A few weeks ago, I began to receive calls from beneficiaries in Hawaiʻi and on the U.S. continent, urging me to consider returning to OHA to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Mr. Keola Lindsey. They were angry and frustrated.
Several beneficiaries expressed concern over the state’s ongoing effort to diminish the Hawaiian share of revenues paid to OHA from the Public Lands Trust (PLT) and the refusal of the legislature to support the OHA Bill on the PLT this 2022 Session. Many Hawaiians raised ‘historic’ problems including the failure of the State of Hawaiʻi to address and implement the recommendations of the Federal-State Task Force on Hawaiian Homelands.
These concerns are the same as mine. For years OHA Trustees have tried and failed to resolve the disagreement with the state over the PLT’s lands, resources and revenues. While I am not averse to working with the State Legislature on these matters, it is clear that we have not made progress on these critical issues and that the state continues to sidestep the clear language of the Admission Act which identifies native Hawaiians (50% blood) and the “public” as the equitable owners of the PLT. Where is the share for Native Hawaiians? Native Hawaiians are members of the “public.” If OHA’s efforts to resolve these critical fiscal and resource issues fail in the 2022 Legislative Session, I will petition the OHA Board to initiate litigation in the Federal District Court in Hawaiʻi for relief.
In 1983, I was appointed a member of the Federal-State Task Force on Hawaiian Homelands.
Our final report, issued in August 1983, set forth a detailed template for corrective action which has yet to be implemented by the state. For nearly 30 years the task force recommendations have been ignored not only by the State of Hawaiʻi but by the federal government as well.
In 2020 and 2021 Rob Perez, an investigative reporter from Hawaiʻi, undertook a two-year investigation of the state and U.S. breaches of the Hawaiian Homes Trust. I urge all Hawaiian beneficiaries to read and review the Perez articles – they document how Hawaiʻi’s own congressman circumvented and prevented the opportunity for DHHL lessees to access hundreds of homes at Kalaeloa, Oʻahu, in order to benefit the Hunt Corporation.
- The U.S. Owes Hawaiians Millions of Dollars Worth of Land. Congress Helped Make Sure the Debt Wasn’t Paid, by Rob Perez
- How the Deals Approved by Congress Bypassed Thousands of Hawaiians Waiting for Homes (5/07/21)
When I was appointed to the Federal-State Task Force on Hawaiian Homelands, I learned that an “estimated” 30,000 Hawaiians had died waiting for their Homestead awards. Today there are over 28,000 families on the waitlist.
We cannot continue the “dialogue” with the state and legislature. I believe that the time has come to seek the guidance of the federal court in mandating a resolution and ordering the state to commence paying to OHA hundreds of millions of dollars owed for past arrearages.
There are nine months left until the next election. At that time, voters (public and Indigenous) will have the opportunity to elect another Hawaiʻi Island OHA Trustee. In the intervening nine months, I am honored and proud to fill the vacancy. I thank the Trustees who nominated and voted for me. I send my heartfelt aloha to my dear friends Germane, Healani, Leianueanue, Cindy, Malama, Kawehi, and Patricia for testifying in support of my nomination.
Together we will make a difference.
Mililani B. Trask,
Hawaiʻi Island Trustee