Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American woman to lead a U.S. Cabinet agency, voice choked with emotion while making the special announcement on Monday: The federal government plans to give back to Native Hawaiians surplus land meant for homesteading that the government took from them.
“Yes, it’s a happy day, but it’s also a sad day because we remember the tragedy that befell the Native Hawaiians throughout their tumultuous history,” said Haaland. “Since that time, our country has learned a great deal. And now we are in an era where we recognize the importance of healing the generational traumas that caused pain and heartache.”
The 80 acres located in Ewa Beach formerly used for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center will provide up to 400 homes. This will not cover all, but will help fulfill terms of a settlement authorized by Congress in 1995 to compensate Native Hawaiians for 1,500 acres that were set aside for homelands. The land, however, was acquired and used by the federal government for other purposes.
According to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, there is a waiting list of 28,788 applicants for land statewide. The Hawaiian Homes Commission Act that was passed in 1920 was meant to provide economic self-sufficiency by allowing the Hawaiians to live on the land.
No timeline has been set as of yet for development of the properties.
– BCNN1 Staff