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Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa

Representing the 1st District of Hawaii

Native Hawaiian

Native Hawaiian issues have been a priority for Representative Hanabusa throughout her political career.  As a daughter of Waianae and longtime resident of Oahu’s Leeward Coast, Native Hawaiian values and families have always played a significant role in her life.   

As the host culture and indigenous people of the State of Hawaii, the obligation the United States has to this group cannot be understated.  Congress has acknowledged this responsibility through various Congressional acts in the past, and it is imperative to continue to do so now and in the future.  As a member of Congress, Representative Hanabusa continues her staunch advocacy in support of programs that promote the improved condition of Native Hawaiians. 

 

Education

Federal programs designed to specifically address the educational needs of Native Hawaiians are critical to improve graduation and educational success rates for Native Hawaiian youth.  These initiatives incorporate cultural and language components that supplement the traditional critical thinking and analysis found in conventional educational curricula.  Reintegrating culturally-driven education into a curriculum facilitates an important process by which both students and their families are able to reestablish important connections to Hawaiian cultural self-identity. 

These programs also provide a foundation for students pursuing post-secondary or advanced degrees.  Native Hawaiians are dramatically under-represented in advanced degree programs and federal resources are critical to increase the number of native Hawaiian students in these student bodies. 

Many Native Hawaiian serving organizations have been in existence for decades and have a proven track record of successfully implementing a variety of approaches to tackle educational challenges facing Native Hawaiians.  Specific examples include the Aha Punana Leo, which has been at the forefront of Hawaii language revitalization efforts for keiki in preschool through post-secondary education.  The Partners in Development program implements a diversified array of educational resources for families that face economic challenges, ensuring the availability of educational opportunities for all ‘ohana regardless of financial circumstances.  The Institute for Native Pacific Education and Culture (or INPEACE) provides crucial resources in the areas of Early Childhood Education and Workforce Development, while integrating both Hawaiian language and culture into their approach.  These and other programs exist as a direct result of federal funding authorized by Congress.

Representative Hanabusa has always been a strong supporter of federal initiatives that address the educational needs of Native Hawaiians and will continue to advocate for re-authorizing the necessary funding mechanisms and resources. 

 

Healthcare

Native Hawaiians continue to represent a disproportionately large percentage of Hawaii’s population with high incidences of health issues, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.  The Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement Act (NHHCIA) aims to address both these health problems and meet our moral obligation to Hawaii’s indigenous people.

Currently, the NHHCIA provides roughly $13.6 million in federal funding to address a wide array of healthcare related services and programs for Native Hawaiians.  This funding is spread across the state through systems on 5 islands that focus resources on a diverse spectrum of health needs in uniquely different communities.  Representative Hanabusa will strongly advocate for continued funding for this initiative, and will also work to expand the reach of the Act for critical areas such as mental health and dental.

Additionally, the NHHCIA provides critical scholarship resources for students pursuing degrees and professions related to improving Native Hawaiian health.  This aims to provide a foundation to further enhance a workforce in Hawaii that is well-suited to provide crucial services that address the unique health needs of Native Hawaiians. 

Representative Hanabusa understands the importance of improving the overall health of Native Hawaiians as the host culture of our state.  Improving the health conditions of this group benefits all communities in Hawaii, and she will work tirelessly to preserve and expand the NHHCIA.