The U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee on Thursday is scheduled to consider an amendment to a Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill t0 reflect a state law recognizing Hawaiians as an indigenous people.
U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, the committee’s chairman, supports the amendment because it would streamline the federal legislation to its core purpose. The state law created a commission that is establishing a roll of Native Hawaiians who would participate in a new Hawaiian government.
The federal legislation, as amended, would recognize the Hawaiians identified under the state law. The goal is for a Hawaiian government to eventually negotiate with the state and federal governments on land use and cultural issues.
The Akaka bill has stalled in the Senate for more than a decade because of opposition from conservative Republicans who consider it unconstitutional race-based legislation. Akaka will try to pass the bill before he retires early next year, Jesse Broder Van Dyke, his spokesman, said, but he will also continue to support the amended version of the bill after he retires if it does not pass. The U.S. House has passed versions of the Akaka bill three times.