Troop Hula
The Troop Hula dance group performs during an Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration in Hawaii on May 26, 2022. Photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Amy Biller / U.S. Navy
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hosts field hearings in Hawaii
Wednesday, June 1, 2022
Indianz.Com

Link to Livestream: youtu.be/L7duNlgGKko

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is on the road this week, hosting two field hearings in Hawaii.

The committee is in Honolulu, the state capital on the island of Oʻahu, for the first field hearing on Wednesday. A second one is taking place in Hilo, on the big island of Hawaiʻi, on Thursday.

The field hearings are titled “Upholding the Federal Trust Responsibility: Funding & Program Access for Innovation in the Native Hawaiian Community.” It’s a subject frequently raised by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), the chair of the committee.

“The federal government has a special political and trust relationship with Native Hawaiians and that includes providing health care,” Schatz said at a hearing last Wednesday to consider the nomination of Roselyn Tso to serve as director of the Indian Health Service.

Brian Schatz
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) serves as chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in the 117th Congress. Photo: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

But it’s not just Native Hawaiian health care that Schatz has focused on during his leadership of the committee. Since the start of the 117th Congress in January 2021, nearly every hearing has included a witness from the state of Hawaii, with Native leaders, representatives and officials addressing a wide range of issues, including languages, housing, telecommunications, infrastructure and repatriation.

This week’s field hearings appear to be the first in Hawaii since the committee was led by the late Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii). During the 112th Congress, Akaka held a field hearing on Native homeownership in April 2012.

“The United States has a trust relationship with Native Hawaiians as the indigenous people of these islands, of the state of Hawaii, and of what is now the United States,” Akaka, who passed away in 2018 at the age of 93, said at the time.

Despite the assertions back then from Akaka and now from Schatz, the federal government has not formalized the nature of its relationship with Native Hawaiians. Efforts to recognize a Native Hawaiian government and to extend the policy of self-determination to Native Hawaiians have stalled in Congress, even as lawmakers continue to fund Native Hawaiian programs and pass new statutes with Native Hawaiian provisions, including the update to the Violence Against Women Act that became law in March.

The field hearing on Wednesday takes place at 10:30am Hawaii Time (4:30pm Eastern) in the Keoni Auditorium of the East-West Center in Honolulu. The witness list follows:

PANEL 1
The Honorable Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey – Testimony [PDF]
Chair, Board of Trustees
Office of Hawaiian Affairs
Honolulu, Hawaii

Mr. William J. Aila, Jr. – Testimony [PDF]
Chairman
Hawaiian Homes Commission
Kapolei, Hawaii

Mr. Kūhiō Lewis – Testimony [PDF]
President & Chief Executive Officer
Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement
Kapolei, Hawaii

PANEL 2
Dr. Sheri-Ann Daniels, Ed.D. – Testimony [PDF]
Executive Director
Papa Ola Lōkahi
Honolulu, Hawaii

Dr. Winona Kaalouahi Lee, M.D. – Testimony [PDF]
Associate Chair, Medical Education
Department of Native Hawaiian Health, John A. Burns School of Medicine
University of Hawai’i at Mānoa
Honolulu, Hawaii

Ms. Elena Farden – Testimony [PDF]
Executive Director
Native Hawaiian Education Council
Honolulu, Hawaii

According to the committee’s website, the field hearing will be broadcast on YouTube. A direct link was not yet available as of early morning on Wednesday, Hawaii Time. [UPDATE: Link to Livestream: youtu.be/L7duNlgGKko]

The field hearing on Thursday takes place at 10:30am Hawaii Time (4:30pm Eastern) in the Lumi Pāhiahia (Large Auditorium) of Haleʻōlelo (College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai‘i in Hilo. A witness list hasn’t been posted online.

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Notices
Field Hearing titled “Upholding the Federal Trust Responsibility: Funding & Program Access for Innovation in the Native Hawaiian Community” (Part 1) (June 1, 2022)
Field Hearing titled “Upholding the Federal Trust Responsibility: Funding & Program Access for Innovation in the Native Hawaiian Community” (Part 2) (June 2, 2022)
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