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More than 5,000 Testify on Federal Recognition
By News Release @ 7:36 PM :: 5837 Views :: Akaka Bill, DHHL, OHA

More Than 5,000 Testify on Federal Recognition

WHT: More than 5,000 comments about Native Hawaiian recognition are being processed by the U.S. Department of the Interior, according to a government website.

The deadline for submitting comments was Aug. 19, and the federal agency is still reviewing them, DOI press secretary Jessica Kershaw said this week. She said her agency is in the process of reading through a batch of 2,200 comments, excluding the write-ins and hand-delivered documents that are still being uploaded to the website regulations.gov.

“If those comments warrant the department moving forward, Interior would do so in early 2015,” Kershaw said.

Hundreds of people in July testified on the issue in Keaukaha, Kona and Waimea. As elsewhere in the state, the vast majority testifying in person on Hawaii Island opposed the federal government getting involved in Native Hawaiian nation-building. That process is ongoing at the state level with a planned convention next year where delegates will decide what form of government should be created to address Native Hawaiian concerns.

Transcripts of the DOI hearings in Hawaii are available at www.doi.gov/ohr/reorg/index.cfm. The hearings that took place in Indian Country in five mainland states in early August are still being transcribed, Kershaw said. The written comments are available for review on the regulations.gov site.

It’s not clear whether more people in written testimony support or oppose the federal recognition process, but there seem to be proportionally more in favor than testified in person.

Some Hawaii testifiers are objecting to testimony being allowed from Native Americans on the mainland. Their understanding of the issue has been tainted by a minority of Hawaiian leaders who are pushing their own agenda, said David Michael Kaipolauaeokekuahiwi Inciong II of Pearl City, Oahu, in an Aug. 3 letter to DOI.

“In light of these outrageous lies, we are asking you to let U.S. Indian tribes know that we are against both U.S. federal recognition for Hawaii and attempts of U.S. tribes to influence this process,” Inciong said. “It has come to my attention that the majority of testimony already submitted online is running against the push to turn Kanaka Maoli into U.S. Hawaiian Indians.”

read ... Thousands testify

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News Release from CNHA, August 19, 2014

On the final day to submit comments on whether the Department of the Interior (DOI) should propose rules to facilitate a government-to-government relationship between the United States and the Native Hawaiian People, Imua Hawaii, a consortium of leaders from Native Hawaiian Organizations and the broader Hawaiian Community, reports more than 2000 “statements of support” have been submitted to the Department of the Interior.

Following the statewide DOI public hearings, a group of Native Hawaiian leaders came together to discuss the need to hear from the thousands of Native Hawaiians who did not participate.

As a result, a grass roots effort emerged to educate the community on the proposed rule making process.

The Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, the Sovereign Councils of the Hawaiian Home Lands Assembly, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, the Kalaimoku Group, Hawaii Maoli and several other individual Hawaiian leaders; led a community-based effort to explain that the federal rule making process would simply advance an option for the Native Hawaiian people to consider.

Native Hawaiian leaders in the community saw a need to take matters into their own hands through education and empowerment.

The group set up speaking engagements to their respective memberships and set out to provide information about the process.

Imua Hawaii created a web presence and got to work drafting sample testimony and providing access to information to anyone seeking it.

As a result, Imua Hawaii’s work, dozens of Native Hawaiian serving organizations and hundreds of individuals, submitted comments to the DOI.

“The work of Imua Hawaii is an example of what is possible when our community takes action,” shared Annelle Amaral, 1st Vice President for the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs. “We are a group of community leaders who saw a need and implemented an action plan,” Amaral added.

The public hearings held by the Department of the Interior were done so prior to any proposed rule. Now that the comment period has ended, we will wait to see if a proposed rule makes its way to the federal register. If so, the public will have additional opportunities to comment on any proposed rule.

“As an organization who has supported federal recognition since our inception, we have embraced the opportunity as a means to bring parity to Native Hawaiians,” shared Michelle Kauhane, CNHA President, about the work of Imua Hawaii.

Imua Hawaii is a consortium of leadership from Hawaiian organizations and the larger Hawaiian community committed to a more empowered future for our people in our island home.

Imua Hawaii seeks to increase our Lahui’s ability to heal from the legacy of disenfranchisement, build on our own strengths, and control our future once more, together.

CNHA is a national network of Native Hawaiian Organizations, providing assistance in accessing capital and technical resources, and is a policy voice on issues important to Native Hawaiian communities. Its mission is to enhance the cultural, economic, political, and community development of Native Hawaiians.

For more information about CNHA, call 808-596-8155, toll-free at 1-800-709-2642, by e-mail at info@hawaiiancouncil.org.

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