(c) Copyright 2009 - 2010
Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.
All rights reserved
The history of the Akaka bill during the entire 111th Congress, January 2009 to December 2010, is divided into subpages covering several time-periods. The index of topics for the entire 111th Congress, with links to the subpages, can be found at
HERE IS THE INDEX OF ITEMS FROM JANUARY 1, 2009 through February 28, 2010. FULL TEXT OF EACH ITEM FOLLOWS THE INDEX, IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER.
January 1, 2010: (1) OHA website publishes a very helpful side-by-side comparison of the substitute (amended) version of S.1011 passed by the Senate committee vs. the unamended H.R.2314 passed by the House committee on December 16.; (2) OHA trustee Boyd Mossman publishes editorial in OHA monthly newspaper saying "Now, on the verge of passage, changes in the bill made without the knowledge of OHA and not in accordance with our position have surfaced in Washington, D.C., which threaten to again impede passage." Mossman laments that if the bill fails, ethnic Hawaiians will lose their government benefits and their identity as an indigenous people in their ancestral homeland.
January 2: While President Obama vacations in Hawaii, roadside protesters near his rental house hold signs opposing the Akaka bill and demanding hearings on it.
Jan 4: (1) Protesters in front of President Obama's rented house in Kailua tried hard to give a packet of materials to security guards to deliver to Obama, but the guards refused to accept it and there was no way for anything to be delivered. The packet included a petition with thousands of names opposing the Akaka bill, and a demand that hearings on the Akaka bill should be held in Hawaii; (2) Hawaii Representative Neil Abercrombie announced that his last day as a Representative will be February 28, when he will resign to run for Governor. He said he expects his work on the Akaka bill to be finished by then.
Jan 5: (1) The Washington Times newspaper published a lengthy news report on the Akaka bill pro and con, including expected costs and Senator Akaka downplaying the [major!] changes he made to the bill in mid-December.; (2) OHA news release announces two upcoming hour-long TV infomercials on the Akaka bill; (3) Honolulu Advertiser immediately publishes a "breaking news" report on the OHA infomercials
Jan 6: (1) Ilya Shapiro (Constitutional law expert at the CATO institute) says passage of the Akaka bill would actually damage the Hawaiian racial entitlement programs the bill is intended to protect, because the bill is unconstitutional and will attract litigation; (2) Honolulu Star-Bulletin publishes short summary of OHA news release about 2 upcoming Akaka bill infomercials. [OHA also paid for a full-page ad for the TV infomercials, on page 2 of the print edition]
Jan 11: Senators Inouye and Akaka say they expect Congress will take up the Akaka bill quite soon; as discussions continue with Hawaii's Governor and Attorney General who have opposed the new version.
Jan 12: Andrew Walden analyzes the pervasive Communist ideology that shaped Barack Obama's mind as he grew up in Hawaii, and which, Walden says, also underlies the Akaka bill.
Jan 13: 2 letters to editor call for OHA to give funding to Akaka bill opposition so their views can be heard, and for hearings on the bill to be held on all islands.
Jan 14: "Indian Country Today" reviews the events of mid-December resulting in the Akaka bill passing House and Senate committees in two different versions.
Jan 15: (1) OHA website offers audio/video replays of the two hour-long TV infomercials on the Akaka bill; (2) "Indian Country Today" commentary by Hawaiian independence activist briefly describes both versions of the Akaka bill and says both are inadequate remedies for restoring real Hawaiian sovereignty.
Jan 18: Very important remarks opposing the Akaka bill's racism were delivered by Jere Krischel in a speech at a Grassroot Institute forum on the Akaka bill on Friday Jan. 15, and reprinted in Hawaii Reporter on Monday Jan 18. The 10-minute speech by Jere Krischel, and a 10-minute speech at the same event by ethnic Hawaiian activist Leon Siu, are available as podcasts.
Jan 20: (1) Honolulu Advertiser reports (falsely) that there are no Republican holds on the Akaka bill, but the clock is ticking to get it on the crowded schedule in the Senate; (2) Letter in Maui News says 1/3 of ethic Hawaiians support the Akaka bill in hopes of personal gain, 1/3 oppose it because it fails to give full sovereignty, and 1/3 oppose it because they are happy to be Americans.
Jan 21: Honolulu Advertiser "news report" says despite the election of Republican Scott Brown as a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, Hawaii Senators Inouye and Akaka remain confident they have enough votes to pass the Akaka bill, because all Democrats and some Republicans favor it.
Jan 23: Honolulu Star-Bulletin editorial entitled "Political winds bode ill for future of Akaka Bill" because of Massachusetts victory by Republican candidate for U.S. Senate and because of amendments to the bill inserted suddenly and secretly.
Jan 28: (1) OHA AND HAWAII ATTORNEY GENERAL BENNETT PROPOSE AMENDMENTS TO THE AMENDED VERSION OF THE AKAKA BILL WHICH PASSED THE SENATE COMMITTEE IN DECEMBER (LINKS PROVIDED TO SUMMARIES AND TEXT OF AMENDMENTS); (2) Letter to editor opposes Akaka bill saying: "Why have we native Hawaiians allowed another culture (American) to determine our self determination? We keep allowing the thieves into our house, only to be told by the thieves, "Let's vote to decide if we (the thieves) will be allowed to stay.""
Jan 31: Lengthy article about Jade Danner (sister of Robin, and Vice President of Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement [Robin is President]) and her reasons for wanting the amended Senate version of the Akaka bill to pass without any of the 30 additional amendments proposed in an agreement between OHA and Attorney General Bennett.
February 1: Three editorials by OHA trustees published in the OHA monthly newspaper: (1) Boyd P. Mossman, Trustee, Maui: "We need to act now on the Akaka Bill"; (2) Walter M. Heen, Trustee, O'ahu: "The Real World" [grab what we can get while we can get it, even if it's less than the secession we really want]; (3) Robert K. Lindsey, Jr., Trustee, Hawaii Island: copied full text of letter from Robin Danner, President of Council for Hawaiian Advancement, to Governor Lingle urging her to change her mind and support the amended version passed by the Senate committee.
Feb 2: Reliable sources say Sen. Jim DeMint has placed a hold on the Akaka bill, which will stop the bill from passing on a stand-alone basis unless there are 60 votes to break the filibuster -- a process that would require a week of delay and further debate on the bill and amendments.
Feb 5: (1) Article entitled "Akaka Bill Falters in Congress" describes events of the past two months; (2) Letter warns don't think Akaka bill is merely symbolic, and notes bill in legislature to transfer all the ceded lands to the Akaka tribe when it is recognized.
Feb 10: Ilya Shapiro, editor-in-chief of the libertarian Cato Supreme Court Review, and University of Hawaii-Manoa law professor Jon Van Dyke, debate the Akaka bill at UH law school.
Feb 13: 24-minute YouTube video interview of secessionist Leon Siu regarding his participation in the Grassroot Institute forum on the Akaka bill, and also embracing the collaboration between the independence movement and patriotic American civil rights activists in opposing the Akaka bill on account of the bill's racism and its secretiveness.
Feb 14: Bills in Hawaii Legislature proposing gambling include a bill for gambling on the Hawaiian Homelands, which raises questions about the claim by Senators Akaka and Inouye that the Akaka bill would prohibit gambling by the Akaka tribe.
Feb 17: House Democrats Plan to Push Akaka Bill Through Before Abercrombie Retirement – But the Legislation's Final Draft is Still Secret
Feb 18 (1) NEW VERSION OF AKAKA BILL DRAFTED BY REP. ABERCROMBIE IS EXPECTED TO BE SUBSTITUTED INTO H.R.2314 NEXT WEEK AND WILL THEN BE RAMMED THROUGH THE HOUSE. TEXT OF ABERCROMBIE SUBSTITUTE IS AT
(2) U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, Minority (Republican) Press release warning Akaka bill likely to be rammed through next week, and deploring the bill itself along with the secrecy of the process; (3) Hawaii Legislators Believe Establishing Casinos on Native Hawaiian Homelands Would Not Contradict the Akaka Bill; (4) Questions about the Akaka bill: Would the Tribal Chief of the Akaka Tribe live in Iolani Palace? Would he or she take over the State of Hawaii politically? That would make Hawaii the only state controlled by a tribe. What would all this Akaka Tribe activity do to Hawaii's bond ratings? Where would the new Akaka Tribe lead you, your family, your job, your property, your happiness?
Feb 19: (1) "Congress Daily" reports that "House Republicans are upset that a Rules Committee hearing has been set for Monday on a bill to give native Hawaiians sovereign government status, saying the bill is little more than a going-away present for Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, who is resigning at the end of the month to run for governor."; (2) Honolulu Advertiser (finally!) reports that the Akaka bill might go to the House floor next week, but reporter Gordon Pang reports incorrectly on which version of the bill was passed by the House committee; (3) Speech in the Hawaii Legislature by state Senator Sam Slom, opposing the Akaka bill and lamenting the secrecy surrounding it and lack of a vote by Hawaii's people; (4) Commentary by Ken Conklin responding to an ethnic Hawaiian whose essay lamented the decline of "pure Hawaiians" and infestation of Hawaii by "weeds" (newcomers with no native blood). Conklin notes "the Akaka bill will be based entirely on race and therefore will be headed by the most radical racial partisans -- they are the ones the rest of us must defend ourselves against."
Feb 21 and 22: Andrew Walden series of articles in Hawaii Free Press about new version of Akaka bill and language allowing exclusion or disenrollment of members. (1) Akaka preparing new Senate bill: House Rules Committee to consider Akaka bill Monday; (2) Updated essay: More than 73% of [ethnic] Hawaiians not 'qualified' for membership in Akaka tribe; (3) Extensive collection of photos and videos about evistion of tribal members from tribal reservations, and disenrollment of members for purposes of greed and political correctness.
Feb 22: (1) So-called "final version" of Akaka bill is placed on Senator Akaka's official website (slightly changed from Feb 18 draft by Rep Abercrombie); (2) 10th Anniversary of U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Rice v. Cayetano, published article and webpage describe 10 year struggle between civil rights activists seeking to abolish racial entitlements vs. Akaka bill seeking to protect them.; (3) National Review online publishes letter to Congressional leaders by U.S. Commission on Civil Rights reaffirming their letter of August 28, 2009 strngly opposing the Akaka bill, and now also adding opposition to the secretive process being used by the Hawaii delegation; (4) Honolulu Advertiser reports final text of Akaka bill now available, AND GOVERNOR LINGLE CONTINUES TO OPPOSE IT; (5) Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports final version now available, and quotes Senator Akaka saying "These clarifications represent a genuine effort to address the State's concerns while maintaining the original purpose of the bill: federal recognition for Native Hawaiians"; (6) STATEMENT BY GOVERNOR LINDA LINGLE THAT SHE OPPOSES THIS "FINAL" VERSION OF THE AKAKA BILL; (7) Roger Clegg brief statement opposing Akaka bill in National Review Online; (8) Kevin D. Williamson, in National Review Online, notes that the well-intentioned little Hawaiian apology resolution of 1993, together with well-intentioned nonprofit service organizations, has led to this terrible legislation: "Starts with a civic association, ends with a separatist movement. Bear that in mind next time MEChA is in the news."; (9) Honolulu Advertiser online poll got 4797 votes, with 58.7% opposing and only 30.7% favoring Akaka bill.
Feb 22 IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS FROM U.S. HOUSE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES REPUBLICANS OPPOSING THE BILL, AND FROM THE U.S. HOUSE COMMITTEE ON RULES FILING A 26-PAGE REPORT SUPPORTING THE BILL AND SETTING THE RULE FOR DEBATING THE BILL ON THE HOUSE FLOOR
1. Republican statement Feb 22 regarding possibility of a casino despite Akaka bill provision to the contrary
2. Republican press release Feb 22 Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill Creates Unconstitutional Race-Based Government
3. GOP.gov -- The website of the Republicans in Congress publishes lengthy and powerful essay summarizing "What Every Member Needs to Know About the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act"
4. 3. Rules Committee results from Monday Feb 22:
a. Bill text newly printed
b. 26 page Natural Resources committee report includes Hawaiian history, legislative history of the bill, recorded votes of Committee on Natural Resources, legal analysis of bill's provisions, Congressional Budget Office cost estimate $1 Million annually 2010-2010 and $500,000 per year thereafter; dissenting views -- DON'T MISS PP. 19-26
c. Rules committee report on the rule (floor time, amendments, etc.) Including perhaps 90 minutes of floor debate including two Republican proposed amendments.
Feb 23 Before the House vote: (1) Honolulu Advertiser "U.S. House could act today on measure, despite governor's 'heavy-hearted' opposition" quotes from Lingle statement, and also says Attorney General Bennett called the new version "a formula for strife and litigation, not for negotiation and reconciliation."; (2) Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports "Lingle balks at rewrite of Akaka Bill. The governor says the measure has rules for Hawaiians and rules for "everybody else""... Clyde Namuo, Office of Hawaiian Affairs administrator, said he doubts the bill will pass the Senate without Lingle's support. "Having the governor's support is going to really make the difference, in my mind," Namuo said."; (3) National Review Online Editorial opposes Akaka bill; (4) National Review Online Editorial "Aloha Segregation"; Duncan Currie (National Review Online "Trouble in Paradise: Why the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act deserves to fail." reviews Rice v. Cayetano, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Zogby poll, the issue of tribal inherent powers, etc.; (5) Doc Hastings, Ranking Member of U.S. House Natural Resources Committee: "Hawaiians deserve to vote, not just Congress" [the topic of his proposed amendment to Akaka bill]; (6) Text of two amendments to be offered by Republican Representatives Doc Hastings and Jeff Flake (and to be defeated by Democrats) (7) Peter Kirsanow, a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, published two short essays on National Review Online: (a) Ethnic Hawaiians are not actually comparable to Indian tribes, (b) "The bill is not only constitutionally defective and morally repugnant, but by logical extension it opens the door for members of other racial classifications to petition the government for sovereign status ... All congressmen who vote in favor of this odious bill should be questioned closely about their support of state-sponsored racial discrimination and juridical balkanization. That this bill could make it to the House floor for a vote is an abomination."; (8) Doc Hastings floor statement focusing on why the Abercrombie substitute should e opposed because it changes the whole nature of the bill.; (9) "Breaking News" in both Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has said President Obama reaffirms his support for the Akaka bill.
Here is the text of the bill that passed the House:
Here's how to find transcripts of the entire floor debate in the House, and the vote rollcall:
Attention now shifts to the Senate, where a Republican filibuster is expected; but it is unknown when the bill will be scheduled.
Feb 23 after the House vote: (1) and (2) Both Honolulu newspapers report the Akaka bill passed the House, 245-164, and that White House Press Secretary confirms President Obama supports the bill, and Governor Lingle opposes it.; (3) Associated Press writer Kevin Freking has identical news reports in the Washington Post and KRDO TV 13 (Colorado Springs), and other media nationwide, reporting Akaka bill passed House largely along party lines, Obama supports it, Lingle opposes it.; (4) Senator Lamar Alexander press release ""In America, we say, 'One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty
and justice for all'—not 'Many nations, divided by race, with special
privileges for some.'""; (5) Senator Jim DeMint press release ""The House vote this evening is deeply disappointing. We should stand
together in opposition to racially divisive and discriminatory laws
like this. The Native Hawaiian bill is unconstitutional and violates
the national unity of E Pluribus Unum. I will use all the tools
available in the Senate to ensure that this bill does not become law.""; (6) Grassroot Institute of Hawaii press release lamenting passage of Akaka bill, remembering Zogby poll, thanking Governor Lingle for her courage.
Feb 24: (1) FoxNews reports House passage of Akaka bill and impact on Hawaii if if becomes law; (2) Honoluu Advertiser Gannet News; Honolulu Advertiser news as spun by Gordon Pang; (3) Honolulu Advertiser editorial "Put Akaka bill back on track, or it will die" calls radical provisions of the new version "a poison pill"; (4) Honolulu Star-Bulletin includes quotes from Sens Lamar Alexander and Jim DeMint; (5) John H. Fund (columnist for The Wall Street Journal) calls the bill "The Two-State Solution" (like Arab/Israel) and says "The Abercrombie bill is a profound mistake."; (6) New York Post columnist writes lengthy and strongly worded opposition entitled "Race-based gov't: the aloha land grab"; (7) Mike Brownfield, writer for The Heritage Foundation deplores the bill in essay entitled "A Separate, Race-Based Government for Native Hawaiians?"; (8) Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review Online, reminds about Lamar Alexander and U.S. Commission on Civil Rights opposition; (9) Hawaii Tribune-Herald (Hilo) lengthy news report for Stephens Media Group headlined "Victory for Hawaiian sovereignty -- House OKs Akaka legislation, which now faces tough Senate battle"; (10) Heritage Foundation: "A Hawaiian Punch to the Constitution"; (11) Peter Kirsanow (U.S. Commission on Civil Rights) "Equal Protection Is for Flakes" (referring to Rep. Jeff Flake's proposed amendment); (12) "Technocrati" editor: "Hawai'i Wants Two Different Governments"
Feb. 25: (1) Honolulu Star-Bulletin Editorial "Akaka bill needs airing: (2) Radio New Zealand: "US House recognition raises expectations of native Hawaiians"; (3) Aleksandra Kulczuga (The Daily Caller) discusses the pros and cons of the Akaka bill; (4) Tamara Lytle (AOL News) describes the controversy over the Akaka bill, calls it "Queen Liliuokalani's revenge."
Feb. 26: (1) Robin Danner, head of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, says "CNHA and its Native Hawaiian Policy Center will continue to engage members to support the NHGRA's passage through the full Senate by delivering policy sessions on the Bill"; (2) Lengthy interview with ethnic Hawaiian secessionist filmmaker Anne Keala Kelly explains why she opposes Akaka bill; (3) Maui News letter says that at a recent public forum debating the Akaka bill (pro OHA vs. secessionists) at the community college, many people said they have not read the bill.
Feb 27: Wall Street Journal editorial: "Hawaiian Secession -- Dividing up the islands based on race."
Feb. 28: (1) Gail Heriot and Peter Kirsanow, both Commissioners on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, publish a major essay in the Wall Street Journal "Congress Tries to Break Hawaii in Two -- A racial spoils precedent that could lead to new 'tribal' demands across the U.S. ... This is a train that needs to be stopped before it leaves the station."; (2) Senator Akaka commentary in Honolulu Advertiser: "Sovereign immunity key for Hawaiians -- Native government will need equality in legal protection"
FULL TEXT OF EACH ITEM, IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
As of January 1, 2010 there were two versions of the Akaka bill active, with major differences between them. The Senate substitute of December 17 should be regarded as the primary version and will most likely be inserted later in the House bill as a manager's amendment or substitute. Below are brief descriptions of how each version came into existence, including links to the full text of each one. At the end of December 2009 OHA published on its website a side-by-side comparison of the two versions, showing new language in red and struck-out language lined out. OHA often changes its URLs, making them unreliable citations in the long run; but as of January 3 the URL of the comparison on OHAs website is
The OHA comparison has been saved permanently on THIS website with a URL that will never change:
OR, a shorter version of this URL for easier copying:
Ka Wai Ola (OHA newspaper), January 2010. page 22
Congress holds the future of Hawaiians in its hands
by Boyd P. Mossman, Trustee, Maui
Aloha käkou a pau loa. Happy New Year to you all and may 2010 be a prosperous and rewarding year for our people and the people of our state.
We have again worked diligently for the 10th year in a row to secure passage of the Akaka Bill but continue to face obstacles in the wording and details of the bill.
This bill is not even 50 pages long but has still not passed. I cannot help but wonder about the 1,000-page bills being passed by Congress after a month or two of deliberations and just how many problems may be included in so many hidden passages. The Akaka Bill has been reviewed, modified, redone, changed and deliberated in committee and on the floor ad nauseam and still languishes somewhere in the halls of Congress. What's up with that?
Now, on the verge of passage, changes in the bill made without the knowledge of OHA and not in accordance with our position have surfaced in Washington, D.C., which threaten to again impede passage. Amazing how we
keep shooting ourselves in the foot.
As you all know by now, OHA has sought to move toward passage of the bill against the objections of groups and individuals, such as Grass Roots Hawai'i, who oppose the bill on grounds of racial discrimination by Hawaiians against
all others, and also by those Hawaiians who oppose because they want only to become an independent nation outside the United States.
These detractors, though at opposite ends of the spectrum, collaborate to
defeat the bill in an unholy alliance which is meant to defeat any and all efforts to allow Hawaiians to get a handle on their own concerns and needs as a people and to secure for future generations our identity and voice in our own affairs.
Without the protection that bill will afford to Hawaiians from legal extermination, as a people we will not be long identified as "Hawaiians," the indigenous people of Hawai'i, but will become "Hawaiians" along with all the other residents of Hawai'i. As such we will be assimilated by virtue of court order and disappear into the melting pot of our society thus losing all current recognition of our status as the native people of our 'äina with inherent rights to govern ourselves. Other races and nationalities will continue to have
connection to their homelands whereas Hawaiians will have no homeland, at least not one distinguishable from the place where we and others reside.
The likelihood of OHA prevailing in court will be zero and our opponents will be able to achieve their goal of eliminating any distinction of Hawaiians as the indigenous people of Hawai'i from others. The term Native Hawaiian will be
stricken from the law books and also any laws granting any benefits that
are now in place as with education, health, housing, employment, etc.
The State of Hawai'i will be saddled with replacing these benefits or ignoring them and Hawaiians will suffer the consequences. The economy of Hawai'i will lose the government benefits currently provided. Tourism and business will
face the consequences of the loss of the face of Hawai'i, its native people. Hawaiians will suffer the loss of benefits, which have been applied to helping them lift themselves up and achieving a degree of success in their own land. Any protection against charges of racial discrimination will evaporate and
institutions such as Kamehameha Schools and the royal trusts, which
support Hawaiians, will face a serious threat of closure for policies preferring Hawaiians over all others.
The future of an entire people rests in the hands of Congress and so long as we continue to stumble over our own discontents and make demands that only fuel the movement against all Hawaiians, we have a problem. I doubt that unity can be achieved in view of the disparate views on federal recognition, and so let us hope that OHA will nevertheless prevail in protecting the future of our people via a bill that will address our needs while benefiting all the people of our state.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, January 2, 2009
In Kailua, Obama meets 'Snowbama' concoction
By Associated Press
President Barack Obama enjoyed a shave ice yesterday at Island Snow, where he ordered a flavor combination of lemon-lime, cherry and passion-guava. "It's the Snowbama," he said. The Kailua store does list the combination on its menu.
Obama and about 20 people drove to Island Snow Shave Ice, which the president has visited during past trips to Hawaii. He ordered a lemon-lime, cherry and passion-guava combination.
"It's the Snowbama," Obama said, noting that the store lists the combination on its menu. He chose not to add any extras, such as sweet azuki red beans or ice cream. "I like my shave ice straight, no frills," said a casual Obama, wearing a white T-shirt, khaki shorts and sandals.
** Original URL for photo accompanying the news report:
** Photo caption
OPPOSING THE AKAKA BILL Kilinahe Keliinoi, right, held signed petitions opposing the Akaka Bill as a group demonstrated yesterday along Kalaheo Avenue, the road leading to the vacation home of President Barack Obama in Kailua. The group hoped to present the petitions to the president. Kaanohi Kaleikini held a sign next to Keliinoi.
Hawaii Reporter, January 4, 2009
Obama Dodges Hawaiian Request
By Leon Siu
Hawaiians eager to explain to President Obama why the impending Akaka bill needs to have hearings in Hawaii were turned away this first day of the year by the president's security at the entrance to the vacation compound in Kailua.
Just before the president's motorcade returned to the compound, a group of about 50 people had peacefully gathered across from the entrance holding signs saying: "Akaka Bill-Not Without Us," "Bring Hearings Home to Hawaii," "No To Akaka Bill," "Hawaiian Independence" and so forth. The president arrived at the expected time, and it would have been impossible for him not to have noticed the signs and the friendly people waving them.
The demonstration was to: 1) call the president's attention to the fact that no congressional hearings on the Akaka bill have been held in Hawaii since Senator Daniel Akaka introduced it in 2000; and 2) to urge the president to use his influence to insist that hearings be held in Hawaii for this incredibly critical bill.
After the president entered the compound, sign waving continued for an hour or so, then the group walked up to the security barricade to deliver a packet for the president, including a position statement, petitions of thousands of Hawaii residents and background information.
That's when the run-around started. According to the secret service at the entrance, only someone from the president's staff could receive the packet. OK, so could you summon someone from the staff? No, you have to contact them yourself. How do we do that? Maybe, you could call the hotel where they are staying. We did that earlier today, but the hotel refused to acknowledge which, or if any, staff member is staying there, and would not accept a "to whom it may concern" packet.
Maybe you could send it to the White House. Everyone knows the White House is a black hole where letters disappear, never to be seen or heard from again. (It's also been our experience that presidents don't answer letters, emails and phone calls.) Well we can't help you. But the president and his staff members are right there, only fifty yards away! Aargh!!
Despite the frustration, everything was peaceful and civil. No voices or tempers were raised.
So how does one contact the president with something as urgent as the impending destruction of his home state? Except for holding signs along a road in Kailua, it appears impossible for Hawaiians to communicate with the President of the United States. This kind of contrived inaccessibility is in reality a pre-arranged act of refusal. No message received, no answer required. And none given. Thus, the issue is dodged and the request for intervention is for all intents and purposes, refused.
So we are going to try another way. Hello!? Mr. Obama, are you there? If you are reading the Hawaii Reporter, please help us get the Akaka bill heard in Hawaii. If for nothing else, it would come off looking as if you care.
Leon Siu, a Hawaiian activist and entertainer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hawaii News Now (KGMB TV and KHNL TV), January 4, 2009
Abercrombie will step down February 28
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Rep. Neil Abercrombie says he will step down from his congressional seat February 28. The long-time representative announced in December that he would be leaving his position to focus on his run for Hawaii governor in the 2010 election.
The race is expected to be a heated one, with Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona already announcing his intention to vy for the seat, and Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann is also expected to run.
Senator Daniel Inouye initially expressed concern over leaving the seat in the House of Representatives empty during key decisions in Congress.
Monday in a press release, here is what Abercrombie has to say about his chosen date.
"Since announcing my intentions, I have consulted closely with the people I have worked with during my 19 years in Congress, including members of the Hawaii congressional delegation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the chairmen of two of my committees, the House Armed Services Committee and the Natural Resources Committee. These discussions have helped me to ensure that I will be able to fulfill the remaining duties requiring my presence in the House. This work, most notably, involves providing my continuing support for legislation on health care and the Akaka Bill. I've discussed with House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton the transition of my chairmanship of the Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces. I've also discussed the Akaka Bill with Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall who will continue working for all of us to move the measure to the House floor where it has received approval before.
"As a result of these discussions, I can now set the effective date of my resignation for February 28, 2010, which will enable state elections officials to plan for a timely and cost-effective special election for the First Congressional District to select a successor who will carry on the work of the people.
"The past few weeks have reminded me that my 19 years in Washington, D.C. as a U.S. Representative from Hawaii have allowed me to build strong, lasting, and life-long relationships with many colleagues on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill and throughout the federal government. Most of all, I have been privileged to be a part of an effective Hawaii congressional delegation which has accomplished so much to improve the quality of life for the people of Hawaii and nation. I take all of these experiences and friendships with me into the future, as part of a proven partnership involving the state government, Congress, and now the White House, to change the direction and leadership of our state."
The announcement comes the same day as Hawaii's Office of Elections meets with lawmakers to talk about the cost of holding a special election to fill the representatives place in Washington, DC.
That meeting starts at 3:00 PM. Hawaii News Now will be there, and will have the updates.
The Washington Times, Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Native Hawaiian tribal rights bill sparks row
by Valerie Richardson
The next time President Obama vacations in his native Hawaii, there could be something new on the island: an Indian tribe.
Two weeks ago, House and Senate committees approved the Native Hawaiian Reorganization Act, which would create a separate government for Native Hawaiians. The legislation, better known as the Akaka bill after its sponsor, Democratic Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, originally stated that the new government's authority would be decided in negotiations with state and federal authorities.
At the last minute, however, Hawaii Democrats, working with the Justice and Interior departments, amended the bill to establish the Native Hawaiian governing entity as a sovereign Indian tribe.
The move ignited a furor in Honolulu. Gov. Linda Lingle and Attorney General Mark Bennett, who found out about the changes just hours before the Dec. 16 House vote, promptly reversed their support for the bill, saying the revisions could endanger Hawaii's economic and legal standing. Both officials are Republicans.
"The new bill explicitly states that it gives the state of Hawaii no authority to tax or regulate the new tribe, while ambiguously stating that nothing in the bill will itself pre-empt state authority over Native Hawaiians or their property," said Mr. Bennett in a statement. "Such a provision would guarantee years, if not decades, of litigation."
Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, the state's senior Democratic senator, told local reporters in Honolulu last week that differences were being "ironed out" with the governor's office and predicted the Senate would vote on the amended bill in February. But to date, no final deal has been announced.
One problem is that a Native Hawaiian tribe's lands are likely to be far more vast and valuable than those of the average North American tribe on the mainland. Nobody knows exactly how much property would go to the new government — that would be settled in negotiations — but it could be as much as 40 percent of the state's land mass.
That property, known as the "ceded lands," is spread throughout the state, and includes some of Hawaii's prime tourist destinations and military installations, such as Pearl Harbor. The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii and Beacon Hill Institute estimate that the Akaka bill would cost the state $689.7 million annually in lost state tax and land-lease revenues, not including the additional cost of setting up the new governing entity.
Supporters argue that Native Hawaiians need their own government in order to address the community's long-standing problems. Surveys show the average income and educational achievement of Native Hawaiians tends to be lower than that of other state residents.
Allowing Native Hawaiians to form an Indian tribe gives them "the exact same rights and protections afforded other native governments in prior federal reorganization legislation," said the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement in a Dec. 15 letter to the House Natural Resources Committee.
"The change … affirms the inherent authority of the Native Hawaiian government and puts it on an equal footing with other Native American governments," said the council.
Whether Native Hawaiians should be viewed in the same way as North American Indians is another topic of debate. Mr. Akaka and others argue that Native Hawaiians, like Indians, are an indigenous and conquered people. Critics say they were never conquered, they've never lived as a separate people, and they participated in the vote to grant Hawaii statehood in 1959.
The bill's foes also argue that the bill would balkanize the state, traditionally a harmonious mix of ethnicities and cultures, and create a race-based spoils system. The bill could also establish a precedent for other groups to try to organize.
"I wonder how long it will be before elements in the Muslim community demand to be separated by race and governed by Shariah law," said Rep. Tom McClintock, California Republican, at the House committee hearing.
At the Dec. 17 Senate Indian Affairs Committee vote, Mr. Akaka downplayed the revisions to the bill, saying the legislation's primary goal remained unchanged.
"While the bill has evolved over the years, it has maintained its true intent: to extend the policy of self-government and self-determination to Native Hawaiians, for the purposes of a federally recognized government-to-government relationship," said Mr. Akaka.
He also said he would be sure to keep the governor and attorney general in the loop in the future. Both of Hawaii's members of Congress, like their Senate counterparts, are Democrats.
The last-minute meddling may have endangered what was once viewed as a legislative slam-dunk. The bill languished for years under President Bush, who had vowed to veto it, but the election of Mr. Obama — who returned from a family holiday vacation to his native state Monday — appeared to remove the final obstacle.
While the bill enjoys the backing of Hawaii's most powerful leaders and institutions, the same can't be said of its popular support. A Zogby International poll commissioned by the Grassroot Institute and released Dec. 15 found that 51 percent of Hawaiians surveyed opposed the bill, while 34 percent supported it.
OHA news release, January 5, 2010
OHA to inform the public about the 'Akaka Bill' via two live television specials on KITV this month
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 5, 2010
HONOLULU -- The Office of Hawaiian Affairs will present a series of two live television specials beginning this week to inform the public about the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009.
Also known as the "Akaka Bill," for its sponsor U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, this important piece of legislation is now before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
"The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has long been in the forefront of supporting a measure that provides a process of federal recognition to Native Hawaiians and OHA will continue that role in support of the Akaka Bill," OHA Chief Executive Officer Clyde Nāmu'o said.
"This is a complicated bill. We want to help both Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike understand what this bill means, answer people's questions, and help everyone prepare for what we believe will be successful passage of this landmark legislation," he added. "OHA stands ready to work with our Hawai'i Congressional Delegation, the Obama Administration, the State of Hawai'i and our Hawaiian community. We appreciate the collective efforts and we look forward to the passage of this long overdue legislation. We are hopeful that the final version of the bill will be one that all parties can move forward with."
OHA will produce two live television specials with community members and legal experts as panelists.
The first show, which will air on Thursday, January 7, at 8 p.m. on KITV, will feature community leaders as panelists including:
Lilikalā Kame'eleihiwa, Professor with the University of Hawai'i Kamakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies.
Michael Kahikina, Legislative Chair with Sovereign Councils of Hawaiian Homelands Assembly.
Robin Danner, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement.
Bruss Keppeler, member of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs.
The second show will broadcast on Thursday, January 14, at 7 p.m. on KITV and will feature the legal implications of the bill before a panel of legal experts. Both shows will also be streamed live on KITV.com.
"We encourage the public to email their questions now to email@example.com. Viewers will also be able to call in their questions on the nights of the shows. We urge everyone to tune in. This will be an opportunity for the community to learn about legislation that has the potential to positively advance the lives of both Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike," Nāmu'o said.
For more information, go to www.OHA.org.
# # #
Director of Communications
** Honolulu Advertiser immediately published the following "breaking news" report
BREAKING NEWS/UPDATES Updated at 12:54 p.m., Tuesday, January 5, 2010
OHA to make case for Akaka bill during live television broadcasts
by Advertiser Staff
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs will present two live television broadcasts — the first on Thursday — to provide information on the Akaka bill, the agency said today.
The broadcasts will be carried by KITV at 8 p.m. Thursday and 7 p.m. Jan. 14.
The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2008 "is a complicated bill," OHA chief executive officer Clyde Namuo said in a statement.
"We want to help both Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike understand what this bill means, answer people's questions, and help prepare for what we believe will be successful passage of this landmark legislation."
The first broadcast will include panelists professor Lilikala Kameeleihiwa of the University of Hawaii-Manoa's Kamakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies; Michael Kahikina, legislative chair with the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homelands Assembly; Robin Danner, chief executive officer of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement; and Bruss Keppeler, a member of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs.
The second broadcast will cover the legal implications of the bill, OHA said.
