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for people who care about the West

Reapportionment, Hawaiian style


Your June 13 issue reminded me of my years on Hawaii, where, despite the good intentions of the Bishop Estate’s huge land distribution, the powers that be created conditions similar to what you describe in the present Navajo system (“Disenfranchised in Utah,” HCN, 6/13/16). 

Bishop lands were in trust, to be divided in half for each succeeding Native Hawaiian generation, provided that the recipient can trace his ancestry back and still has 51 percent Native blood. But given the wonderful “melting pot” cultures, stretching back to Asian cane-worker imports and subsequent interracial marriages, very few such “pure” lineages still exist. The sad result is that the administrators of trust lands are enriching themselves at the expense of the intentions of Mrs. Bishop’s will, created for the sole purpose of helping impoverished, disenfranchised peoples regain control of what had been taken away from them by the white haole landowners in less than a century.

Robert (“Lopaka”) Cross
Former editor,
California Life Magazine