Native Hawaiian bill passes House
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SEPTEMBER 27, 2000

Just two months after its introduction in Congress, a bill that would federally recognize Native Hawaiians passed the House of Representatives by a voice vote on Tuesday.

The bill, H.R.4904, and its Senate companion, S.2899, were both introduced in late July. As the current session of Congress is set to close in a little over a week, the House and the Senate are considering a large number of bills before a scheduled October 6 adjournment.

With the House endorsement in place, the Senate still has to vote on the bill. But Hawaiian Senators Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye, the bill's Senate co-sponsors, said a vote in the Senate is expected soon.

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs already conducted a week's worth of field hearings in Hawaii in late August and held a legislative hearing two weeks ago. Most support the bill, although there exists opposition to it.

Some non-Natives believe it creates a race-based preference system. The state has been unable to protect certain benefits and privileges reserved for Native Hawaiians and for the first time this year, non-Natives are able vote and hold offices in the state's Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA).

Some Native Hawaiians also oppose the bill because they say it doesn't allow them to define the type of relationship they have with the federal government.

But most believe the bill is long overdue. The nation of Hawaii was overthrown in 1893 with the help of the government, an action for which the United States apologized in 1994.

In August, the Department of Justice and the Department of Interior recommended that Congress take the next step in the reconciliation process and confirm a government-to-government relationship with Native Hawaiians. The federal recognition bill would affirm the unique legal relationship Native Hawaiians have with the government.

Representative Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii introduced the House bill.

Get the Bill:
A bill to express the policy of the United States regarding the United States' relationship with Native Hawaiians, and for other purposes (S.2899)

Relevant Links:
The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs -
Rep. Neil Abercrombie
Sen. Daniel Inouye
Sen. Daniel Akaka

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