“The Ceded Lands

After the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893, the Republic of Hawai’i joined the Crown Lands and the Government lands together into what was known as the “Public Lands,” amounting to nearly 1.8 million acres of land that was not privately held and was essentially “owned” by the government. In 1898, when the United States annexed Hawai’i, the Republic of Hawai’i “ceded” the Public Lands to the United States. These lands were thereafter referred to as the “Ceded Lands.” After annexation, the Ceded Lands were held in a special trust created by the United States government. 200,000 acres were set-aside for the Hawaiian Home Lands Program in 1921. 350,000 acres were retained by the federal government for military bases and national parks, e.g. Pearl Harbor Naval Base (Dyke 2010). The remaining Ceded Lands, as set forth in the Newlands Resolution which annexed the Republic of Hawai’i to the United States in 1898, were to be “used solely for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Hawaiian Islands for educational and other public purposes” (America 1897). In 1959, when Hawai’i became a state, the remaining 1.4 million acres of Ceded Lands were transferred to the new State of Hawai’i to be held in trust for the benefit of Hawaiians. The revenues from these lands were required to be used for public purposes, including, as stated in the 1959 Admission Act, “for the betterment of the conditions of native Hawaiians” (Dyke 2010).

The transfer of the Ceded Lands to the Republic of Hawai’i in 1893 and then to the United States government in 1898 is surrounded by controversy to this day. The United States military and diplomatic officials’ involvement in the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy was recognized as “illegal” and a violation of international law by the United States Congress in the 1993 Apology Resolution, commemorating the 100th year of the overthrow. Signed by President Clinton, the Apology Resolution stated that the transfer of the Ceded Lands to the United States government was “without the consent of or compensation to the Native Hawaiian people of Hawai’i or their sovereign government” (America 1993). The Apology Resolution also stated, “the long-range economic and social changes in Hawai’i over the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have been devastating to the population and to the health and well-being of the Hawaiian people.” In addition to the formal apology issued by the United States government, the Office of the President of the United Church of Christ also offered a public apology to Native Hawaiians for their denomination’s historical complicity in the “cultural genocide” of a native people (America 1993).

When the State of Hawai’i tried to sell a portion of Ceded Lands, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), the public agency responsible for improving the well-being of Native Hawaiians, filed a lawsuit to prohibit that sale and all further sales of Ceded Lands. OHA receives permanent funding from 20 percent of Ceded Land revenues, mostly through lease agreements. OHA claimed that the 20 percent allocation of revenue gave them the right to veto any sale of Ceded Lands because, if sold, the Ceded

Lands would no longer produce revenue to maintain OHA. In 2008, the Hawai’i Supreme Court ruled in favor of OHA, permanently prohibiting the sale of all Ceded Lands. The Hawai’i Legislature passed Act 176 (2009) stating that none of the public lands in the State—whether Ceded Lands or not—can be transferred or sold without a two-thirds vote by both chambers of the Legislature (Dyke 2010). As Van Dyke states, Hawaiians have powerful claim to these lands. Until that claim can be addressed and resolved, there will be a “virtual moratorium” on any sale or transfer (Dyke 2010).

Mauna Kea is part of the Crown Lands—lands of the Monarchy prior to the 1893 overthrow of the Monarchy. Under the Hawai’i Constitution, Mauna Kea, like all Ceded Lands (which included the former Crown Lands), is held in trust by the State and managed for the benefit of the Native Hawaiian people and the public. Hawai’i State Law 171 requires that fair market rent be charged for all leasing of Ceded Lands (KAHEA 2015). It is noteworthy that those who have historically opposed telescope construction on Mauna Kea argue that the University of Hawai’i is in violation of HRS 171 since they have never paid fair market rent for the use of Mauna Kea. UH pays a symbolic $1.00 per year for the use of Mauna Kea. UH, in turn, subleases the land on the summit to the various telescope institutions. In exchange for subleasing the land, UH receives compensation for observing time on the telescopes. A single night of viewing time on the Keck Observatory, for example, is valued at $80,000 (KAHEA 2015). By gaining access to the world’s best telescopes, UH greatly benefits from this sublease exchange. In 2001, the value of UH-owned patents resulting from astronomical development on Mauna Keas were estimated to be worth $14 million (KAHEA 2015). It has been proposed that between $45 and $50 million dollars per year would be the fair market rent charged by the State to the international observatories for the use of Mauna Kea (KAHEA 2015).”

