SPEECH OF HON. MAZIE K. HIRONO OF HAWAII
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2007
* Ms. HIRONO. Mr. Speaker, I rise to thank the 261 Members who supported H.R. 505, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2007. I also want to encourage my colleagues who did not support the bill to talk to me and Congressman Abercrombie to learn more about the merits of the legislation. The passage of the bill has been celebrated by the people of Hawaii--Native Hawaiians and non-Native Hawaiian alike. I thank all the members of this body for the respectful and deliberate manner in which the debate was conducted.
* During the course of my remarks on the bill, I was privileged to place into the record several recent letters of support for H.R. 505, including letters from the Governor of the State of Hawaii, as well as the National Congress of American Indians and the American Bar Association, two of more than 50 national and state organizations that worked hard on behalf of the bill.
* After the vote on the bill, I received another letter of support from the Japanese American Citizens League, one of many civil rights organizations championing the efforts of Native Hawaiians to regain their right of self-governance and self-determination.
* Americans of Japanese ancestry fought their own battles against discrimination and subjugation, although for a shorter duration, when they were sent to relocation camps during World War II. They understand all too well the deprivation suffered by the Native Hawaiians, since their sovereign government was overthrown, and have lent their full support to the Native Hawaiian cause, which I deeply appreciate.
* It is therefore important that this letter from the Japanese American Citizens League be inserted into the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD to reflect the support of the JACL for this historic vote to recognize the inherent sovereignty of the indigenous, native people of Hawaii. I thank the members of JACL for their valuable support.
Washington, DC, Oct. 23, 2007.
Hon. MAZIE K. HIRONO,
1229 Longworth House Office Building, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
DEAR REPRESENTATIVE HIRONO: The Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), the nation's oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization, fully supports the passage of H.R. 505, The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2007 (NHGRA), introduced by the Members of the Hawai`i Congressional Delegation. The bill is scheduled for a vote before the House on Wednesday, October 24th and I ask that you vote in favor of the bill and against any motion to recommit H.R. 505.
A process of U.S. recognition is already available to American Indians and Alaska Natives, and enactment of NHGRA extends a similar process to Native Hawaiians. There are over 560 federally recognized Native governing entities functioning in the U.S, along side local, state and federal governing entities. Native Hawaiians are the indigenous people of Hawai`i, whose ancestors practiced sovereignty in their ancestral lands that later became part of the United States. The establishment of a process of federal recognition for Native Hawaiians moves us toward fairness in federal policy toward American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians.
Protection of Native Hawaiian culture, as well as existing Native Hawaiian programs is critical for future generations. Perpetuation of distinct, living cultures requires self-determination, and that is necessary for the Native Hawaiian culture as well. Enactment of NHGRA protects this greater self-determination, and thus the distinct culture. It protects existing programs because it establishes a single U.S. policy reaffirming that as the indigenous people of Hawai`i, Native Hawaiian people have a special political and legal relationship with the U.S., consistent with the Hawai`i Constitution, over 150 existing Federal laws addressing Native Hawaiians and the U.S. Constitution regarding Native people of the lands of the 50 states.