For more information, go to:
Hawaii Reporter, January 6, 2010
Trouble in Paradise: Akaka Bill's Passage Would Threaten Many Hawaiian Institutions
By Ilya Shapiro
As we enter 2010, we can at least be thankful that another year has passed without the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act becoming law. Rumors of it being attached to defense appropriations turned out to be unsubstantiated and, though the Akaka Bill has cleared the committee stage, it still awaits a suitable legislative vehicle on the Senate floor.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid certainly does not want to expend political capital on what most of his colleagues see as a parochial Hawaiian issue. But the Akaka Bill is not some outlandish earmark providing for the construction of bridges and tunnels among the Hawaiian islands. Instead, it would fundamentally redesign on racial lines a state that has otherwise been a model of openness to all peoples.
Hawaii's congressional delegation trumpets proudly that the reason for the bill is to protect native Hawaiian entitlements. Cases in point are: admissions policies at the Kamehameha Schools; Department of Hawaiian Home Lands leases to applicants with a native Hawaiian blood quantum of 50% or more; the University of Hawaii's special financial assistance to native Hawaiians; and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which finances a long list of exclusive programs.
Whether you like any of these entitlements or not, the Akaka Bill—or rather, legal challenges resulting from its passage—would jeopardize all of them. For example, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Rice v. Cayetano that the Hawaiians-only voting qualifications in OHA elections violated the Fifteenth Amendment—because Hawaiians were not an Indian tribe and thus do not warrant special treatment—trustees prudently settled the Kamehameha Schools lawsuit rather than allow their admissions policy to be struck down (and along with it the Bishop Estate's tax-free status). And just last year the Supreme Court unanimously rebuked OHA's political posturing in the ceded lands case.
Hawaii's congressional delegation—including gubernatorial candidate Neil Abercrombie—seems not to have gotten the message, intending to push the Akaka Bill as soon as Congress finishes with health care. And President Obama has promised to sign it. Unfortunately, much as with health care, neither Congress nor the White House has taken constitutional concerns seriously. Put simply, the Akaka Bill violates the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments' proscription on racially discriminatory state action.
Hawaii's congressional delegation, meanwhile, continues to insist that there is enormous public support for the bill—even while refusing to survey this support or allow a referendum. And for good reason: a recent Zogby poll shows that 60% of those who have an opinion on the Akaka Bill oppose it and 76% oppose paying the higher taxes that would be necessary to pay for a separate Hawaiian nation-tribe.
Even if the Akaka Bill somehow passed a referendum, however, it is almost certain that the Supreme Court would ultimately declare it unconstitutional. Congress simply cannot create new sovereigns outside the constitutional framework, and analogies to American Indians misconstrue both the history and legal status of peoples who predate the United States.
That is, the Constitution's Indian law exception arises from a unique compromise with pre-constitutional realities—"dependent nations" with a separate existence and long-standing self-government. Once the Constitution was ratified, no government organized under it could create another government that can exempt itself from the Bill of Rights. And the Supreme Court said in the 1913 case of United States v. Sandoval that Congress cannot create new Indian tribes.
Rice showed that one-drop rules and other race-based voting requirements are unconstitutional—in Hawaii as elsewhere. Moreover, the Court found Native Hawaiians to be an ethnic group, so Congress cannot pass a law giving them rights denied others. Indeed, racial preferences are contrary to the ongoing efforts to safeguard equality in an America that now has a biracial president who grew up in Hawaii.
Both Rice and the ceded lands case suggest that a race-based governing entity of the kind the Akaka Bill envisions simply does not pass constitutional muster. But forcing the Supreme Court to say so will have far-ranging implications, opening the door to successful challenges of all Hawaiians-only entitlement programs.
Hawaiians have to decide for themselves if this institutional instability is what they want. The Bishop Estate trustees found the challenge to their policies so threatening that they paid millions of dollars to prevent Supreme Court review.
Like the Bishop Estate trustees, all Hawaiians should now ask themselves whether they wish to endure the Pandora's Box of litigation the Akaka Bill would open. If the answer is no, they should petition their congressional delegation to stop this legislation.
Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute, and member of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii's Board of Scholars. At a University of Hawaii Law School debate last year, he correctly predicted that the Supreme Court would unanimously reverse the Hawaii Supreme Court in ruling against OHA in the ceded lands case.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, January 6, 2009, Newswatch
OHA to air TV specials on Akaka Bill
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is continuing its support of the so-called Akaka Bill with two live television specials this month.
The first will air tomorrow on KITV. It will feature community leaders discussing the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009.
The second, also on KITV, is set for Jan. 14, with experts addressing the legal implications of the bill, which would let native Hawaiians establish their own government.
OHA Chief Executive Officer Clyde Namuo said Monday that the bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka is complicated, and OHA wants to help Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians understand what it means.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, January 11, 2009
Senators expect movement on Akaka Bill
Inouye and Akaka feel Congress will take up the measure quickly
By B.J. Reyes
Concerns over the language of the Akaka Bill continue to be worked out, but both of Hawaii's senators say they expect legislation granting federal recognition to native Hawaiians will be taken up by Congress shortly.
"We'd like to finish it as soon as we can," U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye said Saturday. "Because when all this comes along, let's face it, this is an election year and people are going to be busy elsewhere."
U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka, the chief sponsor of the bill, says he also hopes to tackle the matter in the coming weeks.
"As you know, it passed the (Senate Indian Affairs) Committee, which was the first big step," Akaka said. "And so the next step is to get it on the floor."
The legislation passed out of the committee last month with some changes that Akaka and other sponsors said were made to refine the bill and address legal concerns.
In the House, objections to the new bill prompted U.S. Rep. Neil Abercombie to shepherd the original version of the bill through the Natural Resources Committee.
Objections were raised by Gov. Linda Lingle's administration, which said it was unaware of the changes until the last minute and that it could not support the new version.
The legislation would create a process to set up a native Hawaiian government similar to those of American Indian tribal governments. Once created, the governing entity would negotiate with the state and federal governments over which assets it would own.
Lingle says the changes to the bill would severely hinder that negotiation process.
"The change that was made in the bill was so dramatic -- it said we don't need to have any discussions," Lingle said. "This entity will be able to move forward and file lawsuits against the state.
"Our version says it wouldn't impact zoning issues, taxation issues, those kinds of issues until, again, there was discussion, negotiations and agreement, and this just by-passed that whole process."
The senators say those concerns are being worked on.
"There is a difference of opinion, but we're talking about that at this moment," Akaka said.
Inouye said discussions are continuing with his office, state Attorney General Mark Bennett, the Justice Department and other congressional offices.
"We're trying to work out an arrangement whereby we can come up with a measure that everyone agrees upon," Inouye said.
President Barack Obama has previously said he supports federal recognition for native Hawaiians.
** Note from website editor Ken Conklin: the Akaka bill is mentioned only one time in the essay below; but the essay makes it very clear how the Akaka bill grows out of a virulent Communism that shaped Barack Obama's character while he was growing up in Honolulu.
American Thinker, January 12, 2010
Hey Obama, Who's Freddy?
By Andrew Walden
Is it possible? Did we miss one? With all the Marxists dug out from the very public -- yet very opaque -- story of President Barack Obama's life, could there be room for one more, hiding in plain sight on page 24 of Dreams from My Father?
A Japanese-American man who called himself Freddy and ran a small market near our house would save us the choicest cuts of aku for sashimi and give me rice candy with edible wrappers.
"Don't tell your grandmother," he would say with a wink, and we'd walk past hard-faced, soft-bodied streetwalkers into a small, dark bar with a jukebox and a couple of pool tables. Nobody seemed to mind that Gramps was the only white man in the place, or that I was the only eleven-or twelve year old. Some of the men leaning across the bar would wave at us, and the bartender, a big, light skinned woman with bare, fleshy arms, would bring a Scotch for Gramps and a Coke for me. If nobody else was playing at the tables, Gramps would spot me a few balls and teach me the game, but usually I would sit at the bar, my legs dangling from the high stool, blowing bubbles into my drink and looking at the pornographic art on the walls -- the phosphorescent women on animal skins, the Disney characters in compromising positions. If he was around, a man named Rodney with a wide-brimmed hat would stop by to say hello. ..."
For [Robeson,] Hawaii contained a veritable "lesson in racial matters to be learned[,]" one that could "speed democracy in the United States," if Hawaii were to be admitted to the Union as a state."
[T]he consciousness of what one really is ... is "knowing thyself" as a product of the historical process to date which has deposited in you an infinity of traces, without leaving an inventory. It is therefore imperative at the outset to compile such an inventory
Maui News, Wednesday January 13, 2009, letter to editor
** 2 items
OHA encouraged to fund Akaka Bill opposition
I just sat through an hour of OHA's panel discussion of the Akaka Reorganization Bill for Native Hawaiians. One thing my parents always taught me was when a person speaks in circles or in a jerky, stuttering manner, they usually are lying or trying to cover the truth.
I asked specifically: Who will benefit from the bill? Those who have 50 percent kanaka maoli blood, and what about kanaka with less than the quantum? Mr. Namau'u tweaked the second part by saying, "Or will everyone benefit?"
Now, Miss Danner, who has affiliations with Arctic Power, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, etc., (e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you information on this for clarification), said that everyone will benefit all descendants. That's an interesting answer. All descendants.
Does that mean anyone that was born in ko Hawai'i pae aina after it was fraud into statehood?
And they kept saying Native Hawaiians. Did they mean native Hawaiians or Native Hawaiians - those who have the blood quantum of 50 percent? There is a difference in the spelling and meaning.
This panel was a joke and I feel sorry for Dr. Lilikana for compromising her integrity and 'ano. All kanaka maoli remember the Akaka Bill was amended at least nine times. We are kanaka maoli, not Native Hawaiians. I challenge OHA again to fund the opposition.
Akaka Bill hearings should be held on all islands
The day that OHA's television show promoting the Akaka Bill aired, Sen. Daniel Akaka had come to Maui (The Maui News, Jan. 8) to hold a public hearing for Maui vets, as they deservedly should get.
Yet, for the past nine years, Sen. Akaka did not hold one public hearing regarding the Akaka Bill on any of the islands here in Hawaii.
Sir, you have just rubbed Hawaiian salt into this gaping wound you have inflicted on many Hawaiians. Hawaiians and residents of these islands demand holding public hearings on all islands.
Indian Country Today, January 14, 2010
Senate and House committees approve Akaka Bill
WASHINGTON – The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, popularly known as the Akaka Bill, was approved by the Senate Committee of Indian Affairs, and will move on to a full Senate vote in the New Year.
The Senate bill – S. 1011 – included new language proposed by the Obama administration to address concerns about the legislation's constitutionality. Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle and Attorney General Mark Bennett, who have been longtime supporters of his effort, opposed the language, saying the changes stripped away language ensuring that the state's rights and interests were protected.
The SCIA passed the bill unanimously Dec. 17. Hawaii's senators, both Democrats, applauded the move.
"The bill provides for a structured process of reconciliation for both Native Hawaiians and non-Native Hawaiians to finally address and resolve longstanding issues resulting from Hawaii's painful history," said Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, author of the bill.
"I am extremely pleased with the acceptance of this bill by the committee. This bill will now be placed on the Senate calendar," said Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.
A day before the Senate passage, the House Natural Resources Committee passed H.R. 2314, the House companion bill, by a vote of 26-13 without the amendment approved in the Senate.
Earlier in the week, Hawaiian sovereignty supporters to protest what they said were "back door" efforts by Hawaii's senators to insert the Akaka Bill into a federal appropriations bill.
Inouye issued a statement denying the rumor.
"(The bill) It has had hours upon hours of hearings, many, many revisions and amendments and has gone through the scrutiny of three administrations. We have had hearings in Washington and in Hawaii. It is not a measure that has been shepherded in the dark of the night. It has been fully transparent," Inouye said in a statement.
Hawaii's congressional delegates have tried to pass some version of the Akaka Bill for almost 10 years. The latest version would authorize a process for establishing a Native Hawaiian governing entity and would grant the equivalent of federal recognition to Native Hawaiians, allowing them to be treated on par with American Indians and Alaska Natives – except the bill would not allow gaming, create reservation trust land, give back any of the land that Congress, in a 1993 Apology Resolution, acknowledged was illegally seized from Native Hawaiians without legislative approval, or change any existing laws.
The bill, in essence, would authorize a process to talk about creating a Native Hawaiian governing entity that would negotiate with the United States and the State of Hawaii over the transfer of lands, civil and criminal issues, and grievances by the Native Hawaiian community.
While the Bush administration opposed the Akaka Bill, the Obama administration endorsed the bill at a SCIA meeting in August.
Supporters of the bill were happy about that, believing the administration's support would provide the impetus for its passage.
But throughout the 10 years of hearings and revisions, representatives of Hawaii's sovereignty movement have not been invited to participate in the debate.
The sovereignty movement seeks full independence from the United States based on decolonization and de-occupation under international law.
At the heart of the issue is control and ownership of Hawaiian land – some of the most valuable land in the world.
The Apology Resolution signed into law in 1993 acknowledged the illegality of the U.S. government's military-backed regime change of "the sovereign Hawaii nation" in 1893 and its support for the illegally created "provisional government" in violation of treaties and international law. The insurgents were wealthy American and European financiers and colonists who owned sugar plantations.
The key statement in the apology reiterates Hawaii's continuing independence: "The indigenous Hawaiian people never directly relinquished their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people or over their national lands to the United States, either through their monarchy or through a plebiscite or referendum."
The Akaka Bill would extinguish the indigenous Hawaiian people's sovereignty and land claims.
** Note from website editor Ken Conklin: The OHA website at
has a link at top right corner allowing you to replay the first OHA Akaka bill infomercial of January 7. You can see the video and hear the sound, although you might have to fiddle around a bit to make it work properly. Presumably they will soon add another link to the second infomercial of January 14. The January 14 show included two 30-minute panels: (1) Indian law expert Steven Gunn, Former Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Robert Klein, and current Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett; (2) Former chief counsel on the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee Patricia Zell, Native Hawaiian rights activist Melody McKenzie, and Hawaii Senate President Colleen Hanabusa.
Indian Country Today, Friday January 15, 2010
Understanding both versions of the Akaka bill
by J. Kēhaulani Kauanui
When the U.S. Congress resumes business later this month, the Akaka bill will be back on the table in the House and the Senate. This controversial proposal, officially named The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, was first introduced by U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, in 2000.
Since then it has gone through numerous revisions to appease conservative opposition, especially during George W. Bush's presidency. But with the Obama administration in the White House, and Democrats holding the majority in Congress, the bill has a strong chance of passage.
The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs passed a newly amended version Dec. 17, 2009, with changes developed by the Department of Justice in conjunction with the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, and the Native Hawaiian Bar Association meant to improve it.
When the U.S. Congress resumes business later this month, the Akaka bill will be back on the table in the House and the Senate.
The day before, U.S. Congressman Neil Abercrombie had tried to pass the same heavily amended version of H.R. 2314 in the House Committee on Natural Resources, but last minute letters of opposition from Hawaii's Republican governor, Linda Lingle, prompted him to set aside the proposed revisions (no surprise that he backed off since he had already announced his plans to resign his seat next month to run for governor himself) and the committee passed the unamended version.
Although the House bill could be amended later to conform to the amended Senate version, the fact remains there are two different versions in the works. What difference does it matter to those who oppose the Akaka Bill and federal recognition for Kanaka Maoli (indigenous Hawaiians)?
The Senate version potentially gives the Native Hawaiian Governing Entity more power than the House version. In H.R. 2314, Section 9, the bill titled "Applicability of Certain Federal Laws," clarifies that certain laws pertaining to federally recognized Indian tribes would not apply to the NHGE, and they all happen to be the same laws that greatly benefit tribal nations.
Perhaps the most important exclusion is that NHGE would not be allowed to have the secretary of the Interior take land into trust. This is important because only land held in trust by the federal government on behalf of tribal nations is allowed to be used as part of their sovereign land base where they can assert jurisdiction. Most notably, this section of the bill also states that "Nothing in this Act alters the civil or criminal jurisdiction of the United States or the State of Hawaii over lands and persons within the State of Hawaii."
The Senate version does not make the same stipulation from the get go. S. 1011 states that the NHGE, the federal government, and the state "may enter into negotiations" that are "designed to lead to an agreement" addressing: land, governmental authority, the exercise of criminal and civil jurisdiction, and more. None of these are guaranteed in the bill – no land, no jurisdiction, no assets, no governmental power. They are all up for grabs (and we know who will grab what) once representatives of a NHGE sit down with the federal and state agents. There is no equal footing here; all negotiations must take place within the framework of U.S. federal law and policy with regard to Indian tribes.
This means that although S. 1011 seems better that H.R. 2314 on the face of it, and Abercrombie says he wants to amend H.R. 2314 to make it identical to S. 1011, the outcome could end up looking the same either way, which is why there is substantial Kanaka Maoli opposition to the legislation.
The name of the bill itself perpetuates a lie. It's called the "Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act" instead of "The Native Hawaiian Government Organization Act," which misconstrues the government-to-government relationship the United States had with the Hawaiian Kingdom. Under the U.S. Constitution, the Hawaiian Kingdom was regarded as a foreign nation (and not an "Indian tribe") because the U.S. recognized the Kingdom as an independent sovereign state.
J. Kēhaulani Kauanui is an associate professor of American studies and anthropology at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. She is the author of "Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity" (Duke University Press, 2008).
Hawaii Reporter, January 18, 2010
I am Hawaiian; we are all Hawaiians
By Jere Krischel
These remarks were made at a Grassroot Institute of Hawaii forum on the Akaka Bill, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2010
I'd like to start off with a proclamation. He Hawai'i au; he mau Hawai'i kakou a pau. I am Hawaiian; we are all Hawaiians. For many years people have been told that they're not Hawaiian, or not Hawaiian enough, and I want to make my bias about this issue very clear up front. Hawai'i is a place, not a race. To exclude all the people whose families have lived and died in these beautiful islands for generations, but who do not have the proper bloodline, is discriminatory, mean spirited, and goes against the very ideals upon which the Kingdom, Republic and State of Hawai'i were founded.
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, "wait, I'm Japanese!" or, "nah, nah, I'm Portuguese!" For people born and raised in Japan or Portugal, and here today only as tourists, perhaps that's true. But what about the Japanese guy who knows where every Zippy's on Oahu is, but couldn't name the four islands of Japan? Or the Portuguese guy who knows all the good surf spots in Waianae, but not the capital of Portugal? For so many local Hawaiians, there is no other world than Hawai'i, no other home than Hawai'i. But for decades now, people have been insisting that they aren't Hawaiian enough.
It is my belief that If you look carefully at Hawai'i today, and even more carefully at the history of Hawai'i, you will come to share my bias, and seek the same vision of common humanity. I hope today I can share with you a bit of history, a bit of the present, and together we can share a similar vision of what our future can and should be.
Let's start with history. Before the white man arrived in 1778, Hawai'i was a perfect place. There was no war, no disease, no native birds or animals had been driven extinct, there was freedom of religion, everyone got to vote, there were no taxes, and everyone was pure native Hawaiian. Oh, wait, that's not right.
So what's the real story? Prior to the arrival of Captain Cook in 1778, the islands we now call Hawai'i were a collection of warring chiefdoms. Oahuans, Molokaians, Kauaians and Hawaiians were at almost constant war with each other. Torture and slavery were common, and women were viciously discriminated against. The ruling class consisted of ali'i and kahuna, who violently subjugated the maka'ainana and enslaved the kauwa. The racial mix was one based upon multiple waves of migration, initially from the Marquesas, but later by conquering Tahitian invaders.
That all being said, it wasn't that different than the rest of the world. All humans have had violent histories, with torture, racism, slavery, intolerant religion and sexism as recurring themes around the world. The resource limitations of the Pacific meant that technology there would never advance past the Stone Age, but other than that, in 1778, the people living in what we today call the Hawaiian islands were pretty much like any other group of humans.
Continuing with our tale, in 1810, King Kamehameha the Great single handedly unified the Hawaiian islands using only native technologies and tactics. He established a Kingdom of pure Native Hawaiians, and fought against all foreign invaders who dared reach Hawai'i's shores. Oh wait, that's not right either.
So what really happened? Of all the amazing people in the history of Hawai'i, the example of King Kamehameha the Great is extremely notable. He was born a lesser chief, but became the first person ever to unify the Hawaiian Islands. How did he manage such a feat? By accepting all people as human, worthy of respect and equality.
His closest advisor and son-in-law, Keoni Olohana, was the father of Kamehameha the third's Kuhina Nui, and the grandfather of the beloved Queen Emma. You might know him better by his English name, John Young. This ex-British sailor was originally captured by Kamehameha, but later helped equip Kamehameha's armies with modern weapons, taught them modern tactics, and helped lead them into battle. As one of the people who created the unified Kingdom of Hawai'i, John Young was truly one of the first "Hawaiians", and today is buried amongst the other Hawaiian royalty in the Royal Mausoleum.
So when the Akaka Bill says that we need a government for native Hawaiians, by blood, let's always remember that this was not how the Kingdom of Hawai'i was created or governed. Ever. The Kingdom of Hawai'i was founded by a multi-racial coalition, their first constitution in 1840 declared that all people were "of one blood", and they were far ahead of their time in establishing civil rights and equality regardless of race.
Moving on to the present, let's talk about the appeal to fairness that Akaka Bill supporters make. The Akaka Bill is supposedly to bring parity between native Hawaiians and Native Americans. But we never really stop to think about what that really means, so let's be very clear here. Most people with Native American blood are not part of any tribe. With parity we can expect that most native Hawaiians wouldn't be in the brand new Akaka Tribe.
There are millions of Native Americans who currently have exactly the same legal rights as citizens of any other race. They do not enjoy any special tribal benefits, nor the many disadvantages that comes with tribal membership. They don't have any legal claims to ancestral lands, or casino revenue. They live side by side with other Americans, and have no special privileges granted to them simply because of their bloodline.
The Akaka Bill will give incredible powers to just nine people, who will get to select the few lucky native Hawaiians who will be allowed into the Akaka Tribe. If you're well connected and toe the party line of the nine Akaka Ali'i, becoming "native Hawaiian" will be quick, and easy. If you disagree with the ali'i, or speak out against them for any reason, watch out.
The proposed "Akaka Tribe" will be just that, an arbitrary tribe of specially selected "native Hawaiians". Having native Hawaiian culture will not be a guarantee for membership in the tribe. Having native Hawaiian blood will not be a guarantee for membership in the tribe. In fact, membership in the tribe one year will not be a guarantee for membership in the tribe the next.
One of the more distressing features of so-called "Indian Law" in the United States is the determination of tribal membership. Because tribal membership is held as the sole province of the tribal leadership, any tribe, for any reason, can expel members from the tribe.
This loss of tribal membership is devastating. People are kicked out of the houses they have lived in for generations. Children are taken away from parents by court proceedings they aren't even allowed to attend. Allocations of tribal income are revoked.
It's likely that the DHHL lands will be converted to Akaka Tribe lands, and it is a good bet that those people already living on DHHL lands will have to be very careful about how they treat the nine Akaka Ali'i. Cross the wrong people, and you'll be kicked out of the tribe and lose your house, and get kicked off of the land your family may have been living on since 1921.
You could compare it to the loss of U.S. citizenship - imagine a world where if you offended a Legislator of the State of Hawai'i, they could revoke your U.S. citizenship, and you could be deported to some country you've never even been to. Now, if your leaders could destroy your life that way, would you dare speak out against them? Would you dare vote against them? Would you dare expose corruption, or demand justice? This is what "tribal law" has brought to Native Americans today, and it is exactly what the Akaka Bill will bring to Hawai'i and to native Hawaiians.
Of course, who is and isn't native Hawaiian wouldn't be such a poisonous issue if it wasn't for the disparate treatment being proposed. If everyone is treated equally, then it doesn't matter if you consider yourself native Hawaiian, or native African, or native American, or native Italian - self identification would be a simple matter of personal preference, unfettered by any legal consequences.
But already, we live in a world where DHHL beneficiaries have to be concerned about not being "Hawaiian" enough. People are forced to consider race when they choose spouses, in order to preserve benefits for their children. Already we live in a world where money taken by OHA must come out of the pockets of people who are not eligible for their programs, and where one drop of blood can make the difference between having a benefit, or not.
The Akaka Bill promises to enshrine this poisonous idea into law, and to exacerbate the pain and suffering caused by the government arbitrarily deciding that some people are better or more deserving than other people, simply because of their race.
The alternative vision for the future, is one where we can simply eliminate race from the equation, and return to the wisdom of the first constitution of the Kingdom of Hawai'i. Get rid of all blood quantum measurements, racial classifications, and simply open up OHA programs for anyone in need. End DHHL once and for all by distributing the property to the beneficiaries in fee simple, and allow them to decide for themselves what they want to do with their land and their lives.
Hawai'i has a choice, and all the people of Hawai'i deserve to have a voice in whatever the future holds.
Jere Krischel is a civil rights activist who can be reached at
** NOTE BY WEBPAGE EDITOR KEN CONKLIN: TWO SPEECHES WERE GIVEN AT THE GRASSROOT INSTITUTE EVENT. AN AUDIO PODCAST OF THE SPEECH BY JERE KRISCHEL IS AT
AND AN AUDIO PODCAST OF THE SPEECH BY ETHNIC HAWAIIAN ACTIVIST LEON SIU IS AT
Honolulu Advertiser, Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Clock's ticking on Akaka bill in overloaded Congress
By JOHN YAUKEY
Gannet Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — Hawai'i lawmakers now face hard political deadlines to pass historic legislation that would create a process for Native Hawaiian self-governance, also known as the Akaka bill.
Key committees in both chambers of Congress have passed the bill out for full floor votes, which are expected within weeks.
President Obama has vowed to sign any Native Hawaiian legislation. This historic bill would remake the political landscape of Hawai'i, granting Native Hawaiians new power over their ancestral lands, worth billions.
But when would an overloaded Congress deal with this — and under what circumstances?
The House has passed the measure twice, and it's expected to do so again with little debate.
Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who plans to leave his post Feb. 28, after 11 terms, to run for governor, said he'll remain for the crucial vote on the Akaka bill.
That indicates it will come up soon in the House.
But in the Senate — which is grappling with other national issues such as health care, energy and immigration — the Akaka legislation could snag once again on a complex schedule and the whim or will of a single senator.
So far, the bill faces no "holds" — in which any senator can anonymously freeze action on a measure.
The Akaka bill will probably need 60 votes in the Senate to override a filibuster, which is common even on routine legislation.
"It looks like that's the route we'll have to go," Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka said recently.
This is where the bill has always failed since it was first proposed almost a decade ago after a pivotal Supreme Court case that denied Native Hawaiians the federal recognition they have long sought.
The special Senate election this week in Massachusetts left Democrats one vote short of the 60 they need to push their agenda through.
Even though Republicans gained the 41 votes they needed to block Democratic legislation, the Akaka bill is hardly at the top of their agenda. But they could look at it as an issue they want to champion.
Some Republicans have opposed the Akaka bill ideologically, saying it's race-based.
The bill would develop a process for organizing a Native Hawaiian government and would rewrite the political landscape in Hawai'i, giving Native Hawaiians virtually the same rights conferred on Native Americans and Alaskans.
Opponents of the 9-year-old legislation, which has changed shape several times, say the measure challenges the American principle of equality and would open doors to political volatility among Native Hawaiians.
In 2006, the Justice Department under President George W. Bush argued the bill would "divide people by their race."
Some prominent members of the Native Hawaiian legal community object to the Akaka bill, although those objections focus on details and not on the overall thrust of the legislation.
In a four-page analysis, the Native Hawaiian Bar Association said some provisions would grant the federal government too much immunity against potential claims by Native Hawaiians, especially for land.
The Maui News, January 20, 2010
Akaka Bill will not benefit average Native Hawaiians
The so-called Akaka Bill (Native Hawaiian recognition) only has the support of one-third of the Native Hawaiians - the ones who hope to be elected to the high-paid council or governing authority. One-third is opposed to it on the sovereignty issue - as it gives up their claim to the old Hawaiian kingdom. The other third are happy to be Americans and love and defend the USA. Thus, a very large majority of the Native Hawaiian people are, in fact, opposed to this Akaka Bill.
The fatal flaw in the bill is the idea that magically, on the day the bill is passed, all the Native Hawaiians in the world will become members of one native American Indian tribe. The real native American Indians are comprised of hundreds of tribes, not just one as is proposed by this Akaka Bill. Just what we need, another OHA with a nine-member council giving ceded-land revenue to their friends and family and not a penny to the rest of the Native Hawaiian people, like my wife.
Mark Kanae Smith
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Januray 21, 2010
Isles' senators stay committed to Akaka Bill
By Gary T. Kubota
U.S. Sens. Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye plan to press forward with the Akaka Bill even though a Republican's upset victory in Massachusetts puts an end to the Democrats' filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
The election of Scott Brown on Tuesday to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy adds another vote to the Republican minority, which has generally aligned itself against the bill.
The Akaka Bill, which would set up the framework to organize a native Hawaiian government, was blocked by the threat of a Republican filibuster in 2007.
And most of the bills passed by the Senate recently have required 60-vote thresholds to override Republican efforts to keep measures from coming to the Senate floor for a full vote.
However, Akaka's office noted yesterday that even before Brown's election, the bill enjoyed the support of all Democrats and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
The bill passed Senate and House committees in December and is awaiting votes on the floor of the Senate and House, said Akaka spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke. The bill is expected to pass the House and has President Barack Obama's support, so its fate lies with the Senate.
"Senators Akaka and Inouye remain committed to bring the bill to the floor this year," Van Dyke said.
He said Akaka and Inouye do not take any votes for granted and will continue to work with their colleagues to emphasize the importance of this bill for Hawaii.
The Akaka Bill, formally known as the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, would allow the formation of a governing body for native Hawaiians to negotiate with the state and federal governments over land and other resources.
The House passed the bill in 2000 and 2007, but it stalled in the Senate.
It appeared to have its best chances in years with the 60-vote Democratic majority.
Now Akaka Bill opponents see the tide turning in their favor with the election of Brown.
"It's definitely a game-changer as far as national politics and rightly so," said Republican state Sen. Fred Hemmings.
Hemmings said the federal government has been intruding too much into states' rights.
Hemmings favors establishing a Hawaiian trust that would include the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Jan 23, 2010
Political winds bode ill for future of Akaka Bill
Although its author expresses optimism that the Akaka Bill will pass this year, the loss of the Democrats' supermajority in the Senate and last-minute changes to the bill that fueled objections in Hawaii may pose significant hurdles during this ninth try.
The measure that would grant native Hawaiians federal recognition like that of American Indian tribes was in some trouble even before Republican Scott Brown's upset victory in Massachusetts ended the Democrats' filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
Elements inserted in the Senate version to address concerns raised by the Obama administration about the measure's constitutionality in turn prompted objections by Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle and Attorney General Mark Bennett, longtime supporters of the bill caught by surprise by the elimination of language they said protected the state's rights and interests.
The Obama administration worried that special status bestowed on native Hawaiians may be overturned as illegal racial discrimination, given the 2000 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Rice v. Cayetano. But redefining native Hawaiians under existing federal law governing Indian tribes raised a host of issues barely aired in Hawaii under the bill's many previous incarnations.
Negotiations are under way among the Lingle administration, the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the offices of Sen. Daniel Inouye and Sen. Daniel Akaka aimed at trying to hammer out language agreeable to all.
The House Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Committee of Indian Affairs have approved different versions of the bill, which now await floor votes in the respective chambers.
House approval, achieved twice before, again is expected.
The difficulty remains in the Senate, which, already bogged down in health care, energy and fiscal legislation, now is reacting to the special election in Massachusetts, in which a Republican railing against big government, back-room dealing and special interests won the seat held for decades by liberal lion Edward Kennedy.
Before Kennedy's death and Brown's election, the Akaka Bill enjoyed the support of all 60 Senate Democrats and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. So Akaka's office insists it should still have the necessary 60 votes, even without Brown.
His vote may not be essential, but Brown's election has drastically changed the climate in Washington. Democrats facing midterm elections are running scared, once beleaguered Republicans are feeling newly powerful, and any legislation lacking bipartisan support is suddenly a much tougher sell.
It's hard to imagine that the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act will be a high priority outside the Hawaii delegation in such a topsy-turvy political environment, and the lack of transparency surrounding the late changes in the Senate version may come to haunt its author.
** NOTE FROM WEBSITE EDITOR KEN CONKLIN: ON THURSDAY JANUARY 28 THE OHA WEBSITE PUBLISHED SEVERAL IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS CONTAINING SUMMARIES AND ACTUAL CONTENTS OF AMENDMENTS TO THE AMENDED VERSION OF THE AKAKA BILL. THESE NEW AMENDMENTS ARE BEING PROPOSED BY OHA AND BY HAWAII ATTORNEY GENERAL BENNETT. THEY ARE STARTING FROM THE AMENDED VERSION OF THE AKAKA BILL S.1011 PASSED BY THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON INDIAN AFFAIRS ON DECEMBER 17, 2009, WHOSE CONTENTS CAN BE SEEN AT
I HAVE PLACED OHA'S URL FOR EACH DOCUMENT IMMEDIATELY BELOW ITS TITLE. COPY/PASTE THE URL TO DOWNLOAD THE DOCUMENT. OCCASIONALLY OHA CHANGES THE URLS OF ITEMS POSTED ON ITS WEBSITE. AT ANY FUTURE TIME, IF ANY OF THESE URLS NO LONGER WORK CORRECTLY, PLEASE SEND ME AN E-MAIL AND I WILL SEND YOU THE DOCUMENT AND ALSO PLACE ALL THE DOCUMENTS ON MY OWN WEBSITE WITH MY OWN RELIABLE URLS.
Hawaiian Recognition Bill process changes proposed
Written by Public Information Office
Thursday, 28 January 2010
"Changes proposed in the process of finding common ground to move forward with passage of the Hawaiian Recognition Bill"
On January 20, 2010, Attorney General Mark Bennett, with the concurrence of Governor Lingle, sent his letter transmitting proposed amendments to S. 1011 Substitute Amendment to the Hawai'i Congressional Delegation.
Attorney General Bennett has included in his proposed amendments some changes to the bill that address issues raised by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA). These proposed changes addressing issues raised by OHA, are consistent with our constitutional and statutory
Summary of OHA proposed changes to S1011 Substitute Amendment 1 2010
Detail of OHA proposed changes to S1011 Substitute Amendment 1 2010
http://oha.org/pdf/100128_Akaka_OHA_S1011_Detail.pdf Attorney General letter to Congress
Attorney General proposed amendments
Attorney General redlined amendments
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, January 28, 2010, Letter to editor
Akaka Bill won't help Hawaiians
Why have we native Hawaiians allowed another culture (American) to determine our self determination? We keep allowing the thieves into our house, only to be told by the thieves, "Let's vote to decide if we (the thieves) will be allowed to stay."
