U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has published its proposed rule to open a pathway to a government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian people.  The public and our community have the opportunity to review the proposed rule and provide our mana‘o. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) has been published in Federal Register, and is accessible here. You can review the press release from the DOI here, and download the DOI’s responses to Frequently Asked Questions on the NPRM.  The public comment period is for 90 days, and closes on December 30, 2015.  You can submit your comments online by clicking here.  You can also express your support by signing on to our supporter card.  After considering all the comments received, DOI will produce a final rule that will outline the procedures the United States will follow to re-establish a government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community, if we choose it.

It is important to lend your voice to the process.  Your input can influence what is included in the final rule.  By providing written comments within the comment period, you can call on DOI to maintain, improve, or change the proposed rule before it is finalized.  We want a rule that makes sense for our community and is responsive to our needs, and provides equal standing to other indigenous peoples in terms of the rights and authorities the United States will recognize for us.

In sharing your comments, it is important to keep them focused on the proposed rule. Comments should be substantive and explain your reasoning behind supporting or having concerns about specific provisions of the rule.  Be specific and be concise.  At this point in the process, the DOI’s goal is to receive thoughtful comments that will improve the proposed rule.

Provide positive feedback, noting what about the rule is good and why should it be maintained.  For provisions that should be improved; be constructive, give guidance and specify why rule elements should be modified.  Identify provisions that are unnecessary, confusing, harmful, or aren’t responsive to our community’s needs and why they should be eliminated.  You may also consider sharing your distinct or unique perspective as a Native Hawaiian, cultural practitioner, homesteader, or highlight relevant personal or professional expertise that provides context to your comments.  Presenting your views in a substantiated manner is important in this stage of the process.

Ultimately, the federal rule, once final, will inform the Department of the Interior on how to recognize a Native Hawaiian government that is created out of the political will of the Native Hawaiian people, should we choose to pursue recognition.  It will not require the Native Hawaiian people, through their government, to engage with the United States, but it is an opportunity to shape federal policy on what a government-to-government relationship would look like from the federal perspective.

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