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Federal Recognition
Opinion: Native Hawaiian debate far from over


"Last week, a bill recognizing the rights of native Hawaiians failed in the Senate. Though a bipartisan majority supported the legislation, it came up four votes short of the 60 needed to bring it to the floor for a full debate.

Democrat Daniel K. Akaka, the first U.S. senator of Hawaiian background, who introduced the bill in 2000, had persevered through six years of procedural stalls and delays. In the end, 41 Republicans voted no, backed by the White House, which strongly opposed the bill because it would reverse the country's melting-pot tradition and "divide people by their race."

The banner of colorblind pluralism can come in very handy when someone is asking the government to acknowledge rights that have been withheld along ethnic lines since the end of the 19th century.

We heard a much different note from the White House in 1993, on the 100th anniversary of the overthrow of Hawaii's sovereign government, when President Clinton signed into law what's known as the Resolution of Apology. It admitted that the U.S. supplied military aid to the conspirators and contributed to "the deprivation of the rights of native Hawaiians to self-determination.""

Get the Story:
James D. Houston: Native Hawaiians find their voice (The Los Angeles Times 6/16)
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Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill:
Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005 (S.147)

Civil Rights Commission Report:
The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005 (May 2006)

Civil Rights Commission Transcript:
January 20, 2006 Meeting

Relevant Links:
Office of Hawaiian Affairs - http://www.oha.org

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