The way a lot of people look at the Akaka Bill, native Hawaiians are being told if we do vote for it, we're racists — and if we don't vote for it, then, "You had your chance." This bill is a total sham. We'll get nothing but another layer of American government to deal with, and it'll end up like the Office of Hawaiian Affairs: supposedly for the people but answerable to the U.S. government.
William Kalamakuaikalani DeBolt
The Molokai Dispatch, January 31, 2010
Making of a Nation
Molokai discusses Akaka bill.
By Megan Stephenson
The Molokai Dispatch
Jade Leialoha Danner has cared for her hanai son since his birth - changing diapers and helping with his homework. But under U.S. law, she has to get written permission from his birth parents - her brother and sister-in-law - to prove she is capable of his guardianship, even when signing him up for baseball. Danner, vice president of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA), wants to change this complicated system and have a Native Hawaiian government, with laws focused on Native Hawaiian values.
After 10 years of standstills, vetoing and nay-saying, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009, informally known as the Akaka Bill, is continuing to move forward in its best version yet, Danner said.
The bill, named after its main sponsor Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI), aims to reorganize a sovereign Native Hawaiian government. Akaka has introduced the bill in various forms since 2000, but the Hawaiian sovereignty movement goes back decades - for some, since the demise of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893.
"We're arguing that we're more than just a racial minority, we are in fact the first people on this island," Danner said. "[The bill is] recognition that our cultural laws are laws."
Danner was on Molokai last Friday to talk about the bill and answer questions from an audience of about 50.
The most heated part of the discussion was the bill's current status. In December, the newest version of the bill went through a House of Representatives markup and a Senate markup - meaning each chamber held a committee to debate and amend the legislation. Danner said the process was intense, but in the end it passed with minor changes in both committees.
However, the Hawaiian Attorney General, Mark Bennett, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) submitted a joint proposal of 30 amendments to the bill. Among them were changes that would affectively render any Hawaiian government a membership organization with no protection from state or federal laws, where anyone with Hawaiian lineage could sign up to join.
One original section provides the Native Hawaiian governing entity the authority to rule itself.
Bennett and OHA's change would first put that authority in front of Congress to decide.
"To say that [Congress] is going to name what [the Hawaiian government's] powers are - it no longer comes from us, it comes from [Congress] - it's just un-American," Danner said.
Danner explained that the number of changes makes it difficult to negotiate and move onto Senate and House votes in a quick manner. She said the bill can't afford delays - Rep. Neil Abercrombie (1st District), also a supporter of this bill, is retiring at the end of February.
With the health care debate and job creation as top priorities, the Akaka bill needs as many supporters as possible and Danner said 20-year veteran Abercrombie is a large part of finding supporters.
What Would the Bill Do?
At its heart, the Akaka bill will reorganize the Native Hawaiian population into a government entity, able to deal with the U.S. and other nations on a government-to-government basis.
While this is not the first time the U.S. would be dealing with another nation within its own, Hawaii's needs are unique. Recently, the U.S. Department of the Interior agreed to reimburse Native Americans over $3 billion for land taken from them in the 1887 Dawes Act.
However, unlike Native Americans who are separated into tribes, Native Hawaiians have been united under one kingdom since King Kamehameha I in 1810. The concept of tribes is not in the Akaka bill, and the definition of Native Hawaiians will be left up to the prospective government - but is also under scrutiny in the proposed amendments.
After the creation of a government, the new Hawaiian government would have a two-year roll call to anyone with a direct lineage to a Hawaiian who was living in Hawaii on or before Jan. 1, 1893 to be apart of the new government - no blood status needed.
The Akaka bill is also not looking for cash reimbursements. Under the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920 and the creation of OHA in 1978, land and trust money has been continually given to Native Hawaiians, which the bill will protect.
OHA manages a $300 million trust that provides economic, social and health aid for about 200,000 residents with Hawaiian blood. The trust comes from tax payer money and revenue of 1.8 million acres taken by the U.S. government after annexation, and later given to the state. Molokai has over 800 homesteaders.
Many questions directed at Danner at the evening meeting were about OHA's involvement in the proposed amendments - some of which, if passed, would "kill the bill" said Danner.
By creating a Native Hawaiian government, the State of Hawaii would have to cede more public lands, but in a negotiation process that would take years, according to Danner. That means a loss of revenue for the state in the millions, as the state would no longer be able to tax or regulate Native Hawaiians or Hawaiian land - a tough thing to vote for during a recession and an election year.
Hawaiian hula practice at dusk."If the bill passes, to me as a Hawaiian, it would actually help us move forward as a nation," said Molokai homesteader Kammy Purdy. "I'm not going to give up our sovereignty to worry about how the state's going to get money to function."
According to a poll in December, 76 percent of Hawaiian citizens oppose higher taxes to pay for the new Native Hawaiian government. There are also other Native Hawaiian sovereignty groups who don't support the bill because it doesn't include seceding from the U.S. entirely. The Grassroots Institution and Aloha for All have both publicly denounced the bill.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has also lobbied against the bill, saying it discriminates on the basis of race and would further divide the American people.
"Our bill has become anti-all-those-special-people bill - anti-civil rights, anti-affirmative action," Danner said.
The Bill's Future
The bill's next move is to hit the Senate floor. Danner said she hopes the bill passes without any of Bennett or OHA's changes. It then moves on to the House - and again needs to pass with no changes, otherwise the committee reviews and amendments start all over again. President Obama has already said when it reaches his desk he will sign it into law.
Danner said the most important part of the bill that is in jeopardy is establishing sovereignty. Without it, the new Native Hawaiian nation could be sued by any other government, a protection all nations have. More importantly, Native Hawaiian people want a nation that can represent and advocate for their particular needs, in tune with their culture and history.
In the U.S. Constitution, "the power comes from 'We the People,'" Danner said. She represents those that want 'We the Hawaiian People.'
What Can You Do?
If you want to express support or say mahalo for their work, call or write to Hawaii's representatives in Congress and Governor Lingle and let them know who is behind them.
Ka Wai Ola (OHA monthly newspaper), February, 2010, page 12
We need to act now on the Akaka Bill
by Boyd P. Mossman
Aloha mai käkou,
As we approach
session in Hawai'i
and the resuming
of Congress in D.C., we can
anticipate that Hawaiians will
be faced with ongoing challenges
in seeking passage of
the Akaka Bill, resolution of
the 30-plus-year ceded lands
debt owed to OHA by the
state and other issues affecting
After 10 years the Akaka
Bill is on the verge of finally
getting there, but until the State Attorney
General approves of the recent changes, it
is uncertain whether Hawaiians as a people
can achieve the degree of self-determination
promised by the bill. OHA, not having
been a player in the last iteration of the bill,
nevertheless has sought to secure its passage
within the parameters of endorsement
by all the players.
Of course we don't expect those who
oppose the bill to change their positions
and arguments of race-based legislation,
blood quantum for selective Hawaiians
and independence from the United States.
We have been challenged in court, in Congress,
in our own Legislature and in all
public forums; nevertheless, we continue
to seek that which will be of most benefit
to our people and we have prepared for the
time that Hawaiians can lift themselves up
and gain control of their own destinies. The
Akaka Bill, Kau Inoa, ceded lands initiatives
and all of OHA's programs have set
the framework for this to happen. And it
can happen soon.
As we enter 2010, the political environment
is fragile as U.S. Representative
Abercrombie leaves the House, as the
Congressional democratic majority is
threatened and as the Governor and Attorney
General seek to modify last-minute
changes which could affect passage of
the Akaka Bill especially if Congressional
Republicans who now support the bill
change their minds. Hawaiians need their
support. To demand the Akaka amended
bill as is, with no state input,
will place it in serious jeopardy.
OHA continues to work
for us all in seeking a resolution
that will accommodate
the concerns of all sides but
foremost will pass Congress.
And so it is important that
we all stand together and support
that which will help us
as a people. Independents can
continue to argue their case
in the United Nations and in
the courts, but they stain their
integrity by collaborating with
those who seek to eliminate us
as the indigenous people of our own land
as they stand hand in hand against a bill
that seeks our legal recognition and preservation
of us as a people.
With recognition we will be able to
expand our opportunities through a concentrated
effort to educate our people
and to prepare them to be economically
self-sufficient and to benefit from the
resources and culture we are seeking to
preserve and utilize for our future and
'ohana. The OHA Economic Conference,
recently held and co-sponsored by the
Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce,
demonstrated that Hawaiians have many
opportunities to succeed in life given an
education and direction in the business
arena. The federal government is willing
to partner and assist in so many ways and
increasingly with renewable energy. All we
need to do is secure federal recognition to
protect against lawsuits and then provide
the information and education necessary
to qualify for decent jobs that will sustain
OHA will continue to persist with
patience. We will harness our passion
with preparation. And we will advocate
for power not to a government but to its
people through participation by them in its
creation and implementation. The time is
now for the Akaka Bill to pass. Let's not
delay any more. We must take what we can
now for the political winds are shifting and
we need to act without delay.
Ka Wai Ola (OHA monthly newspaper), February, 2010, page 13
The Real World
by Walter M. Heen
The great buzz in the
community, indeed in
the entire island community,
is the looming
passage of the Native Hawaiian
Bill. The Senate Committee
on Indian Affairs approved an
amended form of the original
bill for movement to the floor.
was unable to get committee
approval of the amendment in
the U.S. House of Representatives,
and was constrained to
send the unamended version to the floor. The
respective committee of the two bodies will
be required to meet to iron out differences
in the two bills. Meanwhile, OHA's attorneys
are in deep discussion with the State
Attorney General regarding his concerns
and objections to the amended bill. We can
expect that the State's objections will be
addressed and satisfied.
OHA, and others, have gone to great
lengths to explain the amendments and
their differences with the terms of the original
bill. The amended bill is really simpler
and a more easily understood approach to
the long-standing issues emanating from the
overthrow of the Native Hawaiian monarchy
in 1893 and the conspirators' complete
usurpation of Native Hawaiian autonomy
This article is simply my observation, my
"take" on what the amended bill says and
First of all, section 2 (23) (B) recognizes
that "Native Hawaiians have never relinquished
their claims to sovereignty or their
sovereign lands." And section 2 (23) (C)
recognizes that the United States extends services
to Native Hawaiian "because of their
unique status as the native people of a priorsovereign
nation …" (emphasis added).
Thereafter, in a rather complex process,
the bill provides for establishing who is
eligible to participate in the reorganization
proceedings and how those proceedings will
lead to the establishment of the governing
entity. Essentially, there will be an election
of members of a council of eligible Native
Hawaiians who will conduct a referendum
to determine the proposed
powers of the new governing
entity, and develop proposed
organic governing documents
and eventually hold an election
for the purpose of ratifying
those documents. Thereafter,
assuming everything has been
conducted in accordance with
the bill, the Secretary of the
Interior will certify the governing
documents. After the process
is completed, the Secretary so
certifies, and the officers of the
new governing entity have been
installed, the United States will
extend "Federal recognition to the Native
Hawaiian governing entity as the representative
sovereign governing body of the Native
Hawaiian people …"
The kicker comes, in my view, in section
9, "Reaffirmation of Delegation of Federal
Authority to State of Hawaii; Negotiations;
Claims." Generally, the section provides that,
when the governing entity has been recognized
it may enter into negotiations with the
State of Hawai'i regarding such matters as
transfer of State lands and other resources
and rights in those lands and resources to the
new entity; exercise of government authority
over those lands and resources; the exercise
of civil and criminal jurisdiction; and "the
exercise of other powers and authorities
that are recognized by the United States as
powers and authorities typically exercised by
governments representing indigenous, native
people of the United States."
My problem with the bill is that it transfers
the same kind of powers that have been
historically and traditionally deemed inherent
in Indian tribes within the borders of the
United States. But those Indian tribes did
not have organized central governments that
determined the rights and obligations of the
government and the governed. So, under the
bill we are not really starting out with a "full
plate" of inherent sovereign rights.
But, as my friend Dr. John Craven said
to me recently, "We need to live in the real
world as the real world is." And the real
world is: We don't have the hammer. We
can only hope to improve our lot further in
Ka Wai Ola (OHA monthly newspaper), February, 2010, page 13 and 15
Governor, stand behind the Akaka Bill
by Robert K. Lindsey, Jr.
Trustee, Hawaii [Island]
This letter was sent
to Gov. Linda Lingle
from Robin Puanani
Danner, president of
the Council for Native
Dated Dec. 30,
2009, the letter asks
Lingle to support the
Akaka Bill with its
amendments, which is
pending in Congress.
Dear Governor Lingle:
It has been a full
decade since five working groups
established by Senator Akaka
convened to dialogue on the next
century of relationship with Native
Hawaiians. The result of that dialogue
was the basic principles and
values that have guided the Native
Hawaiian Government Reorganization
Act over the past 10 years. As
2010 begins, Native
Hawaiians still envision
a time when our
people will play a more
active role in shaping
our future by taking
responsibility for and
determining how best
to manage our trust
assets to serve and
nourish our identity and
culture – a host culture
that is very much a part
of every aspect of life
Governor Lingle, in
the 200-year history
of the United States, there have
been policy-makers that stand out
above all others in addressing the
unique history with Native peoples
– policy-makers who have understood
and appreciated the sacrifice
of Native peoples in the building of
our great nation. These leaders did
not view Native peoples as wards
who are incapable of greatness or
incapable of becoming valuable
partners in the well-being of local
governments, state governments or
our federal government. These leaders
were guided by the principles of
democracy, of a humanity that did
not hide its face from injustice and
who embraced a path forward that
placed Native peoples at the table to
be full and equal partners in reconciling
a destruction of one to build
something great for the many.
There are Native governments
in 35 states of the 50 states in our
nation. Each with a government-to-
government relationship, each
autonomous and each focused on
rebuilding Native communities
and lifting Native peoples from
a destruction that nearly extinguished
them and all that they have
ever been. Native Hawaiians are
at a crossroads, one that requires
policy-makers with courage, who
see us not as a community to fear,
but as a partner that can help to
reconcile the long-standing issues
resulting from our tragic history and
help us as a state to move forward
to create a bright future for the keiki
While there are many policymakers
to be reminded of, a recent
example comes to mind that can
be instructive for us today. Stewart
Udall, a young policy-maker in his
day, was appointed as the Secretary
of the Interior by President John F.
Kennedy in 1961, and also served
President Lyndon Johnson until
1969. Today, he has a son serving
in the United States Senate representing
New Mexico and a nephew
representing the state of Colorado.
While in his position in the
Kennedy and Johnson administrations,
Stewart Udall showed vision
and courage to create a level playing
field for the voices of a Native population
decimated by the progress
of a nation, by the appetite for gold,
and the fish and wildlife in their
ancestral homelands of Alaska. Secretary
Udall called for the halting of
land transfers to the newly formed
state of Alaska until state and federal
governments had come to terms
with Alaska's original citizens. You
can imagine the political, legal and
public reactions to Secretary Udall's
position. Opponents and news headlines
in the media raised fears of an
impending doom for the state.
Secretary Udall did so, because it
was right. He did so because he did
not fear Native peoples; he saw them
as equal partners, as vital stakeholders
to the past and future of the state
of Alaska, and to the nation. He
understood that a paper tiger would
not do, and that the Native people
of those lands, inhabited for 10,000
years, required a way forward that
had room for their perspectives, to
make decisions for themselves, lest
the future repeat a difficult past.
Forty-four years after Secretary
Udall's decision, which was met
with ferocious legal battling by
the Attorney General and Governor
of Alaska, we now know that
[start page 15]
did exactly the
right thing. He
set the stage for
to change the
trajectory of a heartbreaking history and treatment
of the Native peoples of that state, and indeed, a new
future was forged by all. President Nixon and his
administration further strengthened and solidified
a federal policy of Native self-determination and
self-governance across the country. Today, Alaska
Natives, like American Indians, are fully part of the
success of their respective states, and with every
decade that passes, take on more and more of the
responsibilities to implement solutions needed to
address their unique cultures and history, as partners
with state and federal governments.
Governor Lingle, we have long thought that you
would be the Stewart Udall of the Pacific. We still
believe you can be the Governor with the courage
and vision to see the Native people of Hawai'i as
full and equal partners, and to open the door for a
new beginning, with a new hope and future for our
state. Hawai'i needs its indigenous peoples, Native
Hawaiians, to have a seat at the table, to take responsibility
for our own future, and to be accountable
for the steps that need to be taken for us to reconcile
the past. The State of Hawai'i needs to turn a new
page that embraces Native Hawaiians as Hawai'i's
indigenous peoples in form and substance rather than
just in words and marketing. If we continue the past,
we will reap its result. The substitute amendment
to S. 1011, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization
Act of 2009, passed by the U.S. Senate
Committee on Indian Affairs on Dec. 17, 2009, creates
a chance for a new future, a path forward that
is long overdue.
Governor Lingle, the substitute amendment does
not create anything new in government relationships.
Rather, it accomplishes that which you have testified
in support of throughout your seven-year tenure as
Governor: parity for Native Hawaiians with other
Native Americans in federal policies. We ask that
you stand with us, to not turn away now, and to be
among the policy-makers we have waited for – that
Hawai'i needs right now at this critical crossroads.
If politics is the art of the possible, then for the
first time in a decade, what is possible in 2010 is
the passage of legislation that gives parity to Native
Hawaiians under federal policy, and sets Native
Hawaiians, Hawai'i and the federal government on
a true path of reconciliation. While our community
has been at a disadvantage with state government in
control of every aspect of our lands and resources
for the past five decades, this bill does not disadvantage
state government. What is right for Native
Hawaiians and for our state has become possible, but
we need a Governor with the courage and vision to
seize this moment of opportunity. We ask that you
be that Governor.
We accept that Attorney General Bennett is doing
his job as the state's attorney, but we elected you to
govern our great state. We ask that you consider the
hindsight available to you – the history of all Native
peoples when they are given their rightful place at the
table. We ask that you consider the opinion of Attorney
General Bennett, as well as the opinions of other
attorneys and legal scholars that have entirely different
views, and we ask that you consider what is right
and possible for the people of Hawai'i including its
original citizens, the Native Hawaiian people. No
state government has fallen from the recognition of
a Native peoples and their inherent sovereignty under
Undoubtedly, there will be rough waters in our
collective future as a state. There may be legal wrangling
and great debates ahead, but we must not fear
these things, nor can we ignore a Native population
that has waited for a legitimate voice and the opportunity
to once again be responsible for ourselves.
Secretary Udall understood this, Senator Akaka
understands this, and we ask you to show the people
of Hawai'i that you understand this as well.
Governor Lingle, we ask that you support the
substitute amendment – it is a tremendous piece
of legislation that remedies constitutional issues,
addresses Native Hawaiian advocacy organization
concerns, advances parity under federal policy, and
does not affect the sovereign immunity or rights of
Thank you for your consideration.
Hawaii Reporter, February 2, 2010
Hold Placed on Akaka Bill in U.S. Senate
By Malia Zimmerman, editor, Hawaii Reporter
A prominent Republican in the U.S. Senate has put a hold on the Native Hawaiian Reorganization Act.
Nicked named the Akaka Bill after Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, the controversial measure would set up a race based government by enabling native Hawaiians to form a separate government within the state of Hawaii, which could lead to the establishment of different justice systems, tax codes, shipping regulations, new branches of government, public land distribution, legalized gambling and reparations from the existing tax base.
Sen. Jim DeMint, who placed the hold, will object to any move to pass the bill by unanimous consent or to schedule an up or down vote through a time agreement.
This ensures there will be substantial debate and 60 votes prior to passage.
The hold can be subverted by Senate President Harry Reid (likely via US Senator Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii), who could place the legislation for the Akaka bill into another bill that "must pass," such as a defense appropriations measure.
Steven Duffield, former policy director to Sen. Jon Kyl, closely tracks the Akaka Bill. He says: "Republican leadership in both the House and Senate remain strongly opposed to the Akaka bill's creation of a race-based government and are highly unlikely to allow this bill to go forward without a very long debate and many amendments."
Hawaii Reporter, February 5, 2009
Akaka Bill Falters in Congress
By Leon Siu
The Akaka Bill is in big trouble. Earlier this week, Republican Senator Jim DeMint placed a 'hold' on the bill, which in essence freezes the bill from moving forward. This is the newest setback in a series of catastrophic hits over the past six weeks that took the bill from certainty of passage by Christmas, to certainty of passage by February, to being dead in the water.
How did this happen? Let's go back about eight weeks…the Akaka Bill was literally days away, closer than it's ever been, to passing…
AKAKA BILL - SNEAK ATTACK PROTEST
Monday, December 14, 2009, independence protesters assembled at the corner of Beretania and Punchbowl to protest an attempt by Hawaii's US senators Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye to sneak the Akaka bill into one of the large US federal appropriations bills while congress and the nation were distracted by the epic battle over the huge healthcare reform bills.
U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye in Washington, D.C. hurriedly issued a strong denial, but it was way over the top, like that of someone caught with his hand in the cookie jar. No one believed his denial as everyone knows sneaky back-door deals is his specialty, his modus operandi.
STATE WITHDRAWS SUPPORT
Our SNEAK ATTACK protest triggered inquiries by Governor Lingle, and uncovered a scheme (brokered by Robin Danner) between Akaka and the White House to amend the Akaka bill in two days. State Attorney General, Mark Bennett, sent a scathing letter to Akaka and the members of the house and senate committees, strongly objecting to the unexpected changes and withdrawing the state's support of the bill. He also suggested that public hearings be held in Hawaii before Congress takes further action on the bill. This constituted a major blow to the Akaka bill, as the State of Hawaii is the most vital player in the scheme of things.
OBAMA ASKS QUESTIONS
The demand for 'congressional-hearings-in-Hawaii' grew to a clamor coming from many diverse quarters. Even President Obama caught the hint from protestors at the entrance to his vacation compound while in Hawaii over the holidays. Of course it was hard to miss the huge banners and signs for 'congressional hearings in Hawaii.' Sources tell us that upon returning to DC, the White House asked questions about why there had not been hearings in Hawaii.
OHA CAUGHT OFF GUARD
Apparently the Office of Hawaiian Affairs was also caught off guard by the amendments. OHA was strangely silent about the crisis for quite some time. Eventually OHA responded with yet another dog-and-pony TV forum. Their purpose? To squelch the growing demands for congressional hearings in Hawaii and assure everyone that everything was still on track. The OHA show was unbelievably shameful and pathetic.
[Ironically, the day of OHA's televised forum hyping the Akaka Bill, Senator Akaka was on Maui holding a "public hearing" for Maui veterans for a proposed vet complex (as they deservedly should get). This insult by Senator Akaka (the vets get a hearing, Hawaiians don't) has not been lost on the people of Hawaii.
CONGRESSIONAL SUPORTERS CAUGHT OFF GUARD
Co-sponsors of the bill like Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski, were also kept in the dark about the amendments. Murkowski has hedged her support.
INOUYE'S DAMAGE CONTROL FALLS FLAT
Trying to regain composure, Inouye arrogantly tells the press that the governor's balk was just a matter of miscommunication and that he would get it straightened out over the holidays, and the bill will pass by mid February.
OHA and STATE TEAM UP
On January 20, the State AG and OHA submitted a list of 30(!) changes they would like to see made to the Akaka Bill, in essence crippling any chances of it being passed any time soon, certainly not "by mid-February."
SHIFTS IN SENATE KILLS BILL
The surprise upset by Scott Brown in Massachusetts left Democrats in the US Senate one short of the 60 needed for a super majority to dislodge a 'hold' or stop a 'filibuster.' Sure enough, Senator Jim DeMint placed a hold on the Akaka bill. For all intents and purposes, the bill is dead.
INOUYE/DANNER PLOT EXPOSED
One of the bonuses of the last six weeks is that the long, unholy alliance between Inouye and the Danner sisters has been exposed. The last-minute amendments (that caused the eventual collapse of the bill) would have contracted CNHA (the Danner's non-profit corporation) to be the interim administrator of the Native Hawaiian tribe, until such time that negotiations were ever completed for the creation of a Native Hawaiian Governing Entity.
In a supreme display of poor judgment, Robin Danner has been sent out into the Hawaiian community to put out the wildfires of growing opposition to the Akaka bill. But Hawaiians are ma'a to what's going on and Robin's presence is like pouring gasoline on the flames. The more she tries to extinguish the fires, the larger the conflagration gets.
Leon Siu is a Hawaiian entertainer and activist. Reach him at
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Friday, February 5, 2010, Letters to the Editor
Akaka Bill not merely symbolic
Here's a wake-up call for those who think the Akaka Bill is merely another symbolic measure like the Apology Resolution:
» Fourteen members of the state House have introduced House Bill 2241 that would transfer all the unencumbered ceded lands to the new Akaka Government as soon as it is recognized by the state and federal governments.
» House Bill 2672 proposes to give another $200 million to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which is expected to merge with the new Akaka Government. This when the Legislature cannot find enough money to keep our kids in school on Fridays.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, February 10, 2010
READY TO RUMBLE
Legal scholars face off over the Akaka Bill
The potential effect of the Akaka Bill will be dissected during a debate tonight.
Ilya Shapiro, editor-in-chief of the libertarian Cato Supreme Court Review, and University of Hawaii-Manoa law professor Jon Van Dyke will discuss the bill's status under President Obama and debate what its enactment would mean for native Hawaiians.
The event, scheduled for 4 to 6 p.m. at the UH law school's Classroom 4, is free and open to the public.
The Akaka Bill, now pending in Congress, provides native Hawaiians a framework to build their own government, similar to the limited self-rule granted American Indian tribes.
Shapiro insists that the bill, if enacted into law, would be struck down as unconstitutional, taking existing programs for native Hawaiians down with it. Van Dyke has described the Akaka Bill as a "win-win" for the state and says it can withstand legal challenge.
** February 13, 2010: 24-minute YouTube video interview of secessionist Leon Siu regarding his participation in the Grassroot Institute forum on the Akaka bill, and also embracing the collaboration between the independence movement and patriotic American civil rights activists in opposing the Akaka bill on account of the bill's racism and its secretiveness.
Honolulu Advertiser, Sunday, February 14, 2010
Hawaii lawmaker again debating legal gambling
Lure of new revenues strong, but opposition makes passage unlikely
By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Government Writer
** Excerpts focusing on the Akaka bill, taken from a very lengthy article.
Gambling interests spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbying and public relations in Hawai'i nearly a decade ago, tempting state lawmakers with new tax revenue from a grand resort and casino.
This year, with no similar lobbying blitz, state House lawmakers have opened the door to legalized gambling, either through a single casino on O'ahu or casinos on Hawaiian home lands.
Privately, many lawmakers doubt that gambling has much of a chance ... But the fact that gambling bills have cleared initial committee review has given the issue some currency.
Lingle, U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Honolulu's prosecutor and police, and several religious and good-government groups oppose gambling.
Even the talk of the state allowing casinos on Hawaiian home lands may undercut years of assurances in Washington, D.C., by Inouye and U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka that federal recognition for Native Hawaiians would not lead to gambling as it has on Indian reservations.
A December 2000 study prepared by Michigan Consultants for lobbyists for the gambling industry estimated that two casinos on O'ahu — in Waikíkí and Ko Olina — would generate $711 million annually, including $309 million from gambling.
A second gambling bill pending before the House Finance Committee would give the Hawaiian Homes Commission the authority to allow casinos on Hawaiian home lands.
A five-member gambling commission within the DCCA would consider casino applications and impose a tax on monthly gross receipts. After subtracting money for administrative costs, 20 percent of the new tax revenue would go to the state's general fund and 80 percent would go into the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust Fund.
The Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill — known as the Akaka bill — prohibits gambling by a new Hawaiian governing authority that would negotiate with the state and federal governments over land use and cultural issues. Inouye and Akaka added the prohibition, aides say, to answer critics who have suggested that federal recognition is a potential back door to legalized gambling.
The Akaka bill has been the subject of negotiations between the state's congressional delegation, the Obama administration and the Lingle administration. The delegation is trying to bring the Akaka bill to the U.S. House and U.S. Senate for votes as soon as possible.
State Rep. Mele Carroll, D-13th (E. Maui, Moloka'i, Lana'i), the chairwoman of the House Hawaiian Affairs Committee, who introduced the gambling bill, said she supports federal recognition and does not want to interfere with the debate in Washington. But she added that she wants Hawaiians to have a discussion about casino gambling as a potential revenue source.
"They know that my intent is not to take away from the Akaka bill," Carroll said.
Hawaii Reporter, February 17, 2010
House Democrats Plan to Push Akaka Bill Through Before Abercrombie Retirement – But the Legislation's Final Draft is Still Secret
What Will the Legislation Say and Mean for native Hawaiians and other Hawaii Residents? Opponents say the changes could impact Hawaii's legal system, civil rights, tax base, land ownership, and business community – and they want hearings in Hawaii.
By Malia Zimmerman, Hawaii Reporter editor
House Democrats plan to bring the Native Hawaiian Governing Act or the "Akaka Bill" to the House floor for a vote next week before U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, resigns February 28, to run for governor, according to Senior House Republican staff.
The question is what language the bill will contain, whether the legislation will be debated on the floor, and what that will means for native Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians around the country, particularly in Hawaii.
Steven Duffield, former policy director to U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, R-Texas, who follows this issue closely, says in all likelihood, the House Democrat leadership would push a "closed rule" through the Rules Committee, meaning the bill would be considered without any opportunity to amend and very little time to debate.
This process would mean that any version of the Akaka Bill, not necessarily the version that earlier was reported from the House Natural Resources Committee (HR 2314), can be introduced and passed that same day.
"It can -- and probably will be -- brand new language that nobody has ever seen before. The bill's opponents in Congress are completely shut out of any ongoing negotiations. There have been no hearings on any of these changes, even though Attorney General Bennett earlier requested them when he saw how this process was spinning out of control," Duffield says.
There have been no Congressional hearings on the controversial Akaka bill in Hawaii, though the legislation is widely opposed by many native Hawaiian groups, and several opponents have asked for the issues and legislation to be aired publicly here.
A November 2009 poll conducted by Zogby International shows 58% say there should be a vote on the Akaka bill before it can become law, while 28% say no for a vote and another 13% are not sure. Overall, 51% opposed the bill, 34% supported it and 15% remain unsure about the bill's impact. Those polled expressed concerns that the legislation may bring higher taxes, unfair land distribution, separate laws and governing structure and racial bias to Hawaii.
While the bill has passed the U.S. House before, it did not have enough support to be brought to the U.S. Senate floor in 2006 (60 votes were required for cloture). Then President George W. Bush opposed the Akaka Bill, as did his U.S. Justice Department, despite Gov. Linda Lingle's strong advocacy of the measure.
However, with the Democrats taking over the majority in the Senate and House and the presidency, Hawaii Democrats including U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka for whom the legislation is named, and U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, the strongest advocate for the bill, planned to push the measure through after more than 10 years of debate.
Some congressional insiders say Democrat lawmakers are entering their third month of backdoor dealings and secret negotiations over the legislation. In December 2009, a brand new bill was sprung on the House and Senate committees handling the issue.
Gov. Linda Lingle, and her attorney general Mark Bennett who have been adamant supporters of the Akaka Bill, then expressed their concern about dramatic changes to the legislation, which were done without their knowledge or approval.
The changes could impact Hawaii's legal system, civil rights, tax base, land ownership, and business community. Bennett sent a letter in protest and asked for hearings on all the changes.
By mid-January, Bennett had written a series of amendments and directed them to Congress as did the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees, who would most benefit from the legislation, have supported the bill all along.
This is in sharp contrast to several other native Hawaiians who are critical of the bill and have called for hearings and greater debate and exposure on what the Akaka Bill means for them. Senator Akaka has held hearings in Hawaii on other issues, such as veterans affairs, but not this legislation named for him.
Akaka bill opponents say they were not offered any opportunities to review or amend the legislation and were shut out of the process.
Both sides in the debate know that the political, financial and power stakes are enormous. The latest maneuvers fundamentally changed the nature of the bill, immediately converting native Hawaiians into Indians for legal purposes rather than creating an orderly process to allow native Hawaiians to decide if they wanted "tribal" status.
One congressional observer based in D.C. says: "The latest public draft still did not extend the complete Bill of Rights to Native Hawaiians who become members of the 'tribe.' We do not know how much the Hawaii state treasury will suffer through lost taxes, or if the new changes will create immediate litigation and problems with tax receipts. We do not know if and when land will be 'taken into trust' so that the foreign notion of "Indian country" can plant its flag in Hawaii. We do not know precisely how membership in the 'tribe' will be determined and whose voices will matter in that process. All of this was being negotiated over the past few months."
House opponents, who are outnumbered, say they can do little other than highlight the problems in the legislation and hope that the Senate, with its compressed schedule and competing priorities, brings sunshine to this murky process.
"One might think that with all the bad press the House and Senate leadership continue to get about backroom dealings on health care reform, they would be hesitant to do the same thing with a bill that has such profound economic and civil rights implications in Hawaii. So far, it doesn't look good," one insider says.
While the bill seems nearly unstoppable in the House, Native Hawaiian entertainer and activist Leon Siu, who opposes the Akaka Bill, details his thoughts on the Akaka bill's movement in the Senate in this February 5 report: "Akaka Bill Falters in Congress"
He says in the Senate, the Akaka Bill is in "big trouble." Recently, Republican Senator Jim DeMint placed a "hold" on the bill,
which Siu says "in essence freezes the bill from moving forward."
If the bill does pass the House and Senate in the same version, President Barack Obama has pledged to support it.
The text of the questions and a summary of results [of the Zogby poll] may be found at
NEW VERSION OF AKAKA BILL DRAFTED BY REP. ABERCROMBIE IS EXPECTED TO BE SUBSTITUTED INTO H.R.2314 NEXT WEEK AND WILL THEN BE RAMMED THROUGH THE HOUSE. TEXT OF ABERCROMBIE SUBSTITUTE IS AT
U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources
Minority (Republican) Blog
Press release February 18, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Jill Strait or Spencer Pederson
Thursday, February 18, 2010
House Expected to Vote Next Week on Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Doc Hastings (WA-04) released the following statement today regarding next week's possible floor consideration of an unknown version of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009:
"Once again the Democrat majority is writing bills behind closed doors without any contribution or consideration from the minority. When the Native Hawaiian bill passed out of the Natural Resources Committee in December, it was clear there was more work to be done before the bill was brought before the full House and I asked that everyone have the opportunity to thoroughly review and comment on any changes—obviously that request hasn't been met when the House is expected to be voting in a few days and we don't even have a copy of the rewritten bill.
