Current Lawsuit v. the United States
On April 12 [April 11 US date], 2006, the people of Bikini Atoll filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Government in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The lawsuit seeks compensation under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution for the taking of their property damage claims resulting from the U.S. Governments failure and refusal to adequately fund the March 5, 2001 order of the Nuclear Claims Tribunal. Alternatively, the people of Bikini seek damages for the U.S. Governments breaches of its fiduciary duty to provide just and adequate compensation for the taking of their lands in consideration for their agreement to move off Bikini Atoll and for the breach of the implied duties and covenants integral to that agreement, the Compact of Free Association, and the Section 177 Agreement. The lawsuit will seek compensation and/or damages of at least $561,036,320 (which represents the Tribunals original award to the Bikinians of $563,315,500 less the two payments totaling $2,279,180), plus interest as required by law. The total with interest on the filing date of April 11, 2006, is approximately $724,560,902.
THE PEOPLE OF BIKINI, BY AND THROUGH THE KILI/BIKINI/EJIT LOCAL GOVERNMENT COUNCIL, ELDON NOTE, ET AL., Plaintiffs v. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant. No. 06-288C
Bikinians file lawsuit against the U.S. Government in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims
Filed: April 11, 2006 [Download in .PDF]
Bikinians file Amended complaint
Filed: July 18, 2006 [Download in .PDF]
U.S. Motion to Dismiss Bikinians' lawsuit
Filed: September 15, 2006 [Download in .PDF]
Bikinians' Motion in Opposition to the U.S. Motion to Dismiss the Bikinians' lawsuit
Filed: December 18, 2006 [Download in .PDF]
U.S. Motion for Enlargement of Time until January 30, 2007.
Filed: December 20, 2006 [Download in .PDF]
U.S. Reply to Bikinians' Motion to Dismiss
Filed: January 30, 2007 [Download in .PDF]
Bikinians' Motion to Surreply to the U.S. Motion to Dismiss the Bikinians' lawsuit
Filed: February 16 [Download in .PDF]
Bikinians' Surreply to the U.S. Motion to Dismiss the Bikinians' lawsuit
Filed: February 16 [Download in .PDF]
U.S. Motion to Oppose Surreply to the U.S. Motion to Dismiss the Bikinians' lawsuit
Filed: February 27 [Download in .PDF]
Notice of Reassignment of Judge: our case has been reassigned from Judge Block to Judge Miller, the judge in the Enewetak case. The court has filed a Notice of Reassignment to Judge Christine O.C. Miller stating in its entirety: Pursuant to Rule 40.1, this case has been reassigned to the above Judge for the conduct of proceedings pursuant to the Rules of the United States Court of Federal Claims.
Filed: February 27, 2007 [Download in .PDF]
Order Joining the Bikinians' lawsuit with the lawsuit filed by the people of Enewetak
Filed: March 14, 2007 [Download in .PDF]
Order Granting the Bikinians' Motion on Surreply
Filed: March 14, 2007 [Download in .PDF]
Bikinians' Response to Show Cause Order
Filed: March 22, 2007 [Download in .PDF]
US Response to Oppose Order to Consolidate Bikini and Enewetak Cases
Filed: March 23, 2007 [Download in .PDF]
Scheduling Order for April 23, 2007 Oral argument
Filed: March 28, 2007 [Download in .PDF]
Order for May 23, 2007 Briefs
Filed: April 24, 2007 [Download in .PDF]
Summary of April 23, 2007 Oral Argument
Written by Jonathan Weisgall on April 26, 2007 [Download in .PDF]
Official Court Transcript of April 23, 2007 Oral Argument
Filed: April 26, 2007 [Download in .PDF]
Bikini/Enewetak May 23, 2007 Joint Supplemental Brief
Filed: May 23, 2007 [Download in .PDF]
U.S. May 23, 2007 Supplemental Brief
Filed: May 23, 2007 [Download in .PDF]
Order for June 18, 2007 Briefs
Filed: June 6, 2007 [Download in .PDF]
Bikini/Enewetak June 25, 2007 Joint Supplemental Brief
Filed: June 25, 2007 [Download in .PDF]
U.S. June 25, 2007 Supplemental Brief
Filed: June 25, 2007 [Download in .PDF]
August 2, 2007 Order Granting U.S. Motion to Dismiss.pdf (Bikinians lose the lawsuit)
Filed: August 2, 2007 [Download in .PDF]
Bikinians December 21, 2007 Appeal, U.S. Court of Appeals
Filed: December 21, 2007 [Download in .PDF]
U.S. response to Bikinians Appeal, April 4, 2008 Appeal, U.S. Court of Appeals
Filed: April 4, 2008 [Download in .PDF]
Bikinians Appeal response to U.S., April 25, 2008 Appeal, U.S. Court of Appeals
Filed: April 25, 2008 [Download in .PDF]
US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decision affirming the dismissal of the Bikinians' lawsuit
Filed: January 29, 2009 [Download in .PDF]
Appeal to US Supreme Court of the dismisal of the Bikinians lawsuit against the United States
Filed: October 23, 2009 [Download in .PDF]
U.S. Response to US Supreme Court Appeal by the Bikinians.
