This Article analyzes President Barack Obama’s legacy for an indigenous people—nearly 125 years in the making—and how that legacy is now in considerable jeopardy with the election of Donald J. Trump. This Article is the first to specifically critique the hallmark of Obama’s reconciliatory legacy for Native Hawaiians: an administrative rule that establishes a process in which the United States would reestablish a government-to-government relationship with Native Hawaiians, the only indigenous people in America without a path toward federal recognition. In the Article, Obama’s rule—an attempt to provide Native Hawaiians with recognition and greater control over their own affairs to counter their negative socio-economic status—is analyzed within the historical and political context of a government coy to live up to its reconciliatory promises. The Article analyzes past attempts to establish a government-to-government relationship and considers new avenues for reaching this end. The Article concludes that although the rule brings the federal government closer to its ideals of justice, it does not go far enough to engender true social healing, specifically because of the uncertainty that the rule will be followed by a conservative Trump Administration that will likely be hostile toward Native Hawaiians and other indigenous communities.
Troy J. Andrade,
Legacy in Paradise: Analyzing the Obama Administration’s Efforts of Reconciliation with Native Hawaiians,
Mich. J. Race & L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjrl/vol22/iss2/4