"Subdividing Americans into sovereign nations based on race or ethnicity is a serious matter and is something that should be debated openly, not in backrooms with restricted input. Whatever bill comes to the floor next week, I can only hope that its authors took time to address the serious constitutional issues of the underlying legislation."
The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009 would recognize Native Hawaiians as a sovereign governing entity – essentially an Indian tribe. The bill could provide them with the ability to transfer lands, negotiate with other government entities, set their own criminal and civil jurisdictions separate from the United States, and exempt them from some taxation. Because Native Hawaiians do not share the same kind of political and legal history as federally recognized Indian tribes, there is great doubt that Congress possesses the authority to extend tribal recognition to them. The Supreme Court has voiced such doubt in its Rice v. Cayetano opinion.
On December 16, 2009 the House Natural Resources Committee approved the original text of the Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill (H.R. 2314). It was only after Committee Republicans followed through on their pledge to use every tool available to them to try and block Committee passage of a last-minute complete rewrite of the bill that Democrats on the Committee abandoned their attempts to push through the re-written bill. Hawaii's Governor and Attorney General announced their strong opposition to the last-minute rewrite of the entire bill that was not subjected to public scrutiny.
On December 17, 2009 the Senate Indian Affairs Committee approved the rewritten version of the bill.
It is unclear what text that the House will be considering next week, though it is known that private negotiations on a rewritten text have been occurring. Fundamental concerns raised by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the Department of Justice about the unconstitutionality of this legislation remain unanswered.
# # #
Hawaii Reporter, February 18, 2010
Hawaii Legislators Believe Establishing Casinos on Native Hawaiian Homelands Would Not Contradict the Akaka Bill
By Ken Conklin
We all know that the State of Hawaii government has terrible budget problems. There are bills in the Legislature to legalize gambling as a source of revenue.
One of those bills is to establish gambling casinos on the native Hawaiian Homelands. The bill HB2759 HD2 has already passed second reading with approval by two committees (Hawaiian Affairs, and Judiciary) and now awaits a hearing by the Finance Committee.
This information should raise many doubts in the minds of Congressional Representatives and Senators who have been relying on assurances from the Hawaii delegation that the Akaka bill prohibits gambling by the Akaka tribe.
Even though the Akaka bill has language which seems to prohibit the Akaka tribe from gambling, that language could nevertheless be evaded. Suppose the State grants a license to establish casinos on the Hawaiian Homelands, and does so before the Akaka bill is passed and before the tribe gets certified by the Secretary of Interior.
The tribe might be able to keep the casinos despite language in the Akaka bill prohibiting them, on the theory that the Constitution says Congress cannot pass ex-post-facto laws. The Akaka tribe could ask a court to nullify the Akaka bill's prohibition on gambling without fear of nullifying the rest of the bill, because the bill has a severability clause.
Following are excerpts from a lengthy Honolulu Advertiser article of Sunday, February 14, 2010 about legislation for gambling.
The excerpts show that Hawaii legislators, including the Chair of the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs, believe casinos could be placed on native Hawaiian homelands without interfering with the Akaka bill.
"Gambling interests spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbying and public relations in Hawai'i nearly a decade ago, tempting state lawmakers with new tax revenue from a grand resort and casino. Nothing happened. This year, with no similar lobbying blitz, state House lawmakers have opened the door to legalized gambling, either through a single casino on O'ahu or casinos on Hawaiian home lands. ... Even the talk of the state allowing casinos on Hawaiian home lands may undercut years of assurances in Washington, D.C., by Inouye and U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka that federal recognition for Native Hawaiians would not lead to gambling as it has on Indian reservations. ... [G]ambling bill pending before the House Finance Committee would give the Hawaiian Homes Commission the authority to allow casinos on Hawaiian home lands. ... The Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill — known as the Akaka bill — prohibits gambling by a new Hawaiian governing authority that would negotiate with the state and federal governments over land use and cultural issues. Inouye and Akaka added the prohibition, aides say, to answer critics who have suggested that federal recognition is a potential back door to legalized gambling. ... State Rep. Mele Carroll, D-13th (E. Maui, Moloka'i, Lana'i), the chairwoman of the House Hawaiian Affairs Committee, who introduced the gambling bill, said she supports federal recognition and does not want to interfere with the debate in Washington. But she added that she wants Hawaiians to have a discussion about casino gambling as a potential revenue source. 'They know that my intent is not to take away from the Akaka bill,' Carroll said."
Hawaii Reporter, February 18, 2010
AKAKA TRIBE: Facts? Fictions?
By Dick Rowland, editor, Rooted in Reason (Grassroot Hawaii blog)
Someone said to me last week: "What extraordinary facts are there about Hawaii?"
Right away I thought of one:
Hawaii is the only state that has a Royal Palace left over from an active kingdom.
But if the latest proposed version of the Akaka bill were to pass, a brand new Indian tribe would be created right away. That Akaka Tribe would undoubtedly demand that Iolani Palace be given to them. If that happened the Akaka Tribe would be the only one in the USA with a palace. It would also likely be the largest tribe in the nation, holding potentially some 240,000 members in Hawaii plus a like number outside of Hawaii.
Would the Tribal Chief of the Akaka Tribe live in Iolani Palace? Would he or she take over the State of Hawaii politically? That would make Hawaii the only state controlled by a tribe.
With an Akaka Tribe on board and in control, Hawaii would be the only state in the USA subservient to the US Department of Interior, which exercises jurisdiction over Indian Tribes.
What would all this Akaka Tribe activity do to Hawaii's bond ratings? What are probable results?
Where would the new Akaka Tribe lead you, your family, your job, your property, your happiness?
Since so much must be bargained politically after the Akaka bill becomes law, it is very difficult to separate facts from fictions. Gambling on Akaka Tribe land was once fiction, it now looks like fact. Indian Tribe status for native Hawaiians was once somewhat remote. It is now fact in a proposed Akaka bill version.
Let us have your thoughts and comments.
National Journal; Congress Daily, Friday February 19, 2010
By Billy House
** by subscription only. Reprinted in Hawaii Reporter, February 19, 2010
House Republicans are upset that a Rules Committee hearing has been set for Monday on a bill to give native Hawaiians sovereign government status, saying the bill is little more than a going-away present for Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, who is resigning at the end of the month to run for governor.
The bill would give native Hawaiians essentially the same sovereignty rights as an Indian tribe. Since it was first introduced in 2000, the bill has passed the House several times, but has always failed in the Senate. The current Senate version has already cleared the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.
It is not clear if the language of the House bill will match the Senate version, but House Republicans, led by Natural Resources ranking member Doc Hastings, are complaining they are being left in the dark.
In a statement, Hastings said when the committee cleared the bill in December, there was an understanding with Democrats that more work was needed on the bill to address concerns with the language. Those concerns were heightened last year when both the governor and state attorney general expressed their own concerns.
But with the announcement of the Rules meeting, Hastings said, the understanding that further work is needed seems to have dissolved.
"Once again the Democrat majority is writing bills behind closed doors without any contribution or consideration from the minority," Hastings said. He added that "subdividing Americans into sovereign nations based on race or ethnicity is a serious matter and is something that should be debated openly, not in backrooms with restricted input."
Honolulu Advertiser, Friday, February 19, 2010
Native Hawaiian self-government bill could go to vote next week
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
A version of the Akaka bill could be up for a vote on the floor of the U.S. House next week.
The House Rules Committee is scheduled to decide Monday at noon Hawai'i time, when a hearing will take place for HR 2314, formally titled the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009.
With U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie , D-Hawai'i, slated to resign Feb. 28 to focus on a gubernatorial run, House Democrats appear ready to grant his wish to vote on the Akaka bill before he leaves Washington.
That would mean a vote would need to take place next week.
Meanwhile, Hawai'i's congressional delegation is close to reaching compromise language designed to satisfy both state and federal attorneys. The two sides have locked horns on the language of the bill since December.
Delegation staff have "been working with the state as well as other stakeholders to come up with a final text that addresses as many of the concerns as possible," said Jesse Broder Van Dyke, spokesman for Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai'i. Van Dyke said his office expects a final version to be reached "in the coming days."
State Attorney General Mark Bennett said the parties have been able to address some of the concerns raised by Gov. Linda Lingle's administration, but not all of them.
The Lingle administration in the past has supported the bill.
But in December, House members agreed to insert language pushed by the Obama administration that calls for giving Native Hawaiians inherent powers and privileges of self-determination. It also called for a new Native Hawaiian governing authority to be recognized by the federal government, similar to that of Indian tribes.
That language is different from the original 2009 bill, which only called for setting up a negotiating process that could lead to self-determination and the establishment of a recognized Native Hawaiian governing entity.
Bennett said the state's concerns about the Obama administration's language have been addressed by the parties.
However, he said, the state still has strong objections to clauses in the new draft that could give immunity from state law to the entity, its employees and officers while they are conducting government activity.
"Government activity is not defined," Bennett said.
Further, he said, the language "affects the ability of the state to enforce its regulations and laws as they relate to health, safety and the environment."
One example would be if the governing entity were to provide medical services. Doctors employed by the entity would not fall under the health regulations of the state.
Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, which moved out the bill, accused Democrats of negotiating behind closed doors on the bill.
"Subdividing Americans into sovereign nations based on race or ethnicity is a serious matter and is something that should be debated openly, not in the back rooms with restricted input," Hastings said in a release.
Bennett said that despite his continuing concerns, the bill will move forward and be voted on next week.
The Akaka bill has passed the House several times since it was first introduced in 2000. And even with the objections raised by Hastings and other Republicans, it is not expected to run into problems this time around.
The bill, however, has failed in the Senate.
With a Democratic president in the White House and a Democratic majority in the Senate, the bill appeared poised for passage.
But the upset victory last month by Republican Scott Brown for the Massachusetts Senate seat long held by the late Edward Kennedy, a Democrat, has put a new wrinkle on the situation.
Akaka has stated that the bill which bears his name will require the votes of 60 Democrats to assure passage, since that would ensure the bill avoids a filibuster.
Brown's victory reduced the number of Democrats in the Senate to 59.
While a version of the Akaka bill has passed the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, it's unclear when it will be up for a vote in the full Senate.
Hawaii Reporter, February 19, 2010
Akaka Bill Transforms Native Hawaiians Into Indian Tribes Without Their Input
By Sam Slom
Hawaii Reporter editor's note: These are the remarks made on the Hawaii Senate floor to Senate president Colleen Hanabusa on February 18, 2010 by state Senator Sam Slom, R-Hawaii Kai
Next week, it is rumored when we're in recess that the U.S. House of Representatives is going to bring the Akaka bill to the floor of the House.
What makes this most interesting is for the past three months after the bill passed out of House Committee and the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, there was talk about redoing the bill, amending the bill, modifying the bill, bringing all parties into discussion on the bill.
And yet during that period of time, no one knows exactly what changes have been made, if any, and what the text of the bill actually looks like, and yet people are going to be asked to vote on this bill next week. I've made the call in the Legislature before to have people in the State of Hawai'i vote on the Akaka bill, each county, and we have not done that. We've not discussed it. No one knows at this point what the text of that bill looks like.
One of the members of the House Committee from Washington, Doc Hastings, made this comment: 'Subdividing Americans into sovereign nations based on race or ethnicity is a serious matter and is something that should be debated openly, not in backrooms with restricted input.
Whatever bill comes to the floor next week, I can only hope that the authors took time to address the serious constitutional issues of the underlying legislation.' I couldn't agree more.
What this bill would do, if in fact it does pass in whatever form, is immediately to transform native Hawaiians into Indian tribes without their having input, discussion, or right to vote. I think that all of us should press for open discussion and the ability for all of our people to vote openly on this issue. Thank you, Madam President.
Hawaii Reporter, February 19, 2010
In Defense of Impure Hawaiians and Weeds
Reply to J. Arthur Rath's essay lamenting the passing of "pure Hawaiians" and Hawaii's infestation with newcomer "weeds."
By Ken Conklin
Hawaii Reporter guest editorial columnist J. Arthur Rath III seems like a really nice guy. That's why it pains me to write this much-needed reply to his Hawaii Reporter essay of February 18, 2010, entitled "Are Hawaiians Becoming Legendary?"
The whole point of Mr. Rath's essay was to lament the decline (and eventual disappearance) of the number of native Hawaiians who have 100% native blood.
Mr. Rath repeatedly refers to the 100 percenters as "pure" Hawaiians. The obvious implication of that label is that approximately half a million other ethnic Hawaiians should be labeled "impure" -- somehow polluted by the admixture of the other parts of their genealogies. Since Mr. Rath bears the non-Hawaiian name "Rath", and also judging by his photo, he must logically regard himself as inferior. Such self-loathing is sad but unfortunately common. I wonder just what percentage of impurity fills his veins, and whether he might call Roto-Rooter or do a dialysis to remove it.
Mr. Rath also says "So many sophisticated true 'weeds' have outgrown our race to suck so much cream out of the fertile and milky Canaan called "Hawaii." Who are those "weeds"? Since he uses the phrase "our race" including himself by contrast to the "weeds", and since Mr. Rath himself has less than 100% native blood, he's clearly using the word "weeds" to refer to everyone lacking a drop of the magic blood. Like me. And I resent that. Mr. Rath ended his essay by asking "Are you stirred?" to invite comment. Yes, Mr. Rath, I am stirred (to reply), but not shaken (out of my fundamental commitment to civil rights).
I'll need to reconsider whether Mr. Rath really is a nice man or whether he only seems to be. One of the terrible things about the Akaka bill (there are many) is that it would give governmental powers to people with this sort of attitude -- people who regard 80% of Hawaii's population as "weeds" -- people who wish they could somehow rip out and throw away not only those weeds, but also the weedy portion of their own blood. Most ethnic Hawaiians do not share Mr. Rath's contempt for non-natives. But the government established under the Akaka bill will be based entirely on race and therefore will be headed by the most radical racial partisans -- they are the ones the rest of us must defend ourselves against.
There was a little book published in 2003 as a Christmas stocking stuffer which does the job much better than Mr. Rath. It's entitled "Then There Were None" by Martha H. Noyes (based on Elizabeth Lindsey Buyers TV docudrama). The book is mostly photos arranged in chronological order, with small portions of text describing historical events that accompanied (caused?) the decline of "pure Hawaiians."
Page 11 consists entirely of this statement, centered as though in a picture frame made of tapa cloth: "In 1778 there were between 400,000 and 1,000,000 Hawaiians in these islands. By 1822 there were only 200,000 pure Hawaiians left alive." Page 35 in its entirety: "By 1836 there were only 108,000 pure Hawaiians left alive." Page 79 in its entirety: "By 1922 there were only 24,000 pure Hawaiians left alive." The final population figure is given as the entirety of the first page of content, which dedicates the book "To the five thousand piha kanaka maoli [pure-blood Hawaiians] who remain"
The book is a real tear-jerker, intended to make haoles feel collective guilt for the decline of the Hawaiians, so we'll support demands of the tycoons of the Hawaiian grievance industry for money, land, and political sovereignty. What would make me really cry is if Congress and the State of Hawaii grant those demands. Readers might enjoy my detailed book review of "Then There Were None" at
People like Arthur Rath, Martha Noyes, and Elizabeth Lindsey Buyers who lament the decline in the number of "pure Hawaiians" have a lot of explaining to do. The only way to stop "pure Hawaiians" from producing "impure" children would have been to stop them from reproducing entirely, or to somehow imprison them or fit them with chastity belts to ensure they mate only with other "pure Hawaiians." Try doing that with ali'i like Bernice Pauahi BISHOP, Lydia Kamaka'ehu DOMINIS Lili'uokalani, and Miriam Likelike CLEGHORN who produced the lovely Princess Victoria Cleghorn (Ka'iulani).
I encourage readers to listen to a series of one-minute audios, most accompanied by YouTube videos, regarding the issue of race in relation to the Akaka bill. Perhaps the best responses to Mr. Rath are the audio "Hawaiian enough?" noting that even a full-blooded descendant of Kamehameha The Great could be expelled from the Akaka tribe by tribal leaders; and the video about Saint Damien noting that he would not be eligible to join the Akaka tribe; and the video about Hawaiian Kingdom hero and founder 'Olohana (who?) who also would not be eligible to join the Akaka tribe, even though he is buried with the Kings in Mauna Ala (Royal Mausoleum) and his tomb, in the shape of a heiau, is guarded by a pair of pulo'ulo'u (sacred taboo sticks).
By the way, Damien and 'Olohana were Rath weeds, although Damien did not spread his seed and 'Olohana did. The entire collection is at
Dr. Conklin's book "Hawaiian Apartheid: Racial Separatism and Ethnic Nationalism in the Aloha State" is in the Hawaii Public Library, and also at
Hawaii Free Press, Sunday, February 21, 2010
Akaka Preparing New Senate Bill: House Rules Committee to consider Akaka Bill Monday
By Andrew Walden
Rep Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) is preparing to introduce a third version of the Akaka Bill in the US House to replace the existing text of HR 2314. And, according to one source, staffers in the office of Senator Dan Akaka (D-HI) are writing an amended version of S1011 to introduce in the Senate in place of the bill passed by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
On Monday February 22 at 5PM EST (12 Noon HST) the House Rules Committee will consider allowing Abercrombie to amend the old version of the Akaka Bill with the latest new version.
Hawaii residents may see a copy of the proposed substitute amendment to HR 2314 only because the Republican minority of the House Committee on Natural Resources posted it on their website Friday, February 19. The Hawaii Congressional delegation has done nothing to make this bill available to the public.
HR2314—the original 2009 version of the Akaka Bill, introduced May 7, 2009--was passed by the House Committee on Natural Resources December 16, 2009 after Rep Abercrombie's effort to introduce and pass a new version creating an instant Indian Tribe had been obstructed by Republican parliamentary maneuvering.
Hawaii's Republican Governor Linda Lingle and Attorney General Mark Bennett--supporters of previous versions of the Akaka Bill—expressed sharp opposition in December to the new secretly prepared version.
But in the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Senator Dan Inouye, and Dan Akaka were able to pass their new version.
The Honolulu Advertiser and the Star-Bulletin—both supporters of the original version of the Akaka Bill--have since editorialized against the new version passed by the Senate.
The Star Bulletin December 20 demanded public hearings be held on the new version saying, "Akaka appears to have left many in the dark about the changes to the bill in the days preceding action by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee."
The Advertiser December 24 wrote: "Native Hawaiians have a history distinct from other American indigenous groups, one in which they have lived intertwined with the larger Island society for more than a century. And that larger society should have a place at the table where the relationship of the native, state and federal governments can be discussed."
Now Hawaii's Congressional delegation is creating another secret version of the Akaka Bill.
Hawaii Free Press, Sunday, February 21, 2010
(UPDATE) Akaka Bill: More than 73% of Hawaiians not "Qualified" for membership in Akaka Tribe
By Andrew Walden
UPDATE: This December 20, 2009 article discusses S1011 (Akaka Bill). But the S1011 rules for becoming a "Qualified Native Hawaiian Constituent" are precisely the same as those proposed in the new "substitute amendment" to HR2314 (Akaka Bill) to be proposed by Rep Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) before the House Rules Committee on Monday, February 22. Therefore this analysis of the S1011 (Akaka Bill) approved by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee also describes the latest version of the House Bill HR2314.
by Andrew Walden
You may be Hawaiian--but chances are you are not "Qualified" to become a member of the allegedly "Hawaiian" Indian Tribe proposed under Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) and Sen. Dan Akaka's (D-HI) newly revised version of S1011/Akaka Bill.
If created under US law, the Akaka Tribe will negotiate to take control of land and other assets which are supposedly the property of all native Hawaiian people--but the majority of native Hawaiians will be excluded from participating in the organization of the Native Hawaiian Interim Governing Council. They could remain excluded from the Tribe that the Interim Governing Council organizes.
On one hand, Section 4(a)(4) of the Senate Akaka Bill states: "Native Hawaiians have an inherent right to autonomy in their internal affairs (and) and inherent right of self-determination and self-governance (and) the right to reorganize a Native Hawaiian governing entity...."
But Section 8(a) recognizes only: "The right of the qualified Native Hawaiian constituents to reorganize the single Native Hawaiian governing entity...."
Who are allowed to become "Qualified Native Hawaiian Constituents" will be determined by a "commission" of nine members. There are exactly nine OHA Trustees.
"Qualified Native Hawaiian Constituents" is a brand new classification which has not been used in any previous version of the Akaka Bill. The inclusion of this new category was noted by Governor Linda Lingle and Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett--who have supported previous versions of the Akaka Bill--in their December 15 statement expressing "strong opposition" to the new version of the Akaka Bill.
Only these so-called "Qualified Hawaiians" may participate in electing the Native Hawaiian Interim Governing Council. This Interim Council will propose rules for the Tribe as a whole, --including rules about who may or may not become members. Since a smaller Tribe means more money for each individual member and easier control by political cronies a bias will exist in favor of keeping as many Hawaiians as possible out of the tribe. Many mainland Indian tribes have cut down their tribal rolls by changing the rules of membership in order to grab a larger share of gaming revenues for each of the remaining members.
The Interim Council is itself considered an Indian Tribe according to Section 10(c) and so it operates under the same Federal Indian Laws which have allowed several California gaming tribes to expel hundreds of members in a grab for gambling profits.
Neil Abercrombie is a candidate for Governor of Hawaii. The Akaka Bill mandates three-way negotiations to establish the Tribe. If Abercrombie is elected, the three-way negotiations to establish the Tribe will be conducted between Governor Abercrombie, the Obama Department of Justice, and the Native Hawaiian Interim Governing Council--all three of which are committed to the small and divisive Akaka Tribe envisioned in the new version of the Akaka Bill passed December 17 by the US Senate Indian Affairs Committee.
Although House Natural Resources Committee Democrats were forced by Republicans to pass the old version of HR2314/Akaka Bill, the differences between the US Senate and US House versions will be worked out in a Conference Committee stacked by Democrats who favored the new version. Senators Inouye and Akaka claim that they are open to amendments in order to regain the support of Governor Lingle and State Attorney General Bennett, but Akaka and Inouye lied in 1993 in order to get the Apology Resolution passed so it is logical to assume they will lie again to get its successor--the Akaka Bill--passed.
Under the conditions set forth in S1011, Section 3(12), for an Hawaiian to become a "Qualified Native Hawaiian Constituent" all five of the following conditions must be met:
(A) Must be direct lineal descendant of indigenous people living in Hawaii on or before January 1, 1893 or of a person eligible in 1921 for Hawaiian Homelands.
(B) Wishes to participate in the reorganization of the Native Hawaiian governing entity
(C) is 18 years of age or older;
(D) is a citizen of the United States; and
(E) maintains a significant cultural, social, or civic connection to the Native Hawaiian community, as evidenced by satisfying 2 or more of 10 criteria Of the five, Parts (B) and (E) are the most likely to exclude Hawaiians from becoming "Qualified" to participate in the Tribe. Part (B) most likely means excluding all persons who do not sign up for Kau Inoa. The December, 2009 Kau Inoa Newsblog proudly announces: "Those who register in Kau Inoa will help shape the Hawaiian nation to come....We are happy to share that at the end of November 2009, 108,118 people were registered in the Kau Inoa Native Hawaiian Registry...."
The 2000 US Census counted over 401,000 Hawaiians in the US. A 2004 estimate by the US Census Bureau counted 279,651 Hawaiians in Hawaii, down from 283,430 in 2000. The out-migration of Hawaiians is a direct result of the lack of economic opportunity created by OHA-funded shake-down artists and their environmentalist allies. The Kau Inoa number is less than 27% of all Native Hawaiians, but it gets worse.
Rule (E) excludes many of the roughly 122,000 Hawaiians living outside of Hawaii. Exceptions are made for for college students, military personnel, federal employees (such as Congressional staffers) and their dependents, Hawaiian Homelands beneficiaries, their children and grandchildren.
By making "Native Hawaiian Membership Organization" into the following two separate rules, an activist or other OHA operative who has been a member of two Native Hawaiian Membership Organizations thereby meets the "two of ten" qualification in Part (E):
(viii) Has been a member since September 30, 2009, of at least 1 Native Hawaiian Membership Organization.
(ix) Has been a member since September 30, 2009, of at least 2 Native Hawaiian Membership Organizations. The bill does not contain a list of such organizations, leaving the door open to all sorts of games as some organizations are accepted and others are not.
The last rule could be utilized to "Qualify" people who have no Hawaiian ancestry if such person is also allowed to sign up on Kau Inoa and the "sworn affidavits" are considered evidence that the "Qualified" non-Hawaiian Hawaiian meets the requirement of Part (A).
(x) Is regarded as a Native Hawaiian and whose mother or father is (or if deceased, was) regarded as a Native Hawaiian by the Native Hawaiian community, as evidenced by sworn affidavits from 2 or more qualified Native Hawaiian constituents certified by the Commission as possessing expertise in the social, cultural, and civic affairs of the Native Hawaiian community.
These rules are allegedly designed to avoid creation of a Tribe whose membership is designated simply by race--without regard for any affirmative affiliation to the tribe. If created, the rump Akaka Tribe will be dominated by the corrupt political operators who looted Kamehameha Schools and are responsible for so much of Hawaii's corrupt political and business dealings.
Whether these rules are enough to defeat lawsuits challenging creation of the Tribe will be up to the courts. The one unavoidable fact is that the so-called Sovereignty movement was manufactured from whole cloth by 1970s student protesters--including Neil Abercrombie--at UH Manoa. It has absolutely no continuity with the Hawaiian Kingdom whose resistance ended with the disintegration of the Home Rule Party after Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole agreed in 1902 to represent the Territory of Hawaii as a Republican in the US Congress.
Hawaii Free Press, Monday, February 22, 2010
Video of Hawaiians' future: Indian families "disenrolled", homes bulldozed
By Andrew Walden
** Note from Website editor Ken Conklin: This article has numerous photos and videos which are well worth viewing but beyond the capability of this website to copy. What follows are sufficient text portions of the article to show the sort of content available to readers who go directly to the article URL above.
RELATED>>>Akaka Bill Preview: Tribes Boot Members Keep Loot
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A tribal housing inspector and armed tribal policeman forcibly entered the home of Vicky Schenandoah without a search warrant. Earlier Vicky Schenandoah's sister Danielle and Uncle had their home demolished. Her Uncle had his home and all of its contents demolished while he was laying in a hospital bed after suffering a stroke.
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Disenrollment of 25% of tribe "It's not a popularity contest. It seems is "purely political and if they don't like you, you're out."
Indian disenrollments a statewide, nationwide issue
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Tribal Police use metal batons and pepper spray to evict long time residents to build a casino
Tribal officials demolish homes of traditional Indians that oppose current leadership.
..Te-Moak Shoshone Former Tribal Chairman: "So these things are some of the things that are happening on reservations, its all about corruption..."
Sauk-Suiattle Former Tribal Councilman:
"These people are taking on ways that don't belong to us..."
Las Vegas Paiutes
Prior to the disenrollment vote, someone in the tribe used whiteout to alter or obliterate the blood records of the ousted Paiutes.
Isleta Pueblo Tribe Former Lt. Governor:
"I never dreamed our own government would do something like this,"
Santa Rosa Rancheria
"There are people on Indian reservations that are afraid of their leaders, because their power is unchecked,"
Mooretown Rancheria Former Tribal Chairwoman:
"It just seems like it's family against family. There's so much politics and greed."
Cold Springs Rancheria Former Tribal Chairman:
"Hold accountable the tribes who lied to the people of California
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Pechanga 89 year-old Tribal Elder:
"Now we call them casino people, because they are getting the money. They're not like they use to be."
Laytonville Rancheria Former Tribal Chairman:
"They don't have to pull the trigger themselves, they just have to let the tribes do their own ethnic cleansing."
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Tribal officials cheat their sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and cousins out of their heritage
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"The Lost Tribe"
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California Valley Miwok Tribe
Three member Tribe disenrolls its former tribal chairman
San Pasqual Reservation -- "A minority is trying to run the majority of the tribe, and that doesn't work in a democracy,"
Berry Creek Rancheria
Disputed members say the reason their membership has been called into question relates to gaming revenue.
"Out of all the tribes who were victims of the first wave of congressional termination bills, the Uintas remain as the only unrestored tribe,"
Pit River Tribe
"Our members are stepping forward ... and our government is turning a deaf ear. And the people that are doing the threatening are in our government," she said.
Ordinary people who love their Nooksack Tribal heritage seek justice by
exposing Corruption within the Nooksack Tribal Council and Nooksack
Minnesota Mdewakanton Dakota Oyate Litigation Wolfchild, et al. v. United States
"In a majority of disenrollment cases, however, some tribal officials are, without any concern for human rights, tribal traditions or due process, arbitrarily and capriciously disenrolling tribal members as a means to solidify their own economic and political bases and to winnow out opposition families who disapprove of the direction the tribal leadership is headed." David E. Wilkins, Lumbee, professor of American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota
Demonstration at the Western Indian Gaming Conference
** Note from website editor Ken Conklin:
THE SO-CALLED "FINAL" VERSION OF THE AKAKA BILL HAS BEEN POSTED ON SENATOR AKAKA'S SENATE WEBSITE, A COUPLE OF HOURS BEFORE THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON RULES MEETS TO DECIDE WHEN THE BILL WILL COME TO THE FLOOR OF THE HOUSE, HOW MUCH TIME WILL BE ALLOWED FOR DEBATE, AND WHAT THE RULE WILL BE REGARDING AMENDMENTS (IF ANY)
THE "FINAL" VERSION HAS BEEN SAVED ON THIS WEBSITE AT:
Hawaii Reporter, Monday February 22, 2010
10th Anniversary of U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Rice v. Cayetano
The February 23, 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision spurred a decade of additional civil rights lawsuits seeking to abolish or desegregate Hawaii's empire of government and private race-based programs. Racial separatists immediately sought protection for those programs through the Hawaiian Government Reorganization bill (Akaka bill) still being pushed in Congress 10 years later.
By Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.
The U.S. Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision in Rice v. Cayetano on February 23, 2000. But ten years later it's not clear who, if anyone, is celebrating the anniversary. It's also not clear whether the Akaka bill, which was primarily a response to the Rice decision, will finally become law after ten years of civil rights opposition; and whether it will survive court challenge if it passes.
Will Hawaii's multitude of racially exclusionary programs eventually be dismantled through the civil rights activism inspired by the Rice decision? Or will Hawaii be permanently ripped apart through creation of a racially exclusionary Akaka tribal government followed by a partitioning of land and jurisdictional authority between the tribe and a greatly diminished State of Hawaii?
The Rice v. Cayetano lawsuit was extremely important because it was the first time anyone had dared to challenge Hawaii's massive power elite of government-sponsored racial entitlement programs. Anticipating the likely ruling, defenders of those programs launched major political actions as soon as the case was appealed to the Supreme Court in 1998, even before the Court agreed in 1999 to hear the case, and more than a year before the decision was handed down.
Throughout the ten years since the Rice decision a David vs. Goliath battle has ensued. Civil rights activists with the relatively small resources of their own personal money have filed several lawsuits, citing language from the Rice decision, seeking to abolish Hawaii's racial entitlements either by destroying them or by desegregating them.
Powerful race-based institutions with billions of dollars in assets, supported by a pro-segregation state legislature and the Attorney General's legal staff (paid with tax dollars), have spent megabucks defending the racial entitlements in court and through advertising and political lobbying. To understand how the Rice decision and Akaka bill fit into the "big picture" struggle for unity and equality in Hawaii, see the 302 page book "Hawaiian Apartheid: Racial Separatism and Ethnic Nationalism in the Aloha State."
The Akaka bill was first introduced shortly after the Rice decision, as a direct response to it. The bill seeks to convert a racial group into a political entity by creating a federally recognized Indian tribe out of thin air. Its purpose is to defend Hawaii's racial entitlement programs against legal challenges by taking them out of the state government and enfolding them into an Indian tribe, because tribes are allowed to engage in racial discrimination.
What started out as benevolent affirmative action programs have turned into hardcore racial entitlements which now seek protection through a federal grant of political sovereignty to a racially exclusionary fake Indian tribe.
No other state has 20% of its people who are racially Indians, let alone 20% who would be eligible to join a single tribe, and claiming half the state's land as its own. Thus the Akaka bill would foster a real apartheid regime, unlike anything seen in the other 49 states. The bill would also begin an avalanche of jurisdictional disputes and lawsuits, because the lands likely to be claimed by the Akaka tribe are scattered throughout most neighborhoods on all the islands.
It was the federal government that apologized to ethnic Hawaiians in 1993 for the 1893 overthrow of the monarchy, and it is the federal government whose Congress might pass the Akaka bill. But it is the people of Hawaii who will pay the restitution called for in the Akaka bill by turning over state lands to the Akaka tribe. In effect the federal government is saying to the State of Hawaii: We (the feds) did the crime (in 1893); now you (the State of Hawaii) must do the time (pay the damages).
In the weeks after the Rice decision Hawaii politicians seriously proposed numerous ways to nullify or circumvent it. Perhaps the most far-reaching concept locally was legislation proposing a "global settlement" through creation of a private trust to be owned by all ethnic Hawaiians collectively, with the state turning over land, money, and jurisdictional authority to the trust in the same way the state sometimes grants land or money to legitimate charitable or benevolent groups.
The concept of a global settlement by creating a racially exclusionary private trust was initially unsuccessful; however, in June 2006 OHA officially adopted "Plan B" to accomplish the same goal in case the Akaka bill fails. Under Plan B the State of Hawaii would create a state-recognized tribe and turn over huge amounts of government land and money to it.
The same concept of a racially exclusionary private trust has once again been revived in the 2010 session of the Legislature by Senator Fred Hemmings, who originally proposed it nearly ten years previously. Whether it is the Hemmings trust or OHA's Plan B, the concept is similar to proposals in 1954 by various Southern states and municipalities to privatize the public schools by turning them over to white or black race-based community groups as a way to avoid the desegregation ordered in the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision.
A newly created webpage reviews in detail the major political events and lawsuits flowing from the Rice v. Cayetano case, during the period from 1998 (even before the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case) to February 2010, and ponders the question: Where do we go from here? Numerous links are provided to webpages containing legal briefs and news reports related to the lawsuits and the Akaka bill.
