‘Huge step forward’: Federal policy establishes formal consultation policy with Native Hawaiians
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Members of the Native Hawaiian community are applauding a recent policy that welcomes more input in government affairs.
The U.S. Department of the Interior announced last week a formal consultation policy with Native Hawaiians.
It’s part of a Biden Administration initiative that centers on engaging with indigenous communities when it comes to federal decision making.
As outlined, it requires the Interior Secretary to meet with Hawaiian leaders on a bi-annual basis.
Consultations can focus on a number of issues including cultural resources and practices, economic development, and land policy.
“It affords the Native Hawaiian community access to leadership, places a really high value on their input and helps to shape policy from the earliest stages,” said Summer Sylva, senior advisor on Native Hawaiian Affairs for the U.S. Interior Department.
“That creates opportunities for us to be proactive and not just reactive in terms of the engagement with the community.”
Native Hawaiian rights advocate Healani Sonoda-Pale says she was surprised to see the decision, but says members of the community should welcome the opporutnity to have their voices heard.
“There’s so much going on in Hawaii,” said Sonoda-Pale, who also works for the organization Ka Lahui Hawaii. “There’s so much that kanaka maoli people are facing on a daily basis. If there’s any way that the Department of Interior can intervene on any of these issues, that would be a huge step forward.”
A similar policy is already in place for Native American tribes across the country.
The department’s Office of Native Hawaiian Relations will be hosting two virtual consultations on Nov. 10 and Dec. 5.
For more information on how to participate, click here.
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