Native Hawaiian Roll Commission urges alignment with ongoing Nation Building Process


In response to the U.S. Department of Interior’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) regarding “Procedures for Reestablishing a Government-to-Government Relationship with the Native Hawaiian Community,” Native Hawaiian Roll Commission Chair John Waiheʻe issued this statement:

Since 2000 and the Rice v. Cayetano federal court case ruling, the very existence of Native Hawaiian institutions, rights and programs have been threatened. As we understand it, the Department of Interior’s proposed process is exploring a path to political recognition of Native Hawaiians by the federal government as a means to protect these institutions, rights and programs.

We applaud efforts to protect Native Hawaiians rights and programs and we encourage the Department of Interior to follow a two-step process. The first step would be to administratively affirm what Congress has done in over 200 laws, to affirm that Native Hawaiians are an indigenous people in this country with whom the federal government has a special legal and political relationship. It is our belief that this first step can be taken immediately as there is a significant body of laws and legal analyses to support such a declaration.

The second step should then be to work out the political relationship directly with the Native Hawaiian government. This government – by definition – is not yet in existence. Over 125,000 Native Hawaiians are prepared to move forward over the next few months with the process of nation-building, and it is critically important and respectful to allow self-determination to take a self-determined path. In this regard, we urge the Department of Interior to support the ongoing process and timeline for nation- building that is fundamental to the establishing the Native Hawaiian government and thus this government-to-government relationship.


In 2011, Governor Neil Abercrombie signed Act 195 into law, recognizing Native Hawaiians as the indigenous population of the Hawaiian Islands. The law established the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, with unpaid commissioners appointed by the Governor, to certify and publish a roll of Qualified Native Hawaiians. Act 195 called for the roll to be used to organize a Native Hawaiian governing entity that is recognized by the State of Hawai‘i. For more information about the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission or the content of this announcement, call 808.594.0088 or visit