The sections of that webpage have the following headings, in order of appearance. The detailed webpage is at http://tinyurl.com/y8jaahg
1. WHAT IS RICE V. CAYETANO? (How OHA was founded as a racially exclusionary agency of the state government; how the voting system worked for choosing OHA trustees; how Mr. Rice filed his lawsuit; and what the decision said)
2. WHAT POLITICAL ACTIONS WERE TAKEN IN ANTICIPATION OF THE SUPREME COURT'S RULING, BY DEFENDERS OF HAWAII'S RACE-BASED PROGRAMS? (Rice's request for a Supreme Court hearing drew an immediate response and propaganda forum in 1998 from a politically stacked Hawaii Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; when Supreme Court oral arguments indicated the Court would probably rule in favor of Rice President Clinton immediately sent high officials of the Department of Justice and Department of Interior to Hawaii for a week of "Reconciliation Hearings" in December 1999 to push public opinion to favor creation of an Indian tribe for ethnic Hawaiians)
3. WHAT POLITICAL TURMOIL HAPPENED DURING THE REMAINDER OF 2000 IN RESPONSE TO THE RICE DECISION, AS RELATED TO THE AKAKA BILL? (Supporters of racial entitlements rushed to write the Akaka bill whose first official version was introduced in Congress in July 2000; in August 2000 "From Mauka to Makai" was published containing the propaganda from the "civil rights" forum of 1998 and the "reconciliation" hearings of 1999; at the end of August 2000 a "joint Congressional committee" hearing was held in Honolulu to listen to public testimony on the Akaka bill which the Hawaii delegation reported was favorable to the bill but independent news reports said was 9-1 in opposition; the Akaka bill passed the House on a stealth maneuver on September 26; a public forum was held in Honolulu September 28-29 by the Hawaii Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to consider the impact of the Rice decision on the civil rights of ethnic Hawaiians and to support the Akaka bill; the bill briefly passed the Senate on a stealth maneuver on December 13 which nobody knew about except Senators Inouye and Akaka but then died when its stealth passage was uncovered and vitiated by special legislation on the last day of the 106th Congress on December 15, 2000)
4. WHAT POLITICAL TURMOIL HAPPENED LOCALLY IN HAWAII IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE RICE DECISION, IN AN EFFORT TO EVADE OR CIRCUMVENT IT, ASIDE FROM THE AKAKA BILL? (Politicians proposed that if OHA paid for its own elections, or if OHA trustees were appointed by the Governor, the Rice decision could be ignored; legislation was proposed to transfer $400 Million of OHA assets to DHHL to put them out of reach of a desegregated OHA, and legislation was proposed to privatize both OHA and DHHL by setting up a racially exclusionary trust fund to hold all their assets; a prominent legislator suggested complying with Rice by letting all voters register for OHA ballots but giving OHA ballots only to those who actually took the time to register specifically for OHA; there were suggestions to continue printing OHA ballots separately and to color-code them so non-ethnic-Hawaiians would be embarrassed to request them; Governor Cayetano succeeded in ousting all 9 OHA trustees and appointing temporary replacements for them pending the November elections; the Arakaki#1 lawsuit made it possible for people with no native blood to run for OHA trustee, and there were 96 candidates on the November ballot for the 9 seats on the OHA board including at least a dozen who had no native blood, including one who got elected)
5. WHAT HAS HAPPENED FROM 2001 THROUGH FEBRUARY 2010 REGARDING THE RICE DECISION AS RELATED TO THE AKAKA BILL? (Akaka bill started over again in January 2001; propaganda booklet published June 2001 entitled "Reconciliation at a Crossroads: The Implications of the Apology Resolution and Rice v. Cayetano for Federal and State Programs Benefiting Native Hawaiians" supported both the Akaka bill and the "right" of ethnic Hawaiians to force the entire State of Hawaii to secede from the United States; in May 2006 the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights publicly opposed the Akaka bill, and in June the bill was killed in the Senate after President Bush said he would veto it; the USCCR again publicly opposed the bill in August 2009; links are provided to compilations of hundreds of pages of news reports and commentaries about the Akaka bill, and full text of all versions of the bill, from throughout the decade of 2000 - 2010)
6. HAWAII-BASED LAWSUITS EXTENDING THE RICE V. CAYETANO DECISION, AND LEGAL COMMENTARIES. (The progeny of Rice v. Cayetano include a detailed analysis of the successful Arakaki#1 to desegregate candidacy for OHA trustee; plus descriptions of the unsuccessful Carroll and Barrett cases; plus links to news reports and commentaries and all legal briefs from the five year long unsuccessful Arakaki#2; a propaganda forum was held at the University of Hawaii law school in July 2002 to deplore the progeny lawsuits but resulted in publication of an edition of the Asian-Pacific Law and Policy Journal which included two well-documented major analyses by attorneys Patrick W. Hanifin and Paul M. Sullivan; several lawsuits against the racially exclusionary admissions policy of Kamehameha Schools were neutralized through settlements; Attorney H. William Burgess filed a short-lived federal lawsuit "Kuroiwa v. Lingle" which was dismissed on grounds that Arakaki#2 had already decided the issues; additional lawsuits have been filed in state courts to challenge each county's policy of granting waivers of property tax to ethnic Hawaiian owners of houses on property leased from the Department of Hawaiian Homelands)
7. WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN TO RACIAL ENTITLEMENTS AND HAWAIIAN SOVEREIGNTY IN THE FUTURE? (Why do many citizens and nearly all Hawaii politicians support race-based entitlements and sovereignty? What are sovereignty zealots doing to recruit the majority of Hawaii's people, who are ethnically Asian? How are civil rights activists fighting back against racial separatism and ethnic nationalism? What will the Supreme Court probably do with the Akaka bill if it passes?)
The complete webpage covering those topics in detail is at
Dr. Conklin's book "Hawaiian Apartheid: Racial Separatism and Ethnic Nationalism in the Aloha State" is in the Hawaii Public Library, and also at
National Review Online, Monday February 22, 2010
Akaka: Bad Bill, Bad Process
by Peter Kirsanow
As noted by Roger Clegg, the House is poised to vote on the Akaka Bill, a measure that would create a separate race-based government for Native Hawaiians.
The original version of the bill was the subject of a U.S. Commission on Civil Rightshearing three years ago. It was, and remains, the worst piece of proposed legislation ever reviewed by the Commission.
Today, individual members of the Commission sent the following letter to House leadership, opposing the substance of the bill as well as the manner in which it's being brought to a vote:
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House
The Honorable John Boehner, Republican Leader
The Honorable Nick Rahall II, Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources
The Honorable Doc Hastings, Ranking Member, Committee on Natural Resources
The Honorable John Conyers Jr., Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary
The Honorable Lamar Smith, Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary
Dear Distinguished Members of Congress:
We write to you in our individual capacities as members of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. We understand that the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (the "Akaka proposal") is about to be brought to a vote on the House floor. We also understand that the bill will be a substitute for the one considered by the Natural Resources Committee. The bill slated for a hasty House vote was apparently negotiated behind closed doors among Hawaii's Congressional delegation, possibly the White House, and certain state officials, although those actually involved are unclear. Indeed, more changes were reportedly made over the weekend and released less than 48 hoursprior to the expected House vote. The citizens of Hawaii, Members of the Committees on Natural Resources and the Judiciary, and any other experts will not have the normal opportunity to discuss or debate the revised provisions of the bill. Nor will members of the general public.
We wish to register our profound disappointment that a bill of this great importance would be dealt with in this manner. The creation of the largest tribal entity in the history of the nation – potentially 400,000 strong – is too important a step to take this lightly.
Attached is a letter that the Commission on Civil Rights sent to the Senate leadership on August 28, 2009, in which the Commission expresses its opposition to the race-based Native Hawaiian Government proposal. We wanted to ensure that you received a copy. A preliminary review of the new eligibility requirements for membership in the purported tribe does not eliminate the substantial constitutional doubt about the legislation. Nor does it lessen the profound, negative policy implications of the bill.
We urge you to oppose both the Akaka proposal and this circumvention of the normal legislative process.
Gerald Reynolds, Chair
Peter Kirsanow, Commissioner
Gail Heriot, Commissioner
Todd Gaziano, Commissioner
Ashley Taylor, Commissioner
 We understand that a vote on this measure is imminent. Because the Commission only meets once or twice per month, there was no opportunity for the Commission to act as a whole.
** Note from website editor Ken Conklin: The original letter from the U.S. Commission on Civil rights, on official letterhead, dated August 28, 2009, with signatures, can be seen at
The letter of February 22, 2010, including signatures of the 5 Commissionsers, can be seen at
Honolulu Advertiser, BREAKING NEWS/UPDATES
Updated at 10:56 a.m., and further updated 6:34 PM, Monday, February 22, 2010
Final text of Akaka bill released
Hawaii's Congessional delegation today released its final text of the Akaka bill, which it said includes clarifications addressing concerns by the state of Hawaii and members of the Native Hawaiian community.
U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka's office said the legislation was "fine-tuned in consultation between the Delegation and the White House, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Interior, and the Hawaii State Attorney General."
The changes are designed to clarify the authority and powers of a Native Hawaiian governing entity prior to negotiations with the United States while ensuring that the final bill is legally sound and consistent with U.S. policy toward indigenous people and their native governments, Akaka said in a statement.
Gov. Linda Lingle opposes the latest version of the Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill, which will be up for a vote in the U.S. House on Tuesday.
Sen. Akaka said he sought to work on Lingle's concerns but decided to move forward after they could not agree.
The final text of the Akaka bill can be seen at:
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, POSTED: 11:37 a.m. HST, Feb 22, 2010
Final text of Akaka Bill released
By Star-Bulletin staff
Hawaii's Congressional delegation today released what it calls the final text of the Akaka Bill.
This version of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act includes clarifications addressing concerns raised by the Lingle administration and members of the Native Hawaiian community, according to a statement from U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, the bill's author.
The House of Representatives Committee on Rules is meeting later today to determine a timeline for consideration on the House floor, but there is no timeline for Senate consideration, according to Akaka.
"These clarifications represent a genuine effort to address the State's concerns while maintaining the original purpose of the bill: federal recognition for Native Hawaiians," said Akaka. "It is critically important that we continue to provide Native Hawaiians parity in federal policies enacted for our nation's indigenous people. This bill provides Native Hawaiians with an opportunity for self determination and cultural preservation, while empowering them to be an equal partner with the state and federal government. More than 50 years after statehood, it is time we act to bring about meaningful reconciliation and healing."
The final text provides guidance on how a Native Hawaiian governing entity, the federal government, and the State of Hawaii will interact and reach mutual agreements, according to Akaka.
According to Akaka's office, the changes to the bill:
>> Make it clear that Native Hawaiians will have the inherent powers and privileges of a native government -- self-determination like indigenous people on the continental U.S. -- with the exception of the right to conduct gambling.
>> Preserve the status quo in terms of civil or criminal Jurisdiction. It does not preempt federal or state jurisdiction over individual Native Hawaiians or their property. Native Hawaiians remain subject to state and federal laws. The bill also does not transfer any lands to the Native Hawaiian governing entity.
>> Preserves sovereign immunity for the Native Hawaiian governing entity and its officers and employees while acting in the scope of their official capacity. All states and native governments in the United States have sovereign immunity. Language was added to clarify that the bill does not alter the sovereign immunity of the United States or the state of Hawaii.
The final text is available here:
Hawaii Reporter, February 22, 2010
Governor Lingle: Current Version of Akaka Bill is Not One My Administration Can Support
The current bill establishes that the Native Hawaiian governing entity would start with broad governmental powers and authorities, with negotiations to follow.
By Gov. Linda Lingle
For more than seven years, my administration and I have strongly supported recognition for Native Hawaiians and supported the Akaka Bill.
We have supported a bill that would set up a process of recognition first, followed by negotiations between the Native Hawaiian governing entity, the State of Hawai'i, and the United States. Once that was completed, it would be followed by the Native Hawaiian governing entity's exercise of governmental powers and authorities.
Amendments made to the bill in December 2009 turned that process around. The current bill establishes that the Native Hawaiian governing entity would start with broad governmental powers and authorities, with negotiations to follow.
Although I believe the original plan to negotiate first makes more sense, my administration has tried to work with the Hawai'i Congressional delegation on the new structure to establish governing powers first, with negotiations to follow.
Ultimately, although we had good and productive discussions, the current draft of the bill is not one I can support.
The basic problem as I see it, is that in the current version of the bill, the 'governmental' (non-commercial) activities of the Native Hawaiian governing entity, its employees, and its officers, will be almost completely free from State and County regulation, including free from those laws and rules that protect the health and safety of Hawai'i's people, and protect the environment. 'Governmental' activity is a broad undefined term that can encompass almost any non-commercial activity.
This structure will, in my opinion, promote divisiveness and litigation, rather than negotiation and resolution.
I do not believe such a structure, of two completely different sets of rules – one for 'governmental' activities of the Native Hawaiian governing entity and its officers and employees, and one for everyone else – makes sense for Hawai'i.
In addition, under the current bill, the Native Hawaiian governing entity has almost complete sovereign immunity from lawsuits, including from ordinary tort and contract lawsuits, and I do not believe this makes sense for the people of Hawai'i.
My decision to not support the current version of the Akaka Bill is done with a heavy heart, because I so strongly believe in recognition for Native Hawaiians.
If the bill in its current form passes the House of Representatives, I would hope it can be amended in the United States Senate.
National Review online, Monday, February 22, 2010
Return of the Native Hawaiian Bill
by Roger Clegg
"This week, the House will consider the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009 (H.R. 2314), which creates a separate, race-based government specifically for Native Hawaiians." So says, accurately, the Natural Resources Committee Republicans in their alert today. Read Rep. Doc Hastings's critique of the bill here. It's also been criticized by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and in testimony by the Bush administration. Finally, Ramesh has condemned it. No more need be said. It's a very, very bad bill.
National Review Online, Monday, February 22, 2010
Hawaii Bill: It's the Little Things that Matter
by Kevin D. Williamson
So the native Hawaiians are moving toward setting up a separate government along explicitly racial lines. Wherever do these ideas come from? How do they take root? Here's a clue: Anybody remember how much President Clinton liked to apologize? And how those apologies were always explained away as symbolic, feel-good measures? Here's a bit from the legislation moving through the House, citing the 1993 Hawaiian Apology Resolution, signed by President Clinton, in which the United States grovels for the sin of having helped depose the Hawaiian monarchy:
The Apology Resolution acknowledges that the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii occurred with the active participation of agents and citizens of the United States, and further acknowledges that the Native Hawaiian people never directly relinquished to the United States their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people over their national lands, either through the Kingdom of Hawaii or through a plebiscite or referendum; … the Apology Resolution expresses the commitment of Congress and the President to acknowledge the ramifications of the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii; and to support reconciliation efforts between the United States and Native Hawaiians.
A bit more than feel-good symbolism, no? But sovereignty is a political question. From wherever might the racial separatists in Hawaii argue that they derive a continuous political tradition? More from the bill:
through the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homelands Assembly and Native Hawaiian homestead associations, Native Hawaiian civic associations, charitable trusts established by the Native Hawaiian ali'i, nonprofit native service providers and other community associations, the Native Hawaiian people have actively maintained native traditions and customary usages throughout the Native Hawaiian community ….
From nonprofit service providers, of course! Starts with a civic association, ends with a separatist movement. Bear that in mind next time MEChA is in the news.
Monday, February 22, 2010
The U.S. House will vote soon on the Akaka Bill, after final language was released yesterday. You say:
Pass it; it's overdue 30.7 %
Reject it; it's flawed 58.7 %
Need more time to absorb changes 10.6
4797 votes (results not scientific)
U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, Minority (Republican) blog, February 22, 2010
Rewrite of Native Hawaiian Bill Contains Potential Gaming Loophole
State of Hawaii could be powerless to stop Native Hawaiian casino
With the final rewritten text (Abercrombie substitute) of H.R. 2314, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009, being provided to members of the U.S. House of Representatives with less than 24 hours before a formal vote may be called, analysis of its provisions are ongoing. A review of two sections of the bill reveal that it may contain a loophole that could allow the newly established Native Hawaiian governing entity to establish a gaming operation that the State of Hawaii could be powerless to block or shutdown.
Section 10(a) of the rewritten bill is clearly intended to provide that the Native Hawaiian governing entity created under the bill is not recognized to establish a casino or gaming operation under the federal law that governs Indian gaming (the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, 25 USC 2701 et seq.)
However, Section 9(c)(3)(H) specifically provides that the Native Hawaiian governing entity is immune from lawsuit by the State of Hawaii in either state or federal court. In addition, Section 9(c)(3)(I) provides that "governmental" activities undertaken by the entity "shall not be subject to the regulatory or taxation authority of the State of Hawaii…".
Should the Native Hawaiian governing entity unlawfully establish a casino despite Section 10(a) of the rewritten bill, then Section 9(c)(3)(H) of the rewritten bill could prevent the State of Hawaii from going to court to shut-down the illegal gaming operation.
While there are proposals currently being considered in the Hawaii State Legislature to allow gaming on Native Hawaiian lands, there is nothing to indicate that there are any plans or intentions for the Native Hawaiian governing entity to start a casino or gaming operation in violation of existing law, yet in this rewritten bill text, should such a scenario ever arise in the future, the State of Hawaii could be powerless to stop it.
This potential loophole is not an invented fantasy. Over the years, there have been Indian casinos operating without state-approved compacts and in violation of state law. If Congress passes the rewritten bill with this loophole, then the only authority that the State of Hawaii and its citizens could have to rely on to stop the illegal operation would be the federal government, which has been lax in acting on such matters.
While the authors of the bill may not have intended to create this potential loophole, this is precisely what happens when bills are written out of public view and rushed for a vote without appropriate time for careful review.
U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources, Minority (Republican) blog, February 22, 2010
Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill Creates Unconstitutional Race-Based Government
WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb 22 - This week, the House will consider the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009 (H.R. 2314), which creates a separate, race-based government specifically for Native Hawaiians. This divisive legislation would allow this new government entity to be exempt from state taxes, set their own civil and possibly criminal jurisdictions apart from the State of Hawaii, and take ownership of lands currently owned by the state (and potentially the federal government). Up to 400,000 Native Hawaiians from across the country (not just those living in Hawaii) could be eligible to become members of this new governing entity.
Democrats have re-written this bill behind closed doors (which has yet to be made public anywhere except for the Republican Committee website), without public consent, while failing to address serious and legitimate concerns:
Congress does not have the constitutional authority to recognize Native Hawaiians as a sovereign Indian Tribe. Native Hawaiians are not and never have been members of a tribe. They do not share the same political and legal history as federally recognized Indian tribes and Congress does not possess the authority to extend tribal recognition to them under the Indian Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution). Furthermore, the Supreme Court in Rice v. Cayetano called into question Congress' ability to recognize Native Hawaiians as a governing entity.
It is unconstitutional to divide American people solely by race or ethnicity. The United States Commission on Civil Rights strongly opposes this legislation based on grounds that it discriminates based on race. In a letter to members of Congress on August 28, 2009 they wrote that:
"We do not believe Congress has the constitutional authority to 'reorganize' racial or ethnic groups into dependent sovereign nations unless those groups have a long and continuous history of separate self-governance."
The State of Hawaii continues to have concerns with this bill, specifically that it would immediately give the government entity "inherit powers" and remove state authority. Hawaii's Attorney General Mark Bennett and Governor Linda Lingle, who support Native Hawaiian recognition, wrote a letter last December objecting to last-minute revisions in the bill. According to an article last week in the Honolulu Advertiser, not all of Attorney General Bennett's concerns have been addressed:
"Bennett said the state's concerns about the Obama administration's language have been addressed by the parties. However, he said, the state still has strong objections to clauses in the new draft that could give immunity from state law to the entity, its employees and officers while they are conducting government activity."
Native Hawaiians would be exempt from state laws, regulations and taxes. Native Hawaiians do not live in separate communities or on separate lands, they live in neighborhoods with other Hawaiians. This would result in neighbors living under different legal regimes. For example, a Native Hawaiian business owner could be exempt from a state sales tax while his competitor down the street is not.
The people of Hawaii, whose lives and communities would be dramatically impacted by this legislation, should have a say in whether or not a race-based governing entity is established in their state. According to a December 2009 Zogby Poll, only 34% of Hawaiians support this legislation. Rather than forcing this upon the people, it should be put to a statewide vote.
The membership criteria for inclusion in this government entity would be discarded once federal recognition is extended. Even though the Department of Justice helped craft the membership criteria, the new governing entity would have the ability to grant, deny, or revoke membership for any reason. Allowing the entity to throw away the criteria after recognition is achieved makes a mockery of the legal process.
The bill sets a precedent that could be used by other ethnic groups seeking recognition. Gail Heriot with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights testified before the committee that:
"If ethnic Hawaiians can be accorded tribal status, why not Chicanos in the Southwest? Or Cajuns in Louisiana? Indeed, it is implausible to say that Congress has the power to confer this benefit only upon racial or ethnic groups, since ordinarily Congressional power is at its lowest ebb with issues that touch on race or ethnicity."
For more information, read the dissenting views by Ranking Republican Doc Hastings.
Contact: Jill Strait or Spencer Pederson (202) 226-2311
GOP.gov -- The website of the Republicans in Congress
February 22, 2010
What Every Member Needs to Know About the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act
On February 23, 2010, the House of Representatives is scheduled to consider the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (H.R. 2314). H.R. 2314 would recognize and authorize the creation of a sovereign Native Hawaiian governing entity-an Indian tribe. In order to do that, the bill would establish a process for organizing the Native Hawaiian people into an entity that knows who its members are, possesses authority over its members, adopts governing documents, etc. Such a tribe would likely have as many as 400,000 members nationwide, including more than 20 percent of Hawaii's residents, and potential authority over Native Hawaiians in all of the fifty states. If each Native Hawaiian eligible under this legislation were to apply to become a member of the new governing entity, it would be one of the nation's largest Indian tribes. Furthermore, this bill would confer upon them racially exclusive benefits, discriminating against Hawaiian residents of other races.
There are more than 150 current statutes that confer federal benefits to the Native Hawaiian people. However, in 2000, the Supreme Court put many of these benefits in jeopardy with its decision in Rice v. Cayetano. The Court's decision in Rice led many to conclude that federal benefits flowing to Native Hawaiians are a racial set-aside. As a result, the Hawaiian Congressional delegation has championed legislation to provide a process for the United States to recognize Native Hawaiians as a governing entity, i.e. a tribe that is political in nature and not a racial group. But instead of recognizing a currently-existing political entity that has authority over its members, H.R. 2314 must create one from scratch. Specifically, the following are some concerns that many Members have expressed with the legislation:
Unconstitutional: Congress lacks the power to create Indian tribes, and the Supreme Court has held that Congress' power with regard to indigenous peoples is not unlimited. In U.S. v. Sandoval, the Court stated that: "It is not meant by this that Congress may bring a community or body of people within the range of this power by arbitrarily calling them an Indian tribe." In other words, the Court held that the Congress cannot create an Indian tribe where one does not exist, but can rather, only recognize groups who have long operated as a tribe with a preexisting political structure and who live separately and distinctly from other communities (both geographically and culturally). The history and political relations between Native Hawaiians and the U.S. demonstrates that Native Hawaiians are not an existing Indian tribe.
Racial Group, Not a Tribe: Native Hawaiians are by the Court's definition not an Indian tribe but a racial group as stated in Montoya v United States: "By a 'tribe' we understand a body of Indians of the same or a similar race, united in a community under one leadership or government, and inhabiting a particular though sometimes ill-defined territory" (emphasis added).
According to Congressional testimony provided by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Commissioner Gail Heriot, the very act of transforming Native Hawaiians into a tribe is "an act performed on a racial group, not a tribal group." This bill would confer upon them racially exclusive benefits, discriminating against Hawaiian residents of other races. Furthermore, this bill would preserve the State of Hawaii's current practice of conferring special benefits exclusively on its Native Hawaiian citizens. In a letter to House leaders, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights writes:
We do not believe Congress has the constitutional authority to "reorganize" racial or ethnic groups into dependent sovereign nations unless those groups have a long and continuous history of separate self-governance. Moreover, quite apart from the issue of constitutional authority, creating such an entity sets a harmful precedent. Ethnic Hawaiians will surely not be the only group to demand such treatment.
The Commission opposes passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act "or any other legislation that would discriminate on the basis of race or national origin and further subdivide the American People into discrete subgroups accorded varying degrees of privilege."
Racial Balkanization: H.R. 2314 could lead to a racial balkanization in Hawaii and elsewhere, providing for different codes of law to apply to people of different races who live and function as part of one currently homogenous community. Tribal Indians are typically located on reservations and immune from State laws, but this would not be the case should Native Hawaiians be granted the status of "tribe." In general, tribes do not pay State taxes nor do they abide by State regulations. With this in mind, consider for example, two small businesses in Hawaii competing against one another. One is owned by a Native Hawaiian, and the other is owned by someone who is not. The former would be exempt from State taxes, State business regulations, and zoning and environmental laws, and the latter would not.
Lack of Referendum: Nothing in H.R. 2314 provides current Hawaiians with any choice in the matter of whether or not there is a new governmental entity-which would no doubt affect them-created in their community. In addition, Zogby conducted a poll of registered Hawaii voters in 2009 which asked the following question:
The Native Hawaiian Reorganization Act of 2009, or the Akaka Bill, would recognize native Hawaiians as a tribe similar to the laws affecting American Indian tribes. To be included under the new Hawaiian government, residents would have to be able to show proof of native Hawaiian blood in their ancestry. Knowing what you know now, do you support or oppose the Native Hawaiian Reorganization Act of 2009, or the Akaka Bill?
Only 34 percent of respondents said yes-51 percent said no. In addition, 58 percent of those surveyed supported the idea of a referendum before the provisions of H.R. 2314 became law. No such referendum is provided for in H.R. 2314.
Independence and Secession: In the process of clarifying statements he made earlier to an NPR reporter, the Senate companion's sponsor, Daniel Akaka, admitted that this bill could lead to independence:
I've spoken to those in Hawaii who want to have the-Hawaii to be independent and I've told them, hey, you can use the governing entity to discuss it. And this is what I meant. They can bring these to the governing entity and the governing entity will make a decision as to what happens to, uh, to independence or returning to the monarchy.
The State of Hawaii's Office of Hawaiian Affairs until recently posted a document which fueled speculation that H.R. 2314 may lead to secession and further independence efforts:
While the federal recognition bill authorizes the formation of a Native Hawaiian governing entity, the bill itself does not prescribe the form of government this entity will become. S.344 creates the process for the establishment of the Native Hawaiian governing entity and a process for federal recognition. The Native Hawaiian people may exercise their right to self-determination by selecting another form of government including free association or total independence. (emphasis added)
U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Rules
H.R. 2314 - Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009
Meeting Time: 5:00 p.m. Monday 2/22
Text of the Bill as Ordered Reported
H. Rept 111-412: Natural Resources Committee Report
** 26 page committee report includes Hawaiian history, legislative history of the bill, recorded votes of committee, legal analysis of bill's provisions, Congressional Budget Office cost estimate $1 Million annually 2010-2010 and $500,000 per year thereafter; dissenting views -- DON'T MISS PP. 19-26
H. Res. 1083 Rule and Report
[RULES] COMMITTEE ACTION: REPORTED BY A VOICE VOTE on Monday February 22, 2010.
[Report No. 111-413]
H.R. 2314 - Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009
1. Structured rule.
2. Provides one hour of debate in the House equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Natural Resources.
3. Waives all points of order against consideration of the bill except clauses 9 or 10 of rule XXI.
4. Provides that the bill shall be considered as read.
5. Waives all points of order against provisions of the bill. This waiver does not affect the point of order available under clause 9 of rule XXI (regarding earmark disclosure).
6. Makes in order the amendment in the nature of a substitute printed in part A of the report of the Committee on Rules, if offered by Representative Abercrombie of Hawaii or his designee, which shall be separately debatable for 30 minutes equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent.
7. Waives all points of order against the amendment in the nature of a substitute printed in part A except for clauses 9 or 10 of rule XXI.
8. Makes in order the amendment printed in part B of the report of the Committee on Rules, if offered by Representative Hastings of Washington or his designee, which shall be separately debatable for 10 minutes equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent.
9. Makes in order the amendment printed in part B of the report of the Committee on Rules, if offered by Representative Flake of Arizona or his designee, which shall be separately debatable for 10 minutes equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent
10. Waives all points of order against the amendments printed in part B except for clause 10 of rule XXI.
11. Provides that during consideration of an amendment printed in part B of the report of the Committee on Rules accompanying this resolution, the Chair may postpone the question of adoption as though under clause 8 of rule XX.
12. Provides one motion to recommit with or without instructions.
Resolved, That upon the adoption of this resolution it shall be in order to consider in the House the bill (H.R. 2314) to express the policy of the regarding the relationship with Native Hawaiians and to provide a process for the recognition by the of the Native Hawaiian governing entity. All points of order against consideration of the bill are waived except those arising under clause 9 or 10 of rule XXI. The bill shall be considered as read. All points of order against provisions of the bill are waived. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the bill and on any amendment thereto to final passage without intervening motion except: (1) one hour of debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority member of the Committee on Natural Resources; (2) the amendment in the nature of a substitute printed in part A of the report of the Committee on Rules accompanying this resolution, if offered by Representative Abercrombie of Hawaii or his designee, which shall be in order without intervention of any point of order except those arising under clause 9 or 10 of rule XXI, shall be considered as read, and shall be separately debatable for 30 minutes equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent; (3) the amendments to the amendment in the nature of a substitute printed in part B of the report of the Committee on Rules, each of which may be offered only by a Member designed in the report, shall be in order without intervention of any point of order except those arising under clause 10 of rule XXI, shall be considered as read, and shall be separately debatable for 10 minutes equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent; and (4) one motion to recommit with or without instructions.
Sec. 2. During consideration of an amendment printed in part B of the report of the Committee on Rules accompanying this resolution, the Chair may postpone the question of adoption as though under clause 8 of rule XX.
SUMMARY OF THE AMENDMENT IN THE NATURE OF A SUBSTITUTE IN PART A PROPOSED TO BE MADE IN ORDER
#1 ABERCROMBIE – Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute (ANS)-The substitute addresses several issues raised by the Attorney General of the State of Hawaii and others. In particular the ANS clarifies the definition of "Native Hawaiian" to ensure that the Native Hawaiian governing entity is a distinctly native community. While recognizing and affirming the sovereign immunity of the Native Hawaiian governing entity, the ANS expressly states the Act does not alter the sovereign immunity of the or the State of Hawaii allowing for negotiations. The ANS further clarifies that, pending negotiations and subsequent implementation legislation the following will occur: there will be no "Indian Country" within Hawaii; the United States will not take land into trust, nor restrict alienability of land owned by the Native Hawaiian governing entity; the governing entity may not exercise certain powers and authorities such as jurisdiction over non Native Hawaiian individuals without their consent; and the State of Hawaii will retain regulatory and taxation authority over Native Hawaiians and the Native Hawaiian governing entity. (30 minutes)
SUMMARY OF THE AMENDMENTS IN PART B, TO THE AMENDMENT IN THE NATURE OF A SUBSTITUTE IN PART A, PROPOSED TO BE MADE IN ORDER
#1 HASTINGS (WA) - The amendment requires that the voters of Hawaii approve the governing documents for the Native Hawaiian governing entity before federal recognition becomes operative. (10 minutes)
#2 Flake - The amendment states that nothing in this Act shall relieve a Native Hawaiian governing authority, from complying with the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment to the United States Constitution. (10 minutes)
** FEBRUARY 23 BEFORE THE HOUSE DEBATE AND VOTE
Honolulu Advertiser, Tuesday, February 23, 2010
U.S. House may vote today on Akaka bill
U.S. House could act today on measure, despite governor's 'heavy-hearted' opposition
By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Government Writer
The U.S. House could vote today on a new version of the Akaka bill, after Hawai'i's congressional delegation opted to move forward without the support of Gov. Linda Lingle.
The Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill would give Hawaiians the right to form their own government, similar to American Indians and Native Alaskans, and negotiate with the state and federal governments over land use and cultural preservation.
Hawaiians would have the inherent power to govern prior to any negotiations, not after, and any new noncommercial government activities, services and programs run by Hawaiians would not be subject to state or county regulation.
The Obama administration insisted that Hawaiians have inherent power so they would be treated similarly to American Indians and Native Alaskans, but Lingle and state Attorney General Mark Bennett object because it would essentially create two sets of rules for Hawaiians and other state residents.
"These clarifications represent a genuine effort to address the state's concerns while maintaining the original purpose of the bill: federal recognition for Native Hawaiians," U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai'i, the bill's main sponsor, said in a statement. "It is critically important that we continue to provide Native Hawaiians parity in federal policies enacted for our nation's indigenous people. This bill provides Native Hawaiians with an opportunity for self-determination and cultural preservation, while empowering them to be an equal partner with the state and federal government.
"More than 50 years after statehood, it is time we act to bring about meaningful reconciliation and healing."
Akaka spoke yesterday with Lingle, who is in Washington, D.C., for the winter meeting of the National Governors Association, but they could not resolve their differences.
Lingle, in a statement, said her opposition comes with a "heavy heart," because she has backed federal recognition for a decade.
"I do not believe such a structure, of two completely different sets of rules — one for 'governmental' activities of the Native Hawaiian governing entity and its officers and employees, and one for everyone else — makes sense for Hawai'i," she said.
Bennett said the state considered softening its opposition to the inherent power language, but could not agree to give up its authority to regulate health, public safety, welfare and the environment.
While the new Hawaiian government would not control any land until after negotiations with the state and federal governments, Bennett said, it could function as a government and launch a range of noncommercial activities without any state or county oversight.
Bennett called the new version "a formula for strife and litigation, not for negotiation and reconciliation."
U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawai'i, is expected to amend the bill on the House floor today to substitute language in the new version.
The new version would not make Hawaiians an Indian tribe — like a previous draft the state opposed — and, like earlier drafts, prohibits a new Hawaiian government from conducting gambling either in Hawai'i or on the Mainland.
House Republicans are expected to offer amendments: one to require that Hawai'i voters approve the new Hawaiian government before federal recognition becomes operative; and another stating that a new Hawaiian government would have to comply with the equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
House Democrats, who have a majority, will likely reject the Republican proposals and pass the bill with Abercrombie's changes.
The House has twice passed versions of the Akaka bill since it was introduced in 2000, but the delegation has been unable to steer it through the U.S. Senate, where Republicans have used procedural tools to block it from advancing.
Bennett said the Lingle administration would likely try to amend the bill in the Senate. Even with Lingle's strong support in the past, when the Republican governor personally lobbied Republican senators and President George W. Bush, the delegation has not been able to overcome GOP opposition.
With the January special-election victory by U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., Democrats lost the ability to control the 60 votes necessary to break Republican filibusters and now have 59 votes. However, at least one Republican, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has supported the Akaka bill, so there is a chance the bill might move.
