Article IV
TRADITIONAL RIGHTS
      Section 1.  Existing Chuukese custom and tradition shall be respected.  The Legislature may prescribe by statute for their protection.  If challenged as violative of Article III, protection of Chuukese custom and tradition shall be considered a compelling social purpose warranting such governmental action.

Case annotations:  In Trukese society, the husband, as the head of the household, is responsible for taking care of the family legal matters such as signing of documents, and overseeing all family financial matters. O'Sonis v. Truk, 3 FSM Intrm. 516, 518 (Truk S. Ct. Tr. 1988).

Either the husband or the wife may prosecute or defend a civil action in which one or both are parties, provided that he or she has informed his or her spouse of the representation.  O'Sonis v. Truk, 3 FSM Intrm. 516, 518 (Truk S. Ct. Tr. 1988).

Even when the parties have not raised an issue of custom or tradition, the court has an obligation of its own to consider custom and tradition.  O'Sonis v. Truk, 3 FSM Intrm. 516, 518 (Truk S. Ct. Tr. 1988).

Since the judicial system and customary settlement in Truk are fundamentally different and serve different goals, the primary concern of customary settlement being community harmony rather than compensation for loss, the use of one should not prevent the use of the other.  Suka v. Truk, 4 FSM Intrm. 123, 128 (Truk S. Ct. Tr. 1989).

To the extent that customary settlements are given any binding effect at all, they should be only binding as to those persons that are part of custom; state agencies and non-Trukese persons are not part of that system.  Suka v. Truk, 4 FSM Intrm. 123, 129 (Truk S. Ct. Tr. 1989).

Offers or acceptances of customary settlement should neither be used in court to prove liability on the part of the wrongdoer, nor be deemed the same as a legal release on the part of the plaintiff.  Suka v. Truk, 4 FSM Intrm. 123, 129 (Truk S. Ct. Tr. 1989).

The traditional remedy for the original landowners in an "ammot" transaction when the grantee no longer used the land for the purpose for which it was given was repossession of the land and nothing more.  Wito Clan v. United Church of Christ, 6 FSM Intrm. 129, 134 (App. 1993).

Patrilineal descendants - or afokur - have no rights to lineage land in Chuuk.  They only enjoy permissive rights of usage from the members of the lineage.  Mere usage of lineage land by afokur does not constitute title of any sort even if the usage lasts a lifetime.  Transfer of lineage land to any descendants of male members requires the clear agreement of the Clan.  Chipuelong v. Chuuk, 6 FSM Intrm. 188, 196 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 1993).

It is an established principle of Chuukese land tenure, that lineage land is owned by the matrilineal descendants and not by the patrilineal descendants or "afokur."  Chipuelong v. Chuuk, 6 FSM Intrm. 188, 197 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 1993).

The sanction imposed on one who controls and manages the land of a group who does not fairly and according to custom concern himself with the rights of the other members or another member of the group is the censure of the community.  In re Estate of Hartman, 6 FSM Intrm. 326, 328 (Chk. 1994).

When the children of a landowner with full title to land inherit the land they form a land-owning group ("corporation").  The senior male, the mwääniichi, is required to manage the property in the interest of the "corporation."  The corporation owns the land even if one part or another is allotted to a member for his use.  In re Estate of Hartman, 6 FSM Intrm. 326, 329 (Chk. 1994).

Individuals have full title to the improvements (as distinguished from the soil) made upon land owned by a land-owning group or "corporation."  In re Estate of Hartman, 6 FSM Intrm. 326, 330 (Chk. 1994).

The property owned in full title by one who dies is inherited by the children of the deceased. Personal property suited for use by women is inherited by daughters and sisters.  In re Estate of Hartman, 6 FSM Intrm. 326, 330 (Chk. 1994).

An adoption of an adult may qualify for recognition by the court if done under Chuukese custom.  In re Jae Joong Hwang, 6 FSM Intrm. 331, 332 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 1994).

     Section 2.  Nothing in this Constitution takes away the role or function of a traditional leader as recognized by Chuukese custom and tradition, or prevents a traditional leader from being recognized, honored, and given formal or functional roles in government.

     Section 3.  The Legislature may appropriate funds annually for a traditional leaders conference.

      Section 4.  Traditional rights over all reefs, tidelands, and other submerged lands, including their water columns, and successors rights thereto, are recognized. The Legislature may regulate their reasonable use.

Case annotations:  The people of Chuuk have always considered themselves to have rights and ownership of the tidelands, and thereby hold the property rights in them, throughout all of the several foreign administrations.  These traditional and customary claims came down from time immemorial.  Nimeisa v. Department of Public Works, 6 FSM Intrm. 205, 208 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 1993).

The Chuuk State Constitution recognizes all traditional rights and ownership over all reefs, tidelands, and other submerged lands subject to legislative regulation of their reasonable use.Nimeisa v. Department of Public Works, 6 FSM Intrm. 205, 209 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 1993).

It was the intent of the framers of the Chuuk State Constitution to return the rights and ownership of all reefs, tidelands (all areas below the ordinary high watermark), and other submerged lands to the individual people of Chuuk State.  Nimeisa v. Department of Public Works, 6 FSM Intrm. 205, 210 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 1993).

The constitutional grant of ownership of the tidelands back to the rightful individual owners, shall be given prospective application only.  Nimeisa v. Department of Public Works, 6 FSM Intrm. 205, 212 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 1993).

When the language of the Chuuk Constitution does not define the term "tidelands" contrary to the common usage of the word or its accepted legal definition, and the legislative history does not indicate that the framers intended another meaning the court will employ the meaning of the term consistent with its legal usage at the time of the Constitution's enactment.  Nena v. Walter, 6 FSM Intrm. 233, 236 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 1993).

The reversion of reefs, tidelands and other submerged lands to private owners granted by art. IV, § 4 of the Chuuk Constitution does not apply to any tidelands that were previously filled or reclaimed.  Nena v. Walter, 6 FSM Intrm. 233, 236 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 1993).

Tideland is land below the ordinary high water mark.  Filled or reclaimed land, by its nature, is not land below the ordinary high water mark, and it cannot be considered tideland or submerged land.  Nena v. Walter, 6 FSM Intrm. 233, 236 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 1993).

The Chuuk State Constitution, effective on October 1, 1989, recognizes traditional rights over all reefs, tidelands, and other submerged lands.  Tidelands, including man-made islands, that were filled prior to this effective date are no longer classed as tidelands and have become dry land.  Sellem v. Maras, 7 FSM Intrm. 1, 3-4 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 1995).

Tidelands traditionally are those lands from the dry land to the deep water at the edge of the reef, and must be shallow enough for Chuukese women to engage in traditional methods of fishing.  Sellem v. Maras, 7 FSM Intrm. 1, 4 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 1995).

A deep water passage through a reef too deep for Chuukese women to engage in their traditional fishing methods is not a tideland.  While under Chuukese tradition and custom channels may have been owned, the constitution does not recognize traditional rights over channels.  The state thus retains ownership of the channels, as was the situation prior to the adoption of the Chuuk Constitution.  Sellem v. Maras, 7 FSM Intrm. 1, 5 & n.9 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 1995).

Tidelands within the meaning of art. IV, § 4 of the Chuuk Constitution are those marine lands from the shore to the face of the reef that are shallow enough for traditional fishing activity by women.  The constitutional recognition of traditional rights in tidelands does not include deep water channels or tidelands that have become dry land prior to the effective date of the constitution, through filling or other activity that raised the level of the marine lands above the mean high tide mark.  Sellem v. Maras, 7 FSM Intrm. 1, 7 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 1995).