Case Discusses Native Hawaiian Education and Health Care Priorities
Washington, May 18, 2021, May 18, 2021
Tags: Native Hawaiians
"Your continued support for the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems is especially needed now as we work to get through this pandemic."
Chair DeLauro, Ranking Member Cole and Members of the Subcommittee:
Aloha and mahalo for the opportunity to seek this Subcommittee’s continued support of critical health and education programs assisting the unique needs of Native Hawaiians in my home state of Hawai‘i and across the United States.
Native Hawaiians are the indigenous peoples of our country whose homeland is Hawai‘i. Our nation's historical and unique legal relationship with the Native Hawaiian community has been consistently recognized and affirmed through laws that extend to Native Hawaiians many of the rights, privileges and programs afforded to American Indians and Alaska Natives. Just as Native Hawaiians are a unique community within our national fabric, so are many of their challenges and needs, especially in health and education.
Specifically, Congress passed the Native Hawaiian Health Care Act to address the severe health needs of the Native Hawaiian population. For example, Native Hawaiians have experienced disproportionately high rates of obesity, hypertension, asthma, diabetes and other chronic diseases. These disparities are, in large part, perpetuated because of systemic barriers to health care and social determinants of health.
Under that Act, Congress has consistently supported strong funding for the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems to address these disparities. Specifically, the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems provide primary, dental and behavioral care as well as make available health education, health promotion, disease prevention and Native Hawaiian traditional healing services to fit the needs of their respective communities.
Your continued support for the Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems is especially needed now as we work to get through this pandemic.
I also ask for the Subcommittee’s support of report language directing the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program to recruit and retain providers to work in areas that serve Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. This more carefully tailored funding would help address health workforce shortages and strengthen the health career pipeline while also providing better care and outcomes for these traditionally underserved populations.
Primarily through the Native Hawaiian Education Act, Congress has also consistently provided federal funding to address the educational attainment gaps between Native Hawaiian students and their peers. Native Hawaiians have historically performed below national norms in reading, science, math and social science and are underrepresented in higher education. All of these trends have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
That Act’s supplemental education services provide for the unique educational needs of Native Hawaiian students and recognize the role of languages and cultures in their educational success and long-term well-being. Native Hawaiian education grants support innovative and effective programs such as the Partners in Development Foundation’s “Tutu and Me” traveling preschool and Aha Pūnana Leo’s Hawaiian language revitalization activities and immersion schools.
Native Hawaiian education grants also help finance scholarships and college transition opportunities, including career and technical education and science, technology, engineering and math outreach targeted toward Native Hawaiian students in high-poverty areas across Hawai‘i.
Your continued support for the Native Hawaiian Education Program is requested to increase college readiness, access and success for Native Hawaiian students, especially for those who are most at risk of not attending college. Additionally, the Strengthening Alaska Native- and Native Hawaiian-serving Institutions program provides funding for tutoring, mentorships, internships, faculty development and other initiatives to better meet the needs of Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students at the collegiate level.
In closing, I want to extend my warmest mahalo to this Subcommittee for your consideration of these requests in the upcoming fiscal year and for your continued partnership in our efforts to improve and promote resilience and advancement in our Native Hawaiian community.