TIME IS RIGHT
Akaka and others in the delegation have been optimistic the bill could pass this year and go to President Obama, who has said he would sign it into law. The Senate's makeup could change significantly after the November elections due to the number of open and competitive seats, so Hawai'i lawmakers want to act quickly.
"We have worked for more than a decade on this piece of legislation and I would like to take a moment to thank Gov. Lingle and Attorney General Mark Bennett for working with our staff in such a timely manner," U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawai'i, said in a statement. "We made significant modifications to this bill at the request of the state and I believe that it is stronger because of it. Although meaningful changes were made to address the governor's concerns, there remain issues that we could not resolve.
"Today is a new day. We have a new administration, and this bill represents a new compromise in our goal of achieving self-determination for Native Hawaiians."
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, February 23, 2010
Lingle balks at rewrite of Akaka Bill
The governor says the measure has rules for Hawaiians and rules for "everybody else"
By Richard Borreca
A new version of the native Hawaiian government reorganization bill is moving in the U.S. House, but Gov. Linda Lingle remains opposed to it—and that could doom it in the Senate.
House supporters and Hawaii Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka announced yesterday that closed-door negotiations among the Hawaii delegation, the Justice Department and state Attorney General Mark Bennett have ended with a bill designed to respond to objections by all parties.
"The changes reflected in this final text are designed to clarify the authority and powers of the native Hawaiian governing entity prior to negotiations, while ensuring that the final bill is legally sound and consistent with U.S. policy toward indigenous people and their native governments," said Akaka in a news release. "This bill provides native Hawaiians with an opportunity for self-determination and cultural preservation, while empowering them to be an equal partner with the state and federal government."
However, Lingle, in a written statement, said she did not approve of the measure and hopes it can be amended in the Senate.
"The basic problem as I see it, is that in the current version of the bill, the 'governmental' (non-commercial) activities of the native Hawaiian governing entity, its employees, and its officers, will be almost completely free from state and county regulation, including free from those laws and rules that protect the health and safety of Hawaii's people, and protect the environment," Lingle said.
"I do not believe such a structure, of two completely different sets of rules—one for 'governmental' activities of the native Hawaiian governing entity and its officers and employees, and one for everyone else—makes sense for Hawaii."
Clyde Namuo, Office of Hawaiian Affairs administrator, said he doubts the bill will pass the Senate without Lingle's support.
"Having the governor's support is going to really make the difference, in my mind," Namuo said.
Passing the bill in the Senate, after it clears the House, is a numbers game, Namuo explained.
Republican opponents will likely block or filibuster the measure. To override that, supporters will need 60 votes. But with only 59 Democrats, the bill will need GOP support, and Lingle is viewed as the only one who can bring that help.
"What will be key is that the governor and Mark Bennett need to support the bill absolutely. And at this point I am not sure all the AG's concerns have been addressed," Namuo said.
Here is the clause that Bennett said is objectionable:
"Governmental, nonbusiness, noncommercial activities undertaken by the native Hawaiian governing entity, or by a corporation or other association wholly owned by the native Hawaiian governing entity, shall not be subject to the regulatory or taxation authority of the state of Hawaii."
American Indian tribes have similar legislation permitting a tribal governing entity to control governmental business on Indian lands or reservations, but Bennett said the clause would allow it anywhere in the state.
The bill (House Resolution 2314) is set to pass the House this week, just days before the scheduled resignation of U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who is returning to Hawaii to campaign for governor.
Lingle had several concerns about a previous version of the measure, dubbed the Akaka Bill because it had first been introduced by Akaka. Inouye said his office worked with the Obama administration and Bennett to find solutions to the state's concerns.
"Although meaningful changes were made to address the governor's concerns, there remain issues that we could not resolve," Inouye said.
National Review Online, February 23, 2010
A bill expected to pass the House today with overwhelming Democratic support would accomplish something peculiar for a liberal republic in the 21st century: It would partly disenfranchise a portion of one state's residents, create a parallel government for those meeting a legislated criterion of ethnic purity, and would portend the transfer of public assets, land, and political power from those who fail to satisfy the standard of ethnic purity to those who do. For these reasons and many more, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act richly deserves opposition.
Strangely, though, it has met very little resistance. The bill is being hot-footed out of the House because one of its principal sponsors, Hawaii Democrat Rep. Neil Abercrombie, is leaving Congress to run for governor of his home state. The legislation is chiefly the work of Sen. Daniel Akaka, another Hawaii Democrat, who has proposed similar legislation in the past, without success.
National Review Online, February 23, 2010
Trouble in Paradise
Why the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act deserves to fail.
by Duncan Currie
Amid much wrangling over the economy, a bipartisan debt panel, and President Obama's health-care summit, Congress has chosen this moment to tackle . . . Native Hawaiian sovereignty? Sometime soon, perhaps as early as today, the House of Representatives will vote on the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (NHGRA), which is a modified version of legislation that has been kicking around since 2000 and failed to win a cloture vote in 2006.
Popularly known as the Akaka Bill for its original Senate architect, 85-year-old Hawaii Democrat Daniel Akaka, the NHGRA would effectively designate Native Hawaiians as a sovereign nation comparable to American-Indian tribes, allowing them to form a governing body that would launch negotiations with federal and state officials over land claims, resource rights, jurisdictional matters, taxing authority, and other issues. The list of eligible Native Hawaiian constituents would be determined by a federal commission, using criteria such as (1) ancestral links to the indigenous Polynesians who lived in the Hawaiian archipelago prior to 1893 (when the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown), (2) lineal ties to the people who qualified as "Native Hawaiians" under the 1921 Hawaiian Homes Commission Act (which relied on a 50 percent blood quantum), and (3) the ability to demonstrate "a significant cultural, social, or civic connection to the Native Hawaiian community."
But here's the catch: Once Washington formally recognized the fledgling Native Hawaiian governing entity, that entity would have "inherent power and authority to determine its own membership criteria, to determine its own membership, and to grant, deny, revoke, or qualify membership without regard to whether any person was or was not deemed to be a qualified Native Hawaiian constituent under this Act" (emphasis added), provided that membership was voluntary and renounceable. In other words, the eligibility guidelines laid out in the NHGRA are essentially meaningless. The Native Hawaiian government would be able to confer membership on whomever it wanted.
Its broader "powers and privileges" would be negotiated with federal and state authorities. During those negotiations, the "governmental, nonbusiness, [and] noncommercial activities" of the Native Hawaiian entity would be exempt from taxation or regulation by the state of Hawaii, and the entity would be shielded from state lawsuits.
You may be wondering why the House elected to consider the NHGRA this week. The reason is simple: Hawaii Democrat Neil Abercrombie, a longtime Akaka Bill advocate, is resigning his seat at the end of February in order to run for governor, and he has been promised that a vote will take place before he departs. The NHGRA enjoys overwhelming support among Democrats and is expected to pass easily. Yet Abercrombie and his colleagues have repeatedly tinkered with the text of the legislation to address the concerns of Hawaii governor Linda Lingle, who has championed earlier iterations of the Akaka Bill but raised objections to the latest version.
The NHGRA traces its roots back to 1993, when Congress marked the centennial of Queen Liliuokalani's removal by apologizing for America's involvement in her ouster and acknowledging the "inherent sovereignty" of the Native Hawaiian people. The events surrounding the Hawaiian Kingdom's 1893 demise remain highly controversial; but suffice to say that the Apology Resolution greatly exaggerated the extent of U.S. culpability. Thirty-four senators voted against it, with Washington Republican Slade Gorton warning that the resolution "divides the citizens of the state of Hawaii — who are of course citizens of the United States — into two distinct groups: Native Hawaiians and all other citizens."
Fast-forward to 2000. In Rice v. Cayetano, the U.S. Supreme Courtdeclared that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs could not prohibit non–Native Hawaiians from voting in its trustee elections. "Ancestry can be a proxy for race," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy in his majority opinion. "It is that proxy here." Shortly after the Court delivered its ruling, Senator Akaka introduced his legislation. One of its principal goals was to insulate Native Hawaiian programs and institutions from future legal challenges.
The old Akaka Bill said that key governmental powers would be transferred to the Native Hawaiian entity after the details had been negotiated with Washington and Honolulu. The new bill would automatically endow the Native Hawaiian body with "the inherent powers and privileges of self-government of a native government under existing law, except as set forth in this Act." As a Republican House staffer observes, "This is now an outright tribal-recognition bill."
What do Hawaiians themselves think of it? In November, before the revised bill had been unveiled, Zogby International conducted an online survey on behalf of Hawaii's anti-NHGRA Grassroot Institute. After explaining various aspects of the legislation, Zogby found that 51 percent of Hawaii residents oppose the Akaka Bill and only 34 percent support it (the other 15 percent are unsure). The poll also showed that 58 percent of Hawaiians would prefer to decide the bill's fate in a statewide referendum, and that 60 percent of Hawaiians believe the so-called ceded lands (1.8 million acres that once belonged to the old Hawaiian monarchy and were given to the U.S. when it annexed Hawaii in 1898) "should be used for the benefit of all the people of Hawaii, not just the Native Hawaiians."
Hawaii received a massive influx of Asian immigrants in the 19th century, and it has long been celebrated for its high rates of racial intermarriage. Therefore, it is often hard to distinguish "Native Hawaiians" from Hawaiians of mixed ancestry. How exactly would the proposed governing entity identify its eligible constituents? Would it rely on a crude blood quantum (as Congress did in the early 1920s when it passed the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act)? Unlike many American Indians, Native Hawaiians are not clustered in reservation-type communities; they are scattered throughout cities, towns, and villages across the archipelago. If the Akaka Bill were enacted, next-door neighbors could conceivably be subject to different tax codes and different criminal statutes. It would be a logistical nightmare.
And also a constitutional nightmare. "It is a matter of some dispute," Justice Kennedy noted in his 2000 Rice v. Cayetano opinion, "whether Congress may treat the native Hawaiians as it does the Indian tribes." In May 2006, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission urged lawmakers to reject an earlier version of the Akaka Bill, and also to reject "any other legislation that would discriminate on the basis of race or national origin and further subdivide the American People into discrete subgroups accorded varying degrees of privilege." In a letter to congressional leaders dated Aug. 28, 2009, six of the eight current commission members affirmed their opposition to the NHGRA.
"We do not believe Congress has the constitutional authority to 'reorganize' racial or ethnic groups into dependent sovereign nations unless those groups have a long and continuous history of separate self-governance," they wrote. "Moreover, quite apart from the issue of constitutional authority, creating such an entity sets a harmful precedent. Ethnic Hawaiians will surely not be the only group to demand such treatment. On what ground will Congress tell these other would-be tribes no?"
Good question — one that all House members should ponder before casting a vote in favor of Native Hawaiian separatism.
— Duncan Currie is deputy managing editor of National Review Online.
The Daily Caller, February 23, 2010
Hawaiians deserve to vote, not just Congress
By Rep. Doc Hastings
[the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee]
In March, 1959, Congress passed and with the stroke of a pen President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law, the Hawaii Admission Act, which pending approval of the Hawaiian residents, designated Hawaii as America's 50th state. On June 27 of the same year, 94.3 percent of Hawaiians voted in favor of the Hawaii Admissions Act and joining the union as one unified state.
That historic vote gave the residents of Hawaii all rights, privileges and freedoms associated with being an American citizen. Unfortunately, Congressional Democrats are prepared to deeply divide the state by establishing new, sovereign rights to Native Hawaiians in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Today, Democrats in the House of Representatives are trying to push the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009, introduced by Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), which would recognize Native Hawaiians as a race-based, sovereign governing entity. With this newly anointed status by the Federal Government, over 400,000 Native Hawaiians, spread across the country, would be furnished with special privileges comparable to those currently enjoyed by Indian tribes.
With passage of this bill, Native Hawaiians would gain the ability to take ownership of lands currently owned by the state, set their own civil and possibly criminal jurisdictions separate from the State of Hawaii, and become exempt from some taxation.
The implementation of this bill will likely lead to serious real world implications. For example, because the bill potentially pre-empts civil regulatory and tax jurisdiction without consent form the state, special tax breaks and regulatory structures could be given to Native Hawaiian owned businesses. This would force non-Native business owners in Hawaii who have been operating under equal rules and regulations into a competitive disadvantage with Native-owned businesses. Incentives for non-Native businesses would diminish, weakening competition, which would eventually limit consumer options and drive up prices.
Hawaii's Governor and Attorney General, both strong supporters of Native Hawaiian recognition, now have serious concerns with the latest version of the bill. In a statement released last night, Governor Lingle announced her opposition to the bill, '"Ultimately…the current draft of the bill is not one I can support." The Governor cited clauses in the revised bill that would immediately grant the Native entity "broad governmental powers and authorities" and remove state and county authority. If this legislation doesn't satisfy two of the most ardent supporters of Native recognition, Congress shouldn't be trying to pass it.
Race-based distinctions with special privileges do a disservice to the fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution and are completely antithetical to individual freedoms so inherent and valued in American society. Further, subdividing Americans based on race raises serious constitutional questions as to whether or not Congress has the authority to treat Native Hawaiians as an Indian tribe.
With respect to dividing people based on race or ethnicity, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, less than pleased with the concept of the legislation, expressed their dissatisfaction in an August 2009 letter to Congress stating they oppose any "legislation that would discriminate on the basis of race or national origin and further subdivide the American People into discrete subgroups accorded varying degrees of privilege."
In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court considered Rice v. Cayetano, a case related to the separation of American citizens into race-related classifications. The lawsuit involved a Hawaii state law that limited to Native Hawaiians the eligibility to vote in elections for trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA). In a 7-2 decision the Supreme Court held that such a restriction is race-based and therefore prohibited by the 15th Amendment to the Constitution. Though the case did not involve a Native Hawaiian entity specifically recognized by Congress, the majority opinion noted that such a proposition "would raise questions of considerable moment and difficulty. It is a matter of some dispute …whether Congress may treat the native Hawaiians as it does the Indian tribes."
According to a December 2009 Zogby Poll, only 34 percent of Hawaiians support the concept of the Federal Government imposing a new racially based sub-population of citizens on the islands. Like their fellow Hawaiians who voted overwhelmingly for statehood in 1959, Hawaiians today want a say in the future of their archipelago—the same poll found that 58 percent want a statewide vote on the issue. I have an amendment that will be voted on by the House that would require such a statewide vote, and I hope all Representatives will join me in support of it.
Fifty-one years ago, 94.3 percent of Hawaiian residents voted to join the United States of America, surely this Congress owes the citizens of the State of Hawaii the ability to cast their vote on whether or not to create a new race-based governing body within their own state. Hawaii voted to join the union as one unified state, if Congress is going to divide them, then the people of the State of Hawaii deserve to have their say.
** Text of two amendments to the Akaka bill which will be offered by Republicans (and defeated by Democrats)
Text of amendment to be offered by Rep. Hastings:
AMENDMENT OFFERED BY MR. HASTINGS OF WASHINGTON TO THE AMENDMENT IN THE NATURE OF A SUBSTITUTE TO H.R. 2314
Strike subparagraphs (A) and (B) of section 8(c)(8), and insert the following:
1 (A) the approval of the organic governing
2 documents by a statewide popular vote in which
3 all registered voters in the State of Hawaii are
4 eligible to participate;
5 (B) the approval of the organic governing
6 documents by the Secretary under subpara7
graph (A) or (C) of paragraph (4); and
8 (C) the officers of the Native Hawaiian
9 governing entity elected under paragraph (5)
10 have been installed.
Text of amendment to be offered by Rep. Flake
AMENDMENT TO H.R. 2314, AS REPORTED OFFERED BY MR. FLAKE OF ARIZONA
At the end of the bill, add the following:
1 SEC. 12. APPLICATION OF 14TH AMENDMENT.
2 Nothing in the Act shall relieve a Native Hawaiian
3 governing authority from complying with the equal protec
4 tion clause of the 14th amendment to the United States
National Review Online, Tuesday, February 23, 2010
by Peter Kirsanow
Rep. Neil Abercrombie has sent a letter to his fellow members of Congress urging them to follow "hundreds of years of federal Indian law" and support the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, a.k.a. the Akaka bill.
Congressmen can do one or the other, but not both. Congress does not have constitutional authority to confer sovereign status on racial or ethnic groups that do not have a long and continuous history of separate self-governance. Moreover, tribal status is generally (though not necessarily) associated with cultural cohesiveness, geographic contiguousness and autonomous community. Evidence of none of these factors has been adduced in support of the Akaka bill.
National Review Online, Tuesday, February 23, 2010
by Peter Kirsanow
Americans should watch their respective congressman's vote on the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (the "Akaka Bill") closely. A vote in favor of the bill is a vote in favor of granting expansive powers to a race-based government that will establish a regime of benefits and preferences based on racial purity.
The bill is not only constitutionally defective and morally repugnant, but by logical extension it opens the door for members of other racial classifications to petition the government for sovereign status.
During a hearing on the bill before the U.S.Commission on Civil Rights, the chairman of the commission asked an expert witness who supported the bill whether its passage would mean that if the chairman's (black) children were living on the island they lawfully could be treated differently on the basis of their race. The answer was "yes."
All congressmen who vote in favor of this odious bill should be questioned closely about their support of state-sponsored racial discrimination and juridical balkanization. That this bill could make it to the House floor for a vote is an abomination.
House Committee on Natural Resources Republican Press Office
House Committee on Natural Resources Republican Press Office
Hastings Floor Statement on Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill
[regarding the Abercrombie substitute version of the bill]
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Doc Hastings (WA-04) delivered the following floor statement (as prepared for delivery) on H.R. 2314, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009:
"Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 2314 and the Substitute text sponsored by Mr. Abercrombie.
At the outset of this debate, it is important for all Members to understand that the substitute text they will ultimately be voting on today is fundamentally changed from the original, underlying bill that the House voted on in 2007.
This rewritten text, the Abercrombie substitute, was drafted behind closed doors, away from public view. It was unveiled less than 48 hours before we in the House were to be debating and voting on it. Regrettably, this lack of transparency has become standard operating procedure for this Democrat controlled House.
I'm certain we will hear appeals from the bill's advocates that the vote on this bill should not be a partisan matter. I would agree this is not a partisan matter. Rather, it is a question of what is right and constitutional. But, appeals to nonpartisanship ring hollow when this bill was rewritten in secret by just one party, and then rushed to the Floor with little time for scrutiny by the minority. But more importantly, little time for scrutiny by the American people or the citizens of Hawaii.
There's nothing more troubling about the House voting on a fundamentally rewritten bill than the position made public by the Governor of Hawaii. Something is very wrong when that Governor, a longtime vocal advocate of Native Hawaiian recognition, feels compelled to issue a statement last night, that she can't support the rewritten bill.
The Governor and I disagree on the fundamental question of recognition – just as I fundamentally disagree with my friend from Hawaii, Mr. Abercrombie. But, I also strongly disagree with the House acting to impose a changed bill on one of the fifty states over their Governor's objections, especially when this Governor has long supported the concept of Native Hawaiian recognition and the original text of the bill.
Let me explain the difference between the underlying bill, which is basically what the House passed in the 110th Congress, and the Abercrombie amendment in the nature of a substitute.
The original bill extended recognition to the Native Hawaiian entity but withheld any tribal powers and privileges, such as immunity from lawsuit and State jurisdiction, until after negotiations with – and the consent of – the State of Hawaii and the Congress. Though this does not resolve my fundamental objection to the bill, it was this arrangement that drew the strong support of the Governor.
In contrast, the Substitute alters this fundamental nature of the bill. Let me quote the words that the Governor of Hawaii, Governor Lingle, used to describe this re-write:
"The current bill establishes that the Native Hawaiian governing entity would start with broad governmental powers and authorities, with negotiations to follow."
Again, the original bill starts with negotiations, followed by a grant of powers and authorities that are subject to the consent of the State. But the Substitute starts with the grant of powers and authorities without the consent of the State, followed by negotiations for yet more benefits and powers.
Section 9 of the Substitute clearly spells out the powers granted to the Native Hawaiian governing entity before negotiations, without the consent of the State. It is immunity from any lawsuit in any Federal or State court, with only minor exceptions.
And it is that "governmental" activities pursued by the entity or its officers and employees shall not be subject to State regulatory or taxation authority. The wording of this section suggests that the State criminal authority will not even apply to officers and employees of the Native Hawaiian governing entity as long as they are acting within the scope of their duties.
To again quote from the Governor of Hawaii's statement from last night:
"I do not believe such a structure, of two completely different sets of rules – one for 'governmental' activities of the Native Hawaiian governing entity and its officers and employees, and one for everyone else – makes sense for Hawai'i…
"In addition, under the current bill, the Native Hawaiian governing entity has almost complete sovereign immunity from lawsuits, including from ordinary tort and contract lawsuits, and I do not believe this makes sense for the people of Hawai'i."
Without question, this rewritten bill strikes at the heart of the State of Hawaii's authority to enforce health and environmental regulations, taxes and criminal law enforcement equally among its citizens.
Congress should not be party to imposing this upon this state or any state.
Yet, despite the State of Hawaii's concerns with the rewritten bill, here we are, debating it in the House of Representatives.
This legislation violates, in my view, the United States Constitution, because it establishes a separate, race-based government of Native Hawaiians.
The authors and advocates for this bill have argued that Native Hawaiian recognition is no different than Congress recognizing an Indian tribe, and yet there are very important and real differences.
Native Hawaiians are not and never have been members of an Indian tribe. Native Hawaiians do not share the same political and legal history as federally recognized Indian tribes. The historical record is clear on this point.
For example, in the Hawaii Organic Act of 1900, Section 4 states that all persons who were citizens of the Republic of Hawaii in 1898 were declared citizens of the United States and citizens of the Territory of Hawaii. If Congress then believed it was recognizing the existence of a separate, Native Hawaiian community, the Organic Act would have expressly reflected this. Instead, all Hawaiians were recognized as full citizens. This is in stark contrast to our nation's history of less than equal treatment of individual Indians and Indian tribes.
But try as they might, Congress cannot revise historical and political facts. H.R. 2314 attempts to do just this … to rewrite legal history.
This observation is shared by constitutional and civil rights experts. For example, in its 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court in Rice v. Cayetano , commented on the proposition of Native Hawaiian recognition, saying that it "would raise questions of considerable moment and difficulty. It is a matter of some dispute … whether Congress may treat the native Hawaiians as it does the Indian tribes."
Just yesterday, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights reiterated its standing opposition to any legislation "that would discriminate on the basis of race or national origin and further subdivide the American people into discrete subgroups accorded varying degrees of privilege."
In 1959, a vote was taken in Hawaii on the question of becoming state. Over 94 percent voted in favor of statehood. In other words, citizens of Hawaii voted overwhelmingly to join our union as one unified state.
Today, under this bill, Congress will vote on dividing the State of Hawaii through the creation of a separate governing entity based solely on race. If Congress is going to impose this division on Hawaii over the objections of its Governor,... then the citizens of Hawaii themselves deserve to have a vote on this matter.
In a Zogby poll from December, 2009, only 34 percent of Hawaiians supported the concept of the federal government imposing a new racially based sub-population of citizens on the islands.
Like their fellow Hawaiians who voted overwhelmingly for statehood in 1959, Hawaiians today want a say in the future of their archipelago—the same poll found that 58 percent want a statewide vote on the issue.
I have an amendment that will be offered that would require just such a statewide vote, and I hope all Members will join me in its adoption.
As I noted at the outset of my remarks, the House last voted on a Native Hawaiian recognition bill in 2007.
I want to reiterate to all Members that we will be voting on a different bill today.
The 2007 legislation has been rewritten.
I believe the changes today are so fundamentally different that those Members who voted YES in 2007, should take the time to reconsider their vote today.
There is another compelling need for reconsideration when the Governor of Hawaii has gone from an enthusiastic supporter of the 2007 bill to not supporting this rewritten text.
I hope many of my colleagues will recognize this dramatic change.
The Governor remains a committed supporter of Native Hawaiian recognition. Her position has not changed – it is the bill that has been changed and fundamentally rewritten.
Like the Governor, those who supported the 2007 bill have very good reason to oppose this rewritten version today
Before concluding my opening statement, I want to take a moment to publicly state that I have a great deal of respect for my colleague, Neil Abercrombie. He is departing the House at the end of this week, and I do regret that I am leading the opposition to his bill in his final days here in the House.
To be honest, I'd much rather be here on the Floor supporting his bipartisan bill to write into law a five-year plan to develop America's offshore oil and gas resources. Regrettably, such reasonable legislation stands no chance of making it to the Floor in this Congress.
I hope my friend knows that my opposition to this recognition bill is based on my view of this matter, and not a reflection of the high regard in which I hold him as a friend.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time."
Honolulu Advertiser, BREAKING NEWS/UPDATES
Updated at 12:47 p.m., Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Akaka bill up for floor vote today
The U.S. House has voted to hold a debate and floor vote on the Akaka bill later today.
The draft being considered includes two amendments introduced by House Republicans.
The Akaka bill would give Hawaiians the right to form their own government, similar to American Indians and Native Alaskans, and negotiate with state and federal governments over land use and cultural preservation.
Hawaiians would have the inherent power to govern prior to any negotiations, and any new noncommercial government activities, services and programs run by Hawaiians would not be subject to state or county regulation.
The Obama administration insisted that Hawaiians have inherent power so they would be treated similarly to American Indians and Native Alaskans, but Gov. Linda Lingle and state Attorney General Mark Bennett object because it would essentially create two sets of rules for Hawaiians and other state residents.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama "recognizes that Native Hawaiians are a vital part of our nation's cultural fabric, and they will continue to be so in the years to come."
In a statement, Gibbs said that Obama "supports the Substitute Amendment to H.R. 2314, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009, as it adds important clarifications to craft a durable pathway forward.
"He applauds Congressman Abercrombie, Congresswoman Hirono, and Senators Akaka and Inouye for their leadership on this issue, and looks forward to signing the bill into law and establishing a government-to-government relationship with Native Hawaiians."
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, February 23, 2010
Breaking News, posted at 12:34 PM
Obama affirms support for Akaka Bill
By Richard Borreca
The U.S. House is poised to take up debate on the amended version of the native Hawaiian government reorganization bill, known as the Akaka Bill.
The White House has promised to sign such a bill and this afternoon, Robert Gibbs, the president's press secretary, affirmed that support.
"The President recognizes that Native Hawaiians are a vital part of our nation's cultural fabric, and they will continue to be so in the years to come. He supports the Substitute Amendment to H.R. 2314, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009, as it adds important clarifications to craft a durable pathway forward," Gibbs said in a prepared statement.
"He applauds Congressman Abercrombie, Congresswoman Hirono, and Senators Akaka and Inouye for their leadership on this issue, and looks forward to signing the bill into law and establishing a government-to-government relationship with Native Hawaiians."
The bill is expected to easily clear the House today and Rep. Neil Abercrombie is preparing a 3:30 p.m. news conference to discuss the bill.
But, Gov. Linda Lingle, a original supporter, said yesterday the changes to the bill will force her to oppose the measure. That resistance is expected to cause GOP senators to reject the bill and it may not get to the floor for a full Senate vote.
Here is the text of the bill that passed the House:
Here's how to find transcripts of the entire floor debate in the House, and the vote rollcall:
Attention now shifts to the Senate, where a Republican filibuster is expected; but it is unknown when the bill will be scheduled.
** FEBRUARY 23 AFTER THE HOUSE VOTE
Honolulu Advertiser, BREAKING NEWS/UPDATES
Updated at 4:43 p.m., Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Akaka bill passes House 245-164
The Akaka bill was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives this evening by a vote of 245-164.
The bill would give Hawaiians the right to form their own government, similar to American Indians and Native Alaskans, and negotiate with state and federal governments over land use and cultural preservation.
Hawaiians would have the inherent power to govern prior to any negotiations, and any new noncommercial government activities, services and programs run by Hawaiians would not be subject to state or county regulation.
It's the third time the bill has passed the House since it was first introduced in 2000. The bill must still be passed by the Senate, where it has run into roadblocks twice previously, before it can go President Obama for his signature.
Obama's press secretary yesterday reiterated that the president will sign the bill if it is brought to his desk.
Sen. Daniel Akaka, the bill's author, issued this statement following the vote:
"The passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act is an important milestone for all the people of Hawaii. We have a moral obligation, unfulfilled since the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani, that we are closer to meeting today. I thank and congratulate Representatives Abercrombie and Hirono for their leadership and work to bring about today's successful vote. Neil's unwavering support for federal recognition of Native Hawaiians over the past decade is greatly appreciated. I am optimistic about bringing the bill to the Senate floor this year.
"Though the Governor had some reservations, I am certain that the bill protects the interests of all the people in Hawaii. The bill passed today specifically says 'members of the Native Hawaiian governing entity will continue to be subject to the civil and criminal jurisdiction of Federal and State courts.' The native governing entity cannot regulate non-Hawaiians. The native governing entity will need to enter into negotiations with the State of Hawaii and the United States, and all three parties will want to be in good standing and comply with existing law. Any agreements on transfers of authority or land will require the approval of the state Legislature."
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs also issued a statement, saying it was pleased with the vote.
"Today's vote is a major step in the century-long effort of Native Hawaiians to reconcile the history of past injustice and move forward together for all of Hawaii," the OHA statement said.
The bill moved out by the House contains an amendment made by Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawai'i, which was made at the behest of the Obama administration. The language says Hawaiians have inherent power so they would be treated similarly to American Indians and Native Alaskans.
Gov. Linda Lingle and state Attorney General Mark Bennett, who historically have supported the Akaka bill, object to the latest version, arguing that it would essentially create two sets of rules for Hawaiians and other state residents.
Two other amendments offered by House Republicans failed. One would have required a vote of all of Hawai'i's electorate to support a Native Hawaiian entity. The other would have stated specifically that there would be no altering of federal or state laws as a result of the Akaka bill.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama "recognizes that Native Hawaiians are a vital part of our nation's cultural fabric, and they will continue to be so in the years to come."
Gibbs' statement said that Obama support Abercrombie's amendment because "it adds important clarifications to craft a durable pathway forward."
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, February 23, 2010
Breaking News, posted at 3:55 PM
U.S. House passes Akaka Bill again
By Richard Borreca
As it has done twice before, the U.S. House passed the native Hawaiian government recognition bill, also known as the Akaka Bill.
The measure passed on a voice vote, then by roll call 245-164. It now goes to the U.S. Senate, where its fate is uncertain.
Congress has been debating the measure since 2000 and while it has easily cleared the House only to stall in the Senate. In this congressional session, both the House and Senate committees have approved versions of the bill.
"The underlying purpose of the legislation remains unchanged: To extend the federal policy of recognition to native Hawaiians and provide parity for Hawaii with policies towards Alaska Natives and American Indians," U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka said in a statement.
Earlier today, President Obama reaffirmed his support in a statement from Robert Gibbs, press secretary.
Rep. Neil Abercrombie, in an emotional farewell speech to the House, offered an amended version of the bill for a vote.
Abercrombie, a 20-year veteran of Congress, leaves at the end of this week to campaign for governor.
"It is no ideological, it is nonpartisan, it is culmination of lifetime of legislation for me," Abercrombie said.
Democrats and even Republicans like Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, supported the bill.
But Gov. Linda Lingle, a strong Republican supporter of the original measure, pulled her support yesterday, saying that the bill has changed and the amendments will hurt Hawaii.
"Under the current bill, the native Hawaiian governing entity has almost complete sovereign immunity from lawsuits, including from ordinary tort and contract lawsuits, and I do not believe this makes sense for the people of Hawaii," Lingle said.
"My decision to not support the current version of the Akaka Bill is done with a heavy heart, because I so strongly believe in recognition for native Hawaiians."
Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., said if passed the bill would allow any other racial group to set up a separate government.
"There is no more effective way to destroy a nation that to divide its people by race and accord them different rights," McClintock said.
KRDO TV 13, Colorado Springs, CO
Washington Post, Tuesday, February 23, 2010
House gives boost to Native Hawaiian government
By KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Congress moved closerTuesday to allowing Native Hawaiians to establish their own government despite objections from the state's governor.
By a vote of 245-164, the House passed a bill largely along party lines that gives Native Hawaiians the same opportunity provided to Alaska Natives and 564 Indian tribes - the chance to govern their own affairs in partnership with their state and the federal government.
It's been 117 years since the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. Hawaii's senators and representatives say the legislation would partially make amends for the downfall.
But the legislation goes beyond securing the right to self-governance for Native Hawaiians. The reconstituted government will eventually negotiate terms for acquiring land that's in a trust the state oversees. Those lands make up one-quarter of Hawaii's mass and are worth billions of dollars.
"Today's vote is a major step in the century-long effort of Native Hawaiians to reconcile the history of past injustice and move forward together for all of Hawaii," Office of Hawaiian Affairs chairwoman Haunani Apoliona said in a statement issued in Honolulu.
Republican Gov. Linda Lingle said she opposes the bill because the legislation gives the new government broad authority, with negotiations with the state to follow. In previous versions, the negotiations took place first.
Other critics say the measure is unconstitutional because it establishes a government whose membership is based on race. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said state residents should have their own election on the issue.
"Citizens of Hawaii voted overwhelmingly to join our union as one unified state," Hastings said. "Today under this bill, Congress will vote on dividing the state of Hawaii through the creation of a separate government entity based solely on race."
Prospects for the legislation have never looked brighter with President Barack Obama hailing from Hawaii and giving his backing. On Tuesday, the White House issued a statement reiterating his support.
"(He) looks forward to signing the bill into law and establishing a government-to-government relationship with Native Hawaiians," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
Hawaii's congressional delegation has long championed the legislation, but it has yet to clear both chambers. There is no timetable for consideration in the Senate.
About 240,000 people on the islands identify themselves as Native Hawaiians.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R, TN) press release opposing Akaka bill
For Immediate Release:
February 23, 2010
Contact: Jim Jeffries (202) 224-4944
Alexander: Don't Establish Race-Based Government for Native Hawaiians
Urges Senate to Oppose House-Passed Native Hawaiian Government
"In America, we say, 'One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty
and justice for all'—not 'Many nations, divided by race, with special
privileges for some.'" – Lamar Alexander
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today
released the following statement upon passage by the U.S. House of
Representatives of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act
(H.R. 2314), which would establish a new governing entity for
individuals of native Hawaiian descent:
"I'm disappointed that the House of Representatives passed legislation
which the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights opposes because the bill
would 'discriminate on the basis of race.' The Native Hawaiian
Government Reorganization Act would create a new sovereign government
within our borders based solely on race. But in America, we say, 'One
nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all'— not
'Many nations, divided by race, with special privileges for some.' I
urge the Senate to reject this ill-advised legislation as it has done
in the past."
On August 28, 2009, in a letter to members of Congress, the U.S.
