Native Hawaiians Push for Federal Indigenous Status
April 2, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Senator Daniel Akaka, D. Hawaii, is the lead sponsor of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act in Congress.
The indigenous people of Hawaii have lived on the islands for thousands of years. But even though the Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown in 1893 and the islands were annexed by the U.S. in 1898, Native Hawaiians do not have a federally recognized native governing body, like Native Americans and Alaska Natives.
Since that time the U.S. government gradually improved its relationship with Native Hawaiians. Legislation passed in 1974 made Native Hawaiians eligible for some, but not all, of the federal assistance programs available to Native Americans.
In 1993, Congress passed the Apology Resolution which "apologizes to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the people of the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii."
There are many different proposals for dealing with the federal indigenous status of Native Hawaiians. A bill, the Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009, was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate that would initiate the process to create a sovereign Native Hawaiian government that will be able to engage in a federally recognized government-to-government relationship with the U.S. government, similar to Native Americans and Alaska Natives. Different versions of the bill have been introduced in Congress since 2000.