(c) Copyright 2003 - 2007 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved
Since February 2000 the strategy for passing the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill has consistently followed a pattern. Each version of the bill has been written secretly, and politically managed stealthily. Drafting the bill and running the politics has been handled by small group of hand-picked attorneys, and insiders from the large racially exclusionary Hawaiian institutions seeking to protect their money and power. In Congress the effort has been to work behind the scenes to get the bill passed by unanimous consent on the calendar of non-controversial legislation, or to attach it as a hidden rider to a huge must-pass defense appropriations bill. From 2000 until 2005 there was never an open hearing in Washington where opponents could be heard, but only stage-managed propaganda forums under the auspices of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. The one time a "Congressional" hearing was held in Honolulu, there was massive opposition to the bill over a period of several days. The "joint Congressional committee hearing" held in Honolulu during Congress' recess in summer 2000 had a panel with only five Democrats who all strongly supported the bill: Hawai'i's two Senators (Akaka and Inouye), Hawai'i's two Representatives (Abercrombie and Mink), and the delegate from American Samoa (Eni Faleomavaega) who utterly depends upon the Hawai'i delegation to get what he wants for Samoa. A local Honolulu reporter who attended the hearings wrote that opposition testimony outnumbered favorable testimony by nine-to-one; but Hawai'i's Congressional delegation informed Congress that support was overwhelming.
Senator Akaka has some native Hawaiian ancestry, so it is politically correct that he has always introduced the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill in the Senate. In Hawai'i the bill is called "The Akaka Bill." But Senator Inouye has always been the most powerful person trying to pass the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill. That's because Senator Inouye is Hawai'i's senior Senator, a medal of honor winner with a long and distinguished career in the Senate. His seniority and aggressive maneuvering makes Hawai'i one of the top states in getting federal appropriations. He is universally acknowledged to be the unofficial but practical head of the Democrat Party in Hawai'i, deciding who shall run for which offices in state government. When the Democrats have a majority in the Senate, Inouye has served as Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee to which the Akaka bill is always referred (and Akaka himself is also a member). When the Democrats have the majority, Inouye is also the Chairman of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee, which gives him the power to attach the Akaka bill as a rider to defense appropriations bills that must be passed for the security of our nation (and would be nearly impossible for the President to veto), or to hide the Akaka bill ("by reference") deep inside a defense bill in the form of a single sentence (where it might escape detection and get passed despite strong opposition). When the Republicans control the committees, Senator Inouye nevertheless remains extremely powerful as the "ranking member" of those same committees where he is in a position to trade groups of votes ("I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine."). In the House, the bill is introduced and maneuvered by Hawai'i's senior member of the House, Representative Neil Abercrombie.
Following is a detailed history of the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill (also known as the Akaka bill) from February 2000 through December 2002:
On February 23, 2000 the Rice v. Cayetano decision was handed down, nullifying a Hawai'i state law that only Native Hawaiians could vote for trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. The Rice decision made clear that "Native Hawaiians" names a racial category and not a political group. That clarification of status opened the door to legal challenges of racially exclusionary government and private programs for Native Hawaiians. Billions of dollars and enormous political power were at stake. Immediately the defenders of racial entitlement programs began holding closely-guarded emergency meetings to write Congressional legislation that would give political recognition to Native Hawaiians as an Indian tribe. These meetings were limited to a small group of hand-picked legal experts and leaders of the large racially exclusionary Hawaiian institutions. On May 13, 2000, about ten weeks after the Rice decision, the first draft of a Native Hawaiian Recognition bill was published in the Honolulu Advertiser.
The Native Hawaiian Recognition bill has had several different bill numbers for different versions.
Click here for a history of the Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill in the Year 2000: First Drafts Published Locally in Hawai'i, First Version Formally Introduced in Congress (with Red-Pencil Comments by opponent Ken Conklin), and Final Version in December, 2000
Letters and Testimony by Patrick W. Hanifin, H. William Burgess, Kenneth R. Conklin from August and September, 2000
Senator Akaka's Short Speech on January 22, 2001 to introduce his bill S.81 to the 107th Congress, with red-pencil comments by Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D.
Native Hawaiian Recognition bill S.81, full text. As Introduced in the United States Senate on January 22, 2001. This is the same bill that had previously passed the House in the 106th Congress (unanimous consent at dinner time on calendar of non-controversial bills) and nearly passed the Senate (Inouye stealth maneuver) in the 106th Congress.
