United States federal recognition of Native Hawaiians

Federal recognition of Native Hawaiians refers to proposals for the federal government of the United States to give legal recognition to Native Hawaiians (Hawaiian: kānaka maoli), providing them with some form of indigenous sovereignty within a framework similar to that afforded to Native Americans and Alaska Natives.[1]

Native Hawaiians are the aboriginal people of the Hawaiian Islands. Since American involvement in the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, federal statutes have been enacted to address conditions of Native Hawaiians, with some feeling these should be formalized in the same manner as other indigenous populations in the United States.[2] However, some controversy surrounds the proposal for formal recognition – many Native Hawaiian political organizations believe recognition might interfere with Hawaii's claims to independence as a constitutional monarchy through international law.[3][4]

Liliuokalani, c. 1891
The Kingdom of Hawaii and Queen Liliʻuokalani were overthrown by mostly Americans with the assistance of the United States military on January 17, 1893.


Overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii

Hui Aloha ʻĀina o Na Kane
Opposition to the overthrow and annexation included Hui Aloha ʻĀina or the Hawaiian Patriotic League.

The ancestors of Native Hawaiians may have arrived in the Hawaiian Islands around 350 CE, from other areas of Polynesia.[5] By the time Captain Cook arrived, Hawaii had a well established culture with populations estimated to be between 400,000 and 900,000 people.[5] In the first one hundred years of contact with western civilization, due to war and sickness, the Hawaiian population dropped by ninety percent with only 53,900 people in 1876.[5] American missionaries would arrive in 1820 and assume great power and influence.[5] While the United States formally recognized the Kingdom of Hawaii, American influence in Hawaii, with assistance from the US Navy, took over the islands.[5] The Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown beginning January 17, 1893 with a coup d'état orchestrated by mostly Americans within the kingdom's legislature and assisted by the United States military.[5][6] While there was much opposition and many attempts to restore the kingdom, it became a territory of the US in 1898, without any input from Native Hawaiians.[5] Hawaii became a US state on March 18, 1959 following a referendum in which at least 93% of voters approved of statehood.

The US constitution recognizes Native American tribes as domestic, dependent nations with inherent rights of self-determination through the US government as a trust responsibility that was extended to include Eskimos, Aleuts and Native Alaskans with the passing of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Though enactment of 183 federal laws over 90 years, the US has entered into an implicit, rather than explicit trust relationship that does not give formal recognition of a sovereign people the right of self-determination. Without an explicit law, Native Hawaiians may not be eligible for entitlements, funds and benefits afforded to other US indigenous peoples.[7] Native Hawaiians are recognized by the US government through legislation with a unique status.[5]

Hawaiian Homelands and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs

In 1921, the Hawaiian Homelands Commission Act set aside 200,000 acres of land for the Hawaiian Homelands but only for those of at least fifty percent blood quantum.[5] It was meant to create some compensation for forced colonization of the indigenous peoples, but in 1959 Hawaii was officially adopted as the fiftieth state of the US with the Statehood Admissions Act defining "Native Hawaiian" as any person descended from the aboriginal people of Hawaii, living there prior to 1778.[5] The Ceded lands (lands once owned by the Hawaiian kingdom monarchy) were transferred from the federal government to the State of Hawaii for the "betterment of the conditions of the native Hawaiians".[5] In 1978 the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) was created to manage that portion of the ceded lands allotted to Hawaiian Homelands, advance the lifestyle of Native Hawaiians, preserve Hawaiian culture and protect Native Hawaiian rights. Government funding has created programs, schools, scholarships and teaching curriculums through OHA.[5] Many of these organizations, agencies and trusts like OHA, have had a good deal of legal issues over the years. In the US Supreme court case; "Rice v. Cayetano", OHA was accused of violating the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the United States constitution with voting provisions that were raced based. The court found for the plaintif that OHA had violated the fifteenth amendment. OHA has also been questioned for programs and services to Hawaiians of less than the fifty percent, required blood quantum (The minimum requirement to qualify for Hawaiian Homelands).[5]

The Apology Bill and the Akaka Bill

In the past decades, the growing frustration of Native Hawaiians over Hawaiian Homelands as well as the 100 year anniversary of the overthrow, pushed the Hawaiian sovereignty movement to the forefront of politics in Hawaii. In 1993, then President Bill Clinton signed the United States Public Law 103-150, known as the "Apology Bill", for US involvement in the 1893 overthrow. The bill offers a commitment towards reconciliation.[5][8]