Commission on Civil Rights expressed opposition to the Senate version
of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (S. 1101), which
it noted is "substantially similar" to legislation rejected by the
Senate on June 8, 2006. In its letter, the Commission quoted its 2006
report opposing the bill because it "would discriminate on the basis
of race or national origin and further subdivide the American people
into discrete subgroups accorded varying degrees of privilege."
Sen. Jim DeMint (R, SC) Press release opposing Akaka bill
For Immediate Release: February 23, 2010
Office of U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina)
Contact: Wesley Denton (202) 228-5079
DeMint Statement on Native Hawaiian Bill
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina),
chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, made the following
statement after the U.S. House of Representatives voted 245-164 to
pass a bill that would create a race-based government for
Native-Hawaiians living throughout the United States.
"The House vote this evening is deeply disappointing. We should stand
together in opposition to racially divisive and discriminatory laws
like this. The Native Hawaiian bill is unconstitutional and violates
the national unity of E Pluribus Unum. I will use all the tools
available in the Senate to ensure that this bill does not become law."
MEDIA ALERT, GRASSROOT INSTITUTE OF HAWAII
Statement from President Jamie Story Upon U.S. House Passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Bill
From Jamie Story, President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii:
"The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is disappointed that the House of Representatives passed this deeply unpopular bill that has created such division in our state. We are especially concerned that the majority of House members lacked the courage to put the Akaka bill up to a vote by all Hawaii citizens, as proposed in Rep. Doc Hastings's amendment. Our own poll, conducted in November by Zogby International, demonstrated that 58 percent of likely Hawaii voters support putting the Akaka bill on the general election ballot, and only 28 percent oppose such a move."
"In addition, we have always been concerned that many Hawaii residents are uninformed about the actual contents—and ramifications—of the proposed Akaka bill. For example, the recent Zogby poll found 32% uninformed about the Akaka bill. To combat that lack of knowledge, many of us have worked long and hard to highlight unintended consequences like higher taxes, loss of property values, expensive lawsuits, and tensions between native Hawaiians due to the Akaka bill's "blood quantum" provisions. This indicates to us an urgent need for further education of Hawaii's public, which we intend to do while continuing to call for Congressional Hearings in all of our counties.
"We would like to thank Governor Lingle for frankly expressing her concerns with the most recent version of the bill. We agree that Hawaii's residents should not be subject to two different sets of rules as outlined in the Akaka bill, and we share her concern regarding the Native Hawaiian Governing Entity's apparent immunity from lawsuits. These issues will threaten our system of governance, our economy, and our unity as a state."
The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is an independent, non-partisan think tank based in Honolulu. The mission of the Grassroot Institute is to promote individual liberty, free market economic principles and limited, more accountable government.
CONTACT: Jamie Story, President
FoxNews, February 24, 2010
Bill to Grant Native Hawaiians Sovereignty Passes House
by William Lajeunesse
A bill that would give native Hawaiians the same right as Native Americans is halfway through the congressional process but opponents say the legislation is divisive and would turn over valuable land and resources out of U.S. hands.
In an overwhelming win, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization bill, also known as the Akaka bill for four-term Sen. Daniel Akaka, passed the House Tuesday with a 245-164 vote.
The fate of the legislation now rests in the hands of Senate leaders, where it has met challenges before.
The bill would grant federal recognition to Native Hawaiians, allowing them to form their own sovereign government similar to American Indians and Native Alaskans, giving them the power to negotiate over land use and cultural preservation. It would instantly create the second largest native "tribe" in the United States with almost 400,000 members -- including roughly 20 percent of Hawaii's residents based solely on their Polynesian heritage.
But many say the bill's biggest impact lies in the amount of 'ceded' lands the state and federal government may be required to transfer to the new Hawaiian nation. About 1.8 million acres were 'ceded' when Hawaii became a state. Some of those lands are expected to be returned to the native Hawaiians under the Akaka bill.
Click here to see a map of the lands that would be transferred under the Akaka bill.
The other controversial element of the bill involves the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. It administers 160 programs worth tens of millions of dollars designed to benefit native Hawaiians.
However, thanks to the Supreme Court's decision in Rice v. Cayetano, these race-based programs are vulnerable to legal challenge and could be eliminated without protections of the Akaka bill.
This includes programs like ALU LIKE, Inc., an advocacy group for native Hawaiians, and Hui No Ke Ola Pono, one of five native Hawaiian health care systems.
Native Hawaiians would not be allowed to alter any federal or state law. However, they have the authority to govern prior to negotiations with the state.
Any new noncommercial government activities, services and programs run by Hawaiians would not be subject to state or county regulation -- a change from the bill's original version.
Congress has been debating the measure since 2000 and while it has easily cleared the House three times, it has yet to pass the Senate.
Supporters say America has a moral obligation to let Native Hawaiians govern themselves just like American Indians, since they claim U.S. troops illegally overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, something President Clinton apologized for in 1993 under the Hawaiian Apology Resolution.
But opponents point to fears over transfers of valuable land belonging to the state and federal government to new sovereign nations.
Gov. Linda Lingle, a strong Republican supporter of the original measure, pulled her support for the legislation on Tuesday, saying that the bill has changed and the amendments will hurt Hawaii.
"Under the current bill, the native Hawaiian governing entity has almost complete sovereign immunity from lawsuits, including from ordinary tort and contract lawsuits, and I do not believe this makes sense for the people of Hawaii," Lingle said.
"My decision to not support the current version of the Akaka Bill is done with a heavy heart, because I so strongly believe in recognition for native Hawaiians."
Other opposing voices spoke out on the House floor. Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., said if passed the bill would allow any other racial group to set up a separate government.
"There is no more effective way to destroy a nation than to divide its people by race and accord them different rights," McClintock said.
In a recent Zogby poll, only 34 percent of island residents said they support the Akaka bill.
Jere, a Native Hawaiian argued that the bill would unnecessarily divide the Aloha state.
"I oppose the Akaka Bill because it is going to create a race-based government where there never existed one before."
In a statement issued after the vote, Akaka, who authored the bill, said he is certain "the bill protects the interests of all the people in Hawaii. The bill passed today specifically says 'members of the Native Hawaiian governing entity will continue to be subject to the civil and criminal jurisdiction of federal and state courts.'"
Retiring Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, agreed, saying that the state and federal governments are "well protected" and in no danger of losing their own sovereignty or capacity to enforce the law.
With the legislation still awaiting Senate passage, many say that the Democrat majority gives the bill the greatest chance of passage than ever before. President Obama has already committed to signing the bill if brought to his desk.
"Hawaii has always acknowledged and celebrated diversity, and an important part of Hawaii's culture is the Native Hawaiian people." Obama, who was born in Hawaii, said in a statement. For this reason, I am proud to support Senators Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye in their efforts to extend the federal policy of self-governance and self-determination to Native Hawaiians."
Honolulu Advertiser, Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Native Hawaiian bill passed by U.S. House, awaits Senate vote
House passes measure on self-government for Native Hawaiians 245-164
Lingle, Bennett objections stand
By ERIN KELLY
Gannett News Service
WASHINGTON — Following passage in the House yesterday, the fate of the Akaka bill now rests with the Senate, where the outcome is much less certain.
The House approved the bill that would grant federal recognition to Native Hawaiians, which could empower them to create their own sovereign government and give them a greater voice in the use of their valuable ancestral lands.
House members voted 245-164 to approve the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act.
It is the third time since 2000 that the House has approved similar legislation. However, the legislation has died in the Senate in the past, and no vote has been scheduled so far this year.
Still, bill author Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai'i, took a moment yesterday to enjoy the victory in the House.
"The passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act is an important milestone for all the people of Hawai'i," Akaka said. "We have a moral obligation, unfulfilled since the overthrow of Queen Lili'uokalani, that we are closer to meeting today."
Democrats wanted to ensure that the bill passed before Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawai'i, leaves Congress at the end of this week to run for governor.
"It is the culmination of a legislative lifetime for me," Abercrombie told his colleagues as he urged their support for a bill he has worked on for more than a decade.
Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawai'i, said it's time for Native Hawaiians to have the same right as American Indian tribes to govern themselves.
"How we treat our native indigenous people reflects our values and who we are as a country," she said.
But opponents said comparing Native Hawaiians to Indian tribes is a flawed analogy.
"It's absurd," said Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif. "Indians were conquered by force and extended by treaty certain lands. They didn't vote to join the union as the people of Hawai'i did by a margin of 17 to 1."
The bill, McClintock said, would create a situation in which Hawai'i "would have two different sets of rights with two separate government entities based on race."
Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said Congress should not pass the bill over the objections of Hawai'i Gov. Linda Lingle. Lingle objected to language that grants governing authority to Native Hawaiians before — instead of after — negotiations with the federal and state governments.
"We're going to divide the state of Hawai'i, based solely on race, and we're going to impose this on the state regardless of the objections of the state's governor," Hastings said.
Akaka said the bill protects the interests of all the state's residents.
"The bill passed today specifically says 'members of the Native Hawaiian governing entity will continue to be subject to the civil and criminal jurisdiction of federal and state courts,' " Akaka said. "The native governing entity cannot regulate non-Hawaiians. The native governing entity will need to enter into negotiations with the state of Hawai'i and the United States, and all three parties will want to be in good standing and comply with existing law. Any agreements on transfers of authority or land will require the approval of the state Legislature."
'OPTIMISTIC' ABOUT SENATE
The House vote comes two months after the Senate Indian Affairs Committee approved the bill, clearing the way for a vote in the full Senate.
"I am optimistic about bringing the bill to the Senate floor this year," Akaka said.
Previous attempts to pass the bill in the Senate stalled when supporters were unable to attract the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. But supporters of the bill say they may have just enough votes this time.
BACKED BY OBAMA
Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents make up 59 votes and are expected to back the bill. In addition, at least one Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, supports the legislation.
President Obama, who grew up in Hawai'i, reiterated his support for the bill yesterday.
The president "looks forward to signing the bill into law and establishing a government-to-govern-ment relationship with Native Hawaiians," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.
GNS reporter Erin Kelly can be reached at email@example.com. John Yaukey of the Advertiser Washington Bureau contributed to this report.
Honolulu Advertiser, Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Lingle, Bennett objections stand
Exemption from state police-power regulation is unacceptable, they say
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer
Hawai'i Attorney General Mark Bennett said he and Gov. Linda Lingle continue to have concerns about language in the bill that would grant employees of the new government entity immunity from state or federal laws under certain circumstances.
The Lingle administration historically has supported the Akaka bill but pulled back that support after a new amendment was offered in both the U.S. House and Senate in December.
"There were changes made (to the December draft of the bill) that I think were a good-faith effort to address some of our concerns," Bennett said.
"In the end though, Gov. Lingle couldn't support the bill mainly because of the provision ... regarding exempting the Hawaiian governing entity, its officers and its employees from all the police-power regulations of the state so long as they're engaged in a governmental, noncommercial activity."
Bennett said the state would continue to lobby for changes to the bill language on the Senate side.
"Gov. Lingle still strongly supports recognition for Native Hawaiians even if she can't support the language of this bill, and hopefully we are not so far apart that we still can't continue to work on language that would be acceptable to everyone," he said.
U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, for whom the bill is named, said he believes the language hashed out between Hawai'i's congressional delegation and officials from the state and federal government should allay Lingle and Bennett's concerns.
"Though the governor had some reservations, I am certain that the bill protects the interests of all the people in Hawai'i," Akaka said in a statement.
Rep. Neil Abercrombie agreed, saying that the state and federal governments are "well protected" and in no danger of losing their own sovereignty or capacity to enforce the law.
"It was a collaborative effort, truly," he said. "Several pages of the bill, literally, are the result of discussions with (Bennett) trying to strengthen the capacity of the state to be comfortable with the questions about sovereign immunity within the context of existing native law."
State Office of Hawaiian Affairs Administrator Clyde Nāmu'o indicated there may still be room for compromise with the governor's office.
"We are hopeful that the remaining concerns of Gov. Lingle and Attorney General Bennett can be resolved when the bill crosses over to the Senate," he said in a statement.
H. William Burgess, chairman of Aloha 4 All, which views the bill as discriminatory, said his group continues to oppose the bill.
"It's going to radically change the way of life of the people of Hawai'i," Burgess said. "Instead of one government, we're going to have two governments."
Burgess said the new amendment that prompted Lingle's objections "definitely" makes the latest version even more onerous.
Hawaiian activist Leon Siu, who opposes the Akaka bill, said the most objectionable part of the process is that there continue to be "frantic rewrites" of the bill without any input from the Hawaiian community or others in Hawai'i.
Congress should hold public hearings on the bill in Hawai'i, he said.
Honolulu Advertiser, Wednesday February 24, 2010
Put Akaka bill back on track, or it will die
Congressional backers of federal recognition for Native Hawaiians are making a serious tactical error by proceeding with the latest version of the bill moving on Capitol Hill.
There are differences between the Senate bill and the one that passed the House yesterday, but both contain a poison pill that has cost the support of the state's top officials.
The problem is a provision that establishes Native Hawaiian governmental powers up front, before negotiations with the state can even begin.
The measure now threatens to splinter a fragile coalition of people who until now have supported the so-called Akaka bill, in part because it was carefully crafted to ensure a level of state oversight in the transition to self governance.
That coalition was led by Gov. Linda Lingle, who has now withdrawn her support because of provisions that a new Native Hawaiian government would have sovereign immunity and civil and criminal jurisdiction over their people on their lands.
U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka's position is that this provision mirrors the status given to America's other indigenous people, which is something the Obama administration believes puts it on stronger legal footing.
Akaka contends that would have little practical effect until land is conveyed to the new native government. That conveyance will take negotiations, during which the state can put limits on sovereign powers.
That has not reassured Lingle, who believes separate rules will never work in a state where native and non-native people are so inextricably mingled.
She's right to find this change disconcerting. But whether or not everyone echoes her concern, the unease of the governor is no small thing in the real world of Hawai'i, where there is already suspicion and alarm about what the presence of a sovereign government entity could mean for non-Hawaiians.
Regardless of the partisan changes in Congress and the White House, the bill still faces an uphill battle to win Senate approval, something that's never happened in the decade since Akaka introduced the legislation. Some of the fence-sitters in the Senate — and there are many — would see the governor's rejection as a deal breaker and would get off the fence on the opposition side.
Akaka should not assume too much goodwill toward his signature legislation, not in Congress and not at home. The schism with the governor is certain to give opponents an opening to rally more stridently against the bill, and they could persuade others to join them.
The senator needs to amend the bill, returning the earlier language that mandated that the power of the new government be negotiated up front. Otherwise, Akaka may squander the last opportunity to enact Native Hawaiian recognition as a "nation within a nation," one that can comfortably coexist with the rest of the Aloha State.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Wednesday February 24, 2010
Akaka Bill wins House approval
By Richard Borreca
Over the objections of Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, the U.S. House passed a bill empowering native Hawaiians to create their own government that eventually would negotiate for control of hundreds of thousands of acres of Hawaii.
The House voted along party lines, 245-164, yesterday to start a process for native Hawaiians to be recognized in ways similar to Alaska natives and Indian tribes. The bill now goes to the Senate, where Republican opposition has kept it bottled up for almost 10 years.
Congress has been debating the measure since 2000, and the legislation has easily cleared the House only to stall in the Senate. In this congressional session, both House and Senate subcommittees have approved versions of the bill.
The bill was shepherded through by U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who is wrapping up a 20-year congressional career this week. In a sometimes emotional speech, Abercrombie said on the House floor, "We have a president who truly understands the importance and fundamental equity of native Hawaiian self-determination."
President Barack Obama reaffirmed his support in a statement from Robert Gibbs, press secretary, saying the president plans to sign the bill.
If Lingle's opposition were not enough to split the Senate, other GOP members registered immediate opposition.
"We should stand together in opposition to racially divisive and discriminatory laws like this. The native Hawaiian bill is unconstitutional," said Sen. Jim Demint, R-S.C. "I will use all the tools available in the Senate to ensure that this bill does not become law."
Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander also issued a news release attacking the bill.
"I'm disappointed that the House of Representatives passed legislation which the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights opposes because the bill would 'discriminate on the basis of race,'" Alexander said.
Lingle, a strong Republican supporter of the original measure, pulled her support this week, saying the bill has changed and that the amendments will hurt Hawaii.
"Under the current bill, the native Hawaiian governing entity has almost complete sovereign immunity from lawsuits, including from ordinary tort and contract lawsuits, and I do not believe this makes sense for the people of Hawaii," Lingle said. "My decision to not support the current version of the Akaka Bill is done with a heavy heart because I so strongly believe in recognition for native Hawaiians."
Abercrombie talked with Lingle shortly before the floor vote yesterday and said they "agreed to disagree" on the changes made to the bill.
"I was hoping that the governor would be for the bill but with reservations. ... The differences are a very fine point," Abercrombie said.
Also voting for the bill yesterday was U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, who said Lingle's position was a disappointment.
"I am asking her to reconsider," Hirono said after the vote.
Others are hoping that the GOP will not force the native Hawaiian bill into a party-line vote. U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka called it "an important milestone for all the people of Hawaii."
"Though the governor had some reservations, I am certain that the bill protects the interests of all the people in Hawaii. The bill passed today specifically says 'members of the native Hawaiian governing entity will continue to be subject to the civil and criminal jurisdiction of federal and state courts,'" Akaka said.
The floor action also caught the attention of other Hawaii politicians such as Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, who is campaigning to replace Abercrombie when he steps down to run for governor.
"I have long supported federal recognition of native Hawaiians and will continue to do what I can both as Senate president and as a member of Hawaii's congressional delegation to move that forward," Hanabusa said.
Hawaii Reporter, February 24, 2010
The Two-State Solution
The Abercrombie bill is a profound mistake. The people of Hawaii are a true melting pot, living in remarkable harmony
By John H. Fund (columnist for The Wall Street Journal)
U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie is retiring next week to run for governor of Hawaii. So last night Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave him a going-away present by passing a bill he had long sponsored to establish a new race-based sovereign government for people of native Hawaiian descent -- in effect treating native Hawaiians the way many mainland Indian tribes are.
The bill passed along party lines by 245 to 164 and now goes to the Senate where South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint and others promise to try to block it.
The Abercrombie bill is a profound mistake. The people of Hawaii are a true melting pot, living in remarkable harmony. Native Hawaiians have so intermarried with other ethnicities that more than 90% who claim Hawaiian heritage do so by virtue of ancestry that's less than 50% Hawaiian.
Creating a separate government that would subject people who pass a test for "Hawaiian blood" to a different set of legal codes would not produce racial reconciliation. It would be a recipe for permanent conflict. Senators ought to think hard before voting for a bill whose most fervent supporters ultimately aim at Hawaiian independence.
Indeed, supporters like Mr. Abercrombie clearly recognize a lack of popular support for their scheme. Mr. Abercrombie bitterly opposed attempts to require a popular referendum on it. Hawaii's GOP Governor Linda Lingle has thrown her weight against the current legislation because it greatly waters down a requirement in previous versions that any native government cooperate with existing state authorities and recognize state and county regulations.
The bill now moves to the Senate, where it has been championed by four-term Hawaii Democrat Daniel Akaka. Only one Republican, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, is on record supporting any previous version of the bill. Governor Lingle's opposition may well have an impact on Ms. Murkowski's stance. If all 41 Republicans hold together, they may be able to block this pernicious legislation or at least force significant revisions.
The New York Post, Wednesday February 24, 2010
Race-based gov't: the aloha land grab
By KEVIN D. WILLIAMSON
A bill surfing through Congress would create a separate race-based government for ethnic Hawaiians -- clearing the way for the transfer of public lands, assets and political power from those who can't prove the purity of their Hawaiian bloodlines to those who can.
This ugly bill, a project of Hawaii Democrats Sen. Daniel Akaka and Rep. Neil Abercrombie, is morally deformed and almost certainly unconstitutional -- but still seems likely to become law.
The bill wrongly seeks to apply the model of the federal government's relations with Indian tribes to ethnic Hawaiians, re-establishing the long-extinguished sovereignty of the "Kingdom of Hawaii." (It is strange indeed to see secular 21st century American liberals working to resuscitate a theocratic monarchy ruled by a hereditary priest-king.)
It's not just that ethnic Hawaiians are not an Indian tribe -- they're not anything like an Indian tribe. They aren't even a majority of the population: Hawaii has more people of Japanese ancestry than of Polynesian ancestry.
More important, the "sovereignty" that the United States government recognizes in the Kickapoo or Hopi is not of a racial character -- it is of a political character. The Indian tribes were and are governments: coherent, identifiable political units, often of very long standing (as with the Zuni of New Mexico).
Ethnic Hawaiians do not and have not exercised such sovereignty. The legislation at hand would not recognize a sovereign regime, but create one -- on narrow, hereditary grounds, no less.
Indeed, the Akaka bill goes to great lengths to define who counts as a "Native Hawaiian," which tells us all we need to know about Hawaiians' "sovereignty" -- no Apache band ever needed Congress to tell it who was a member.
The Kingdom of Hawaii existed only from 1810, when the chief on the Big Island tapped Western resources to conquer his neighboring satraps, until 1893, when the monarchy was overthrown and replaced by the Republic of Hawaii.
And the Kingdom of Hawaii was a multi-ethnic place -- one where non-natives, including a large number of American and European immigrants, were deeply integrated into the political and economic life of the islands. That is, the Kingdom is no precedent for the racial Hawaiian sovereignty that this bill tries to create.
The Republic of Hawaii was brought into the United States in much the same way as was the Republic of Texas -- and native Hawaiians have about as good a claim to national sovereignty as do native Texans.
Behind all these hideous racial politics is a great big pile of money.
During an earlier foray into Hawaiian identity politics, Uncle Sam established a trust for the benefit of native Hawaiians, holding some 2 million acres of Hawaiian land -- the value of which is today mind-boggling. Controlling the trust was the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a government agency that acts as the vanguard of the Hawaii-for-Hawaiians movement -- and whose trustees were elected exclusively by "native Hawaiians" -- which is to say, ethnic Hawaiians.
But in 2000, the Supreme Court struck down that racial qualification for voting. The Akaka bill is in no small part an attempt to undo that decision: The ethnic-politics mob in Hawaii wants to keep control of those lands and the revenue they represent -- and if it has to set up its own little sovereign statelet to do so, it's willing to go that far.
Sadly, lots of Democrats in Congress are willing to help them do it.
Kevin D. Williamson is deputy managing editor of National Review.
Hawaii Reporter, February 24, 2010
A Separate, Race-Based Government for Native Hawaiians?
By Mike Brownfield, writer for The Heritage Foundation
The U.S. House voted yesterday to create the largest tribal entity in U.S. history under the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, despite last-minute opposition by Hawaii's governor, Linda Lingle (R), and serious questions regarding the bill's constitutionality. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama promised to sign the legislation.
The bill would establish a separate, race-based governing body to represent Native Hawaiians in negotiations with state and federal governments. As The National Review writes, the Act would:
…partly disenfranchise a portion of one state's residents, create a parallel government for those meeting a legislated criterion of ethnic purity, and would portend the transfer of public assets, land, and political power from those who fail to satisfy the standard of ethnic purity to those who do.
The goal, as The National Review notes, is "to apply the model of American Indian tribes' formal sovereignty to people of native Hawaiian ancestry."
Notably, Gov. Lingle reversed course after more than seven years of support for the Act (also known as "the Akaka Bill"), citing recent amendments to the legislation she says aren't in the best interest of Hawaiians:
The basic problem as I see it, is that in the current version of the bill, the 'governmental' (non-commercial) activities of the Native Hawaiian governing entity, its employees, and its officers, will be almost completely free from State and County regulation, including free from those laws and rules that protect the health and safety of Hawai'i's people, and protect the environment. 'Governmental' activity is a broad undefined term that can encompass almost any non-commercial activity.
"This structure will, in my opinion, promote divisiveness and litigation, rather than negotiation and resolution.
The Akaka Bill also drew fire from five members of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, who sent a letter to House leadership on Monday urging opposition to the proposal. In their letter, they reasserted objections to the bill they initially raised in August of last year. From the August 2009 letter:
We do not believe Congress has the constitutional authority to "reorganize" racial or ethnic groups into dependent sovereign nations unless those groups have a long and continuous history of separate self-governance. Moreover, quite apart from the issue of constitutional authority, creating such an entity sets a harmful precedent. Ethnic Hawaiians will surely not be the only group to demand such treatment. On what ground will Congress tell these other would-be tribes no?
And in their letter yesterday, the commissioners also questioned the manner in which the bill came to a vote, stating that it was "slated for a hasty House vote [that] was apparently negotiated behind closed doors…"
In NRO's "the corner," Commissioner Peter Kirsanow, who was a signatory to the letter, writes that the precedent the Akaka Bill sets is a dangerous one:
The bill is not only constitutionally defective and morally repugnant, but by logical extension it opens the door for members of other racial classifications to petition the government for sovereign status.
While the House is poised to pass the bill, concern over those constitutional questions and the precedent the Akaka Bill would set are quite significant. The U.S. Constitution stands for the proposition that all Americans should be treated equally under the law. It certainly stands to reason, then, that Congress shouldn't be in the business of granting different ethnic groups special treatment under the law in direct contravention of Constitutional principles.
National Review Online, Wednesday February 24, 2010
by Kathryn Jean Lopez
Last night, Neil Abercrombie got his farewell gift from the House, a vote on their version of the Akaka bill, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (six Republicans voted for it).
Over in the Senate, Lamar Alexander issued an immediate push-back:
"I'm disappointed that the House of Representatives passed legislation which the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights opposes because the bill would 'discriminate on the basis of race.' The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act would create a new sovereign government within our borders based solely on race. But in America, we say, 'One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all'— not 'Many nations, divided by race, with special privileges for some.' I urge the Senate to reject this ill-advised legislation as it has done in the past."
On August 28, 2009, in a letter to members of Congress, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights expressed opposition to the Senate version of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (S. 1101), which it noted is "substantially similar" to legislation rejected by the Senate on June 8, 2006. In its letter, the Commission quoted its 2006 report opposing the bill because it "would discriminate on the basis of race or national origin and further subdivide the American people into discrete subgroups accorded varying degrees of privilege."
Hawaii Tribune-Herald (Hilo), February 24, 2010
Victory for Hawaiian sovereignty
House OKs Akaka legislation, which now faces tough Senate battle
by Steve Tetreault
Stephens Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- The House voted once again on Tuesday to allow Native Hawaiians to form their own government and to interact with the United States as a sovereign people.
The vote was the third time in a decade that a Native Hawaiian sovereignty bill has advanced in Congress. Supporters in Hawaii believe its chances have never been better with native son President Barack Obama backing it.
But as in previous years the key battle remains ahead as the legislation is expected to encounter spirited debate and stronger opposition in the Senate.
Debate on what has become known as the Akaka bill customarily revolves around whether it would lead to the establishment of a separate and possibly unconstitutional race-based government in the state.
A new wrinkle was on display Tuesday, as opponents charged the latest version of the bill, unveiled earlier this week, could shield some activities of the Native Hawaiian governing entity from legal challenges and from state and county regulations.
Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., who led the oppostion during more than two hours of debate, noted Gov. Linda Lingle has long been a backer of native sovereignty but withdrew her support for the legislation.
"In a broad sense, (Hawaii) is the only state that is affected by the legislation," Hastings said. "Why should we push forward when the governor of the state does not agree with it and when the chief legal officer (Attorney General Mark Bennett) has some questions?
"Wouldn't it be prudent to suggest to the state of Hawaii and its elected officials, why don't they come up with something they can fundamentally agree on?" Hastings said.
Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, responded the bill was not radical, and that the new language was meant to ensure a new Native Hawaiian government could provide services from its inception.
Abercrombie, who is running for governor, insisted the state would not be put at a disadvantage.
"As a candidate for governor, I am completely comfortable with the language, and I believe no governor would be disadvantaged," Abercrombie said.
House leaders scheduled debate to take place before Abercrombie leaves the House at the end of the week to campaign fulltime. Passage of the bill by a 245-164 margin served as a going-away present to the veteran lawmaker.
The bill was supported by 239 Democrats and six Republicans. Voting against it were 160 Republicans and four Democrats. In a nod to Abercrombie, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., delivered a speech in favor of the bill.
In what could be his final remarks on the House floor after 19 years in Congress, Abercrombie called the legislation "the culmination of a legislative lifetime," and beseeched lawmakers to support it.
"This is not about race," Abercrombie said. "This is about the aloha spirit, this is about the rainbow state. This is about Native Hawaiians, who gave us the host culture and the diversity that defines us in Hawaii."
Native Hawaiians long have been a disadvantaged population in the state, lagging by many health, education and economic indicators, and Congress has passed about 160 bills over the years to provide services and support.
Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., said sovereignty would help rectify the overthrow of the native government by U.S.-backed business interests in 1793. Supporters said the bill would allow Native Hawaiians to interact with the federal government much the same way as American Indian tribes.
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said the United States has not always lived up to its ideals in its dealings with native people, including the Hawaii natives.
"This measure is not going to reshape Hawaii," Cole said. "It will regularize the relations between Native Hawaiians and the state and federal governments. We don't always do the right thing but eventually we do the just thing, and in this situation, recognition for Native Hawaiians is the just thing to do."
Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, said the indigenous people in that state were revitalized when they were allowed to form governments in 1971.
"People have been patient, patient, patients, and it is time for us to take the step forward" on the Hawaii bill, he said. "Open your hearts, open your minds and maybe do something a little different in Hawaii as we did in Alaska."
"Under the Constitution and in the eyes of justice, this should be a no-brainer," said Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif.
But opponents said the bill would lead the way to a troubling separatism in Hawaii.
"There is no blinking at the fact this bill strikes at the very foundation of a nation that is dedicated to the concept of equality under the law," said Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif "It establishes a different set of laws, a different set of rights and a different government for one group of Americans based solely on their race.
"Two American families living next door to one another would be afforded two different sets of rights enforced by two separate sovereignties based on accident of birth," McClintock said.
There are about 400,000 Americans who identify themselves as Native Hawaiian with about two-thirds living in Hawaii. About half the remainder live in California.
In a move to give the bill further momentum, the White House said Tuesday that Obama would sign it into law if it passes Congress.
The latest version of the bill, which has become known as the Akaka bill after Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, one of its original sponsors, was negotiated among the Hawaii congressional delegation, state leaders, the Obama administration and mainland American Indian tribes.
But Lingle said Monday the new version would give a new native Hawaiian government "broad governmental powers and authorities," even before it enters negotiations with the state and federal government over land and cultural resources. Earlier versions had negotiations taking place first.
"The basic problem as I see it, is that in the current version of the bill, the 'governmental' (non-commercial) activities of the Native Hawaiian governing entity, its employees, and its officers, will be almost completely free from State and County regulation, including free - from those laws and rules that protect the health and safety of Hawaii's people, and protect the environment," Lingle said in a statement.
"This structure will, in my opinion, promote divisiveness and litigation, rather than negotiation and resolution," Lingle said.
The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. - http://blog.heritage.org -
A Hawaiian Punch to the Constitution
Posted By Alec Aramanda On February 24, 2010
What do you think most Americans would say if the U.S. government created a new and exclusively race-based government  with the authority to exempt itself from the U.S. Constitution and state authority at its own discretion? As ridiculous as it sounds, that is exactly what the House of Representatives voted for yesterday by a vote of 245-164. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs explained that the passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2010 pleased President Obama, and that he, "looks forward to signing the bill into law and establishing a government-to-government relationship with Native Hawaiians." But before celebrating the birth of a new tropical bureaucracy (it still needs to pass the Senate) our lawmakers should put some thought into whether this plan is equitable and constitutional. Brian Darling, The Heritage Foundation's Director of Senate Relations, explains that the plan would create a racially exclusive government, "to solicit federal monies and create programs to benefit individuals who fit the definition of "Native Hawaiian." 
Congratulations, Native Hawaiians. You are the 2010 nominee for the government-issued identity politics prize. The winnings include self-governance, with the authority to go over the head of the Hawaiian state government (without the support of the Governor ) to negotiate with the federal government over territorial, resource, and tax matters. Now, who qualifies as a Native Hawaiian? The plan indicates that a federal commission is to decide using criteria including, but not limited to, "a direct lineal descendant of the aboriginal, indigenous, native people who resided on the islands that now comprise the State of Hawaii on or before January 1, 1893", as well as being eligible in 1921 for the programs authorized by the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920, or a direct lineal descendant of such a person.
However, National Review's Duncan Currie uncovered that such eligibility guidelines are "essentially meaningless" , since the Native Hawaiian governing entity would hold the trump card of, "inherent power and authority to determine its own membership criteria, to determine its own membership, and to grant, deny, revoke, or qualify membership without regard to whether any person was or was not deemed to be a qualified Native Hawaiian constituent under this Act" (emphasis added by Currie).
Brian Darling elaborates on some of the glaring affronts to equality in the Native Hawaiian plan :
A United States Office for Native Hawaiian Relations would be created to negotiate a special political and legal relationship between Native Hawaiians and the United States. The supporters of this bill argue that Native Hawaiians are similar to an Indian tribe and they should be declared a sovereign entity so they can negotiate benefits from the U.S. government. The fact of the matter is that Hawaii was a kingdom with a monarch before becoming a state, unlike American Indian Tribes. Furthermore, the Tribes recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs are not racially exclusive and the Native Hawaiian government would be race based.
It's worth remembering that Hawaii joined the United States in 1959. Many at the time, on both sides of the political and ideological spectrum, saw it as the triumph of American values:
Hawaii is America in a microcosm – a melting pot of many racial and national origins, from which has been produced a common nationality, a common patriotism, a common faith in freedom and the institutions of America. – Senator Herbert Lehman (D-NY), Congressional Record, April 1, 1954, at 4325.
Hawaii is living proof that people of all races, cultures and creeds can live together in harmony and well-being, and that democracy as advocated by the United States has in fact afforded a solution to some of the problems constantly plaguing the world. – Testimony of John A. Burns, Delegate to Congress from the Territory of Hawaii, before the Senate Committee on the Interior and Insular Affairs, April 1, 1957.
An overwhelming 94.3% of Hawaiians at the time voted for statehood, knowing full well that they would be embracing the American values of freedom and equality of all people regardless of race, class, or ethnic group . Further, nowhere in the debate for Hawaiian statehood did any U.S. Member of Congress suggest that the U.S. treat the so-called Native Hawaiians like an indigenous Indian tribe. Common decency and the U.S. Constitution prohibit the government from bestowing tailored rights or privileges upon one racial or ethnic group at the expense of others. Former Attorney General Ed Meese and Heritage legal scholar Todd Gaziano explain that :
The Fourteenth Amendment was adopted precisely to prevent a state from excluding certain of its residents from the privileges and immunities of citizenship, especially on the basis of race or ethnicity…All United States citizens who reside in Hawaii are equally citizens of Hawaii and are entitled to enjoy all the privilege and immunities common to other citizens, including the protection against discriminatory laws—especially racially-discriminatory laws.
