Federal Hawaiian
office gets Bush’s OK

Lingle will lobby next month
for further Hawaiian recognition

President Bush signed legislation yesterday establishing a federal Office of Native Hawaiian Relations, as Gov. Linda Lingle said she plans to expand her strategy for winning congressional support of the federal Akaka bill.

The measure signed by Bush is part of the $373 billion spending bill for most federal agencies and provides $100,000 to set up the office within the U.S. Department of the Interior to deal with native Hawaiian issues at the federal level.

While the legislation underscores the special relationship between native Hawaiians and the federal government, it does not extend federal recognition, as would the Akaka bill, which has been stalled in Congress since July.

Lingle said she plans to go to Washington, D.C., next month to lobby senators to support the bill. Attorney General Mark Bennett will accompany her, as will Micah Kane, director of the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, and her chief of staff, Bob Awana.

Lingle, who testified before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee in February, said she plans to expand her efforts by lobbying Republican senators as well as Democrats.

"I'll spend more time with them on this trip than I have in the past," she said. "Part of that is based on the success I've already had with Sen. (Gordon) Smith in Oregon and just talking with others."

The Office of Native Hawaiian Relations also is a component of the Akaka bill, named for its sponsor, Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii.

The Akaka bill would extend to native Hawaiians federal recognition similar to that granted to American Indians and native Alaskans.

Akaka has said the bill extends the "process of reconciliation" that began with a 1993 congressional resolution apologizing for the U.S. government's role in overthrowing the kingdom of Hawaii a century earlier.


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