)
This trust as a federal responsibility was not extinguished by the Admission Act or its terms. All ceded lands set aside for national park purposes were declared fee and the property of the Department of the Interior. However, it was the intent of Congress that all other lands controlled by the federal government were subject to return and incorporation into the trust of the State of Hawai'i.
This reversionary interest of the State in all non-park federal lands is now also of explicit trust interest to Native Hawaiians by the establishment of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
In the twenty-four years since Statehood, however, less than 600 acres of federally-controlled ceded lands have been returned.
Based on these findings, and the now-explicit reversionary interests of the Native Hawaiians and the State of Hawai'i, the following recommendation is offered to the Congress:
- that the Congress establish a Joint Federal-State Ceded Lands Commission for the State of Hawai'i, to review the present use and need for federally-controlled lands in Hawai'i;
- that this Commission advise the Congress on the status of these lands, and have the authority to declare such lands surplus and available for return to the State of Hawai'i; and
- that Native Hawaiians be included and consulted in the course of the Commission's review.
The Hawaiian Homes Trust. A similar Federal-State Task Force is now completing a review of the Hawaiian Homes trust. This effort was prompted by an initial report of the Civil Rights Commission indicating that a breech of trust may have occurred in the administration and management of these lands.
As constituted, this Task Force? will submit its findings and recommendations to the Governor of the State of Hawai'i and the Secretary of the Interior.
Specific Congressional concerns and possible actions, however, will not be considered by this Task Force. Thus, it is our intention, based on the mandate of this Commission and the intense interest expressed by Native Hawaiians, to address possible areas of Congressional review.
Social Concerns. The consequences of the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai'i by the United States are not confined to historical wrong or compensable claims for lost anchestral land rights and interests.
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