A Hawaiian Home Lands Trust Beneficiary Perspective

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What we call ourselves and our lands matter! What others call us and our lands matter! That we are here to speak for and represent ourselves and our lands matters even more!

For far too long, we have been causing confusion by the words we use (and that others use) about ourselves as Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA) trust beneficiaries or Hawaiian Home Lands (HHL) trust beneficiaries, and about our lands as HHCA trust lands or HHL trust lands.

Calling ourselves “trust beneficiaries,” “Hawaiian Homes beneficiaries,” “Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA) trust beneficiaries” or “Hawaiian Home Lands (HHL) trust beneficiaries” are all fine.

Calling ourselves “DHHL beneficiaries” is not.

Calling our lands “trust lands,” “beneficiary trust lands,” “trust beneficiary lands,” “Hawaiian Home trust lands,” “Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (HHCA) trust lands” or “Hawaiian Home Lands (HHL) trust lands” are all fine.

Calling our lands “DHHL lands” is not.

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) is an administrative division of the State of Hawaiʻi that has been responsible for the management of our trust lands since its creation in 1960 soon after the passage of the Statehood Act of 1959 which gave Territorial control and the administration of the HHCA to the newly formed State of Hawaiʻi. In truth, not just DHHL, but rather the entire state government, is responsible for the management of our trust lands.

DHHL’s (and the State’s) role is one of oversight: managing our Hawaiian Home Lands trust effectively, developing and delivering our trust lands to us native Hawaiian trust beneficiaries.

It is not the role of DHHL to ever speak for us or represent us (trust beneficiaries) nor for them to ever speak for or represent our trust lands. We do that ourselves!

We do that collectively as the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations (SCHHA) which was founded in 1987 through a collaboration with former Gov. John Waiheʻe’s administration and DHHL to unify trust beneficiaries as defined in the HHCA of 1920 around solutions and improved administration. SCHHA is organized as a coalition of Homestead Beneficiary Associations (HBA) members defined in federal code 43CFR Part 47.1.

We also do that separately as individual HBAs, such as my own Anahola Hawaiian Homestead Association (AHHA).

Our beloved Prince Kūhiō made it very clear in the purpose of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act using the words “…to enable native Hawaiians to return to their lands in order to fully support self-sufficiency for native Hawaiians and the self-determination of native Hawaiians…”

In order to attain our self-sufficiency and our self-determination we have to be seen and heard. We begin with how we talk about ourselves and our lands. We grow when we teach others to do the same. And we succeed when we speak for ourselves and are heard!