East Hawaii News

Path to Native Hawaiian Self-Governance Introduced by Feds

September 29, 2015, 12:17 PM HST
* Updated September 29, 12:22 PM
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The United States Department of the Interior announced Tuesday that it has released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding “Procedures for Reestablishing a Government-to-Government Relationship with the Native Hawaiian Community.

Under the proposal, the Native Hawaiian community would decide whether to reorganize a Native Hawaiian government, what form the government would take, and whether or not it would seek a government-to-government relationship with the United States.

Tuesday’s announcement comes after years of work to establish an avenue for a reorganized Native Hawaiian government. The Native Hawaiian community has not had a formal government since the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai’i in 1893.

“The issue had been discussed for many years, and I support President Obama and the Department of the Interior’s efforts to move it forward. I urge the public, particularly Native Hawaiians, to comment on this possible pathway for the United States and Native Hawaiians to establish a government-to-government relationship. The public comment period for the proposed rule is an invitation for the public to participate in the rule-making process,” said Governor David Ige.

Tuesday, Sept. 29 marks the first day of a 90-day open comment period on the proposed rule.


In July 2014, the Department of Interior began its rulemaking processes through the announcement of an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Twenty-five public meetings followed the initial announcement, which provided feedback from thousands of individuals, creating the new Proposed Rule.


“The Native Hawaiian community’s ongoing work toward self-determination takes a significant step forward today, and I applaud the Obama administration for its commitment to this effort,” said Senator Mazie Hirono.

Senator Hirono says that many people in the state have persevered for decades to reach the current point.

“Native Hawaiians have the right to reorganize a government that they determine is best for them,” said Senator Brian Schatz. “With today’s publication of proposed rules from the Department of the Interior, I urge Native Hawaiians and other interested individuals to stay engaged and to contribute their comments and concerns as the process moves forward.


Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard noted that many indigenous groups in the country have the right to self-determination, and now Native Hawaiian individuals also have that right.

“These rules incorporate over 5,000 public comments submitted to the Department of Interior (DOI), and should they be adopted, the Native Hawaiian community will have the option to re-establish a unified government and self-determine their future relationship with the federal government,” said Congresswoman Gabbard.

“I would like to thank the Obama Administration and the Department of the Interior for strengthening the U.S. government’s relationship with the Native Hawaiian people,” said Congressman Mark Takai.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says that the United States has a long standing policy of supporting self-governance for Native individuals, however the benefits of a government to government relationship have been denied to Native Hawaiians.

“Today’s proposal is testament to the Obama Administration’s strong support for our nation’s Native peoples’ right to self-determination,” said Secretary Jewell.

Those interested in submitting public comment should visit the following website, www.regulations.gov, e-mail [email protected] with 1090-AB05 in the subject line, or send via postal mail to the Office of the Secretary, Department of the Interior, Room 7228, 1849 C. Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20240.

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