'First Step' to a Native Hawaiian Governing Entity

Chad Blair/Civil Beat

In one session, the 2011 Hawaii Legislature was able to do what the U.S. Congress has not been able to do in a decade's time: recognize Native Hawaiians as the indigenous people of Hawaii.

Quite possibly, it has also given re-birth to a movement toward self-governance that has been generations in the making and often seemed stymied.

Senate Bill 1520, which Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law Wednesday at Washington Place, will not of itself create a governing entity. That requires federal approval, and the Akaka bill still awaits a vote in the U.S. Senate.

But local leaders gathered in the historic home of Hawaii's last monarch, Liliuokalani, agreed that SB 1520 is landmark legislation that may mark a critical turning point.

As the kia aina (the governor) himself put it, SB 1520 — now Act 195 — is the "first step" to a Native Hawaiian governing entity.

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