By ANGIE STEVENS / Staff Writer
The Department of the Interior has announced that a plan is being set into motion that would allow Native Hawaiians the status of a self-governing nation. This status is similar to the Native American reservations and over 560 tribes that also have their own forms of self-governance. This will give Native Hawaiians the ability to use self-determination and will give them control over many federal issues including social services.
This “final rule”, as it is being coined, was set in motion to help relations between the United States and Native Hawaiians. This comes nearly 23 years after former President Bill Clinton signed the Apology Resolution, that seemingly held the United States accountable for its actions when overthrowing the Hawaiian Queen, Liliuokalani, to acquire Hawaii. This Apology also states that the United States did, in fact, violate the Native Hawaiians rights to a self-determined government.
There has been a push for self-determination for Native Hawaiians since 2000, however this is the first successful step toward actual Native Hawaiian self-governance. Former Senator Daniel Akaka led the push for federal recognition with legislations that has come to be called the “Akaka Bill”, however his attempts were unsuccessful.
Native Hawaiians have fought for decades to gain the same status as Native Americans, and other indigenous groups, such as Alaskan Natives. According to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs board member Robert Lindsey, “Native Hawaiians have been the only major indigenous group in the 50 states without a process for establishing a government-to-government relationship with the federal government”.
Hawaii was acquired by the United States on January 17, 1893, when military members from the United States took helped overthrow Queen Liliuokalani. A group of business owners, including Sanford B. Dole, whose cousin is now famous for pineapples, were the leaders of the group. There was almost no blood shed over the coup, except for a police officer that was shot in the shoulder. Queen Liliuokalani gave up her position with the belief that it would later be restored to her. However, Hawaii was annexed in August 1898, and became a state in 1959.
Some Native Hawaiians have since protested the release of this government-to-government plan believing that it ignores the main issue of the United States’ part in removing Queen Liliuokalani from power. These protesters also believe that the wording of the plan, stating that Native Hawaiians are part of a tribe and not a sovereign nation, is false and avoids the bigger problem. The protests took place on nearly every island of Hawaii, and will continue until the problem is resolved. Some of the protesters say that they will not be satisfied with the United States resolve to come to terms with the coup against Liliuokalani until the entirety of Hawaii is returned to the Native people.