Thursday, December 27, 2018


Hawai`i Free Press - By Andrew Walden - December 22, 2018

US Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was the only member of Hawaii’s delegation to say that Congress should establish such federal recognition, though she didn’t respond to a question about whether she would be putting forward a bill.

“For generations, the Native Hawaiian community has fought for recognition equal to other native peoples across America, the first people of the lands that became our great nation,” said Gabbard in a statement. “Congress should establish federal recognition for Native Hawaiians so we can further enhance opportunity and access to education, job opportunities and health services, prioritize the Hawaiian language, and more.”

Other members of the delegation were more circumspect, stressing that at this juncture any decision about forming an independent government is best left up to Native Hawaiians. The issue of establishing a government- to-government relationship between the U.S. and Native Hawaiians, similar to those established with American Indian tribes, has long been divisive among Native Hawaiians, with some advocating for total independence from the U.S….

The debate came to a resting point of sorts when the U.S. Department of Interior finalized a rule in 2016 that sets out an administrative process for achieving such recognition. It’s up to Native Hawaiians to take the steps necessary to form a government and apply for recognition.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said that it’s best to leave the issue in front of the Interior Department.

“While I thank the commission for its work and for recognizing the special legal and trust relationship between the Native Hawaiian community and the federal government, it is not necessary for Congress to act to re-establish a government-to-government relationship,” said Schatz by email. “The Department of the Interior has already set up a process for this, and it is up to the Native Hawaiian community to determine the reorganization of their own government.”

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono and Ed Case, who will be sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives in January, stressed their long-running support for Native Hawaiian self-governance but also said that the path to self-determination needs be determined by the Native Hawaiian community. Case said he supported completion of the process laid out by the Interior Department but would turn to the Hawaiian community for guidance on whether it made sense to introduce a bill in Congress….