The U.S. Supreme Court is to hear arguments that will determine whether the state of Hawaii has to reach a political settlement with native Hawaiians before it can sell or transfer up to 1.2 million acres of valuable property.
The state is arguing that it has the authority to dispose of the land, representing more than a quarter of the Hawaiian Islands. But the state's own Office of Hawaiian Affairs argues that the lands must be held until claims of native Hawaiians have been resolved.
The Hawaii Supreme Court agreed that the claims had to be resolved.
Some legal analysts say a ruling against the state of Hawaii could set a precedent for other native populations to make claims to lands they once inhabited.