(CN) – A native Hawaiian did not have the right to set up a home in a state park, a Hawaii Appeals Court ruled.
Lloyd Pratt, who was convicted of camping in a closed area of a Kalalau state park, argued that his Hawaiian ancestry entitled him to live off and maintain his native soil.
Pratt had tried to settle a portion of land and plant crops in the wilderness area of the park on the island of Kauai. He said he had the right to act as a “hoa’aina,” or caretaker of the land and restorer of ancient, native Hawaiian sites.
Pratt claimed his “ancestors” are buried in the Kalalau Valley, that his father’s family is from Oahu, and that his other relatives hailed from the Big Island of Hawaii.
The Intermediate Court of Appeals upheld Pratt’s conviction.
“Pratt has not established that he is a lawful occupant or tenant of … Kalalau,” Judge Katherine Leonard wrote for the court. “The district court made no factual findings that Pratt or any of his family members lawfully resided, owned, or occupied land in the Kalalau Valley.”
Leonard added that Pratt appears to be a “deeply spiritual Hawaiian man,” but that state laws “do not go so far as to allow native Hawaiians to reside on state lands, without permission, in order to bring ancient ways and ancient sites back to life.”
Judge Craig Nakamura dissented in part, writing that while Pratt’s conduct is not exempt from prosecution, the trial court incorrectly weighed the state’s interest against the fact that Pratt was not causing actual harm.
Judge Alexa Fujise issued a concurring opinion.