(c) Copyright 2013 - 2014
Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.
All rights reserved
On this page is the history of the Hawaiian Government Reorganization bill (formerly known as the Hawaiian Recognition bill; always known informally as the Akaka bill) during the 113th Congress (January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2014).
The history includes a collection of all significant news reports, editorials, commentaries, letters to editor, cartoons, excerpts from the Congressional Record, etc.
The index for the entire 2 years of the 113th Congress is shown below, in chronological order, subdivided into several time periods as events unfold. Full text of each news report, commentary, etc. is provided on the appropriate subpage.
QUICK REVIEW, AND LINKS, FOR THE HISTORY FROM 2000 THROUGH 2010
For a thorough history of the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill from its birth in February 2000 through 2002 and beyond, focusing on the pattern of stealth and deception in creating the bill and trying to pass it, see:
For the complete history of the Akaka bill in the 108th Congress alone (2003-2004), including all versions of the bill's text, and news coverage of political activity related to it (a total of perhaps 200 pages plus links to additional subpages), see:
For a short history focusing on the stealth tactics during the 108th Congress, see:
The history for the 109th Congress included pleasant surprises in the House of Representatives. The bill stayed bottled up in the committee which had jurisdiction (Resources) and never even came to a vote in that committee. However, the Judiciary Committee took notice that the bill was threatening to come to the floor in the Senate, and did not want to see a repeat of House stealth maneuvers from previous years. Therefore the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution held a hearing where opponents of the bill were actually allowed to testify along with supporters of the bill -- the first time any opponents have ever been allowed to testify in any hearing in Washington in either the House or the Senate. As a result of that hearing a group of 21 House members wrote a letter to Speaker Hastert demanding that the bill be killed. (even though it had never yet had a hearing in the Resources committee).
The history for the 109th Congress (2005-2006) was tumultuous in the Senate and in the media. Several Senators blocked the bill by placing holds on it. An attempt to bring the bill to the Senate floor in summer 2005 was blocked by God (Hurricane Katrina). In June 2006 there were more than 4 hours of debate on the Senate floor during a two day period leading up to a recorded vote on a cloture motion (a motion to overcome holds on the bill, cut off debate, and bring the bill to a vote). A cloture motion requires 60 votes. There were only 56 votes in favor, including several Republicans who strongly oppose the bill but had made an agreement in late 2004 to support cloture (although they would then be free to vote against the bill itself, and in fact had publicly announced their opposition). Following the failure of cloture in June 2006, the bill remained dormant through the end of the year. Dozens of nationally-known political commentators wrote articles strongly opposing the bill, and major newspapers published editorials and news reports (including a New York Times editorial in favor of the bill). Website coverage for the 109th Congress includes over 2,000 pages of news reports, commentaries, transcripts of the Senate floor debate from the Congressional Record, etc. An 80-page index lists all items in chronological order and provides links to webpages which provide full text of all items for each segment of time. See:
The 110th Congress ran from January 1, 2007 through December 31, 2008 under Democrat control. The U.S. House Committee on Resources passed Akaka bill unamended May 2, 2007. The U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a hearing on the Akaka bill May 3, 2007 and passed it unamended on May 10, 2007. In October 2007 the Akaka bill was scheduled for floor action in the House. On October 22, 2007 President Bush issued a strongly worded statement opposing the Akaka bill and pledging he would veto it if it reached his desk. Nevertheless, the House held a floor debate on the bill on October 24, and passed the bill by a vote of 261-153 after a failed attempt to amend it and/or send it back to the Resources committee. Every Democrat voted in favor. Transcript of the floor debate, and record of the YEAs and NAYs, is provided. In Honolulu, the Hawaii Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held extensive hearings with testimony on several islands, in the face of a strong and vitriolic propaganda campaign in the media against the committee taking up the issue (the committee in previous years had been stacked in favor of Hawaiian sovereignty, but its membership now was more evenly divided and there were fears it might oppose the bill). On November 15, 2007 the committee voted 8-6 not to make any recommendation to the national commission. Throughout 2008 there were many news reports, letters, and commentary on all sides of the issue, but no further action. The Senate Democrat leadership never tried to bring the bill to the floor because the Republicans made it clear they would filibuster. During the last half of 2008 economic issues, and the election, took priority, and the bill died without ever being brought to the Senate floor. A lengthy index of all significant news reports, letters, cartoons, and commentaries provides links to the full text of every indexed item, broken into several time periods. The index is at:
The 111th Congress ran from January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2010 under Democrat control. The Democrats had a huge majority in the House, and for most of the two years the Democrats also had a filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate; and a President who had promised to sign the bill when it passed. Nevertheless, civil rights activists in Hawaii and Republicans in the Senate, stopped the bill. A major factor in the death of the Akaka bill was a combination of overreaching by Hawaiian zealots who insisted on trying to ram through the most dangerous version of the bill ever, and incompetence by Senators Inouye and Akaka who tried sneaky maneuvers behind the scenes and then failed to act promptly to enact a so-called compromise version.
