|To download this letter click on the image above.|
The American Bar Association, with nearly 400,000 members nationwide, sent a letter Sept. 28 to every United States Senator urging support for the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act. The letter outlines the bill’s constitutionality and its precedent within U.S. law, and details benefits of the U.S. providing parity to Native Hawaiians as indigenous people.
“The American Bar Association’s detailed explanation of the history, need and constitutionality of the bill will help address mischaracterizations and bring attention to the importance of this bill,” said Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, the bill’s sponsor. “Although there are many important bills pending on the Senate calendar, I remain optimistic that the Senate will be able to consider the bill during the lame-duck session. I thank the ABA for its unwavering support.”
“The endorsement and support of the American Bar Association is critical and I am certain it will help to convince some of my colleagues to consider the matter when we return from recess,” said Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.
The ABA letter says that the organization supports “the right of Native Hawaiians to seek federal recognition of a native governing entity within the United States similar to that which American Indians and Alaska Natives possess under the U.S. Constitution.”
When the federally recognized Native Hawaiian governing entity is formed, it will “serve, maintain and support their unique cultural and civic needs and advocate on their behalf at the federal and state levels.” The letter continues, “Congressional support for legislation that would lead to a process for federal recognition of Native Hawaiians is the next logical step.”
The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives in February with bipartisan support. In July, Senators Akaka and Inouye reached an agreement with Hawai‘i Gov. Linda Lingle to make four clarifying changes to the text of the bill, which secured the Governor’s support. The bill is now pending in the Senate.