Hawai’i has always been and will remain one of the most diverse and unique communities on earth. And at the very core of our Hawaii’s identity are our indigenous peoples, the Native Hawaiians.
It is my special kuleana (responsibility), together with my Hawai’i congressional colleagues, to represent some 385,000 residents of Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander ancestry throughout our Hawai’i. Together with their ‘ohana throughout our country, they now number over 1.5 million who share the heritage of the original peoples of the Pacific.
I work with other colleagues in Congress who share this kuleana to ensure that our federal government respects, protects and promotes the language, knowledge, resources, cultural practices and traditions of our Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander communities. Addressing these concerns is not only important to Hawai‘i but also to Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders wherever they live as well as to other indigenous peoples and communities throughout our country who have similar priorities.
Advancing the Progress We've Made
For well over a century now, Congress has consistently acknowledged or recognized Native Hawaiians as the indigenous peoples of Hawai‘i through the enactment of over 150 Federal statutes. In coordination with my colleagues, I remain committed to safeguarding and improving many of the laws that protect and promote the rights of Native Hawaiians, such as the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act, the Native Hawaiian Education Act and the Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement Act.
I also work closely with the Office of Native Hawaiian Relations at the Department of Interior, which helps preserve and promote the federal government’s unique political and trust relationship with Native Hawaiians. This office administers federal grant programs, provides technical support services and works with federal agencies to ensure meaningful engagement with Native Hawaiians on policies and programs that could impact their lands, rights and resources. For more about this office and its role in representing the interests of the Native Hawaiian community, see its website (https://www.doi.gov/hawaiian).
Funding Native Hawaiian-Serving Programs and Services
Most recently, I worked to secure millions in federal funding in the Fiscal Year 2023 omnibus funding bill, which Congress passed and the President signed into law in December 2022, for various programs and initiatives that will directly benefit the Native Hawaiian Community. View my press release for more information.
Parity for the Native Hawaiian Community
Especially through my service on the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairsand otherwise, I am also focused on ensuring parity for Native Hawaiians, where appropriate, in federal programs and policies benefitting Native Americans and Alaska Natives.
As one example of my work, view my testimony from a September 2022 committee hearing advocating for full inclusion of the Native Hawaiian community in federal proposals to advance management of public lands and improve protection of sacred and cultural sites (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4TU9pCmq2c).