During the two year period there were five major different versions of the Akaka bill. Versions 1,2,3 had been previously introduced in Congress during various years from 2000 to 2008. Version #4 was the most dangerous, and was introduced in the House committee barely days before the committee hearing, and drew strong objections from Hawaii's Governor and Attorney General. The committee forced Rep. Abercrombie to withdraw version #4 and passed version #3 on which it had held a hearing with public testimony. But Congressman Abercrombie later went to the House floor, substituted version #4 in place of #3, and was successful in ramming #4 through to passage on the House floor. Version #5 was a compromise with Governor Lingle in an attempt to get some Republican votes in the Senate, but version #5 was not formally introduced until mid-November 2010 and died in the lame duck session a couple days before Christmas without without any committee hearing or floor action.
Here are more details. Three matched pairs (companion bills with identical content) of the Akaka bill were introduced in early 2009. Their dates of introduction and bill numbers are: February 4, 2009, S.381 and H.R.862; March 25, 2009: S.708 and H.R.1711; May 7, 2009: S.1011 and H.R.2314. Hearing on H.R.2314 on June 11, 2009 (Kamehameha Day) before U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources (video and transcripts available). Markup set for July 9 was postponed at last minute because Republican minority ranking member Doc Hastings demanded to know Dept. of Justice and Obama administration's views on the bill, and perhaps because of OHA and Native Hawaiian Bar Association objections to restrictions on the powers of the Akaka tribe. Hearing on S.1011 on August 6 in U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs; Webcast, written statements by invited witnesses, and news reports, are provided. U.S. Commission on Civil Rights letter to Congressional leaders once again blasts Akaka bill. Zogby poll results released Dec. 15 show strong opposition to bill. Major amendments planned to be rammed through House and Senate committee markups Dec 16 and 17 were strongly opposed by Hawaii Governor and Attorney General. House committee passes unamended (original) H.R.2314 Dec. 16. Senate committee passes heavily amended more dangerous version Dec. 17. Jan 28, 2010 OHA and Hawaii Attorney General propose amendments to the Senate amended bill. At least one Republican Senator placed a hold on the bill. Feb. 23 2010 Akaka bill most dangerous version #4 was substituted on the House floor to become HR2314, and passed the House that same day by vote of 245-164. March 23 Governor Lingle letter to all 100 Senators opposes current version of the bill; Huge White House briefing in June for Akaka bill lobbyists confirms Obama will sign the bill when Senate passes it. Compromise reached to amend bill so Lingle will support it. Compromise bill formally introduced November 15, but might be only a decoy. 4 Senators publicly deplore Inouye stealth maneuver to attach Akaka bill to must-pass omnibus spending bill as part of continuing resolution to keep government running. In the lame duck session, December 2010, the Akaka bill itself was never considered by the Senate and never included inside any other bill. But a trillion dollar omnibus spending bill containing 6000 earmarks included an earmark calling on the Department of Interior to do a study of how to create a Native Hawaiian Indian tribe. That spending bill was withdrawn from the Senate by Majority Leader Harry Reid when he figured out there were not enough votes to pass it, and so the Akaka bill died.
