The U.S. Secretary of the Interior has begun the process of producing a ruling on how and whether or not to re-establish a true government-to-government relationship with Native Hawaiians. In these preliminary steps of the process, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior is soliciting public opinion.
Meetings will take place at multiple locations on Kauai, Molokai, Hawaii Island, Oahu, Lānai, Maui and also at five locations at Indian reservations on the mainland.
On Saturday, June 28, a community meeting on Molokai will take place from 1-4 p.m. at Kaunakakai Elementary School.
Five “threshold questions” have been proposed on the process and goal, both within the Native Hawaiian community and within the U.S. government:
1. Should the Secretary propose an administrative rule that would facilitate the reestablishment of a government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community?
2. Should the Secretary assist the Native Hawaiian community in reorganizing its government, with which the United States could reestablish a government-to-government relationship?
3. If so, what process should be established for drafting and ratifying a reorganized Native Hawaiian government’s constitution or other governing document?
4. Should the Secretary instead rely on the reorganization of a Native Hawaiian government through a process established by the Native Hawaiian community and facilitated by the State of Hawaii, to the extent such a process is consistent with Federal law?
5. If so, what conditions should the Secretary establish as prerequisites to Federal acknowledgment of a government-to-government relationship with the reorganized Native Hawaiian government?
The purpose of such a relationship would be to more effectively implement the special political and trust relationship that currently exists between the Federal government and the Native Hawaiian community. This action, known as an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), provides for an extensive series of public meetings and consultations in Hawaii and Indian Country to solicit comments that could help determine whether the Department develops a formal, administrative procedure for reestablishing an official government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community and if so, what that procedure should be.
“When I met with members of the Native Hawaiian community last year during my visit to the state, I learned first-hand about Hawaii’s unique history and the importance of the special trust relationship that exists between the Federal government and the Native Hawaiian community,” said Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell. “Through the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making, the Department is responding to requests from not only the Native Hawaiian community but also state and local leaders and interested parties who recognize that we need to begin a conversation of diverse voices to help determine the best path forward for honoring the trust relationship that Congress has created specifically to benefit Native Hawaiians.”
Over many decades, Congress has enacted more than 150 statutes that specifically recognize and implement this trust relationship with the Native Hawaiian community, including the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, the Native Hawaiian Education Act, and the Native Hawaiian Health Care Act. The Native Hawaiian community, however, has not had a formal governing entity since the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893. In 1993, Congress enacted the Apology Resolution, which offered an apology to Native Hawaiians on behalf of the United States for its role in the overthrow and committed the U.S. government to a process of reconciliation. In 2000, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Justice jointly issued a report on the reconciliation process that identified self-determination for Native Hawaiians under Federal law as their leading recommendation.
The Hawaii delegation issued the following statement on the ANPRM. This statement is from Senator Mazie K. Hirono, Senator Brian Schatz, Representative Colleen Hanabusa, and Representative Tulsi Gabbard.
“We applaud the Administration’s commitment to an open dialogue, starting with listening sessions in Hawaii to provide ample opportunity for Native Hawaiians and the general public to contribute their comments and concerns. This notice represents an historic opportunity to address years of injustice and marks a positive step forward in the push for Native Hawaiian self-determination.”
Those unable to attend the meeting can submit comments online through the Federal eRulemaking Portal:www.Regulations.gov beginning this week, or via U.S. mail, courier, or hand delivery to: Office of the Secretary, Department of the Interior, Room 7329, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240 (please use Regulation Identifier Number 1090-AB05 in your message.)
The ANPRM is now available now on the Federal Register.