‘A critical piece of civic engagement’

The U.S. Department of the Interior will host its first formal consultation meeting with the Native Hawaiian community on Thursday, Nov. 10, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. HST.

Last week, the DOI announced it will start requiring biannual consultations with Native Hawaiians in an effort to strengthen civil engagement and provide a voice for them regarding department decisions.


“The Interior Department is committed to working with the Native Hawaiian community on a government-to-sovereign basis to address concerns related to self-governance, Native Hawaiian trust resources, and other Native Hawaiian rights,” said Secretary Deb Haaland in a statement. “A new and unprecedented consultation policy will help support Native Hawaiian sovereignty and self-determination as we continue to uphold the right of the Native Hawaiian community to self-government.”

The virtual meeting will gather feedback about the new policy, which is an extension of Executive Order 13175 that promotes consultation and coordination with all indigenous communities.

The meeting also will address the goals for future consultations, which the DOI says are designed to be interactive, transparent and predecisional.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs chair Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey called the new policy “a victory in the fight for Native Hawaiian sovereignty and self-determination.”

“We have much to contribute when discussing Native Hawaiian trust resources and Native Hawaiian rights, and we look forward to the work ahead,” she said in a statement. “The department’s commitment to working with the Native Hawaiian people in consultation on matters of mutual interest confirms and respects the special political and trust relationship between the United States and the Native Hawaiian community and is an important step in our people’s struggle for self-governance.”

The biannual consultations will cover decisions related to cultural resources, economic development and land policy, among other topics.

“One of the most important principles in policymaking, especially as it relates to native communities, is: ‘nothing about me, without me,” said U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) in a statement. “This policy update recognizes that consultation with Native Hawaiians is an essential aspect of decision-making for the federal government and key to upholding its trust responsibility.”

DOI staff also will be required to undergo training prior to participating in the consultations.

“The inclusion of community perspectives in government policymaking is a critical piece of civic engagement,” said Hawaiian Homes Commission Chair William J. Aila, Jr. in statement. “DHHL established a formal Beneficiary Consultation Policy of its own in 2009 and has successfully used it to engage with Native Hawaiian beneficiaries to make the implementation of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act a better reflection of the community’s wants and desires.”

In addition to the Nov. 10 meeting, a second consultation to discuss the policy and receive feedback will take place on Monday, Dec. 5, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. HST.

Those hoping to take part in the conversation can register at https://tinyurl.com/36h8vtnh.

Written input can also be submitted to doi_onhr_hhl@ios.doi.gov prior to 5:59 p.m. on Dec. 19.

Email Grant Phillips at gphillips@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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