Census numbers give Native Hawaiian community hope for future generations

Published On: May 09 2012 07:53:21 AM HST   Updated On: May 09 2012 09:10:58 AM HST

University of Hawaii school of Hawaiian Knowledge Dean Maenette Benham is hopeful and optimistic about the latest numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday.

"It means the increase of our children and our youth which for us, our Ohana is a very wealthy beginning," Benham said.

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population numbers increased by nearly 351,000 over the past 10 years, pushing the count to 1.2 million.

"There are going to be many agencies, federal agencies, state agencies, philanthropic agencies, that are gonna want to put more money into many of our social services," Benham said.

The 2000 to 2010 census marked the very first time Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders were counted separately from Asians.

The southern states signified the fastest growing region for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders over the past 10 years.

CEO Kamana'opono Crabbe said the jump in the south is in connection with Native Hawaiians that joined the military.
"Basically we have a lot of Native Hawaiians enlisting in the military, and that also includes their families as well," Crabbe said.

According to Crabbe, the latest census strengthens pride within the community. Hawaii, California and Washington are home to the biggest Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander population.

"There's been a large number of request from the community on the continent to reconnect with Hawaii and so the distribution of the dissemination is really greater," Crabbe said.

 With many young Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders accounted for in the latest census, Crabbe said the findings show promise for the future.

"As the popoulation grows there will be a greater demand for interest in perpetuation and preservation of Native Hawaiian culture and heritage," Crabbe said.

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders also include Guamanian or Chamurro, Samoan and other Polynesian cultures.

Census information regarding family size, age, and median income will be released late May.


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