New law helps Native Hawaiians be counted

Published: Jul. 4, 2013 at 9:22 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 4, 2013 at 11:28 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It is America's Independence Day and it's also a day to remind Native Hawaiian's there is still work to be done to be recognized as a sovereign body.

Keeping track of who's Native Hawaiian is about to get easier and cheaper as the state gets rid of some major paperwork hassles.

Ever heard of list fatigue? Kana'iolowalu, the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission has.

"Just the other week I was talking to one of my good friends and she had mentioned to me, 'I have list fatigue already.' You ask a lot of Hawaiians and they're either on the Kamehameha schools list or some are on the DHHL list for a land lease, many of them are on the OHA list and the list goes on," said Na'alehu Anthony, Kana'iolowalu Commissioner.

There is a remedy to list fatigue. A new law that went into effect July 1 lets the Commission take the confirmation from other entities and apply it to the Native Hawaiian Roll. For example, if someone already has a verification letter from Kamehameha Schools, that's enough.

"So we'll take that letter as proof you are Native Hawaiian," said Anthony.

That means people won't have to go to the Department of Health, wait in line and spend $10 to get another birth certificate. The Commission also made a deal with the DOH to look up names in bulk.

"What we've done is we've simplified the process to be able to ask the Department of Health, given this person's name and this person's date of birth if they're Hawaiian and it's just a yes or no," said Anthony.

So far there are fewer than 15,000 people on the Native Hawaiian Roll. They expect in the coming months that number to increase dramatically. Once on the list those Native Hawaiians will have a say in organizing a governing entity.

"Today is Independence Day for the United States but also I think it's a great reminder that Native Hawaiians have these unrelinquished claims that need to be dealt with in a civil and calm way that allows us to move forward as everybody that lives in Hawaii," said Anthony.

The year deadline to sign the roll was coming up this month, but it has been extended to January 2014.

For more information or to register for the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission click here.

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