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In contrast, in Hawaii the land rights of the natives were determined by a series of laws from 1850 to 1898, subsequent to the Great Mahele of 1848, which established a mechanism for the acquisition of fee title. The Crown and Government lands established by the Great Mahele eventually became federal lands when Hawaii was annexed by the United States. Title to the lands was vested in the State of Hawaii by the Hawaiian Statehood Act, which does not contain a provision protecting native land rights similar to the one found in the Alaska Statehood Act. Therefore, the reasons that impelled passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act are not present in the Hawaiian situation.

The purpose of this chapter has been to examine the existing laws that are most likely to provide a basis for compensation to native Hawaiians for any loss of lands or loss of sovereignty. As set forth in detail here, the review shows that existing law provides no basis for such compensation. Therefore, special legislation would be required before any such payments could be made. Congress has responded in the past to native American claims: once with the passage of the Indian Claims Commission Act in 1946, and again in 1971 with the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.