Have you noticed how life is loving life? I’ve been wowed lately by a stunning profusion of flowers popping out all over on a clustered planting of Manilla palms, the lushness of the pastures and hillsides, the luxuriant thickness of naupaka hugging the coastline, my own honohono orchid dense with little buds. It’s evident that the rain we’ve been having, and that continues this gray morning, is exactly what nature needs.
The wind has died down, but not before blowing some nests out of trees. I found two on the ground yesterday, although neither had eggs. Meanwhile, Laysan albatross chicks are hatching on the North Shore.
On another island, and in another world, the Legislature today begins hearings on bills intended to circumvent the plot hatched by the Lingle-Bennett team to wipe out Hawaiian land claims in one fell swoop, via the U.S. Supreme Court.
The House will take testimony on HB 1805, and HB 902 which seek to prohibit the sale or exchange of the so-called “ceded lands” and requires DLNR to make an inventory of public trust lands.
The Senate, meantime, will hold hearings on SB 475, which prevents the sale of “ceded lands” pending the U.S. Supreme Court decision, and SB 476, which requires a two-thirds majority vote of the Lege to sell or exchange those lands. Another bill, SB 996, prohibits their fee-simple sale.
The bills have similar language, including:
This Act shall remain in effect until the claims of the native Hawaiian people to the public land trust lands have been resolved or until the legislature finds that the state no longer supports reconciliation between the State and the native Hawaiian people.
It seems that’s the crux of the issue: does the state really support some sort of meaningful reconciliation with the Hawaiians? It doesn’t appear so from the approach that Lingle-Bennett are taking in appealing a unanimous Hawaii Supreme Court decision that held sales of “ceded lands” must be halted until the Hawaiian land claims are settled. They're contending the lands , which were seized during the illegal overthrow of the monarchy, were turned over to the state upon annexation and so the Hawaiians have no claim to them at all.
According to a press release from the Legislative Hawaiian Caucus:
“People need to realize that this is absolutely one of the most serious issues to affect our people in a long, long time,” [Office of Hawaiian Affairs Administratory Clyde] Namu‘o said. “Gov. Lingle needs to hear that not only the Hawai‘i community is upset over this bill, but the broader community as well.”
While Gov. Linda Lingle has not stated any plans to sell “ceded lands,” to have the U.S. Supreme Court to comment on Native Hawaiian claims to those lands is the worst thing to happen, when the State and Native Hawaiians are currently in a process of reconciliation, Namu‘o explained.
Meanwhile, as the Honolulu Advertiser recently reported, the appeal is generating some high-powered opposition:
Abigail Kawananakoa, the great-grandniece of King David Kalakaua and Queen Kapi'olani; a trio consisting of former Gov. John Waihee, former Hawai'i Supreme Court Chief Justice William Richardson and current Senate President Colleen Hanabusa; the Hawai'i congressional delegation; the San Francisco-based Equal Justice Society and the Japanese American Citizens League; and the National Congress of American Indians were among those filing legal briefs in opposition to the Lingle administration's appeal. Oral arguments before the court are set for Feb. 25.
It’ll be fascinating to see what the Lege does with this hot potato. Will it issue a rebuke to Lingle? Does Hanabusa have enough political juice to get a bill passed? Is the Legislative Hawaiian Caucus a force to be reckoned with? Will the kanaka maoli get screwed — again? Or will they get a chance to hatch their own version of sovereignty, justice and reconciliation?