A HISTORY OF STEALTH AND DECEPTION in Creating and Trying to Pass the Akaka bill in the years 2000 and 2001. In both 2000 and 2001, the Akaka bill was hidden inside a huge defense appropriations bill "by reference" (in the form of a single sentence) in hope that it might slip through without anyone noticing. Here is that sentence in December 2001, buried in section
8,132 of the massive Defense Appropriations bill HR.3338: "SEC. 8132. The provisions of S. 746 of the 107th Congress, as reported to the Senate on September 21, 2001, are hereby enacted into law."
The 106th Congress adjourned in December 2000. The bill had passed the House, but died in the Senate at the last possible moment when attention was called to an Inouye stealth maneuver. On January 22, 2001, at the start of the new 107th Congress, Senator Akaka introduced the same bill that had previously failed. The bill for this new session of Congress had new bill number S.81, and was referred to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Congressman Abercrombie introduced the same bill in the House on February 14, 2001, where it was assigned House bill number H.R.617 and was referred to the Committee on Resources. Because January 2001 was the start of a new 107th Congress, the Akaka bill had to start the legislative process all over again from scratch.
THE MOST ACTIVE VERSION OF NATIVE HAWAIIAN RECOGNITION BILL IN THE 107th CONGRESS: This is the bill that was known in the Senate as S.746 and in the House as H.R.617. H.R.617 passed the House Resources Committee on May 16, 2001, and was identical with S.746 which passed the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on July 24, 2001. Although the bill remained poised for passage in both the House and Senate for a year and a half (and came close to passing the Senate in an Inouye stealth maneuver on December 7, 2001), neither chamber actually passed it. A similar bill had actually passed the House in 2000 in a stealth maneuver but died in the Senate when an Inouye stealth maneuver failed on the last day of the 106th Congress in mid-December, 2000.
In the House of Representatives, the Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill (Akaka bill) passed the Committee on Resources on May 16, 2001. The committee substituted the content of the newer version of the bill before passing it, so that H.R.617 that passed the committee was now identical with S.746 that had been introduced in the Senate on April 6. It was unclear how many committee members were present and how long had been spent discussing the bill. But it later became known that an ethnic Hawaiian named Kimo Kaloi, who strongly supported the bill, was chief advisor to the Republican chairman of the Resources Committee on issues related to Hawai'i and the Pacific islands.
On July 24, 2001 S.746 passed the Senate Indian Affairs Committee by voice vote, without any questions or objections. Only three members of the committee were present at the time: two of them were the bill's sponsors, Hawai'i Senator Dan Inouye (chairman of the committee), and Hawai'i Senator Dan Akaka (who is Native Hawaiian and allegedly wrote the bill). The third Senator present was Colorado Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, ranking Republican (an Indian who was formerly a Democrat and was chairman of the committee as a Republican before Senator Jeffords switched parties and gave the Democrats control of the chairmanship). Just three guys sitting at a table. "Shall we pass it? Waddya say? (1) Yeah, (2) Sure, (3) Whatever."
The bill languished in both houses of Congress. In the House, Congressman Sensenbrenner, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter to Speaker Hastert on July 19, 2001 asking that the bill either be killed or else referred to his committee because of grave concerns that it is unconstitutional. The House parliamentarian later ruled that since the bill had already passed the Resources Committee it could not then be referred to a second committee. Nevertheless, the Sensenbrenner letter seems to have been successful in preventing the bill from either coming to the floor for a vote or being placed on the calendar of non-controversial bills for unanimous consent. Judiciary Chairman Sensenbrenner's letter to Speaker Hastert can be seen at:
In the Senate, more than one Senator placed a hold on the bill to ensure that it could not be passed by unanimous consent on a voice vote with few Senators present. During late summer and Fall, 2001 Senator Inouye, his staff from the Indian Affairs Committee, the trustees and attorneys of OHA, and other supporters of the bill tried to negotiate with the Department of Interior under President Bush. They were hoping to produce bill language which the Republican administration would endorse, and then persuade Republican Senators to go along with it. The existence of such negotiations, and the production of bill language by DOI which DOI seemed to endorse, is very troubling because it indicates that DOI might accept the basic concept of apartheid for Hawai'i and only needed to negotiate the language for accomplishing it. The story of the negotiations can be found at:
and the DOI markup of S.746, as made public on December 6, 2001, can be seen in its entirety at:
In December, 2001, Senator Inouye abused his power as chairman of an appropriations subcommittee to hide S.746 deep inside the huge Defense Appropriations bill in the form of a single sentence buried in section 8132. Fortunately the hidden cancer was detected in time to remove it. A lengthy memo was sent by Senator Craig, Chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, to all the Senators severely criticizing the bill as unconstitutional and strongly rebuking the stealth tactic of burying it inside the Defense Appropriations bill. See:
On December 7, 2001 Senators Gramm and McCain both rebuked that stealth tactic on the floor of the Senate, and Senator Inouye was forced to withdraw his hidden sentence to avoid derailing the must-pass Defense Appropriations bill. Senator Inouye's attack on the people of Hawai'i and on his Senate colleagues on December 7, exactly 60 years after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, was defeated. But Senators Inouye and Akaka immediately launched a second wave of their attack by introducing a new version, S.1783.
