It is our responsibility as a nation to do right by America's Native people, those who exercised sovereignty on lands that later became part of the United States. While we can never change the past, we have the power to change the future.
Throughout my career, I have worked to ensure that my colleagues understand the federal relationship with Native peoples, and its origins in the Constitution.
The United States' policy of supporting self-determination and self-governance for indigenous peoples leads to Native self-sufficiency, resulting in our continued ability to be productive and contribute to the well-being of our families, our communities, and our great nation.
That is why I worked to secure parity in federal policy for my people, the Native Hawaiians.
The United States has recognized hundreds of Alaska Native and American Indian communities. It is long past time for the Native Hawaiian people to have the same rights, the same privileges, and the same opportunities as every other federally-recognized Native people.
For more than 12 years, I have worked with the Native Hawaiian community and many others to develop the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, which has the strong support of the Hawaii's legislature and governor as the best path forward towards reconciliation.
My bill has encountered many challenges, but it is pono, it is right, and it is long overdue. Although I will not be the bill's sponsor in the 113th Congress, it will forever bear my highest aspirations and heartfelt commitment to the Native Hawaiian people, the State of Hawaii, and the United States of America.
I know I am just one in a long line working to ensure that our language, our culture, and our people continue to thrive for generations to come.
Hawaii has so much to teach the world and this institution. In Congress and in our Nation, we are truly all together, in the same canoe. If we paddle together, in unison, we can travel great distances. If the two sides of the canoe paddle in opposite directions, we will only go in circles. I urge my colleagues to take this traditional Hawaiian symbol to heart, and put the American people first, by working together.
I want to say mahalo nui loa, thank you very much, to my incredible staff. After 36 years there are far too many individuals to name, so I will just thank my all of my current and former staff members in my Senate and House offices, and on my committees, including Indian Affairs, Veterans' Affairs, and subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia.