Last week's announcement that the federal government is prepared to recognize a Native Hawaiian government could be a huge step toward reconciliation for our state.
It is not a done deal by any measure. The federal government announced Hawaiians are eligible to form a government – and that won't be easy.
Supporters of federal recognition still must rally a large majority of the Hawaiian community to ratify a constitution. There will also likely be votes for elected leaders of that government and then a referendum on the final agreement with the federal government.
Supporters of the government-to-government relationship say that the rest of the community has nothing to fear. The main benefit will be protection of programs to benefit native Hawaiians…which are presently under legal assault. It will also allow Native Hawaiians themselves the ability to control those programs in the future.
Of course, it did not satisfy those who want full restoration of the Hawaiian Nation. But if those nationalists do represent the majority of the Native Hawaiians they will have several chances to prove that during the upcoming process.
Ideally… if all sides participate and accept the process ahead… our entire community may be able to unify behind a fair solution to the divisive sovereignty debate.