U.S. panel recommends formal relationship with Hawaiians

Honolulu Advertiser
Tuesday, June 26, 2001

By Susan Roth
Advertiser Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - The federal government should move quickly to formalize the political relationship between Native Hawaiians and the United States, a federal advisory board recommended today.

The Hawaii Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights also recommended in a report that the government should:

  • Increase federal and state money to improve the health, education and economic situation of Native Hawaiians.

  • Implement last year's recommendations of the Interior and Justice departments to enact Sen. Daniel Akaka's Native Hawaiian recognition bill, establish an office of Native Hawaiian affairs within the Interior Department and create a Native Hawaiian advisory commission.

  • Explore international solutions as alternatives to recognition of a Native Hawaiian governing body similar to American Indian tribal governments.

  • Appoint a special adviser for indigenous peoples to the White House Domestic Policy Council.

Released at simultaneous news conferences in Washington and Honolulu, the report is based on community forums in 1998 and 2000 in Honolulu. The 10-member advisory committee concluded that Hawaiians are at a turning point that provides an opportunity to resolve longtime reconciliation issues with the federal and state governments.

Charles K. Maxwell of Pukalani, chairman of the advisory committee, said last year's Supreme Court decision in the Rice vs. Cayetano case served as a wake-up call for Hawaiians who have tried to maintain their cultural identity in the 108 years since the United States overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy.

The court decision allowed non-Hawaiians to vote for trustees for the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs. But the ruling did not address other laws or programs now undergoing legal challenges.

Maxwell said current federal assistance to Native Hawaiians does not add up to adequate compensation for the adverse effects of the overthrow and the ensuing attempt to destroy Hawaiian culture. But he said Hawaiians have different views on what kind of compensation is appropriate.

© COPYRIGHT 2001 The Honolulu Advertiser, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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