Who Owns the Crown Lands of Hawai'i?
by Jon M. Van Dyke
Written by law professor Jon M. Van Dyke, this book examines the controversial legal status of Hawaii's Crown Lands. Consisting of over 900,000 acres throughout the six islands, the Crown Lands were once set aside by King Kamehameha III who, facing the threat of dominion by the Western world, wanted to protect and keep the islands under the possession of his people. They were eventually passed down to succeeding Hawaiian monarchs, who, in turn used the lands as a collective resource to support the natives. But after an overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom by Western powers in 1893, as well as annexation by the United States in 1898, the Crown Lands became lumped with the rest of Hawaii as part of the Public Land Trust managed by the United States. In his book, Van Dyke examines the history and significance of the Crown Lands, arguing that they must be recognized for their unique status and be kept separate—not just to uphold the legacy of the Hawaiian kingdom, but also to help Native Hawaiians recognize their sovereignty as a people.