All Americans, regardless of their policy preferences, should be outraged at the prospects of a law that promotes benefits and extra-constitutional sovereignty to a class of people simply because of their racial or ethnic background. Preserving the indigenous Hawaiian culture is a worthy end, but ignoring the governing law of the land and the U.S. Constitution by administering a racial purity test is not the way to do that.
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.:
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 a new and exclusively race-based government:
 "to solicit federal monies and create programs to benefit individuals who fit the definition of "Native Hawaiian.":
 without the support of the Governor:
 National Review's Duncan Currie uncovered that such eligibility guidelines are "essentially meaningless":
 An overwhelming 94.3% of Hawaiians at the time voted for statehood, knowing full well that they would be embracing the American values of freedom and equality of all people regardless of race, class, or ethnic group:
 Former Attorney General Ed Meese and Heritage legal scholar Todd Gaziano explain that:
National Review Online, February 24, 2010
Equal Protection Is for Flakes
by Peter Kirsanow
As noted by Kathryn, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, a.k.a., the Akaka Bill, passed the House last night, 245–164. The more intriguing vote, perhaps, was the vote on an amendment to the Akaka bill proposed by Rep. Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.).
The Flake amendment would've clarified that nothing in the Akaka bill could be interpreted to exempt the Native Hawaiian Governmental Authority from complying with the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Flake amendment failed 177–233 (Democrats voted 18 for 225 against; Republicans voted 159 for 8 against).
The salient portion of the Fourteenth Amendment as pertains to the Akaka bill is as follows: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Constituents of those congressmen who voted against the Flake amendment may wish to ask their respective representatives to identify with particularity the clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment they believe should have no application to the Native Hawaiian Governmental Authority.
Technocrati, February 24, 2010
Hawai'i Wants Two Different Governments
by Matt Sussman Article Author: Matt Sussman is the executive editor and politics channel editor of Technorati.com, as well as the sports editor of BC Magazine. Twitter: @suss2hyphens ]
** Nice photo palm trees, grass shack, hula dancers and musicians in mu'umu's or "grass" skirts.
Seceding from the union is so 1861. The new trend that's sure to catch on is, instead of separation from the government, creating an entirely new one. Just for the indigenous people!
Something called the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act passed through the House yesterday and also has the support of Hawai'ian-born President Barack Obama. So if they can hula the legislation through the Senate, then this will give descendants of native Hawai'ians a legitimate government working symbiotically with the U.S. government. As his brainchild, Hawaiian senator Daniel Akaka couldn't be more thrilled. It is, after all, known as "The Akaka Bill." Namesakes are kind of important to people.
But the National Review editors oppose the bill, noting that it "would portend the transfer of public assets, land, and political power from those who fail to satisfy the standard of ethnic purity to those who do." And then they discuss how it's like Native American reservations, but not at all like Native American reservations. Stew on that peyote for a while.
It's an odd proposition to have a parallel set of rules that affects one particular race and yet still fully recognizes another federal government. What's stranger is what it's doing all the heck way in Washington. This is all so one state tucked all the way down there in the Pacific can instantiate a new set of rules for a subset of people most people don't think about on a daily basis. Seems like something they could work out on their own. What's the harm, and what's all the commotion?
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Thursday February 25, 2010
Akaka Bill needs airing
Gov. Linda Lingle's reversal of her long-standing support for the Akaka Bill indicates how fundamentally the Hawaiian sovereignty measure has changed over the course of this Congressional session.
Any future attempts to pass the measure -- assuming the current bill dies in the Senate, as is now predicted even by many supporters -- should include full public hearings in Hawaii to explain why the 2010 version is so different from the versions that have preceded it since 2000.
The measure, which would grant federal recognition to native Hawaiians, has been approved three times by the House since then, but never by the Senate.
The latest House approval came Tuesday on a 245-164 vote, capping Hawaii Democrat Neil Abercrombie's career as he leaves Congress to run for governor.
Leaders of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs hailed the passage and expressed hope that Lingle's objections could be assuaged in the Senate version. But the bill has never made it out of the Senate before, even when it had the Republican governor's hearty support, so it seems even less likely to survive this time.
Lingle had backed the measure so strongly in past years that she traveled to Washington to personally ask Republican representatives and senators to support it, lauding it as a way to help right historical wrongs committed against the Hawaiian people.
But those versions mandated negotiations among the native Hawaiian governing entity, the state of Hawaii and the U.S. government over vital issues such as money and land before the native government began fully exercising its sovereign authority and immunity.
Amendments were made last December -- at the behest of the Obama administration, intended to bolster the bill's chances of passing constitutional muster and in keeping with existing tribal law -- that Lingle considers untenable. For one thing, the bill approved by the House gives the native governing entity broad power from the outset, before negotiating with the state.
"This structure will, in my opinion, promote divisiveness and litigation, rather than negotiation and resolution," the governor said. "I do not believe such a structure, of two completely different sets of rules -- one for 'governmental' activities of the native Hawaiian governing entity and its officers and employees, and one for everyone else -- makes sense for Hawaii."
Hawaiian nationalists also oppose the bill, albeit for different reasons. They say native Hawaiians who support it are being duped into relinquishing their inherent sovereignty as descendants of the independent Hawaiian kingdom overthrown by U.S. interests. To them, federal recognition is a land grab disguised as recompense.
That the opposition includes such diverse points of view is further evidence that the Akaka Bill needs a full airing before rising again.
Radio New Zealand International, February 25, 2010
US House recognition raises expectations of native Hawaiians
The Akaka bill, otherwise known as the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganisation Act, has been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives for a third time in over a decade.
The bill passed the House, 245 to 164, and begins the process for native Hawaiians to be federally recognised in ways similar to Alaska natives and Indian tribes.
Dave Helfert, who is a spokesperson for outgoing Hawaii Congressman Neil Abercrombie, says it is a huge victory for the congressman.
This bill he says will empower native Hawaiians to create their own government if they wish that eventually could negotiate for control of hundreds of thousands of acres of native lands.
"It recognises that they are a indigenous people. And in Hawaii this has been an issue for a long, long, time because in 1893 the U.S. overthrew the monarchy of Hawaii and it's something the U.S. government has since apologised for. This would allow the native Hawaiian people in Hawaii to form, if they choose to, a governmental entity which would then or could then have a relationship with the U.S. government and the State Governor of Hawaii."
Dave Helfert says U.S. President Barack Obama has also reaffirmed his support for the bill which now goes to the Senate.
The Daily Caller, Thursday, February 25, 2010
by Aleksandra Kulczuga
The House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would grant Native Hawaiians special rights as reparations for the 1893 peaceful overthrow of their Queen Liliuokalani which led to the eventual annexation of their island by the United States.
The bill creates a new Hawaiian government that would negotiate with the U.S. over things like land rights and natural resources, and could cede large tracts of land that became U.S. government property when Hawaii became a state in 1959, back to Native Hawaiians.
The bill defines "Native Hawaiians" as a distinct ethnic group that can trace its lineage directly to indigenous inhabitants of the island prior to 1893, but there are no details on what percentage heritage or proof is required. The bill would establish a commission to determine the process of establishing native Hawaiian ethnicity. Native Hawaiians would be federally recognized as a tribe similar to the way Native Americans', and the laws of their governing body would in some cases supersede state law.
"Congress doesn't have the constitutional authority to recognize members of a sovereign Indian tribe," says Jill Strait, Republican spokesman for the House Natural Resources Committee.
Hawaii's governor, who supported previous versions of the bill, announced her opposition to the latest version after new language was added which essentially removed state authority over the newly created Native Hawaiian governing body.
"You're essentially creating different legal codes for different parts of society … they don't all live on native or tribal lands there — you could have a neighbor or a business down the street that would be subject to different laws than you," said Strait.
"Something is terribly wrong with this bill if the governor of Hawaii, an advocate for Native Hawaiian recognition, feels compelled to say she can't support the rewritten text," said Rep. Doc Hastings, ranking Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee. "The rewritten bill strikes at the heart of the state of Hawaii's authority to enforce health and environmental regulations, taxes and criminal law enforcement equally among its citizens."
"The state just wants to maintain the ability to bring a lawsuit against the Native Hawaiian government, and the Department of Justice has told them that there is no precedent for that kind of relationship between sovereign governments," said Dave Helfert, a spokesman for Rep. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii who sponsored the bill. "They will have to work things out in government negotiations. Besides, these changes in jurisdiction only deal with government-to-government stuff, Native Hawaiians that don't live on Native Hawaiian lands will still have to pay taxes and license plates fees, etc — just like everyone else."
Critics say the bill sets a dangerous precedent that could encourage other ethnic groups to seek similar recognition.
"If ethnic Hawaiians can be accorded tribal status, why not Chicanos in the Southwest? Or Cajuns in Louisiana?" testified Gail Heriot of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in a hearing before the House Natural Resource Committee in June. "Indeed, it is implausible to say that Congress has the power to confer this benefit only upon racial or ethnic groups, since ordinarily congressional power is at its lowest ebb with issues that touch on race or ethnicity."
The bill is not yet scheduled for a vote in the Senate, but many question whether it will be able to garner the necessary 60 votes to pass there. Versions of this bill passed the House during the Bush administration, but stalled in the Senate. President Bush vowed to veto it, but President Obama has expressed support.
Immediately after the House passed their version of the bill, several prominent senators issued statements in opposition.
"We believe it's unconstitutional, it's an affront to the national unity," said Wesley Denton, a spokesman for Senator Jim Demint (R-S.C.). "It's discriminatory and creates a race-based government that most American would be opposed to. The purpose of our nation is to bring people together, not separate them under governments based on race."
Hawaii has a total population of about 1.2 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and about 22 percent of the population is considered Native Hawaiian. In 1959, more than 94 percent of Hawaiians voted to become the next American state. As of 2008, California had the largest number of Hawaiian Natives at 282,000.
A December 2009 poll showed that only 34 percent of Hawaiians supported the bill.
The bloodless 1893 coup d'état consisted of a small group of mostly white (American and European) farmers and businessmen who resided on the islands and opposed a new constitution the queen had proposed. The queen ceded her throne to avoid bloodshed, and then spent years petitioning the U.S. government for redress, to no avail.
The bill states, "Despite the overthrow of the government of the Kingdom of Hawaii, Native Hawaiians have continued to maintain their separate identity as a single distinct native community through cultural, social and political institutions, and to give expression to their rights as native people to self-determination, self-governance and economic self-sufficiency."
"There has been opposition in the past, people said it created a racial preference, but as I look to the Native American reservations, I fail to discern any great preference that they get," said Helfert. He added that it would be beneficial to the Native Hawaiians to be able to administer federal lands that have been held in trust for them since 1959. "A certain percentage of any revenues that comes from these lands are supposed to go to Native Hawaiians."
"The stars seem to be aligned," said Helfert of the bills prospects. Abercrombie is retiring from Congress this Friday and plans to run for governor of Hawaii.
AOL News, February 25, 2010
Aloha? Hawaii Moves Closer to Having Sovereign Powers
by Tamara Lytle
WASHINGTON (Feb. 25) -- Call it Queen Liliuokalani's revenge. Long-stalled legislation to give Native Hawaiians the right to form a sovereign government passed the House this week and has the support of Hawaii native President Obama.
The bill would give Native Hawaiians the right to control their own lands, run their own health and education programs, and have a sovereign government similar to what Native American tribes have.
Hawaii already had its own government when the queen, with an American warship sitting in Honolulu Harbor, stepped down in 1883. President Grover Cleveland admitted later that year that it was a mistake. But it took Congress until 1993 to agree -- and apologize.
And it has taken legislation by Sen. Daniel Akaka 11 years and counting to give back to the islands a native government that would operate in addition to the state government. The bill still must pass the Senate to become law, and it faces opposition there.
Akaka called the vote Tuesday an important milestone. "We have a moral obligation, unfulfilled since the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani, that we are closer to meeting today," he said.
Under the bill, Native Hawaiians would continue to be American citizens. But a newly reorganized Native Hawaiian government could negotiate with the federal government and the state of Hawaii over issues such as having more public lands turned over to the Native Hawaiians.
Native Hawaiians would not be able to open casinos, as many Indian tribes have done to billion-dollar effect. Both Hawaii state law and the pending bill bar that idea.
Hawaii's state government has an Office of Hawaiian Affairs that administers issues related to Native Hawaiians (who are about one-fifth of the state population) and the 200,000 acres of land previously granted to them. But some lawsuits and conservative politicians have begun challenging the programs as race-based discrimination.
"This legislation violates, in my view, the United States Constitution, because it establishes a separate, race-based government of Native Hawaiians," said Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., agreed and said he would do everything he can to block the bill in the Senate, meaning sponsors will need 60 votes to overcome a potential filibuster.
"We should stand together in opposition to racially divisive and discriminatory laws like this," DeMint said. "The Native Hawaiian bill is unconstitutional and violates the national unity of E Pluribus Unum."
But Dave Helfert, spokesman for the bill's sponsor, Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, disagreed. "It's about recognition of an indigenous people," he said. "It is not about race. It's about the fact Native Hawaiians were part of another country inadvertently taken over by the United States."
Constitutional law professor Jon Van Dyke of the University of Hawaii agreed. He said the bill is constitutional and the aim is in line with the rights already granted to Native American tribes and Alaska natives, who in 1971 won the right to land, resources and the formation of a government.
Van Dyke said a Native Hawaiian government will help protect a rich culture and tradition that was under siege for years.
Last-minute negotiations over the bill focused on issues such as lawsuits involving the new government.
Some of those issues swayed Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, to withdraw her support from the bill. She backed the bill in 2007 when it passed the House previously.
(Abercrombie is stepping down from Congress to run for governor.)
Lingle objected to a change in the bill that gives the new government broad powers before it negotiates details of the new relationship with the federal and state governments, instead of after those negotiations.
"The basic problem as I see it is that in the current version of the bill, the 'governmental' (noncommercial) activities of the Native Hawaiian governing entity, its employees and its officers will be almost completely free from state and county regulation, including free from those laws and rules that protect the health and safety of Hawaii's people and protect the environment," she said. "I do not believe such a structure, of two completely different sets of rules -- one for 'governmental' activities of the Native Hawaiian governing entity and its officers and employees, and one for everyone else -- makes sense for Hawaii."
Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, said she was "disappointed in the governor's position" and asked her "to reconsider, especially as many Republicans cited her opposition as their justification to vote against the bill. The Native Hawaiian people have waited for far too long for the recognition process to begin."
Hawaii Reporter, February 26, 2010
Council Supports Passage of Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act in D.C.
By Robin Puanani Danner
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives from local Hawaii nonprofit, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA), traveled to the nation's capital to support passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (NHGRA) of 2009 through the House of Representatives.
CNHA Vice President, Jade Danner, and CNHA Policy Fellow, Shannon Toriki, witnessed the entire floor action from the gallery of the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.
The Bill, which creates a process for Native Hawaiians to reorganize and form a governing entity to exercise self-determination and self-governance, was the subject of over three hours of debate and deliberation including three proposed amendments to the bill.
Congressman Abercrombie's amendment, which was the only one of three amendments adopted by the House, was the result of discussions between the Hawaii Congressional delegation, the Hawaii State Attorney General's office, Native Hawaiian and Tribal leaders and the Obama Administration. The House passed the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009 by a vote of 245 to 164, with Robert Gibbs, White House Press Secretary issuing a statement of support from the President for the House passage.
"As a participant in CNHA's Next Generation Leadership program, the opportunity to participate in the legislative process was an extraordinary experience," said Toriki, University of Hawai'i at Manoa graduate from Oahu. "Congressman Abercrombie and Congresswoman Hirono truly work hard and are incredible policy makers for Hawaii."
CNHA and its Native Hawaiian Policy Center will continue to engage members to support the NHGRA's passage through the full Senate by delivering policy sessions on the Bill and other major priorities in Hawaiian communities, including affordable housing and renewable energy.
CNHA is a national network of Native Hawaiian Organizations, providing assistance in accessing capital and technical resources, and is a policy voice on issues important to Native Hawaiian communities. Its mission is to enhance the well-being of Hawaii through the cultural, economic, and community development of Native Hawaiians.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, February 26, 2010
Anne Keala Kelly
The Hawaiian nationalist and filmmaker says the Akaka Bill should be rejected
By Christine Donnelly
** Excerpts related to the Akaka bill
The award-winning documentary "Noho Hewa: The Wrongful Occupation of Hawaii" has continued to anger, enlighten, provoke and inspire diverse audiences long after its debut.
Filmmaker Anne Keala Kelly contends that the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom affects every aspect of life for native Hawaiians to this day.
Using the backdrop of live-fire military exercises at Makua Valley; the unearthing of ancient Hawaiian burial sites to make way for luxury homes and discount stores; protests against the Akaka Bill; and the struggles of the homeless, Kelly makes the case that native Hawaiians face systematic obliteration at the hands of an American system that promotes militarism, tourism and overdevelopment.
With the Akaka Bill just passed by the U.S. House and pending in the Senate, Kelly discussed the idea of native Hawaiians having federal status akin to an Indian tribe.
QUESTION: So what do you think of the Akaka Bill?
ANSWER: What I think of the Akaka Bill is that it's the United States government — state and federal governments — attempting to further confuse people and lie to people and cover up the fraudulence of the U.S. presence in Hawaii, the fact that it's an illegal occupation. ... This is all a lie that's designed to confuse people and also to give them the impression that Hawaiians wanted to be part of the United States and now acquiesce to being part of the United States, and in reality the bill's designed to actually extinguish Hawaiian title to the crown and government land of the archipelago.
Q: To take resources away from Hawaiians?
A: They're always taking the resources away, for over 100 years now. But they want to give the appearance that Hawaiians agree to it. Since 1993, since the apology bill, especially, they've been moving down this path.
Q: Then why do so many Hawaiians support the bill? The Office of Hawaiian Affairs does.
A: How many people work at OHA? When you say Hawaiians support it, so many Hawaiians, what Hawaiians are you talking about? Nobody has ever asked us as a people what we want. They have never, ever come to the Hawaiians. When you go to a state agency like the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, that is the state, that is not the Hawaiian people.
Q: If the Hawaiian people were asked what they want, what do you think they would say?
A: Here's what I know. I know that when a question is framed, it's usually framed to elicit a particular answer. It's about process. It's about how Hawaiians are able even to contend with the original question about the Akaka Bill. If we are going to talk about the Akaka Bill, then we have to back up and talk about the Apology Bill, then we have to back up and talk about statehood, then we have to back up and talk about the so-called annexation, then we're right back to the overthrow. The expectation of the non-native or the American government is that Hawaiians are going to reach in and have this kind of decisionmaking process about something like an Akaka Bill when that's not the only issue here. The legislation completely tries to distract people from the real story here, what really has happened to Hawaiians ... We have to look at all our issues with America, not just an Akaka Bill. We have to contend with all of it.
Q: So where do you start? Because (inaction) also becomes a convenient way to block any progress.
A: But how do you define progress? There is no progress if the rights of Hawaiians are taken away in that process. This legislation makes sure that Hawaiians can't bring land claims to U.S. courts, that there's no way Hawaiians can hold the military accountable, that there's no way Hawaiians — even if they did manage to get a land base, which they won't — can even have a casino. This is all about what Hawaiians can't have. This isn't about what Hawaiians can have. They want to stuff a few hundred million dollars down our throats, tell us "Aren't you lucky," and take all our rights away? Forget it!
Q: Do you think the bill will get through the Senate?
A: That's not even the right question. The question is "Why are they even trying to put it through the Senate?" It's just like the treaty of annexation that certain people in the United States tried to pass in 1897 that they couldn't pass; they tried in 1893 also. It should never have been there. So no wonder it didn't pass. Why are they even trying to bring it to the Senate? It shouldn't even be there. It shouldn't exist.
Q: What do you think will happen in Hawaii if the Akaka Bill does pass?
A: It's just a continuation of what the United States has been doing to Hawaiians for over 100 years. Our lives are not going to get better. And the thing that I'm most concerned with is the psychological impact that something like this will have. I also think that five or 10 or 20 lawyers, some of them Hawaiian and some of them not, are going to get stinking rich. That's always what happens. The way I look at Sen. (Daniel) Inouye is that in a way this is his swan song. He wants to make sure that his life's work of militarizing Hawaii is firmly in place. ... This bill is about containing Hawaiian resistance and containing Hawaiian sovereignty.
Q: But I've talked to other Hawaiians who speak just as fervently in support of it, say it would protect Hawaiian entitlements.
A: Federal aid? You know where they can stick that, because if we had control of our own land and resources, we don't need to borrow money from nobody. We don't need their $70 million in federal aid. It's like hitting somebody on the head and then giving them an aspirin and saying "Now don't you feel better?" This idea of us having to live off of federal aid, off of the welfare, the crumbs, that the United States is going to throw to us, is absurd and insulting. We're very capable of running our own affairs, without nonprofits like the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement telling us how to do it. It's the nonprofit industrial complex of the Hawaiian community that's going to be turned into a bunch of corporate entities. I promise you that those people (supporting the bill) are Hawaiians who are getting something from the government. And you can't really take those opinions seriously, because it's a conflict of interest.
The Maui News, February 26, 2010, LETTER
Kanaka maoli need to know what is in Akaka Bill
Finally, a forumwhere the Akaka Bill was discussed and there was representation from the opposition and the pro-Akaka Bill people.
Thanks to Kumu Kahele Dukelow for putting it together at MCC on Feb. 16.There were around 250 people attended.That said one thing: There is a lot of interest and concernin the kanaka community.
The sad partwas when it was asked how many people had read the bill. Maybe 10people, not including the panel, raised their hands.This is my biggest reason for challengingthe Office of Hawaiian Affairs to invite the opposition along with the pro-groupto appear on TV and really give the kanaka community a chance to ho'olohe and nanathenform their own conclusions of the bill.
The kanaka people want to know and OHA is obligated to our people to educate and be open about this issue.It's time they stop using our money to promote their agenda with their back-room deals and palm-greasing. For heaven's sake, they have the Danner sisters lobbying for them. How low do they want to stoop?
Kanaka OHA is playing the American game of "I got the money so I can do whatever I want." Don't wake up one day saying, "I thought the Akaka Bill was going stop that?How can the Congress change it?I thought they no could?"
A Hawaiian Homes lease doesn't mean you're safe.Read, get involved, demand to hear and know the truth.
Wall Street Journal, February 27, 2010
Dividing up the islands based on race.
[** As reprinted in U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Natural Resources, Minority (Republican) webpage, March 1, 2010
"In Case You Missed It - Wall Street Journal: Hawaiian Secession
"Hawaii has a rich and diverse cultural history, and the Senate should reject this attempt to segregate the state by legislative sleight of hand.""
As farewell presents go, few lawmakers get to redistribute an entire state's wealth based on race. That was the send-off for Representative Neil Abercrombie, who is retiring this week to run for Governor of Hawaii. For his campaign literature, he'll take the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, which was whooped through the House on Tuesday 245-164.
The bill would create a sovereign tribal entity made up of some 400,000 Hawaiians. Supposedly designed to mimic the legal structure created for Native Americans, the bill breaks new ground—requiring the federal government to create a tribe based on a loosely defined racial identification. Not yet scheduled for a vote in the Senate, the bill may face opposition from Republicans, including a filibuster. South Carolina's Jim DeMint says he'll use "all the tools possible" to prevent the bill from becoming law, and we hope he does.
This wasn't the law's first trip around the Hill, though it was the most outrageous. The version passed Tuesday includes last-minute changes by Mr. Abercrombie to evade normal legislative vetting. In a letter to House leaders, five members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights expressed their "profound disappointment" at a bill that was "negotiated behind closed doors" and "released less than 48 hours prior to the expected House vote."
And no wonder. While land transfers will still need to be negotiated with the state, the bill could affect public land covering 38% of Hawaii. The new tribe would be immediately vested with such "inherent powers" as sovereign immunity, the right to regulate its members and to be released from various state taxes and regulations. That's a departure from the original plan, which required consultation with the state government and Congress on tribal powers.
The changes are so egregious that even Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle, who had been an ardent supporter, withdrew her approval. "This structure will, in my opinion, promote divisiveness and litigation, rather than negotiation and resolution," Governor Lingle wrote.
In an effort to dispel concerns that the creation of a race-based tribe violates the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause, Mr. Abercrombie added a six-page list of membership criteria that could include non-Hawaiian state residents. But the provision contains a self-destruct clause—as soon as the tribe is officially recognized, it can extend and deny membership based on any criteria it sees fit. And if this runs into legal trouble, the legislation requires the Justice Department to designate an attorney to fight all challengers to the new tribe.
Many Hawaiians support some legal recognition for the state's native residents, but the separatism being pushed by Democrats is far less popular. Under the House's hodgepodge, nonnative citizens may face higher taxes to pay for the new tribal entity and cope with the loss of state revenue on land ceded to the new native nation.
President Obama has said he'll sign the bill if it gets to his desk, but the Supreme Court has already rejected attempts to hold elections based on race. Hawaii has a rich and diverse cultural history, and the Senate should reject this attempt to segregate the state by legislative sleight of hand.
Wall Street Journal, online opinion journal, Sunday February 28, 2010
Congress Tries to Break Hawaii in Two
A racial spoils precedent that could lead to new 'tribal' demands across the U.S.
By GAIL HERIOT AND PETER KIRSANOW [both are Commissioners on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights]
Last week, the House of Representatives, in a largely party-line vote, passed the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act. Popularly known as "the Akaka bill," this piece of legislation might turn out to be this Congress's single most calamitous decision.
The bill creates a complex federal framework under which most of the nation's approximately 400,000 ethnic Hawaiians can organize themselves into one vast Indian tribe. It endows the tribe with the "inherent powers and privileges of self-government," including the privilege of sovereign immunity from lawsuit. It also by clear implication confers the power to tax, to promulgate and enforce a criminal code, and to exercise eminent domain. Hawaii will in effect be two states, not one.
The method used to create this tribe should make everyone squeamish. The bill delegates the delicate task of deciding who may join the tribe to a federal commission appointed by the secretary of the Interior. Ultimately, the tribe itself will have the power to expel members or invite new ones.
Earlier versions of the bill demanded that the secretary appoint only ethnic Hawaiians as commissioners. In the current version, only those with "10 years of experience in the study and determination of Native Hawaiian genealogy" and "an ability to read and translate . . . documents written in the Hawaiian language" may serve on the commission. These commissioners will examine an applicants' backgrounds to ensure that only "qualified Native Hawaiians" with the right amount of Hawaiian blood join the tribe.
To understand all of this, you have to know something about the Aloha State's racial entitlement system. The State's Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), established in 1978, administers billions of dollars generated from lands the federal government ceded to the state decades ago. These monies should be used to benefit all Hawaiians. Instead they are spent on benefits for ethnic Hawaiians, including home loans and business loans as well as housing and education programs.
The protection of these benefits is what motivates supporters of the Akaka bill. Ten years ago, the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a Hawaiian law that limited the right to vote for those who oversee OHA to ethnic Hawaiians. The court ruled in that case, Rice v. Cayetano, that it violated the 15th Amendment's prohibition on racial discrimination in voting rights.
Rice set off a firestorm that has not yet subsided. If OHA's election methods were unconstitutional, then its racially-exclusive benefits were almost certainly also in violation of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. Something had to be done.
And it was. Shortly after Rice, Hawaii's Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka introduced a bill in Congress to protect race-based benefits in his state. He did so by seeking to exploit a 1974 Supreme Court decision, Morton v. Mancari. In that case, the court found that racial discrimination on the basis of membership in "quasi-sovereign tribal entities" was constitutional. Following the logic of the ruling, Mr. Akaka and others hoped that by transforming ethnic Hawaiians from a race into a tribe they would effectively protect special benefits for ethnic Hawaiians.
Indeed, the benefits pot might even be sweetened by such a transformation. The Akaka bill provides that after the tribe is established, its leaders may negotiate with Hawaii for the transfer of land. Everyone involved understands this to refer to 1.4 million acres known as the Ceded Lands—lands that were ceded to the state by the federal government when statehood was granted in 1959. Some activists take the position that since these lands were once owned by the Hawaiian monarchy, they rightfully belong to ethnic Hawaiians. Some even argue the tribe's ultimate goal should be secession from the United States.
Nevertheless, two problems remain. First, the Akaka bill privileges what is in fact a race, not a tribe. The very act of transforming a racial group into a tribal group confers a privilege on one race and not others and is thus unconstitutional. Second, while the Constitution implicitly gives the federal government the power to recognize tribes with a long and continuous history of separate self-governance, it does not give the power to confer sovereignty on new tribes, or to reconstitute a tribe whose members have long since become part of the mainstream culture.
If it did, all manner of mischief could be accomplished, as ethnic Hawaiians will not be the last group to demand special status. Some activists argue that Southern California should be set aside as a homeland for Mexican Americans of Indian descent. Right now, that idea looks like pure fantasy. If the Akaka bill becomes law, it will suddenly become more plausible.
What's more, the Amish in Pennsylvania and the Orthodox Jews in New York could also start to see a benefit from constituting themselves as a tribe, since tribes, unlike federal and state governments, are free to establish theocratic governments. On what ground will Congress say no to these and other would-be tribes?
Mr. Akaka's supporters argue that the American government was complicit in the 1893 overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani, which they believe illegally denied not just the queen's individual right of sovereignty, but her subjects' collective right, too. They see this bill as an appropriate remedy.
This historical claim has been hotly debated. Even assuming American complicity, however, it is beside the point. The Kingdom of Hawaii was a multiracial society from its inception in 1810, when King Kamehameha united what had previously been a group of warring islands.
In the true spirit of Aloha, its rulers were welcoming of immigrants, who came from all over the world, including Portugal, China, Japan, the United States, Great Britain and Germany. The 1840 Hawaiian constitution declared that "all races" were of "one blood" and established a bicameral parliament whose members were multiracial. By 1893, ethnic Hawaiians were a population minority.
This cosmopolitan, constitutional monarchy was no kinship-based tribe. Anyone born on Hawaiian soil or swearing allegiance to the queen was considered the queen's subject and hence "Hawaiian." No single race was deprived of "its" sovereignty rights by the overthrow.
In 1959, 94.3% of Hawaiian voters cast ballots in favor of statehood. Within months, Hawaii became the 50th state. No one argued then that ethnic Hawaiians were part of a separate political system that needed special status. To the contrary, everyone acknowledged that ethnic Hawaiians were part of the political mainstream. It is now too late in the game to argue otherwise.
The U.S. Senate is expected to take up the Akaka bill in the coming weeks or months, where its opponents are insisting on a thorough debate. One reason for hope is that Hawaii's Republican Gov. Linda Lingle has finally withdrawn her support for the legislation. For years she advocated passing the bill, establishing a tribe, and then using vigilance to ensure that the tribe does not acquire undue power or resources during its negotiations with the state. She has now reconsidered.
Good for her. This is a train that needs to be stopped before it leaves the station.
Ms. Heriot and Mr. Kirsanow are members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
Honolulu Advertiser, Sunday, February 28, 2010
Sovereign immunity key for Hawaiians
Native government will need equality in legal protection
By Daniel K. Akaka
I introduced the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act to provide a structured process for all Hawai'i residents to come together to begin to resolve the many issues which remain from the overthrow of Queen Lili'uokalani, because simply ignoring them is not acceptable.
This long-awaited reconciliation is a step closer to reality this week as the House overwhelmingly approved my bill Tuesday by a bipartisan vote of 245 to 164. Building on the foundation of our first congressional hearings in Hawai'i in 2000, we have come a long way and are now on the doorstep of federally recognizing Native Hawaiians.
Since December, the Hawai'i congressional delegation has worked to expand dialogue between the staff of the delegation, the Obama administration and state Attorney General Mark Bennett. Following this and many follow-up conversations, the state submitted a list of proposed changes. We used many of their suggestions and strengthened the bill with comments received from other stakeholders, including the Native Hawaiian community. These changes were motivated by a desire to make the bill as fair as possible and parallel the legal structure of federal recognition bills for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
We added clarifying language such as "Members of the Native Hawaiian governing entity shall continue to be subject to the civil and criminal jurisdiction of Federal and State courts," and "Nothing in this Act alters or preempts the existing legislative, regulatory, or taxation authority of the State of Hawaii over individuals who are members of the Native Hawaiian governing entity or over property owned by those individuals." These provisions spell out facts which have always been true, but I was happy to add the specific language to help resolve concerns.
However, there were some issues which, despite our best efforts, we simply could not come to agreement on, primarily sovereign immunity. This is a right to which every native government and every state government, including Hawai'i, is entitled. Without this protection, the entity would most certainly face a barrage of lawsuits beginning on Day One, before they have even begun to set up an office. This would put Native Hawaiians on unequal footing with other native peoples, and would create legal problems by deviating from existing federal policies, leading to more litigation. To me, a big part of the value of this bill is that it will lead to negotiations and agreements, not lawsuits.
In the end, though we invested considerable efforts to address the state's concerns, the Hawai'i delegation felt strongly that Native Hawaiians must have the same protections as other native peoples. We are confident that the state's interests will be protected, especially since the entity will need to enter into negotiations with the state to attempt to secure land and other assets.
As outlined in the bill, no private property will be affected. The Native Hawaiian governing entity cannot implement policies impacting nonmembers without their consent. Any agreements on transfers of authority or land will require the approval of the state Legislature. The entity's jurisdiction will be limited to willing members and can only be expanded following negotiations.
With more than 500 federally recognized native governments across the country, many states have long interacted with native governments. This bill is nothing new for our country. It's merely an extension of federal policy. It brings about parity in U.S. treatment of its indigenous people — American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians.
I have greatly appreciated the governor's strong support since she came into office seven years ago. Now that the bill has passed the House, it's so important that all the people of Hawai'i come together to support what we know is our moral responsibility to Hawai'i's original residents. This is simply too important and we know this is a bill the president will sign into law. The negotiations process, which all parties will want to happen quickly, will address any remaining issues.
If we fail to secure federal recognition for Native Hawaiians, legal challenges to Hawaiian programs will continue. The state stands to lose the millions of dollars it receives from the federal government for programs such as Native Hawaiian health and education. We know these programs inject money into our economy and create jobs for Natives and non-Natives alike. It would be unfortunate for all Hawai'i residents if these programs that perpetuate the Native Hawaiian culture, language and traditions disappear.
If we can come together and pass this legislation, all the people of Hawai'i will benefit for generations to come.
U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka of Hawai'i wrote this commentary for The Advertiser.
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