New Book on Crown Lands Hits Store Shelves

Jon Van Dyke
Jon Van Dyke

MANOA (KHNL) -- A new book that peers into Hawaii's land ownership history, and the volatile issues that accompany it, is set to hit store shelves.

It's titled Who Owns the Crown Lands of Hawaii? and it is sure to spark controversy through out the state.The book's title begs one of the most heated questions of our time.

''My study was designed to be a resource so that people can understand the basis for the hawaiian claim," said author Jon Van Dyke.  "Why is the Native Hawaiian claim strong? Why are they entitled to land back at this point?"

University of Hawaii law professor, Jon Van Dyke, spent the past 12 years researching, writing and shaping his book.

It details critical moments in Hawaii's land ownership history:

The great Mahele of the 1840's when King Kamehameha the Third, divided close to two million acres of land; a little more than half for the monarchy.

The rest, for government use.

The overthrow of the queen in 1893.

And the 1993 apology by the United States government for the overthrow.

''It's not going to make the people who want independence happy," Van Dyke said.  "It's not going to make the people who want the hawaiians to have nothing happy. It explains that the hawaiian claim is strong, that the claim is well founded, in many respects. But, people will have their own ideas about what the outcome should be, and that's fine."

Which brings us to the current day.

The Federal Native Hawaiian Recognition Act -- commonly known as the Akaka Bill -- continues to make its way through congress.

Even this piece of legislation divides the Hawaiian people.

But, Van Dyke sees a clear path should it become law.

"The Akaka Bill has been passed by the house. If it is passed by the senate and signed into law, that would lead to negotiations which would lead to the return of lands and resources to the Hawaiian people. And, my personal view is the crown lands should be the corpus of the lands that are returned to the Hawaiian nation."