Source pp.47-49


[It is most important to note that Hawaii lands were NEVER ceded and the normalized use of the term “ceded” is incorrect and the precedent set in this otherwise accurate summary of Mauna Kea and land ownership is FALSE.

It is also MOST IMPORTANT to note that the “overthrow” of Hawaii is and was an UNLAWFUL OVERTHROW being that treaties existed between the U.S. and Ko Hawaii Pae Aina (The Hawaiian Kingdom).

Therefore the term unlawful, as opposed to illegal should ALWAYS proceed overthrow in regards to Hawaii.

To say overthrow without unlawful or with illlegal or with nothing proceeding this term is an enablement of, and collaboration with, the unlawful occupation, the economic genocide of all of Hawaii, and the ethnocide of kanaka and Ko Hawaii (Hawaii’s National Subject Body and its descendants) past, present, and (hopefully not, but…) future.

“Illegal” should never proceed the term “overthrow” in regards to Hawaii, once you are made aware. The term “overthrow” should never be used in regards to Hawaii witout being proceeded by “unlawful.” In other words to just state “the overthrow of Hawaii” is false, innacurate and wrong. So is “the illegal overthrow.”

Why? “For something to be considered ‘illegal’, there has to be a specific law passed by a legislative authority, such as a local or national government that expressly makes it illegal. Something that is ‘unlawful’ is contrary or goes against the established law, without there being a specific law enacted by a legislative authority. So it seems illegal has more to do with internal laws and unlawful has more to do with external legal agreements like treaties.

On a separate note, although I am not a despicable lawyer but act as my own lawyer as Sacred Mauna Kea Hui’s founder, to clear up some confusion in the case of what is called “common law.” These set of mandates and regulations, called “common law,” if adopted by a country’s legislative entity, would fall under legal and not lawful.


“The boundaries of Hawaiʿi as promulgated by Kamehameha III were clear. The 1846 law named the islands and the channel waters as the dominion of the Kingdom. After the overthrow in 1893, the Provisional Government claimed the same dominion as belonged to the Kingdom. Likewise, the Republic of Hawaiʿi in 1894 as successor to the Provisional Government held the same dominion as both the Kingdom and the Provisional Government. the Territory in 1898 could not claim the dominion of its predecessor, the Republic of Hawaiʿi. The Republic had never ceded its dominion to the U.S. Unlike the Provisional Government and the Republic there was no basis by which the U.S. could claim the dominion held by the Republic of Hawaiʿi.” (Source pdf pp. 34-35)]


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10 responses to “WHO OWNS MAUNA KEA?

  1. Cutting and pasting “sources” from different authors and sites has left you with a nonsensical document. There are internal contradictions between these sources, because legal analysts can and DO disagree quite regularly.

    It would be more useful if you’d address the issues surrounding the Hawaiian-run organizations that are being looted by their ethnic Hawaiian operators. It’s hard to justify giving Hawaiian organizations and financial trustees MORE public money to be stolen and squandered.


    • If you think so. Thanks for your input we appreciate and consider the purpose, citations and narrative of this post in particular a good example of the reality of this spiritual ecology as a science. This post examples the wide variety of the many ideas, discussions and notions of fudiciary negligence, environmental stewardship and the sustainable renewability of life necessities. It is a smorgessborg of some of the facets presented as is and cited as is. We could pretend the purpose is of some sensibility that does not reflect the human condition of the reality- these are some of those significant prevailing similarities and discrepencies and lets be honest- if there is some sense to make out of all facets of thus spiritua ecology and fudiciary justice-seeking movement, it starts where we are and Im glad it came across the way it did to you, save the idea that reality doesnot male sense, I think you are spot-on. Aka “The situation.” There is much sense to be had in the agreements and discrepancies when human beings share agreēent amd disagreements. A fampus saying would count the debating, challenging, agreeing and disagreeing- debate- is merely the human condition of a
      cognative dissonance brought on by critical debate and civil/noncivil action- aka people showing their intelligence in c


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    • The sources are linked I collected them. And quoted and sourced them here. The very small narrative on the bottom, the one paragraph, is all I have a added – the one about support.


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