The index for the 111th Congress, summarized in the above three paragraphs, is at
The 112th Congress (January 2011 to December 2012) was controlled by Democrats in the Senate and by Republicans in the House. The Akaka bill was introduced in the House Committee on Natural Resources, but died in committee without even a hearing. In the Senate the first version introduced in the Indian Affairs Committee was passed by the committee but went nowhere, although Senator Inouye made two stealth maneuvers in October 2011 and September 2012, inserting a short paragraph deep inside the Dept of Interior appropriations bill to place the State of Hawaii Act 195 tribe on the list of federally recognized tribes; but Republicans blocked it. A second version of the Akaka bill that was extraordinarily powerful and dangerous passed the Committee on Indian Affairs in one minute on September 13, 2012. On December 17 Senator Inouye died following several days of hospitalization under intensive care for respiratory problems; and on that same day Senator Akaka had a favorable committee report sent to the Senate for the substitute new version of the bill and it was placed on the Senate calendar under general orders. On December 20 Senator Akaka (retiring in a few more days) made his farewell speech and asked his colleagues to pass the Akaka bill in honor of Senator Inouye. There was no further action, and the 112th Congress came to an end on New Years Day with rushed passage of the "fiscal cliff" bill. For the chronological index to published news reports and commentaries for 2011-2012, with links to subpages containing full text of all items, see
NOW BEGINS THE HISTORY OF THE AKAKA BILL IN THE 113TH CONGRESS, JANUARY 2013 THROUGH DECEMBER 2014.
THIS IS AN INDEX OF ALL SIGNIFICANT NEWS REPORTS AND COMMENTARIES DURING THE 113TH CONGRESS, IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, DIVIDED INTO SEGMENTS OF TIME. FULL TEXT OF EACH ITEM IS PROVIDED IN THE SUBPAGE RELATED TO THAT SEGMENT.
INDEX OF NEWS REPORTS AND COMMENTARIES FROM JANUARY 1, 2013 THROUGH MAY 31, 2013. Hawaii Sens & Reps confirm their zealotry. OHA resolution in state legislature commemorates 20th anniversary of apology resolution and Conklin submits satirical counter-resolution calling for its repeal; OHA lobbyist in Washington lists priorities as Akaka bill and protection of Hawaiian racial entitlements. Bill passes state legislature allowing all 108,000 signatures on defunct Kau Inoa racial registry during more than 7 years to be added to the 9300 gathered after a full year for the new Kana'iolowalu racial registry without permission from signers.
For full text of each item below go to
January 6, 2012: The Sunday Honolulu Star-Advertiser published half-page statements written by each of Hawaii's two U.S. Senators and two U.S. House representatives, in which they described their intentions for the 113th Congress and their committee assignments. Senator Schatz and Representative Hanabusa devoted parts of their statements to their intentions regarding the Akaka bill -- the relevant excerpts are provided. Senator Hirono and Representative Gabbard did not mention the Akaka bill, but their support for it is clear from past performance and campaign pledges.
Jan 9: "Hirono, Schatz renew quest for Native Hawaiian measure" Honolulu newspaper reports the Hawaii Congressional delegation will be meeting with the ethnic Hawaiian establishment to get their marching orders.
Jan 10: Hawaii Free Press provides a YouTube video and transcript of Ben Cayetano (Governor, 1994-2002) speaking on January 9 to a Honolulu business luncheon, expressing his opposition to the Akaka bill. See also his 2002 Statehood Day proclamation endorsing unity and equality.
Jan 21: An event was held on the grounds of Iolani Palace yesterday to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the Hawaiian revolution that overthrew the monarchy on January 17, 1893. The event featured ex-Governor John Waihe'e and was sponsored by the Kana'iolowalu racial registry, which got some people to sign up.
