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Court affirms Native Hawaiian ruling

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)

Relevant Links:
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

Related Stories:
Native Hawaiians press sovereignty (10/14)
U.S. dismissed from Native Hawaiian case (09/04)
Inouye: Native Hawaiian bill won't pass (8/8)
Native Hawaiian bill supported (7/16)
Native Hawaiians intervene in lawsuit (7/12)
Judge won't halt Hawaiian funding (3/14)
Native Hawaiian trust challenged (3/6)
Native Hawaiian bill on Senate agenda (7/20)
Federal judge blocks Army training (7/19)
Native Hawaiian lawsuit dismissed (7/13)
Shift in Senate means changes for Indian Country (5/25)
Senate confirms Olson as Solicitor General (5/25)
Native Hawaiian lands threatened (5/24)
A first for Native Hawaiians (4/5)
Indian Law and the Supreme Court (12/11)
OHA survives elections (11/14)
Final Hawaiian report released (10/24)
Native Hawaiian bill passes House (9/27)
Hawaiian affairs still controversial (9/13)
US recommends Hawaiian sovereignty (8/24)
Non-Natives win battle in suit (8/17)
Where are the Dems on tribes? (8/16)
March raises sovereignty awareness (8/14)
The GOP 2000 Platform on Native Americans (8/1)
Group challenges Hawaii (7/7)
Hawaiians march for sovereignty (7/5)

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