There are many businesses, labor unions, and community groups in Hawaii who should be opposed to state and/or federal recognition of a "Native Hawaiian" Indian tribe, if they could be made aware of the bad consequences for themselves and for all of Hawaii. But some of these groups are reluctant to step forward because race-based institutions in Hawaii are very powerful, and because of years of propaganda portraying ethnic Hawaiians as poor downtrodden people in need of "social justice."
On January 10, 2014 a detailed letter of 11 pages was sent to the Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling asking HCALG to oppose expected activity in the 2014 state legislature that would certify a racial registry of more than 100,000 people which would become a tribal membership roll, and to oppose executive actions in the Obama administration to give federal recognition. The letter explains to HCALG that the most powerful, irresistible force enabling gambling casinos in Hawaii would be a "Native Hawaiian" tribe with state and/or federal recognition. The letter explains why HCALG should step forward to oppose recognition of a Hawaiian tribe despite the fact that some of its church allies who oppose gambling also favor tribal recognition because of their well-intentioned but misguided belief that tribal recognition would help bring "social justice" for ethnic Hawaiians.
The letter can be downloaded at
or, with a conveniently short URL that will not break apart in emails
In an effort to reach out to a wider audience, Ken Conklin wrote a guest commentary that was published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Wednesday December 11, 2013. Because that newspaper has a paywall causing thousands of Hawaii's people to be unable to read articles online, the commentary is copied below.
Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Wednesday December 11, 2013
ISLAND VOICES [Guest commentaries]
There will be much divisiveness and turmoil if the sovereignty movement succeeds
By Kenneth R. Conklin
This newspaper and its predecessors have repeatedly editorialized in favor of the Akaka Bill or executive action to create a federally recognized Hawaiian tribe.
The latest version of the Akaka Bill, which passed its Senate committee in September 2012, says the Akaka tribe would have the same status as all other federally recognized tribes without any of the limitations found in previous versions of the bill.
For example, it explicitly puts the Hawaiian tribe under the same law as mainland tribes for regulating gambling casinos. That version of the bill is the final legacy of U.S. Sens. Dan Akaka and Dan Inouye; it's what the Hawaiian establishment has always wanted, and what executive action would create.
Hawaii's people need to be informed about the large body of federal Indian law that would suddenly come into Hawaii, drastically changing or replacing long-settled state laws. Here are a few: Indian Non-Intercourse Act(s); Indian Reorganization Act of 1934; Indian Gaming Regulatory Act; Indian Child Welfare Act; inherent powers of self-government.
The supremacy clause of the Constitution says federal law (including Indian law) overcomes state law whenever there's a clash. With passage of the Akaka Bill, thousands of federal laws and court decisions would suddenly become operational in Hawaii, causing massive disruption to our legal system.
The turmoil would be comparable to a ship bringing thousands of invasive species, which overwhelm and destroy our ecosystem. Some consequences would be as immediately visible as poisoning or traumatic injury; many would at first go unnoticed but develop gradually like heart disease or cancer.
Federal Indian law would allow the Akaka tribe to remove huge amounts of land from the state and county tax base, forcing taxes to be raised or services greatly reduced. The authority to regulate zoning, labor laws, workman's compensation for injury, enforcement of contracts, child custody, civil and criminal law, would be removed from the state and counties on tribal lands or for ethnic Hawaiians everywhere. Jurisdiction would shift to tribal courts, where laws and procedures could be very different and inherently favorable to tribal interests.
A federally recognized Akaka tribe would also have the U.S. Department of Justice providing lawyers and funding to support tribal litigation. The state, counties, small businesses and individuals would be forced to spend enormous amounts of money and time dealing with unfamiliar laws and procedures in front of hostile tribal judges.
A mainland tribe's reservation is often in a single location far removed from non-Indian towns. But in Hawaii there would be chaos among conflicting jurisdictions due to tribal lands being interspersed among state, county and private lands. Consider all the parcels owned by the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Kamehameha Schools. In addition there would be numerous small and large parcels transferred from county, state and federal jurisdiction because of settlement negotiations or lawsuits.
No other state has 20 percent of its population who are racially Indian, let alone 20 percent eligible to join one single tribe. Hawaii would have a major voting bloc who elect the state legislators and administrators who negotiate against the tribe, while that same voting bloc also elects the tribal leaders who will make demands against the state officials. Numerous state and county legislators and administrators, or their spouses and family members, would actually be members of the tribe whose leaders make demands against them. Talk about conflict of interest!
Federal recognition of a Hawaiian tribe would permanently divide the lands and people of Hawaii along racial lines, promoting political and legal battles while greatly worsening racial hostility. It's a recipe for disaster. Stop it.
Kenneth R. Conklin, an activist against Hawaiian sovereignty and race-based policies, was a co-plaintiff in the successful lawsuit to allow non-Hawaiians to run for Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee.
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