Jan 22: 3 articles describe the roles Hawaii's Senators and Congresswomen will play in the Democrat Party and in committees related to the Akaka bill. Freshman Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard will be a Vice-Chair of the national Democrat Party; Colleen Hanabusa will be ranking member (top Democrat) on the House subcommittee which has authority over the Akaka bill; Senator Brian Schatz will be on the Indian Affairs Committee.
February 1, 2013: OHA monthly newspaper publishes interview with Kawika Riley, OHA's chief lobbyist in Washington regarding the Akaka bill and other priorities.
February 11: OHA introduced a resolution in the state legislature to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the U.S. apology resolution; Ken Conklin testimony offers a satirical legislative resolution calling for repeal of the U.S. apology resolution because it is filled with historical falsehoods and has been used to justify racial entitlement programs and the Akaka bill.
February 12: OHA's chief lobbyist in Washington, Kawika Riley, says Congress has a federal trust obligation to Native Hawaiians and should not cut the budget by abandoning Native Hawaiian racial entitlements in healthcare and education.
March 4, 2013: Hawaii's two Senators and two Representatives meet with each other in Washington to discuss their plans for legislation.
March 7: Congress passed a revised and reauthorized version of the Violence Against Women Act, to protect Indian women living on reservations. This new version is controversial because it gives Indian tribes jurisdiction over non-Indians accused of violent crimes against women on Indian reservations. Doc Hastings, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee which would have jurisdiction over the Akaka bill in the 113th Congress, published some comments about VAWA.
March 13: OHA presents written testimony on a resolution in the state legislature that would put the state on record as recognizing the continuing existence of an independent nation of Hawaii whose descendants are lawfully living in Hawaii. OHA says it supports the right of ethnic Hawaiians to choose for themselves whether to have a state-recognized tribe (Act 195), a federally recognized tribe (Akaka bill), or an internationally recognized nation.
March 18: Colleen Hanabusa (D, HI), only in her second term in Congress, has been chosen as ranking member (head of the Democrats) on the House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. In an interview with Indian Country Today, she demonstrated some misperceptions or ignorance about Carcieri, and the Indian Reorganization Act; and she reaffirms her intention to push for the Akaka bill [but has not yet introduced it in the 113th Congress].
March 19: The House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs held an oversight hearing on "Authorization, standards, and procedures for whether, how, and when Indian tribes should be newly recognized by the federal government: Perspective of the Department of the Interior." The hearing comes at a time when there are rumors of a backroom deal whereby President Obama might issue an executive order to give federal recognition to the Akaka tribe. Kevin K. Washburn, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior gave written testimony which includes a list of the 7 mandatory criteria for recognition. He said that since the process was established in 1978 the Department has federally recognized 17 Indian tribes and denied 34 groups. Since 2009 there has been one final determination granting recognition and six final determinations denying recognition.
April 2, 2013: According to the OHA monthly newspaper for April, Former U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka is confident Native Hawaiians will receive the federal recognition they deserve and views the Kana'iolowalu registration campaign as a necessary step. However, the racial registry has gotten only 9300 signups since July 2012, far short of the campaign's yearlong goal of 200,000; and they have extended the signup period to January 19, 2014 in hopes of meeting their goal.
April 11: Keli'i Akina, Ph.D., newly inaugurated President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, publishes article entitled "Hawaiians Give Vote of No Confidence to Sovereign Hawaiian Nation." After nearly a year, the Native Roll Commission has signed up only 9300 ethnic Hawaiians for the racial registry Kana'iolowalu, out of the 527,000 ethnic Hawaiians identified in Census 2010.
April 24: At a hearing in the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz thanked Kevin Washburn, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior, for supporting retired Sen. Daniel Akaka's bill that achieves parity for Native Hawaiians.
April 29: OHA, Kamehameha Schools, Department of Hawaiian Homelands, and other race-based programs are spending far less money lobbying in Washington than in recent years, partly because of Congressional gridlock and partly because they are using Hawaii government employees and Hawaiian students in Washington-area colleges to do the lobbying at low cost and in ways that are less visible to public scrutiny.
