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Native Hawaiians voice anger at federal officials

• tbo.com

Interior Department officials hosted the public hearing, prompted by a push to include the ethnic group among the more than 560 tribes that hold such status, with federal considerations on issues from land management to social services.

The discussion didn't cover potential benefits of federal recognition for Hawaiians, as department officials said it was premature to discuss specifics. The main purpose of the hearing Monday, they said, was to listen to Native Hawaiians about whether they want to pursue an official relationship.

"I'm hearing a lot of 'No's' so far," said Sam Hirsch, an Interior Department spokesman.

About 140 speakers opposed the move, with many saying it would be a barrier to their goal of returning the Hawaiian Islands to the indigenous community that ruled before Hawaii became the nation's 50th state.

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