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Akaka Bill defines native Hawaiian broadly


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POSTED: Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Question: What is the legal definition of “;native Hawaiian”; as the term is used in the Akaka Bill and other legislation in effect or pending at this time?

Answer: Under the Akaka Bill (officially the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009), native Hawaiian is defined as being of the indigenous, native people of Hawaii who were in the Hawaiian Islands on or before Jan. 1, 1893, and occupied and exercised sovereignty in the Hawaiian archipelago; or who was eligible in 1921 for programs authorized by the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act; or is a direct lineal descendant of those individuals.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, however, is proposing that anyone who can prove their ancestors were here before Capt. Cook arrived in 1778 would be considered native Hawaiian, said Crystal Kua, director of communications.

“;In essence, anybody who can prove they're Hawaiian could fall under this definition,”; she said.

Another reason OHA is pushing for the 1778 standard is because about 150 federal laws dealing with native Hawaiian programs all use that definition, she said.

Other definitions, including the one used in the state law setting up the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, sets a blood quantum qualification.

Chapter 10 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes says a native Hawaiian is “;any descendant of not less than one-half part of the races inhabiting the Hawaiian Islands previous to 1778,”; as defined by the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, “;provided that the term identically refers to the descendants of such blood quantum of such aboriginal peoples which exercised sovereignty and subsisted in the Hawaiian Islands in 1778 and which peoples thereafter continued to reside in Hawaii.”;

Despite that, Kua said OHA is not pushing for a blood quantum for the Akaka Bill, emphasizing that the aim is “;to help as many Hawaiians as possible.”;

The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, in deciding who qualifies for homestead land under the federal Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, also specifies a 50 percent blood quantum: “;You must be a native Hawaiian, defined as 'any descendant of not less than one-half part of the blood of the races inhabiting the Hawaiian Islands previous to 1778.'”;

Mahalo

To the good Samaritans who were our “;Wednesday Angels.”; On Wednesday, June 24, my daughters and I were frantic when my car's battery died while I was filling gas at Mililani Mini Mart. I couldn't get anyone to come and charge my battery at that hour (4:30 p.m.). Meanwhile, Gary Williams, an English teacher at Pearl City High School, said he could help. While waiting for him to turn his truck around to jump the cable, another man, Chad (last name unknown), volunteered to charge the battery since he was parked parallel to us. But then, a clerk warned us not to do that so close to the gas pumps because the result may be catastrophic. So the two, aided by a third man, tried to move my car, but could not shift the gear out of “;park.”; Mr. Williams volunteered to chauffeur me to get a new battery. Chad, who had tools, waited, then installed my new battery. He also tested the alternator. Both refused my offer of gas certificates in appreciation. Good Samaritans are everywhere in Hawaii. Hawaii No Ka Oi!—Grace Okutani


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