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Hawaii enacts law recognizing Native Hawaiians

On July 6, Gov. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii signed a bill that recognizes the first people of Hawaii, and according to News From Indian Country, July 2011, at 1, “lays the foundation for Native Hawaiians to establish their own government.”

Federal legislation to recognize Native Hawaiians as a government similar to how American Indian tribal governments are recognized has languished in the U.S. Congress for more than a decade. The Senate did pass Sen. Akaka’, D-Hawaii, bill in 1994 or 95 but it went no further.

Under the state bill, the Governor will appoint a five-person commission to create a roll of qulaifed Native Hawaiians interested in participating in their government.

Some Native Hawaiian organizations protested the bill and call it a back door tactic to accomplish what the Akaka bill could not do at the federal level.