HONOLULU — The U.S. government is transferring land where the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center once sat to Hawaii’s Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.
Officials said the 80 acres (32 hectares) in Ewa Beach will eventually provide up to 400 homes, while helping fulfill terms of a settlement authorized by Congress in 1995 to compensate Native Hawaiians for the lost use of 1,500 acres (607 hectares) of lands set aside for homelands but were subsequently acquired and used by the federal government for other purposes.
U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s voice choked with emotion while making the announcement Monday.
“Yes, it’s a happy day, but it’s also a sad day because we remember the tragedy that befell the Native Hawaiians throughout their tumultuous history,” said Haaland, who is Native American. “Since that time, our country has learned a great deal. And now we are in an era where we recognize the importance of healing the generational traumas that caused pain and heartache.”
The Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920 was meant to provide economic self-sufficiency to Hawaiians by allowing them to use land to live on. Those with at least 50 percent Hawaiian blood quantum can apply for a 99-year lease for $1 a year.