In 1921, Hawaiian homesteaders leased land on Molokai. Families now nearing lease renewal

In 1921, Hawaiian homesteaders leased land on Molokai. Families now nearing lease renewal
Archived photos show the early Hawaiian Homeland families and properties on Molokai. (Source: Archives)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) -The very first leases established under the Hawaiian Homestead Act are about to run out after almost a century, but residents are being given the option to renew.

Kalama`ula and Ho`olehua Hawaiian Homesteaders on Moloka`i are nearing the 99-year lease mark.

Prince Kuhio helped establish the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. The act allows Native Hawaiians of 50 percent or more Hawaiian blood to live on homestead lands for $1 a year, for 99 years.

The Act was passed in 1921 and the very first homestead was established later that year in Kalama`ula.

Archived photos show the early Hawaiian Homeland families and properties on Molokai.
Archived photos show the early Hawaiian Homeland families and properties on Molokai. (Source: Archives)

It was a pilot program awarded to 42 Native Hawaiians. Kalama`ula was where prominent Native Hawaiian George Helm was raised.

Helm fought to stop the bombing of Kaho`olawe before he disappeared. He’s the uncle to multiple Na Hoku Hanohano award winner Raiatea Helm.

“Over 100 years ago, Prince Kuhio sought to return native Hawaiians to the land through a homesteading program,” said Hawaiian Homes Commission Chair William J. Aila, Jr. “The families in Kalama`ula and Ho`olehua exemplify his vision of rehabilitation. Without their success in the early years, we would not be continuing today.”

Ho`olehua was established in 1925. That is where prominent Native Hawaiian activist Walter Ritte is from.

Ritte and Helm were both part of the “Kaho`olawe Nine” who protested the bombing of the island.

Current homestead residents in Kalama`ula and Ho`olehua can extend their leases another 100 years. To do so, residents will need to make a request through the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and with approval of the Hawaiian Homes Commission.

For more information on that, click here.

Copyright 2019 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.