US census information shows there were approximately 401,162 Native Hawaiians living within the United States in the year 2000. Sixty percent live in the continental US with forty percent living in the State of Hawaii.[5] Between 1990 and 2000, those people identifying as Native Hawaiian had grown by 90,000 additional people, while the number of those identifying as pure Hawaiian had declined to under 10,000.[5]

Senator Daniel Akaka sponsored a bill in 2009 entitled the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009 (S1011/HR2314) which would create the legal framework for establishing a Hawaiian government. The bill was supported by US President Barack Obama.[9] Even though the bill is considered a reconciliation process, it has not had that effect but has instead been the subject of much controversy and political fighting from many arenas. American opponents argue that congress is disregarding US citizens for special interests and sovereignty activists believe this will further erode their rights as the 1921 blood quantum rule of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act had done.[10] In 2011, a governor appointed committee began to gather and verify names of Native Hawaiians for the purpose of voting on a Native Hawaiian nation.[11]

In June 2014, the US Department of the Interior announced plans to hold hearings to establish the possibility of federal recognition of Native Hawaiians as an Indian tribe.[12][13]

Department of Interior procedure

The year of hearings found most speakers with strong opposition to the United States government's involvement in the Hawaiian sovereignty issue.[14]

On September 29, 2015, the United States Department of the Interior announced a procedure to recognize a Native Hawaiian government.[14][15] The Native Hawaiian Roll Commission was created to find and register Native Hawaiians.[16] The nine member commission with the needed expertise for verifying Native Hawaiian ancestry has prepared a roll of registered individuals of Hawaiian heritage.[17]

The nonprofit organization Na'i Aupuni will organize the constitutional convention and election of delegates using the roll which began collecting names in 2011. Kelii Akina, Chief Executive Officer of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, filed suit to see the names on the roll and won, finding serious flaws. The Native Hawaiian Roll Commission has since purged the list of names of deceased persons as well as those whose address or e-mails could not be verified.

Akina again filed suit to stop the election because funding of the project comes from a grant from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and citing a United States Supreme Court case prohibiting the states from conducting race-based elections.[18]

In October 2015, a federal judge declined to stop the process from proceeding. The case was appealed with a formal emergency request to stop the voting until the appeal was heard but the request was denied.[19]

On November 24, the emergency request was made again to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.[20] November 27, Justice Kennedy stopped the election tallying or naming of any delegates. In the United States Supreme Court case Rice v. Cayetano, Kennedy wrote, "Ancestry can be a proxy for race".

The decision did not stop the voting itself, and a spokesman for the Na'i Aupuni continued to encourage those eligible to vote before the end of the set deadline of November 30, 2015.[21]

The election was expected to have a cost of about $150,000, and voting was carried out by Elections America, a firm based in Washington D.C. The constitutional convention itself has an estimated cost of $2.6 million.[18]

