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S. 147/H.R. 309: Process for Federal Recognition of a Native Hawaiian Governmental Entity

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Publication Date: September 2005

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: RL33101

Topic: Population and demographics (Native races)

Coverage: Hawaii


S. 147/H.R. 309, companion bills introduced in the 109th Congress, represent an effort to accord to Native Hawaiians a means of forming a governmental entity that could enter into government-to-government relations with the United States. This entity would be empowered to negotiate with the State of Hawaii and with the federal government regarding the transfer of land and the exercise of governmental power and jurisdiction. There was similar legislation in the 106th, 107th, and 108th Congresses; the House passed a Native Hawaiian recognition bill, H.R. 4904, in the 106th Congress. While the Senate did not pass H.R. 4904, the bill would have been enacted through a provision in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2001 (H.R. 4577, P.L. 106-554), until a Senate concurrent resolution removed the provision by correcting the enrollment of H.R. 4577 (S.Con.Res. 162).

This report describes the provisions of the reported version of S. 147; outlines some federal statutes and recent cases which might be relevant to the issue of federal recognition of a Native Hawaiian entity; and recounts some legal arguments that have been presented in the debate on this legislation. It includes a brief outline of the provisions of a substitute amendment expected to be offered in lieu of the reported version of S. 147, when Senate debate, which was interrupted by the filing of a cloture motion on July 29, resumes. The substitute amendment is the product of discussions that have included congressional, executive, and State of Hawaii officials. S. 147 has again been placed on the Senate Calendar. This report will be updated as warranted by legislative activity.