Interior and Commerce Departments Restore Lands to the Native Hawaiian Community

hall of FlagsImage via United States Department of the Interior

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves recently announced the transfer of an 80-acre parcel of surplus federal property at the former NOAA Pacific Tsunami Warning Center on O‘ahu for inclusion in the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust. The land has the potential to provide homesteads for 200 to 400 Native Hawaiian families.

The lands are being transferred to the state of Hawaii’s Department of Hawaiian Home Lands for inclusion in the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust. The transfer will help fulfill the terms of a settlement agreement authorized by Congress in 1995 to compensate Native Hawaiians for the lost use of 1,500 acres of lands set aside as potential homelands but subsequently acquired and used by the U.S. Government for other purposes.

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“The Native Hawaiian Community has waited more than 20 years for the federal government to address a $16.9 million credit owed by the United States to the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Today’s action is an important step in our commitment to resolving the Hawaiian Home Lands Recovery Act settlement. We thank the Department of Commerce, General Services Administration, State of Hawai‘i, and Native Hawaiian Community members who provided their input during consultation on this transfer.”

“We are pleased that Native Hawaiians will now have access to the 80 acres in Ewa Beach where the NOAA Pacific Tsunami Warning Center once resided,” said Deputy Secretary Don Graves. “With this overdue transfer, this parcel of land will soon be called home for hundreds of Native Hawaiians.”

“Residential lots on Oʻahu are of the highest demand from applicants on the waiting list. This land transfer is an opportunity for beneficiaries that is truly in line with the spirit of the Hawaiian Home Lands Recovery Act,” said William J. Aila, Jr., Chairman of the Hawaiian Homes Commission.

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In 1998, the Interior Department and the state of Hawai‘i identified a site for transfer under the HHLRA. In 2000, that site became unavailable, leaving a credit of $16.9 million owed to the Trust by the United States.

The General Services Administration notified the state of Hawai‘i of the availability of NOAA’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Center site in 2020. The former Pacific Tsunami Warning Center land represents the best available property offered to the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust by the United States, suitable for residential development, under the HHLRA. After an appraisal, environmental review, and consultation with the Native Hawaiian Community, the Interior Department notified the General Services Administration that the site is suitable and approved the conveyance to the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust to satisfy $10 million of the $16.9 million credit.

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