See also


  1. ^ United States of America Congressional Record 111th Congress, Vol. 155 – Part 7. Government Printing Office. pp. 8564–. GGKEY:1PYF5UE6TU0.
  2. ^ Amy E. Den Ouden; Jean M. O'Brien (2013). Recognition, Sovereignty Struggles, & Indigenous Rights in the United States: A Sourcebook. UNC Press Books. p. 311. ISBN 978-1-4696-0215-8.
  3. ^ Donald L. Fixico (December 12, 2007). Treaties with American Indians: An Encyclopedia of Rights, Conflicts, and Sovereignty: An Encyclopedia of Rights, Conflicts, and Sovereignty. ABC-CLIO. p. 207. ISBN 978-1-57607-881-5.
  4. ^ David Eugene Wilkins; Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark (2011). American Indian Politics and the American Political System. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 2–3. ISBN 978-1-4422-0387-7.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Joseph G. Ponterotto; J. Manuel Casas; Lisa A. Suzuki; Charlene M. Alexander (August 24, 2009). Handbook of Multicultural Counseling. SAGE Publications. pp. 269–271. ISBN 978-1-4833-1713-7.
  6. ^ Spencer C. Tucker (May 20, 2009). Encyclopedia of the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars, The: A Political, Social, and Military History: A Political, Social, and Military History. ABC-CLIO. p. 275. ISBN 978-1-85109-952-8.
  7. ^ Davianna McGregor (2007). N_ Kua'_ina: Living Hawaiian Culture. University of Hawaii Press. p. 279. ISBN 978-0-8248-2946-9.
  8. ^ Bendure, Friary, Glenda, Ned (2003), Oahu, Lonely Planet, p. 24, ISBN 978-1-74059-201-7
  9. ^ Jeff Campbell (September 15, 2010). Hawaii. Lonely Planet. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-74220-344-7.
  10. ^ Eva Bischoff; Elisabeth Engel (2013). Colonialism and Beyond: Race and Migration from a Postcolonial Perspective. LIT Verlag Münster. p. 61. ISBN 978-3-643-90261-0.
  11. ^ Lyte, Brittany (September 16, 2015). "Native Hawaiian election set". The Garden island. The Garden Island. Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  12. ^ Grass, Michael (August 12, 2014). "As Feds Hold Hearings, Native Hawaiians Press Sovereignty Claims". Government Executive. Government Executive. Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  13. ^ Office of the Secretary of the interior. "Interior Considers Procedures to Reestablish a Government-to-Government Relationship with the Native Hawaiian Community". US Department of the interior. US Government, Department of the Interior. Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  14. ^ a b Lauer, Nancy Cook (September 30, 2015). "Interior Department announces procedure for Native Hawaiian recognition". Oahu Publications. West Hawaii Today. Archived from the original on October 3, 2015. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
  15. ^ "Interior Proposes Path for Re-Establishing Government-to-Government Relationship with Native Hawaiian Community". Department of the Interior. Office of the Secretary of the Department of the interior. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
  16. ^ Edward Hawkins Sisson (June 22, 2014). America the Great. Edward Sisson. p. 1490. GGKEY:0T5QX14Q22E.
  17. ^ Ariela Julie Gross (June 30, 2009). What Blood Won't Tell: A History of Race on Trial in America. Harvard University Press. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-674-03797-7.
  18. ^ a b Rick, Daysog (October 6, 2015). "Critics: Hawaiian constitutional convention election process is flawed". Hawaii News Now. Hawaii News Now. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
  19. ^ "Fed Appeals Court Won't Stop Hawaiian Election Vote Count". The New York Times. Associated Press. November 19, 2015. Retrieved November 28, 2015.
  20. ^ "Opponents Ask High Court to Block Native Hawaiian Vote Count". The New York Times. Associated Press. November 24, 2015. Retrieved November 28, 2015.
  21. ^ "Supreme Court Justice Intervenes in Native Hawaiian Election". The New York Times. Associated Press. November 27, 2015. Retrieved November 28, 2015.


  • Bendure, Glenda (2003). Oahu. Melbourne Oakland, CA: Lonely Planet Pub. ISBN 978-1-74059-201-7.
  • Bischoff, Eva (2013). Colonialism and beyond : race and migration from a postcolonial perspective. Zürich: Lit. ISBN 978-3-643-90261-0.
  • Campbell, Jeff (2009). Hawaii. Footscray, Vic. London: Lonely Planet. ISBN 978-1-74220-344-7.
  • Fixico, Donald (2008). Treaties with American Indians : an encyclopedia of rights, conflicts, and sovereignty. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-57607-881-5.
  • McGregor, Davianna (2007). Nā Kua'āina living Hawaiian culture. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-2946-9.
  • Tucker, Spencer (2009). The encyclopedia of the Spanish-American and Philippine-American wars a political, social, and military history. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-85109-952-8.
  • Ouden, Amy (2013). Recognition, sovereignty struggles, & indigenous rights in the United States a sourcebook. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-1-4696-0215-8.
  • Wilkins, David (2011). American Indian politics and the American political system. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1-4422-0387-7.

Used multiple times as overarching referencing for the subject or section

  • Ponterotto, Joseph (2010). Handbook of multicultural counseling. Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications. ISBN 1412964326.

External links

African-American self-determination

African-American self-determination refers to efforts to secure self-determination for African-Americans and related peoples in North America. It often intersects with the historic Back-to-Africa movement and general Black separatism, but also manifests in present and historic demands for self-determination on North American soil, ranging from autonomy to independence. Reparations for slavery and other oppressions are often a key demand for advocates of African-American self-determination.

Much of the self-determination dialogue has focused on the Black Belt region in the Southern United States from Virginia to Texas, and has ranged from self-governing admittance as a state to outright secession from U.S. governance.

Bureau of Indian Affairs

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is an agency of the federal government of the United States within the U.S. Department of the Interior. It is responsible for the administration and management of 55,700,000 acres (225,000 km2) of land held in trust by the United States for Native Americans, Native American Tribes and Alaska Natives.

The BIA is one of two bureaus under the jurisdiction of the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs: the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education, which provides education services to approximately 48,000 Native Americans.

The BIA’s responsibilities originally included providing health care to American Indians and Alaska Natives. In 1954 that function was transferred to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (now known as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), and it is now known as the Indian Health Service.

