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Episode 46: Land in the Territory with Dr. Jon Osorio

In 1897, William McKinley became president of the United States. Unlike Cleveland, he was willing to acquire Hawai‘i on the back of the overthrow. In 1898, Congress passed a joint resolution to annex Hawai‘i. The Republic dissolved, the US claimed the Islands as a territory and land claimed by the Republic passed to the American federal government. In the ensuing years differing groups sought control of that land. Hawaiian leaders sought to get Hawaiians land, and in 1921 200,000 acres were set aside for Hawaiian homelands—but much of the land was of a poor quality, blood quantum rules posed challenges and distribution was criminally slow. Meanwhile, the first governor of the Territory, Sanford Dole, was working to get Anglo-Saxon homesteaders to Hawai‘i; in just one example, he helped create a colony in Wahiawa for white settlers, including his cousin James, who went on to found the Hawaiian Pineapple Company. The U.S. military wanted bases and it established them primarily on the Crown Lands, including Fort Shafter in 1907 and Schofield Barracks in 1908. And the sugar planters wanted more land, and water as well, and they came to dominate the economy in the early twentieth century, says UH M?noa professor Jon Osorio.

“Anything that sugar wants, it gets: water, funds, revenues, land. Almost anything it required it got, and subsistence was simply allowed as long as it didn’t interfere with the growth of sugar.”

researcher, writter, and narrator of Aloha Aina. She is currently an editor at Hawai‘i’s largest magazine, Hana Hou!, where she has written and edited numerous award-winning articles about Hawai‘i. She was the founding editor of Honolulu Weekly. She holds a BA in Pacific history and journalism from the University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa and a JD from Stanford Law School.
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