09 June 2014

Office of Hawaiian Affairs applauds Obama Administration's consideration of Administrative path to federal recognition

HONOLULU -- Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chair Colette Machado and Ka Pouhana/CEO Kamana'opono Crabbe issued a joint statement today commending the Obama Administration for taking an important step towards creating a pathway for Native Hawaiians to reestablish a government-to-government relationship with the United States.

OHA also applauds the Obama Administration for reaffirming the special political relationship between the federal government and the Native Hawaiian people. The federal government is currently considering whether to take administrative action on reestablishing a government to government relationship with Native Hawaiians.

"For decades, OHA and other Native Hawaiian organizations and individuals have advocated for the creation of a pathway to reestablish a formal government-to-government relationship with the United States, and to protect existing Hawaiian rights, programs, and resources," said Machado and Crabbe.

"We stand on the shoulders of kupuna who sought justice for generations, and urge the federal government to move forward with the creation of a pathway that Native Hawaiians can pursue if or when we choose. We mahalo and commend the countless others who fought tirelessly to bring us to this point."

OHA especially appreciates the federal government's intent to hear directly from the Native Hawaiian people as it considers this long-overdue policy." Machado and Crabbe also stressed that the consideration of a federal recognition pathway does not change OHA's commitment to leave all options open with respect to the OHA-supported nation building process. That process would include a Native Hawaiian election of delegates, who would then convene at a governance 'aha to draft a proposed constitution for the Native Hawaiian governing entity.

If approved by the collective will of Native Hawaiians through a referendum, that constitution would then outline the next steps for the Native Hawaiian governing entity. "Through the nation building process, the Native Hawaiian people will determine how to form the governing entity, and whether to pursue federal recognition or other pathways," said Machado and Crabbe.

The OHA-supported nation building process and the federal government's consideration of a federal recognition process present an opportunity for a seamless transition from nation building to pursuing federal recognition, but only if that represents the desire of the Native Hawaiian people.