Hawaiian Kingdom

The Hawaiian Kingdom (a.k.a. Kingdom of Hawaiʻi) originated in 1795 with the unification of the independent islands of Hawaiʻi, Oʻahu, Maui, Molokaʻi, and Lānaʻi under one government. In 1810, the whole Hawaiian Islands became unified when Kauaʻi and Niʻihau joined the Hawaiian Kingdom voluntarily. Two major dynastic families ruled the kingdom: the House of Kamehameha and the House of Kalākaua.

The Kingdom won recognition from major European powers. The United States became its chief trading partner. The U.S. watched over the Kingdom lest some other power (such as Britain or Japan) threaten to seize control. Hawaii was forced to adopt a new constitution in 1887 when King Kalākaua was threatened with violence by the Honolulu Rifles, a white, anti-monarchist militia, to sign it. Queen Liliʻuokalani, who succeeded Kalākaua in 1891, tried to abrogate the 1887 constitution and promulgate a new constitution, but was overthrown in 1893, largely at the hands of the Committee of Safety, a group of residents consisting of Hawaiian subjects and foreign nationals of American, British and German descent, many of whom were educated in the U.S., lived there for a time and identified strongly as American.. Hawaii became a republic until the United States annexed it using The Newlands Resolution which was a joint resolution passed on July 4, 1898, by the United States Congress creating the Territory of Hawaii.

Hawaiian sovereignty movement

The Hawaiian sovereignty movement (Hawaiian: ke ea Hawaiʻi) is a grassroots political and cultural campaign to gain sovereignty, self-determination and self-governance for Hawaiians of whole or part Native Hawaiian ancestry with an autonomous or independent nation or kingdom. Some groups also advocate some form of redress from the United States for the 1893 overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani, and for what is described as a prolonged military occupation beginning with the 1898 annexation. The movement generally views both the overthrow and annexation as illegal. Palmyra Island and the Stewart Islands were annexed by the Kingdom in the 1860s and are regarded by the movement as being under illegal occupation along with the Hawaiian Islands. The Apology Resolution passed by the United States Congress in 1993 acknowledged that the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893 was an illegal act.Sovereignty advocates have attributed problems plaguing native communities including homelessness, poverty, economic marginalization, and the erosion of native traditions to the lack of native governance and political self-determination. They have pursued their agenda through educational initiatives and legislative actions. Along with protests throughout the islands, at the capitol itself as well as the places and locations held as sacred to Hawaiian culture, sovereignty activists have challenged United States forces and law.

Indigenous self-government in Canada

Indigenous or Aboriginal self-government refers to proposals to give governments representing the Indigenous peoples in Canada greater powers of government. These proposals range from giving Aboriginal governments powers similar to that of local governments in Canada to demands that Indigenous governments be recognized as sovereign, and capable of "nation-to-nation" negotiations as legal equals to the Crown (i.e. the Canadian state), as well as many other variations.

List of Alaska Native tribal entities

This is a list of Alaska Native tribal entities which are recognized by the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs. For related lists, see the List of Indian reservations in the United States, List of Native American Tribal Entities (federally recognized lower 48 groups) and List of State Recognized American Indian Tribal Entities.

This list pertains only to the state of Alaska, and is maintained by the U.S. Federal Government. For more detail on how Alaska Native villages came to be tracked in this way, see Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971. This version was updated based on Federal Register, Volume 74, Number 183 dated August 11, 2009 (74 FR 40218) "Indian Entities Recognized and Eligible to Receive Services from the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs" (August 11, 2009), when the number of Alaskan Native tribes entities totaled 231.

The list is maintained in alphabetical order with respect to the name of the tribe or village. Leading words such as "Village of" or "Native Village of" are ignored for this purpose. Ancillary information present in former versions of this list but no longer contained in the current listing have been included here in italics print.

Note that while the names of Alaska Native tribal entities often include "Village of" or "Native Village of," in most cases the tribal entity cannot be considered as identical to the city, town, or census-designated place in which the tribe is located, as some residents may be non-tribal members and a separate city government may exist. Nor should Alaska Native tribes be confused with Alaska Native Regional Corporations, which are a class of Alaska for-profit corporations created under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971.

Native American self-determination

Native American self-determination refers to the social movements, legislation, and beliefs by which the Native American tribes in the United States exercise self-governance and decision making on issues that affect their own people.

Tribal sovereignty in the United States

Tribal sovereignty in the United States is the concept of the inherent authority of indigenous tribes to govern themselves within the borders of the United States. The U.S. federal government recognizes tribal nations as "domestic dependent nations" and has established a number of laws attempting to clarify the relationship between the federal, state, and tribal governments.

Case law
Federal and
State recognition

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