S.B. NO.



S.D. 2


H.D. 2














SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that the State has never explicitly acknowledged that Native Hawaiians are the only indigenous, aboriginal, maoli population of Hawaii.

Native Hawaiians are the indigenous, native people of the Hawaiian archipelago and are a distinctly native community.  From its inception, the State has had a special political and legal relationship with the Native Hawaiian people and has continually enacted legislation for the betterment of their condition.

In section 5(f) of the Admission Act of 1959, Congress created what is commonly known as the ceded lands trust.  The ceded lands trust, consisting of lands, including submerged lands, natural resources, and the proceeds from the disposition or use of those lands--purportedly ceded to the United States by the Republic of Hawaii--is for five purposes, one of which remains the betterment of the conditions of native Hawaiians.

At the 1978 constitutional convention, the delegates proposed a constitutional amendment to establish the office of Hawaiian affairs. The amendment was ratified by the voters on November 7, 1978, and codified as article XII, section 5 and 6 of the Hawaii state constitution, and in chapter 10, Hawaii Revised Statutes.  The State's designation of the office of Hawaiian affairs as a trust vehicle to act on behalf of Native Hawaiians until a Native Hawaiian governing entity could be reestablished reaffirmed the State's obligations to the Native Hawaiian people.

     Delegates to the 1978 constitutional convention further proposed to amend the Hawaii state constitution to affirm protection of all "rights, customarily and traditionally exercised for subsistence, cultural and religious purposes and possessed by ahupuaa tenants who are descendants of Native Hawaiians who inhabited the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1778."  Moreover, state law also specifically protects Hawaiians' ability to practice their traditional and customary rights.  The federal and state courts have continuously recognized the right of the Native Hawaiian people to engage in customary and traditional practices on public lands.

     In 1993, the United States formally apologized to Native Hawaiians for the United States' role in the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom through Public Law 103-150 (107 Stat. 1510), commonly known as the "Apology Resolution."  The Apology Resolution acknowledges that the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom occurred with the active participation of agents and citizens of the United States and further acknowledges that the Native Hawaiian people never directly relinquished to the United States their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people over their national lands, either through a Treaty of Annexation or through a plebiscite or referendum.  The Apology Resolution expresses the commitment of Congress and the President to acknowledge the ramifications of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom and to support reconciliation efforts between the United States and Native Hawaiians.  Pursuant to the Apology Resolution, the United States Departments of Justice and the Interior conducted reconciliation hearings with the Native Hawaiian people in 1999 and issued a joint report entitled, "From Mauka to Makai: The River of Justice Must Flow Freely," which identified promoting the reorganization of a Native Hawaiian government as a priority recommendation for continuing the process of reconciliation.  To further this process of reconciliation, Congress created the Office of Native Hawaiian Relations within the Department of the Interior, to consult with Native Hawaiians on the reconciliation process.

     In December 2010, the Departments of Justice and the Interior reaffirmed the federal support for the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2010.  This reaffirmation recognized that Native Hawaiians are the only one of the nation's three major indigenous peoples who currently lack a formal government-to-government relationship with the United States.

     The United States became a charter member of the United Nations in 1945.  The United States submitted Hawaii as a territory of the United States to be listed as a non-self-governing territory entitled to self-government under Article 73, Charter of the United Nations, via United Nations General Assembly Resolution 66 (1946), although it was later de-listed at the time of statehood.  Also in December 2010, the United States endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which acknowledged, among other things:


Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination.  By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.


     The United States' endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples included recognition of its support not only for the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2010 but also many additional laws for Native Hawaiians such as the National Historic Preservation Act, the Native Hawaiian Education Act, the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act, and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

     Native Hawaiians have continued to maintain their separate identity as a single, distinctly native political community through cultural, social, and political institutions and have continued to maintain their rights to self-determination, self-governance, and economic self-sufficiency.

     The State has supported the reorganization of a Native Hawaiian governing entity.  It has supported the Sovereignty Advisory Council, the Hawaiian Sovereignty Advisory Commission, the Hawaiian Sovereignty Elections Council, and Native Hawaiian Vote, and the convening of the Aha Hawaii Oiwi (the Native Hawaiian Convention).  The legislature has adopted various resolutions during its regular sessions throughout the 1990s and 2000s.  The Governor has testified before Congress regarding the State's support for Native Hawaiians as the indigenous people of Hawaii with the right to self-government.  Recognizing the likelihood of a reorganized Native Hawaiian governing entity, the State has also provided for the transfer of the management and control of the island of Kahoolawe and its waters to the sovereign Native Hawaiian entity upon its recognition by the United States and the State of Hawaii.

The purpose of this Act is to recognize Native Hawaiians as the only indigenous, aboriginal, maoli population of Hawaii.  It is also the State's desire to support the continuing development of a reorganized Native Hawaiian governing entity and, ultimately, the federal recognition of Native Hawaiians.  The legislature urges the office of Hawaiian affairs to continue to support the self-determination process by Native Hawaiians in the formation of their chosen governmental entity.

SECTION 2.  The Hawaii Revised Statutes is amended by a adding a new chapter to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:



§   -1  Statement of recognition.  The Native Hawaiian people are hereby recognized as the only indigenous, aboriginal,
maoli people of Hawaii."

SECTION 3.   This Act shall take effect on January 7, 2059.


Report Title:

Native Hawaiians; Recognition



Recognizes the Native Hawaiian people as the only indigenous, aboriginal, maoli people of Hawaii.  Effective January 7, 2059.  (SB1520 HD2)




The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.