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Hawaiian march targets lands case at high court
Published: Jan 18, 2009

By Gene Park
Star-Bulletin Staff Write

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Hundreds wore red and took to the street during a ceded lands protest march
yesterday in Waikiki. Several native Hawaiian groups oppose Gov. Linda Lingle’s
effort to get the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a Hawaii Supreme Court decision
preventing the state from selling ceded lands.

As he walked down Kalakaua Avenue yesterday, Roy Brooks said he's ready to march all the way to the nation's capital, if need be, to protest the state's appeal of a ceded lands case.

"We follow the issues, we follow the challenge," said Brooks, a 60-year-old Kailua resident and member of two native Hawaiian civic clubs. "We rise to the challenge, and then we move with the challenge."

Yesterday's Ku i ka Pono march and rally also marked the anniversary of the Jan. 17, 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

But marchers, several thousand strong, were focused on what they see as a looming threat to efforts to seek self-determination for native Hawaiians.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Feb. 25 in the Lingle administration's appeal of a state Supreme Court ruling that the state cannot sell or transfer ceded lands until native Hawaiian claims are settled.

"We believe if we don't slow the process down, the U.S. Supreme Court could prevail," Wayne Kahoonei Panoke, one of the march organizers, said. "It would be a black mark to native Hawaiians now, for the future and Hawaii will not be the same."

The protesters want Lingle to drop the appeal and keep the case out of the federal courts.

Earlier this week, Lingle said her administration will not drop the U.S. Supreme Court appeal.

"We feel we are defending all of the people of Hawaii and that includes native Hawaiians," Lingle said. "It is our obligation to represent all the people of the state. This land is owned by all the people of the state."

Lingle noted that it was Gov. John Waihee, a native Hawaiian, who wanted to sell the former monarchy lands as part of an affordable housing development. That proposed sale led to the lawsuit that is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

One sign carried by a protester read "This ain't Lingle Land." Demonstrators also threw rubber slippers at a large painting of the Republican governor.

Sen. Clayton Hee, D-Kahuku-Kaneohe, chairman of the Hawaiian Affairs Committee, said legislators are working on bills to block the state from being able to sell or exchange the lands.

Hee warned native Hawaiian groups that they should "not take the Legislature for granted."

"If the Hawaiian people intend to have no sale of ceded lands enacted into law, they need to show up at the Capitol building," Hee said. "Because anything less than that would be unwise in my opinion."

Earlier this week, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs proposed land swaps to settle a dispute over income from former Hawaiian Kingdom lands. But the proposed land swap will not address future claims.

Kahaluu resident Kaliko Baker said he was touched to see so many disparate Hawaiian groups come together for a common goal.

"We don't see it very often, and we need to take this abroad," Brooks said. "Together with all of the keiki out here. It's awesome. We're perpetuating our culture."

The Associated Press and reporter Craig Gima contributed to this story.


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