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Lawmakers pass native Hawaiian government bill

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 8:25 p.m. HST, May 3, 2011

Legislation that starts the process for native Hawaiians to form their own government is heading to Gov. Neil Abercrombie for his approval.

The Hawaii House and Senate voted today to approve the bill, which recognizes native Hawaiians as the indigenous people of the state.

The measure is meant to support a related proposal pending in Congress that would protect Native Hawaiian programs and allow them to create a self-governing entity.

Native Hawaiians are the last remaining indigenous group in the United States who haven't been allowed to establish their own government, a right already extended to many Alaska Natives and Native American tribes.

The bill calls for a five-member commission responsible for creating a roll of qualified native Hawaiians interested in participating in their government.  

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