Filed: March 5, 2010 [Download in .PDF]
US Supreme Court Denies Petition by the Bikinians.
Filed: April 5, 2010 [Download in .PDF]
In 1975 the people of Bikini were awarded a $3 million trust by the U.S. government entitled, The Hawaiian Trust Fund for the People of Bikini (U.S. Public Law 94-34). In 1978, after the people of Bikini removed from their atoll for a second time, an additional $3 million was added to this trust fund (U.S. Public Law 94-348). This trust fund was liquidated as required by law in December of 2006 and no longer exists.
In 1982 the people of Bikini received a second trust fund from the U.S. government totaling $20 million entitled, The Resettlement Trust Fund for the People of Bikini (U.S. Public Law # 97-257). This trust fund was later supplemented (U.S. Public Law # 100-446) with $90 million in additional funds to provide for a cleanup of Bikini and Eneu islands of Bikini Atoll. These funds are also used for construction and resettlement activities for Bikinians living on Kili Island and Majuro Atoll, including Ejit Island. A typical fiscal year budget currently ranges from between $5 million and $7 million. These funds pay for local government operations(power plant operation and maintenance and repairs on Bikinian houses in Majuro, Ejit and Kili Island, Council employee payroll, scholarships for students studying in the United States and other countries, life insurance, travel for meetings, attorney's fees, etc.). The total value in June of 2016 was approximately US$70 million. The value of the fund today is unknown because the local government does not release this information.
In 1986, an agreement with the U.S. government, the Compact of Free Association (COFA), became effective. Section 177 of the COFA pledged reparations for damages to the Bikinians as well as to other northern atolls in the Marshall Islands. The damage payment for Bikini amounted to $75 million to be paid over 15 years ($5 million per year). Beginning in 1987, $2.4 million has been distributed annually to the total population of Bikinians in quarterly per capita payments. $2.6 million of this $5 million annual payment goes into a trust entitled, The Bikini Claims Trust Fund (U.S. Public Law #99-239). This trust fund is designed to exist in perpetuity and shall continue to provide the Bikinians with an annual payment of 5% (distributed quarterly at 1.25%) from the corpus from the trust. Currently each Bikinian gets approximately $480 a year. The total value of the Bikini Claims Trust Fund in June of 2016 was approximately US$55 million. The value of the Bikini Claims Trust Fund today is unknown because the local government does not release this information.
On March 5, 2001, the Nuclear Claims Tribunal handed down a decision on a seven year lawsuit the Bikinians had brought against the United States for damages done to their islands and their people during the nuclear testing on Bikini. The Tribunal gave them a total award of $563,315,500.00 [loss of value $278,000,000.00, restoration costs $251,500,000.00, suffering and hardship $33,814,500.00], which is the final amount after deducting the past compensation awarded by the U.S. government [see above three trust funds]. The problem is that the Nuclear Claims Tribunal, which was created by the Compact of Free Association of 1986, was underfunded and does not have the money to pay for this claim. It is now up to the people of Bikini to petition the U.S. Congress for the money to fulfill this award. This is expected to take many years and it is uncertain if the United States will honor their claim.
Read the decision of the Nuclear Claims Tribunal in .pdf format: [download]
Read the January 2003 Thornburgh Report on the legitimacy of the Nuclear Claims Tribunal findings in .pdf format. [download]
RMI Changed Circumstances petition for nuclear victims compensation still needed from the United States [condensed]. Submitted to the United States government on 9/11/00.
Congressional Research Services report on the Republic of the Marshall Islands Changed Circumstances Petition to Congress [PDF] [order code RL32811], March 14, 2005: this is a middle of the road response from the CRS that takes into account the September 2000 RMI Changed Circumstances petition.
