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Hawaiian Homes Commission Act passed
Sponsored by Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana'ole, Hawaii's delegate to Congress, the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act set aside almost 200,000 acres in the Islands for homesteading by Native Hawaiians. The designated acreage, a small fraction of crown lands taken from the Kingdom of Hawai'i at Annexation, specifically excluded prime agricultural lands already occupied, primarily by sugar plantations. Under the Act, people of 50% or more Hawaiian ancestry were eligible to apply for 99-year land leases at $1 per year. The first leases granted were mostly 40-acre agricultural parcels, but more recently residential lots as small as a quarter-acre have been awarded. Approximately 6,500 families presently live on 30,000 acres of homestead land. The majority of Hawaiian Homes lands is leased out to big business, providing income for the program's administration, but many argue that this policy is counter to the Act's intent. Federal, state, and county governments have also taken large tracts of Hawaiian Homes land, sometimes illegally and often without compensation.
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