New Hope for Families Trying to Hold Onto Slice of Paradise
Hawaiian legislature passes bill to make it easier to inherit land
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2017 6:54 PM CDT
Updated May 10, 2017 4:03 AM CDT
Stock image   (Getty Images/jakkapan21)

(Newser) – The Hawaiian legislature just voted to make it easier for Hawaiians to pass down land to future generations by lessening the required percentage of native Hawaiian blood, West Hawaii Today reports. By 1919, the native Hawaiian population had shrunk by more than 650,000 due to a century and a half of colonialism, the Atlantic explained last year. That led to the passing of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920, which set aside 200,000 acres of land for residents with at least 50% native Hawaiian blood. The holders of the new homeland leases could pass them down to their children and beyond—provided their descendants maintained at least 25% native Hawaiian blood.

House Bill 451 lowers the required level of native Hawaiian blood to inherit a homeland lease to 3.125%. Passed by the Hawaiian legislature, it still needs to be signed by the governor and approved by the US Congress. Fewer and fewer Hawaiians meet the blood requirement, and thousands of people were set to lose their land, which would then be put up for sale to people with 50% or more native Hawaiian blood. While some argue the leases should be transferred to the thousands of native Hawaiians who meet that qualification, lawmakers didn't want to see families displaced or their property fall apart without the motivating possibility of passing it down to their children, KITV reports.

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