(CNN/Meredith) – A family was denied a Social Security card for their 9-year-old son because of his long Hawaiian name.
Keola and Nicole Akana planned to get passports and replacement Social Security cards for their two children earlier this month. The passport applications were approved but the social security cards hit a snag.
The Social Security office told the parents the identity of their 9-year old son could not be verified because a portion of his first name was cut off from his school ID.
Keola says Hawaiian families struggle with long names, "it's difficult for Hawaiian families to live in Hawaii."
The Akanas had all the necessary paperwork, their application for a new Social Security card for their son, Kauapakanuiokeola, was still denied due to an issue with his name.
There are four things that you need to prove in order to get a social security card for your child, your identity, your child's citizenship, your child's age and your child's identity.
A school ID is listed as one of the acceptable forms of identification, so that's what Keola says they brought.
"She looks at the school ID and denies my application because he doesn't have a ... at the end of his name they couldn't put the whole name on it so they put Kauapaka and she says she couldn't positively identify my son."
Keola says they were told to get a certified letter from the school principal to verify his identity, "for a person behind a counter to tell me that I would have to go to a school to get a certified document to prove that this is my son's name. That's like a slap in the face."
Their son is named after his great-grandfather, nine generations back. It means the great sounding rain of life.
Professor Kaliko Baker, from the Kawaihuelani Center for Hawaiian language at Uh Manoa, says Hawaiian names are very important to their culture, "given the kinds of names that we have and how they carry significant cultural knowledge with them they are one of those last few things that we can hold on to really stay connected to who we are as the aboriginal people of these islands."
He says the frustration runs much deeper than an application being rejected.
"It hurts them, I think, to be denied, it's almost like tie son's existence is being denied by the government."
Once the Akanas get the passport, they will be able to reapply for his social security card.
A spokesperson from the Social Security Administration told me they can't comment due to privacy laws.
The Akanas are hoping some resolution can be made in the application process for government forms that will help other Hawaiian families facing the same issue because they are not alone.
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