National | Politics | Federal Recognition

Hillary Clinton affirms support of 'nationhood' for Native Hawaiians

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton waves to supporters. Photo from Facebook

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton reaffirmed her support of "nationhood" for Native Hawaiians on Monday as her party's voters prepare for their upcoming caucuses.

Clinton has supported federal recognition for Hawaii's first inhabitants, going back to her time in the Senate and during the 2008 presidential campaign. The issue is likely to resonate for voters at the March 26 precinct meetings in the 51st state.

“I support the Native Hawaiian community's ongoing work toward self-determination and nationhood, and their recent adoption of a constitution,” Clinton said in a statement.

Native Hawaiians have long been working to reassert their sovereignty. On February 27, delegates to the Na'i Aupuni convention ratified a proposed constitution that will help guide their efforts.

Meanwhile, the Interior Department is still working on a rule that will determine how to recognize a Native Hawaiian governing entity. It could be finalized before President Barack Obama, who was born in Hawaii, leaves office but Clinton is vowing to continue those efforts if she wins the November election.

“I commend President Obama's leadership in working with Native Hawaiians on the opportunity to establish a government-to-government relationship with the United States," Clinton said in her statement.

The original government in Hawaii was illegally overthrown in January 1893 by U.S. citizens who were backed by the federal government. The U.S. eventually apologized through a resolution that was signed in 1993 by Clinton's husband, then-president Bill Clinton.

The apology resolution "acknowledges that the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii occurred with the active participation of agents and citizens of the United States and further acknowledges that the Native Hawaiian people never directly relinquished to the United States their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people over their national lands, either through the Kingdom of Hawaii or through a plebiscite or referendum."

Federal Register Notice:
Procedures for Reestablishing a Formal Government-to-Government Relationship With the Native Hawaiian Community (October 1, 2015)

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