Some say it is all about protecting $450 million worth of programs that support Native Hawaiians against race-based legal challenges.

Click here to watch Catherine Cruz's report.

It's about federal recognition and a "special political status"-- government to government

Hawaii's congressional delegation, governor key lawmakers and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs are hailing the new proposal as a move forward--- a good thing and a long time in coming.

"I am really glad and thankful that the Obama administration has moved forward with this proposed rule," said U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono.

But some in the Hawaiian community are taking exception to the process and feel the Interior Department ignored some of the very passionate testimony at hearings held last year on this very issue.

"For them to say there was overwhelming support is disingenuous," said Jon Osorio, professor at the School of Hawaiian Knowledge.

Osorio wonders how those who favor a stronger political status like a sovereign nation will react to the call for more input, given the narrowing parameters.

Just next door at the law school professor Williamson Chang was pouring over the proposed framework.

He called it a sad day for Hawaiians.

"We will bail you out on protecting you the best we can on the existing programs, but we are not going to give you anything more," said Chang. 

His take on the proposed rule-making is that it waters down federal recognition, cuts off the independence movement at the knees, and protects the status quo.

"It seems like a memorial to Dan Inouye. Sen. Inouye got a lot of these programs created and we are going to protect it," said Chang.

 He points to hot buttons in the rule that contain controversial historical language, protects ceded lands from any further challenge and provides Hawaiians with a status weaker than an American Indian tribe.

The public will have 90 days to submit testimony.