In Memory of...
While most people tend to mark time with clocks and calenders, we, the people of Bikini, tend to take measure of our own lives each time one of our elders dies. Our elders are treasured because they led us through times of starvation, mistreatment and deception at the hands of the most powerful nation on earth, the United States of America. Each time one of our old ones dies, we remember how they helped us survive through the years, how they cared about us, how they taught us the skills we would need to carry on in the onrushing world of nuclear politics. Each time we bury one of these old men or women, we bury with them a piece of our long, sad history, our stories, our way of life. This spot on our web page is dedicated to them. Without their love and guidance, perhaps none of us would be here today...
A Tribute to the Late Bikinian
Senator Henchi Balos
In loving memory of Dr. Leonard Mason:
Dr. Leonard Edward Mason, a retired University of Hawai'i-Manoa professor and noted authority on Pacific Islands anthropology, died Saturday, October 8th, 2005, at Pohai Nani Good Samaritan Retirement Community in Kane'ohe. He was 92. He was considered a savior by the people of Bikini Atoll because during our exodus as he was the person most responsible for getting us moved from Rongerik Atoll in 1948 when we were dying of starvation at the hands of the US government.
Mason, a Seattle native, taught at the UH-Manoa campus from 1947 to 1969.
Mason was survived by son William; daughters Jacqueline Norman and Nancy Henderson; brothers Ralph and Robert; six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
We, the people of Bikini, have always considered Dr. Mason a very important part of our history because of what he did for us.
Biamon Lewis (left, sitting) and Hosia Kerong (standing) while on Bikini Atoll in the 1980s.
Biamon died in February of 2008, and Hosia died in January 2008, both of old age. They were both profoundly important members of the Bikinian community and were among those survivors of all of the relocations from Rongerik Atoll to Kili. Biamon's leg was badly broken and permanently damaged when he was a young man while he was helping offload food during a time of rough seas by Kili Island. He was especially good at telling stories from the Japanese times. Hosia was an intense man who was very proud of his lands on Bikini, and spoke often of wanting to go back to the atoll to live out his final days. Both men are survived by very large extended familes that include children, grand children and great grandchildren.
Emso Leviticus, Alap
Emso died in 2008 of old age. She was a traditional landowner, or Alap. She is survived by many children, grand children and great grandchildren. She was a real fun woman to be around, always laughing and trying to make jokes and keep everyone happy. She was a great storyteller.
Tona died at the age of about 82 from natural causes on November 14, 2006 and was buried on Ejit Island. Tona will be remembered for her many interviews that she did with the media while residing on Ejit Island. She had 14 children, several hundred grandchildren, numerous great grandchildren [pictured with some of my kids], and even 3 great great grandchildren.
Hon. Iroij Dretin Jokdru
Dretin died from natural causes on April 17, 2006 and was buried on Kili Island. Dretin, who was the traditional leader or "king" of the people of Bikini Atoll for many years, was well loved and respected for his ability to solve disputes and keep people focused on the issues at hand. He will be remembered for his well-articulated beliefs and his great sense of humor. He was always surprising me. I remember when we were together in Japan in 1988 he started speaking flawless Japanese to a woman selling snacks on the Bullet Train while we were traveling to attend the commemoration of the Hirsoshima atom bomb dropped by the US in 1945. He was also the elder who got lost in Las Vegas in 1991, an adventure that I will always treasure. Dretin is survived by his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Hon. Councilman Jacob Johnson
Jacob died from liver cancer on June 19, 2001 at the age of about 75. While many elders have adopted a "victim mentality" after all that has happened to their people over the years, Jacob was always very positive and determined to make his life a good one. He was a highly respected businessman on Kili Island, and the business he ran while I lived on Kili from 1984-87 really helped keep the community going. Jacob was a great story teller and loved to laugh. He was reelected many times to his Council seat, which was a tribute to his well thought of leadership skills. He is survived by his wife, Mera, and many children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
Hon. Councilman Pero Joel
Pero died from old age on September 21, 2002 at the age of about 75. He was a former Councilman who had served several terms before his retirement from office in the early 1990's. He was known for his great sense of humor and his storytelling abilities. He was one of the Bikinians who took part in the aborted return to Bikini in the 1970's. It was his job at that time to make gardens for the people resettling the atoll. He is survived by his wife, Joni, and many children and grandchildren. Pero was buried on Ejit Island.
Hon. Councilman Rubon Juda
Rubon died from natural causes in Honolulu, Hawaii on April 4, 2003 at the age of about 80. He was a former Councilman who had served several terms before his retirement from office in the late 1990's. Rubon was a very special member of our community. He was King Juda's oldest son and the oldest brother of Senator Tomaki Juda. He was an expert practitioner of Marshallese medicine, a church deacon, and had a vast knowledge of Bikinian history. He loved to make people laugh and was well known for his ability to care about others. When I lived on Kili from 1984-87 I lived with Rubon, so it was through his eyes that I learned and experienced much of the Bikinian culture in my early years with the people of Bikini. When my father died in 1985, he stayed by me for three days as I had to wait for an Air Marshalls plane to take me from Kili Island to Majuro, where I then flew to the United States for the funeral. His unselfish, kind consideration shown toward me during such a trying time was greatly appreciated and has never been forgotten. I know that if it had not been for Rubon, I probably would not have stayed in the Marshall Islands because he was one of the people who really made me care about this country and the people here. It was a great honor for me to be one of the two people to speak at his ilomej [wake]; the other speaker was the President of the Marshall Islands. Indeed, he meant a great deal to many people and his funeral turned into a very, very emotional affair. He is survived by many children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Rubon was buried beside his house on Majuro Atoll. Click here to see pictures of Rubon's funeral. -JMN 4/20/2003
Hon. Alap and Councilman Nathan Note
Nathan died of natural causes on June 20, 2004. He was in his late 80's. He was an Alap, or traditional leader, for one of the three clans of Bikini Atoll, Mokaulej, and served for many years on the Bikini Council.
Though he grew up on Ailinglaplap Atoll with his father's family [his mother was a Bikinian], Nathan became involved in Bikini Atoll government affairs in the early 1970's when the U.S. government was trying to move the people of Bikini back to their homelands. Nathan was a skeptic, he didn't believe a word the U.S. was saying about Bikini being "safe" and went out of his way to convince other Bikinians not to return. Although some Bikinians did return to Bikini, the majority of the Bikinian people did not mostly because of Nathan's convincing way of speaking. It turned out that Nathan was right about Bikini Atoll not being as safe as the U.S. government was saying.
Nathan was also a member of the very first Bikinian delegation to go to
Washington DC in the early 1970's.You can read an interview with Nathan Note in FOR THE GOOD OF MANKIND by Jack Niedenthal.
He helped the people of Bikini gain access to the USDA food program and was an outspoken leader during most of the scientific/resettlement discussions between the Council and various U.S./DOE representatives over the 1980's and 90's.
Although Nathan did not have a great command of English, he was very intelligent. He was a great interviewee for the media when it came to telling the story of the people of Bikini to the outside world. He feared no one and was a very brave and courageous representative for the people of Bikini. Throughout his government service to the people of Bikini he served as the Treasurer and the Scribe. Having traveled with Nathan many times over the years, I found that he was always very happy to answer even the most complicated of questions regarding the Marshallese culture, and when he saw something of the Western culture he didn't understand, he never hesitated to ask. He was very fond of learning.
Nathan Note is survived by many children, great grand children and great great grandchildren. He is also the uncle of RMI President Kessai Note and first cousin of the senator of the people of Bikini, Tomaki Juda (their mothers were sisters). Nathan was buried on Ailinglaplap Atoll. -JMN 6/2004
Operation Crossroads, July 25, 1946:
"The bomb will not start a chain reaction in the water, converting it all to gas and letting all the ships on all the oceans drop down to the bottom. It will not blow out the bottom of the sea and let all the water run down the hole. It will not destroy gravity. I am not an atomic playboy."
Vice Admiral William P. Blandy
Commander of Operation Crossroads
[picture: Admiral W.H.P. "Spike" Blandy, Mrs. Blandy and Rear Admiral F.J. Lowry celebrate the end of Operation Crossroads in November of 1946 in Washington, D.C. This photograph, entitled "Atomic Age Angel Food," drew heavy criticism from throughout the nation and from around the world.]
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The historical information within this site, while constantly updated, is drawn largely from the book, FOR THE GOOD OF MANKIND: A History of the People of Bikini and their Islands, Second Edition, published in September of 2001 by Jack Niedenthal. This book tells the story of the people of Bikini from their point of view via interviews, and the author's more than two decades of firsthand experiences with elder Bikinians.
Copies can be purchased from this direct ordering link at Amazon.com, or you can also buy and download the Kindle edition.