THE NEW VERSION S.1783 INTRODUCED IN THE SENATE ON DECEMBER 7, 2001. Full text of the bill, analysis of what was new in this bill (including a blood quantum requirement that appears to make very little practical difference), and history of the dishonorable stealth strategy leading up to the introduction of this bill. This bill never passed the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and was never introduced at all in the House. It apparently resulted from a failed attempt to negotiate with the Department of Interior, and was introduced immediately after an Inouye stealth maneuver to pass S.746 had been exposed on the Senate floor and Inouye had been humiliatingly forced to withdraw the stealth maneuver.
Despite several scares, there was no forward progress of the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill in either chamber of Congress during the year 2002. The only significant attention to the bill was a publicity stunt by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on July 15, 2002. A forum was held on "indigenous rights" and was broadcast live over the internet. The forum was carefully orchestrated to draw attention to recent Supreme Court decisions that had ruled against Indian tribes' attempts to expand their "sovereignty," and to remind politicians and the public that many Indians had behaved as patriotic Americans in various wars. Committee Chairman Inouye and committee member Akaka "stole the show," using it as a propaganda vehicle on behalf of the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill, featuring ethnic Hawaiian apeakers including military veterans, and OHA and DHHL trustees. Surprisingly there was no Inouye stealth maneuver at the end of 2002 as there had been in the Decembers of 2000 and 2001. That might be because the bill had not passed the house during the 107th Congress, so passing it in the closing days of the Senate would have been futile (it might also be because Senator Inouye's failed stealth attempts of December 2000 and December 2001 had been embarrassing and had placed his colleagues on alert).
During the 108th Congress, 2003-2004, the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill passed its committee, but did not pass either the House or the Senate. There was a close call at the end of the 108th Congress when a stealth maneuver succeeded in getting a one-paragraph version of the Akaka bill included in one Senate bill that was included in the Senate package of many bills sent to a joint conference committee as part of the omnibus appropriations bill. However, the House conferees took note of the stealth paragraph and did not agree to it; and so the Akaka bill died. The complete history of the Akaka bill in the 108th Congress is covered in chronological order on the following very lengthy webpage (perhaps 200 pages):
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 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). 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 history for the 110th Congress (January 2007 through December 2008) is being tracked at
Paid lobbyists are in Washington, sent by the bloated bureaucracies whose continued existence depends on this bill being passed -- especially the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (with about $400 million of public money in its war chest), the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (with over 200,000 acres of land and many thousands of ethnic Hawaiians living there on $1-per-year leases), and the tax-exempt charitable trust now known as Kamehameha Schools, formery Bishop Estate (which has somewhere between $8 Billion and $15 Billion in assets). OHA announced in early 2001 that it planned to spend about $9 Million to "educate the public" about this bill and other racial entitlement programs, and to lobby in Washington. That money has long ago been expended, and many millions more besides (OHA refuses to disclose how much). In October 2002 OHA announced that its top priority will be community "education" (propaganda) and Congressional lobbying for "nationhood." Thousands of so-called Native Hawaiians (most of whom are mostly non-Hawaiian in genealogy), who currently receive racial entitlement benefits not available to other citizens through those three institutions and through hundreds of other taxpayer-supported programs, will be lobbying in support of this bill. It is difficult for opponents to keep up with them. We have no lavish expense accounts, and no motives other than patriotism and a desire to protect the unity of Hawai'i and the concept of equality under the law.
Unfortunately the Department of Interior in 2002 showed interest in negotiating the language of the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill; and such negotiations continued from then through 2006. This seems to indicate a willingness to tolerate the concept of apartheid for Hawai'i while merely negotiating suitable language for implementing it. The Department of Interior automatically assumes it is dealing with Indians who merely seek to be recognized; but the Justice Department has been very vigilant to defend th Constitution against this bill. See:
Thus it will be very important for people in every state who wish to defend the unity of America and equality under law to be vigilant throughout 2007 and 2008 to oppose the Akaka bill. See:
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(c) Copyright 2003 - 2007 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved