Sunday, July 29, 2012

Native Hawaiian Roll Commission

As we've mentioned before, America has one of the biggest Pacific Islander populations in the world primarily because several Pacific Islander communities are indigenous to land that is now part of the United States.  This includes the Samoans of American Samoa, and the Chamorros of Guam, and (the largest of the three) Hawaii's Native Hawaiians.

Unlike the other two major indigenous groups from the 50 States (American Indians and Alaska Natives), Native Hawaiians lack federal recognition. Hawaii's elected officials -- Democrat and Republican alike -- have tried to remedy this inequity on a national level, but after over a decade of Congressional inaction, the State of Hawaii took matters into its own hands.  Now, while Hawaiians and their allies continue to pursue federal recognition, Hawaii is already in the process of organizing a state recognized Native Hawaiian governing entity.

Hawaiians took another major step in that direction last week, by launching a year-long campaign to create a roll of Native Hawaiians who will be eligible to participate in the state-recognized governing entity. I was proud to sign up and register my son through the online form here (link).

When affixing my (electronic) signature to this roll, I couldn't help but think of my great-great-grandfather, a Native Hawaiian saloon owner from Maui, who was one of the tens of thousands of Hawaiians to sign the "Ku'e" petitions reaffirming their support for the Hawaiian Kingdom, which had recently been overthrown.  While I never met him, I was filled with pride when I saw his signature on the microfilm at the National Archives.

It took a lot more guts for him to sign his petition -- the men who overthrew the Kingdom now regulated his saloon -- than it did for me to join the roll.  Still, I hope that generations from now, my family will take some pride in how our 'ohana was part of restoring recognition for our people.

For my fellow Native Hawaiians reading this, I urge you to register, and pass the information on to your 'ohana. For those who aren't Native Hawaiian, but want to support this effort, you can affirm your support on this petition (link), or register your organization as a sponsor or supporter of this campaign (link).


--  To learn more about the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, click here: LINK

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