Eric Holder
Eric Holder

SUBMITTED BY SEN. INOUYE’S OFFICE – Washington, D.C. – United States Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar sent letters to Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell this week urging the Senate to pass the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act and send it to the President for his signature.

The letter notes that “Of the Nation’s three major indigenous groups, Native Hawaiians – unlike American Indians and Alaska Natives – are the only one that currently lacks a government-to-government relationship with the United States.  The bill provides Native Hawaiians a means by which to exercise the inherent rights to local self-government, self-determination, and economic self-sufficiency that other Native Americans enjoy.”

“Once the Native Hawaiian government is created and its leaders elected, the United States would officially recognize the new governing entity and work with it on a government-to-government basis, just as the United States works with federally recognized Indian tribes in other States.”

Senator Daniel K. Akaka, the bill’s sponsor, said: “We have worked at length with the Departments of Justice and Interior on the specifics of this legislation, and I thank Attorney General Holder and Secretary Salazar for voicing their continued support.  Their letters to the Senate leaders confirms that this bill remains an Obama Administration priority.  As the letter notes, Native Hawaiians are the only major indigenous group that lacks a government-to-government relationship with the United States.  The people of Hawaii have waited for far too long.  A path towards federal recognition is long overdue.”

Senator Daniel K. Inouye said: “I am pleased that Secretary Salazar and Attorney General Holder are in strong support of the Native Hawaiian Government Reauthorization Act.  The Native Hawaiian community has patiently waited for federal recognition.  With the Obama White House we have a long awaited opportunity to provide for a meaningful process of self-determination for Native Hawaiians. We have debated this bill, in Hawaii and the halls of Congress, for the last decade.  The Native Hawaiians have awaited this recognition since their land was seized and their monarchy overthrown by the United States in the spring of 1893.  I look forward to its historic passage.”

The letter also notes bipartisan support for the legislation.  “Since 1999, Senator Akaka, Senator Inouye, and other members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation have worked tirelessly with the last three Administrations… to greatly improve the bill, which how now received bipartisan support from the House of Representatives, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Hawaii’s Governor and Attorney General.”

A scanned copy of the letter is available here: LINK

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