In other news, today President Barack Obama signed the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act into law. The new law, as a press release from U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, D–Hawaii (who co-introduced the Act) put it, “will enhance and integrate native tourism, empower native communities, and expand unique cultural tourism opportunities in the United States.”
My only question is why it took the federal government this much time to officially commodify Native Hawaiians. The whole visitor industry out here has already plundered Native Hawaiian history and culture, so I guess it was inevitable for the federal government to get around to making it possible for Native Hawaiians themselves to share in the largesse.
“I’m incredibly proud to have worked with our native communities on this legislation, and I’m pleased the president has signed it into law,” said Schatz in a Sept. 26 news release. “This new law gives our native communities a real opportunity to grow their local economy and share their history and culture with the rest of the world.”
This is, of course, not without some risk, as political scientist Sydney Iaukea pointed out in a Sept. 15 essay for MauiTime on the NATIVE Act. “This would encourage every rural place ‘too difficult to access’ free and open access,” Iaukea wrote. “Every place and all parts of culture open to the possible destruction of mass consumerism. In essence, no place is sacred or worth protecting, every place is open for intrusion.”
But that’s what it means to be an American, right? An unbridled, devil-may-care view that you can put a price on everything under the sun?
Photo: Pete Souza/Wikimedia Commons