June 2011 KA WAI OLA COLUMN
`Ano`ai kakou… Congratulations to the Native Hawaiian Caucus for all of their hard work in getting the State Recognition bill, SB 1520, passed. As one of OHA’s Legislative Liaison, I worked closely with Senators Malama Solomon, Clayton Hee, and Brickwood Galuteria. Also, a special Mahalo to Representative Faye Hanohano for her tireless effort to pass SB 1520 over on the House side.
SB1520 establishes a new law that recognizes Native Hawaiians as the only indigenous, aboriginal, maoli people of Hawaii. It
also establishes a process for Native Hawaiians to organize themselves as a step in the continuing development of a reorganized Native Hawaiian governing entity and, ultimately, the federal recognition of Native Hawaiians.
SB1520 requires that:
- A five-member Native Hawaiian Roll Commission be established and housed within OHA for administrative purposes. The Commission will then prepare and maintain a roll of “qualified Native Hawaiians” which includes individuals (18-years or older) who are a descendant of Hawaii’s aboriginal peoples prior to 1778 or is a direct lineal descendant an individual who was eligible in 1921 for the programs authorized by the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act.
- The Governor, within 180 days of the effective date, appoints the members of the Commission from nominations submitted by qualified Native Hawaiian membership organizations. To qualify, a Native
Hawaiian organization must have been working for the betterment of the
conditions of the Native Hawaiian people for at least ten years;
- Four members of the five-member Commission must reside in the four counties, with one member to serve at-large;
- The Commission must publish the roll to facilitate commencement of a convention for the purpose of organization; and
- The Governor will dissolve the commission after publication of the roll;
In addition, SB1520 clarifies that:
- The bill shall not diminish rights or privileges enjoyed by Native Hawaiians;
- Nothing in the new law is intended to serve as a settlement of any claims or affect the
rights of Native Hawaiian people under state, federal, or international law;
- The Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920 shall be amended, subject to approval by Congress, if necessary, to accomplish the purposes set forth in this Act;
- OHA will provide funding for the Commission;
- The Commission, in cooperation with OHA, will report to the Governor and the Legislature prior to the Regular Session of 2012 on the status of the preparation of the roll, related expenditures, and concerns or recommendations; and
- OHA is urged to work with the Commission by utilizing the current Kau Inoa Native Hawaiian registration list, with the approval of the individual registrants, to support the Commission’s purpose of preparing and maintaining a roll of
qualified Native Hawaiians. This process will be voluntary. Hawaiians may opt out of the process if they wish.
More details will be available once the Commission has been established.
I encourage all those who signed up for the Kau Inoa to take this opportunity to participate in shaping a positive future for the Native Hawaiian people.
Unlike past attempts to organize, this effort has the blessing of the State of Hawaii and the full financial and administrative support of OHA. Let’s all get involved with this important effort now, and let us agree to disagree if we choose and wait to work out our differences in the Constitutional Convention.
Also, a special Mahalo to Senator Akaka who is working diligently to pass the Akaka
bill before he leaves office.
Aloha Ke Akua.