Native-Hawaiian Claims and Claims about Native Hawaiians

EPA Grant Number: U915580
Title: Native-Hawaiian Claims and Claims about Native Hawaiians
Investigators: Scheuer, Jonathan L.
Institution: University of California - Santa Cruz
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: July 1, 1999 through July 1, 2001
Project Amount: $81,398
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Social Sciences , Environmental Justice , Academic Fellowships


The objective of this research project is to explain the outcome of a water allocation case in which native Hawaiians were unexpectedly successful by examining how their portrayal may have affected decision-making. I also examine the implications of this settlement for the future of Hawaii's environment and other unsettled claims.


Anne Schneider and Helen Ingham's theory of the social construction of target populations, detailed in their 1993 book, "Policy Design for Democracy," states that the social construction of groups that are the targets of policy making is a meaningful explanatory variable in policy studies. They define the social construction of target populations as "the cultural characterizations of the persons or groups whose behavior and well-being are affected by public policy." They propose that public officials are pressured to "provide beneficial policy to powerful, positively constructed target populations and to devise punitive, punishment-oriented policy to negative populations." Examining the use of social constructions in policy "helps explain why some groups are advantaged more than others independently of traditional notions of political power" and pluralistic theories of public policy (p. 334).

The formal Waiahole Water Case that was heard in front of the state's Water Commission, lasted 18 months, and generated more than 30,000 pages of exhibits and testimony. I am examining how political power, wealth, and the portrayal of Nnative Hawaiians played out in this case by analyzing these documents, interviewing the participants, and placing the case in the historic and contemporary context of native-Hawaiian sovereignty and environmental politics.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, Hawaii, HI, EPA Region 9, public policy, decision making, Native Americans, Nnative Hawaiians, water, community-based.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2000
  • Final