Native Hawaiians

Native Hawaiians

            Every individual has a right to be properly recognized. Despite the factors of race, nationality, ethnical background, and other related determinants, equal recognition and rights should be given to all people. This kind of mentality is observable in the controversial Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill that is still being heavily debated until now.

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            Since Hawaii became part of the United States of America, its previous form of government has been abolished, its culture has been threatened as well as some of its resources has been ceded to the U.S. government. However, federal developments have introduced resolutions and bills in order to make a better relationship with the native Hawaiians. Recently, another bill has been introduced to further recognized the Native Hawaiians. This is known as the Akaka Bill. This bill was named after its proponent Sen. Daniel Akaka. If passed this would give the Native Hawaiians federal recognition that is similar to American Indians (Cooper, 2008). This means that federal policy would extend self-governance and self-determination towards the Native Hawaiians by allowing the reorganization of their government.

            Being the case, it is appropriate and justifiable that Native Hawaiians be given the same rights as other American Indian tribes. Contrary to the stance made by those who oppose this bill, passing it would not mean racial inequality but rather not approving it would result to racial discrimination. If the federal government has bestowed the necessary rights to other Native Americans like the American Indian and Alaska Native, it is just proper that they give the same recognition to the native Hawaiian.

            In connection with the issue of racial inequality about the bill, the discrimination that is being accused towards it is unreasonable. This is proven by that fact that it does not put any group as superior or inferior to other native tribes. Even the “Restorative Justice” for Native Hawaiians that is included in the provisions wherein various programs would be given is also not a sign of racial discrimination because these programs do not have the goal of elevating the status of Native Hawaiians from other tribes (Office of Hawaiian Affairs, 2007).

            Moreover, passing this bill also entails that the Native Hawaiians would be entitled to federal assistance. Support in terms of the U.S. government’s responsibility of granting the right to oversee their own assets like the Kamehameha native Hawaiian schools and the Department of Hawaiian Homeland and trust funds. Nevertheless, even with these resources federal recognition is still needed because there are still many native Hawaiians that are under the poverty line, which call for the federal government’s assistance.

            Lastly, since this bill stipulates the reorganization of a governing entity of the Native Hawaiians this would mean an easier communication between these people and the U.S. government. It would create a better government-to-government relationship for both parties involved. In line with this, it would also open the doors for reconciliation with regard to the destructive inequalities that Native Hawaiians had undergone. This purpose is well explained in the words of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees Chair Haunani Apoliona that stated, “It will be healing for our community and our nation to unburden itself of their past destructive inequities towards the Hawaiian people by granting Hawaiians a small measure of redress and reconciliation under the Akaka Bill, a good first step from which a longer journey of reconciliation must start” (Office of Hawaiian Affairs, 2007).

            The discussion above only proves that Native Hawaiians should be given the same right as other American tribes. As such, the Akaka Bill should pass the legislative process in order to give the rightful recognition and self-governance that these people deserve. In doing so, it would not only foster a better relationship between the Native Hawaiians and the U.S. government but it would also symbolize the value of freedom and equality that the United States upholds.

References

Cooper, J. (2008). Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act. Retrieved July 17, 2008,

            from http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/01/03/DDBUU1J77.DTL.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs. (2007). Correcting the Record: The U.S. Commission on Civil

            Rights and Justice for Native Hawaiians. Retrieved July 17, 2008, from

            http://www.nativehawaiians.com/.

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