The Other Side of the Frontier: Economic Explorations into Native American History

By Linda Barrington | Go to book overview

controversial nature of government land trusts virtually ensures that fundamental change will not occur until there is a crisis in the program or until the Hawaiian community becomes more informed not just of the low level of benefits delivered to a typical Native Hawaiian applicant but also of the large potential benefits that could accrue to Native Hawaiians from reforming the program.

The multiple barriers to changing the HHL Program have been advantageous in one major respect: They have helped to ensure that the revenues and lands dedicated by the HHCA to Native Hawaiians have been retained by Native Hawaiians for three-quarters of a century. On the other hand, the multiple barriers have also served to lock in a housing subsidy program that is both highly inequitable and highly inefficient. Neither "improved" administration of the HHL Program nor its transfer to a sovereign Hawaiian government is likely to remedy its fundamental difficulties. The dilemma of how to reform the HHL Program within the context of a trust relationship is fundamental and applies not just to Native Hawaiian land trusts but also to the numerous Native American land trusts in North America. Progress toward reform would help to ensure that land, an asset with cultural, economic, and political dimensions, is put to its best use.


Notes

Comments by participants at the May 1994 Barnard College-Columbia University Conference, "Furthering Research into the Past: Current Research on the Economic History of Native Americans" were very helpful in improving the chapter. We also thank the Social Science Research Institute at the University of Hawaii for its financial support of our research and the University of California, Berkeley for its support during Spring 1995.

1
We use the term "Native Hawaiian" to indicate a Hawaiian who would qualify for the Hawaiian Home Lands (HHL) Program, that is, any person with 50 percent or more Hawaiian blood. We use "Hawaiian" more inclusively to refer to any person with any Hawaiian blood.
2
Some controversy exists as to whether the 'ohana represents a single extended family or a group of extended families; see Beechert 1985, 7.
3
See Letter of William Richards to Commander Charles Wilkes, U.S.N., commander of the U.S.A. Exploring Expedition ( March 15, 1841) in Sahlins and Barrere 1973, 23; Dibble [ 1843] 1909, 74. Since Richards's letter was written in 1841, the two-thirds figure may not be applicable to earlier periods. Also, Richards's figure is not based on empirical investigations.
4
An evaluation of the nutritional merits of the ancient Hawaiian diet reveals that it meets early-twentieth-century standards; see Miller 1927.
5
There was irregular communication with and possibly migration from the Society Islands and Tahiti.
6
Kaua'i was not integrated into a unified nation until 1810.

-281-

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