Federal Recognition for Native Hawaiians?
Federal Recognition for Native Hawaiians as an indigenous people of the island of Hawaii is a hot button issue amongst Hawaiians. The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization act is a push to grant federal recognition of Native Hawaiians, similar to that of the American Indians. According to members of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), Native Hawaiians are the only indigenous group of the United States that do not have federal recognition. The recognition will also allow the self-determination of Hawaiians, and create a sovereign governing entity of Native Hawaiians, also similar to American Indians. There is both support as well as strong opposition to the movement for federal recognition.
Is federal recognition as beneficial to us as OHA claims? Although the Native Americans have federal recognition as an indigenous group, there have been many injustices committed against them by the Federal Government. They have their sovereignty, but the Federal Government still steps over it’s bounds. I don’t know if I support federal recognition for our people. I don’t think it would be the best thing for us Native Hawaiians. Let’s face it, the United States government can’t necessarily be trusted always. They have done things against minorities and indigenous people that have caused a lack of trust in them. How do we know they won’t do the same to us?
Either federal recognition will create the self-determination we’ve been fighting for, or it will just allow the United States to step all over us. With this whole ceded land issue going on, it is clear that perhaps the government is not interested in the best interests of Hawaiians. Many Native Hawaiians who are against federal recognition, believe, as I said, will lead to the United States government stepping all over us, and we won’t be able to do anything about it. Remember we are not legally apart of the United States; the military occupation of our home is an illegal occupation. Therefore, it may not be in the best interest for Native Hawaiians to receive federal recognition.
Although I commend the Office of Hawaiians Affairs for the support of some kind of self-determination, it’s hard to determine whether or not this is in our best interest. I will say this though, nothing has been done to create independence and liberation for the Hawaiian people. So maybe this is a first step in creating our sovereignty, if the bill doesn’t pass, at least it sparked a large movement for our independence.