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Multiple sources can verify Native Hawaiian ancestry

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A new state law allowing proof of ancestry to be taken from several sources is expected to make it easier to expand the roll of Native Hawaiians — a move that could help them form their own government.

The law that went into effect on July 1 aims to increase the number of people on the roll by reducing paperwork and redundancy on various lists of Native Hawaiians such as those at Kame­ha­meha Schools and for homestead land leases, Hawaii News Now reported Thursday.

"Just the other week I was talking to one of my good friends, and she had mentioned to me, ‘I have list fatigue already,’ " said Naa­lehu Antony, a member of the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, also known as Kanai­olo­walu.

The new law will allow the commission to use information from entities such as Kame­ha­meha Schools, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and the state Department of Health to compile the roll.

For example, a verification letter from Kame­ha­meha Schools will be sufficient proof that someone is Native Hawaiian, Anthony said.

With a comprehensive list, Native Hawaiians could follow American Indian tribes in forming their own governments.

There are fewer than 15,000 people on the Hawaiian roll. The deadline to sign it has been extended to January.

Health officials have also agreed to confirm whether someone is Native Hawaiian instead of having the person pay $10 to request a birth certificate.

"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," Anthony said.

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