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Government asks for input from Native Hawaiians

Native Hawaiians say they can now finally be heard.

A new proposal from the Department of Interior calls for the department’s secretary to meet twice a year with Native Hawaaiian leaders.  

Native Hawaiian Organizations, including dozens of groups such as the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, under the idea, are the “informal representatives of the Native Hawaiian Community” and will be heavily involved in the consultation process.

“There’s so much going on in Hawaii,” Sonoda-Pale, a worker for the organization Ka Lahui Hawaii, said to Hawaii News Now. “There’s so much that kanaka maoli (native) people are facing on a daily basis. If there’s any way that the Department of Interior can intervene on any of these issues, that would be a huge step forward.”

The Interior Department will be required to consult with the Native Hawaiian community on any new rules, legislative proposals or changes to grant funding formulas. It also will consult with Native Hawaiians on issues affecting their ancestral lands, water and culture resources, according to the Honolulu Civil Beat.

The Interior Department’s statement discussed support towards Native Hawaiian sovereignty and self-determination, upholding the right to Native Hawaiians to self-government.

According to the Honolulu Civil Beat, the Interior Department created a process for Native Hawaiians to form their own government-to-government relationship with the U.S. in 2016 under former President Barack Obama, but back then, the community could not come to a decision.

The new consultation policy appears aimed at bringing Native Hawaiians the same rights as other Indigenous groups that are recognized by the government.

“It affords the Native Hawaiian community access to leadership, places a really high value on their input and helps to shape policy from the earliest stages,” said Summer Sylva, senior advisor on Native Hawaiian Affairs for the U.S. Interior Department, to Hawaii News Now.

According to the U.S Department of Interior’s statement, there are two upcoming virtual consultations on Nov. 10 and Dec. 5.

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