Republican Gov. Linda Lingle is on her way to Washington D.C. to support the passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005, which would require the U.S. government to recognize the nation’s 400,000 Native Hawaiians in the same manner it recognizes American Indians and Alaska natives.

The U.S. Senate is scheduled on Monday and Tuesday to debate the merits of the bill, referred to as the “Akaka Bill” for U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, and vote next week on whether the Akaka Bill should pass the full Senate. The U.S. House scheduled a subcommittee hearing on Tuesday to determine whether the Akaka Bill is constitutional.

Lingle already testified before the Senate in support of the Akaka Bill and has aggressively lobbied the U.S. Senate and President George W. Bush in person on the issue.

Lingle says many people have worked hard over the years to get Hawaii to this historic point, which she notes is the process to establish self-governance for Native Hawaiians. She will be meeting with co-sponsors of the Akaka Bill, including Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Norm Coleman of Minnesota and those Senators still undecided, to answer questions and provide additional information about this legislation and its significance to all the people of Hawaii.

However many Hawaii residents — Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian — want to know why state officials, including the governor and trustees from the state