Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into state law on July 6, a bill that formally recognizes Native Hawaiians as “the only indigenous, aboriginal, maoli population” of the islands and begins a process to create a roll of qualified members to work toward the reorganization of a native government. The law is seen as an important step for Native Hawaiians in the movement for self-governance.
According to the Star Advertiser, Senate Bill 1520 supports efforts in Congress to gain federal recognition of native Hawaiians similar to that offered to American Indians and native Alaskans, but would continue the effort at a state level regardless of whether that goal is achieved. Gov. Abercrombie said, “This bill is the first step in seeing to it that we have a Native Hawaiian government entity,” he said. “It’s not only the first step, it is a practical manifestation of all that has gone on before.”