New Hawaii State Law to recognize Native Hawaiians
Yesterday was a historic day as Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie signed into law Senate Bill 1520. The new law will establish a five-member Native Hawaiian roll commission in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. This commission will be tasked with creating a registry of Hawaiian members to begin the process of forming a native government, a system similar to what the American Indians and native Alaskans have. The bill recognizes that Native Hawaiians are the only indigenous, aboriginal population in the Hawaiian Islands. Held at Washington Place, former residence of Queen Liliuokalani, the signing was held on the mansions front lanai. Advocates for Hawaiian sovereignty could be heard from outside the residence protesting the bill. The advocates believe the bill will nullify any future attempts for Native Hawaiian’s to one day govern an independent nation of Hawaii. Senate Bill 1520′s passing is seen as a positive step by advocates of the Akaka Bill. The Akaka Bill, or the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009, advanced out of the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee earlier this year. Senator Daniel Akaka, author of the noteworthy legislation and Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, reintroduced the bill for one final shot of pushing the act through before his impending retirement in 2012. The aim of the Akaka Bill, which is supported by President Barack Obama, is to provide for the reformation of a single Native Hawaiian governing body (Kingdom of Hawaii) and for its ability to negotiate with the State of Hawaii and the United States on land use and issues of cultural significance. The result would be comparable to the federal recognition that Native American tribes and Alaskan Natives currently receive from the U.S. government, except Native Hawaiians would be prohibited from gambling and no land could be seized for the creation of a reservation.