In the absence of Akaka Bill passage, Native Hawaiians have a 2.5-year window under island-born President Barack Obama to achieve a form of federal recognition.
Therefore, I urge interested Maui residents, especially Native Hawaiians, to attend upcoming hearings on proposed rulemaking for a government-to-government relationship between the United States and a future Native Hawaiian governing entity.
The federal Interior and Justice departments will host hearings on the Valley Isle from 6 to 9 p.m. today at King Kamehameha III Elementary School in Lahaina, and 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Pomaikai Elementary School in Kahului.
The sessions will lay the groundwork for such a government-to-government relationship that 566 sovereign Native American nations already have with the United States. Indeed, Native Hawaiians compose the largest indigenous group in America without such a relationship, officials said. If and when Native Hawaiians should decide to have a government-to-government relationship, administrative rules would be in place to do so.
At the hearings, the Department of the Interior seeks input on 19 questions led by several key issues: Should the DOI propose rules for a process to create a government-to-government relationship with Native Hawaiians? Should the DOI or the State of Hawaii provide support to Native Hawaiians in forming a sovereign governing entity and a constitution? If so, how?
Note: The DOI respects Native Hawaiians' sovereignty and, therefore, seeks no input on the possible structure, powers or constitution of a future Native Hawaiian governing entity.
In view of contentious testimony at Oahu hearings, Department of Justice officials confirmed that proposed rulemaking for a government-to-government relationship will not pre-empt activism by advocates of cessation or of reinstatement of the Hawaiian kingdom. Thus, advocates of all three movements may holomua, or move forward, without precluding one another. Moreover, advocates of cessation and/or reinstatement of the Hawaiian kingdom should present their mana'o, or opinions/grievances, to the U.S. Department of State instead of at the hearings, officials said.
To take advantage of the 2.5-year window under Obama, one has until Aug. 19 to submit specific, substantive comments and explanations online or by mail. Go to the federal eRulemaking Portal at website www.regulations.gov (one may write: government to government relationship in "advanced search"). Or send comments to: Office of the Secretary, Department of the Interior, Room 7329, 1849 C St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20240; add Regulation Identifier No. 1090-AB05 to all comments. For more information, contact John Strylowski at (202) 208-3071 or email@example.com.
* Kekoa Enomoto is secretary of two Native Hawaiian homelands groups - Keokea Homestead Farm Lots Association and Waiohuli Undivided Interest Lessees Association. She lives at Waiohuli homestead and is a Hawaiian cultural practitioner.