May 12: A bill that passed the Hawaii legislature and awaits the Governor's signature would allow the Kana'iolowalu racial registry to add the 108,000 signatures from the defunct Kau Inoa registry onto the extremely low number 9300 signatures on the new registry.
END OF INDEX OF NEWS REPORTS AND COMMENTARIES FROM JANUARY 1, 2013 THROUGH MAY 31, 2013. Hawaii Sens & Reps confirm their zealotry. OHA resolution in state legislature commemorates 20th anniversary of apology resolution and Conklin submits satirical counter-resolution calling for its repeal; OHA lobbyist in Washington lists priorities as Akaka bill and protection of Hawaiian racial entitlements. Bill passes state legislature allowing all 108,000 signatures on defunct Kau Inoa racial registry during more than 7 years to be added to the 9300 gathered after a full year for the new Kana'iolowalu racial registry without permission from signers.
For full text of each item above go to
INDEX OF NEWS REPORTS AND COMMENTARIES FROM JUNE 1, 2013 AND CONTINUING. Hawaii and Alaska delegations meet to solidify support for Akaka bill. Keli'i Akina, President of Grassroot Institute, gives major speech opposing Akaka bill and racial registry and affirming patriotism to America. June 11 (Kamehameha Day holiday in Hawaii) U.S. Senator Schatz gives speech on Senate floor calling for federal recognition of Akaka tribe [no bill introduced yet, but rumors of activity in executive branch], and is supported by Senators Cantwell, Begich, Murkowski, and Franken -- all 5 are members of the Indian Affairs committee. Point by point rebuttal by Conklin.
For full text of each item below go to
June 1, 2013: The OHA monthly newspaper reports that OHA sponsored a summit meeting among independence activists, supporters of the federal recognition, and organizers of the Kana'iolowalu racial registry, at University of Hawaii, to share ideas about how to move forward.
June 2: The Conservative Forum for Hawaii held a public discussion about the Akaka bill and the Hawaii Act 195 (2011) racial registry, at the Naniloa Hotel in Hilo. Grassroot Institute president emeritus Dick Rowland, and current president Keli'i Akina, were the speakers. (news report June 4; hour-long video available)
June 4: A consortium of Native Alaskan tribes, Native American tribes, and ethnic Hawaiians seeking federal recognition held a meeting with lawmakers in Washington DC. to discuss how to cooperate in getting recognition for the Akaka tribe and how to ensure continued government funding for existing and future race-based programs. (news report June 6)
June 11, 2013 is Kamehameha Day, a holiday in the State of Hawaii. (1)Senator Brian Schatz (D,HI) gives his maiden speech on Senate floor calling for federal recognition of Akaka tribe (although no bill has yet been introduced); (2) Schatz press release includes supportive comments from Senators Maria Cantwell (D,WA and chair of Indian Affairs Committee), Mark Begich (D,AK), Lisa Murkowski (R,AK), and Al Franken (D,MN) -- all 5 are members of the Indian Affairs committee.; (3) Hawaii TV news report about the speech includes video
June 12: Indian Country Today publishes photos and story about the celebration of Kamehameha Day, including secessionist sentiments.
June 13: Online newspaper publishes a condensed version of a webpage by Ken Conklin containing detailed rebuttals to 23 points in Senator Schatz' speech. The full webpage rebuttal is at
END OF INDEX OF NEWS REPORTS AND COMMENTARIES FROM JUNE 1, 2013 AND CONTINUING. Hawaii and Alaska delegations meet to solidify support for Akaka bill. Keli'i Akina, President of Grassroot Institute, gives major speech opposing Akaka bill and racial registry and affirming patriotism to America. June 11 (Kamehameha Day holiday in Hawaii) U.S. Senator Schatz gives speech on Senate floor calling for federal recognition of Akaka tribe [no bill introduced yet, but rumors of activity in executive branch], and is supported by Senators Cantwell, Begich, Murkowski, and Franken -- all 5 are members of the Indian Affairs committee. Point by point rebuttal by Conklin.
For full text of each item above go to
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