> Court affirms Native Hawaiian ruling
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Court affirms Native Hawaiian ruling
MONDAY, JANUARY 6, 2003
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last week upheld a ruling that allows non-Natives to oversee trust programs designed to benefit Native Hawaiians.
In a unanimous opinion, a three-judge panel said the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) can't limit its nine trustee positions to Native Hawaiians. The court said the restriction violates the U.S. Constitution.
"The judgment requires Hawaii 'to permit otherwise qualified non-Hawaiians to run for office and to serve, if elected, as trustees of the [OHA],'" Circuit Judge A. Wallace Tashima wrote on December 31.
The ruling follows a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court precedent that opened voting for OHA elections to non-Natives. Ted Olson, who is President Bush's Solicitor General, fought the state of Hawaii on behalf of a white rancher.
In the current case, Pacific Legal Foundation represented non-Natives who challenged the OHA policy. On behalf of one client, Pacific Legal fought sacred site protections on the Hoopa Valley Reservation in California and is currently representing non-Indian farmers in the Klamath River Basin.
Native Hawaiians fear that non-Native involvement will result in a loss of their trust lands and hurt cultural and other programs. A bill to recognize a Native Hawaiian government has been stalled in Congress for two years.
Get the Decision: ARAKAKI v. STATE OF HAWAII, No. 00-17213
(9th Cir. December 31, 2002)
Get the Story: Hawaiians forge uneasy alliance
(The Honolulu Advertiser 1/6)
Native Hawaiian Sovereignty Site - http://www.hawaii-nation.org
Native Hawaiians, Department of Interior - http://www.doi.gov/nativehawaiians
Native Hawaiian Federal Recognition Site - http://www.nativehawaiians.com
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