Justia Native American Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Hawaii
This case involves a dispute over the Mauna Kea Access Road (MKAR) in Hawaii, which partially lies on Hawaiian home lands. The plaintiffs, who are Native Hawaiian beneficiaries of the Hawaiian home lands trust, sued the State of Hawaii and several of its departments, alleging that they breached their trust duties by allowing the State to use MKAR lands without payment since the 1970s. They also argued that the State's attempt to designate MKAR as a state highway in 2018 was ineffective as a matter of law.The lower court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, based on Act 14 of 1995, which was intended to resolve all controversies relating to the Hawaiian home lands trust that arose between 1959 and 1988. The defendants argued that Act 14 remedied the uncompensated use of the Hawaiian home lands underlying the MKAR and made enforcement of a land exchange the exclusive remedy for the plaintiffs.The Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii disagreed with the lower court's ruling. The Supreme Court held that Act 14 of 1995 does not preclude the plaintiffs' claims, that the portion of the MKAR going through Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) lands is not a state highway because legal requirements for such a designation were not satisfied, and that the State breached its constitutional and fiduciary obligation to faithfully carry out the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920. The Supreme Court vacated the lower court's judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. View "Kanahele v. State" on Justia Law