Federal Recognition: The Akaka Bill, Indian Tribe Recognition, etc.

(c) Copyright 2001 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved

What's wrong with the Akaka bill? The only reason this bill was introduced in Congress is to protect racially-exclusionary "entitlement" programs for ethnic Hawaiians. These programs are in danger because of the Rice v. Cayetano decision , in which the United States Supreme Court ruled that "Hawaiian" and "Native Hawaiian" are racial categories, and that voting in statewide elections for Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs cannot be limited to ethnic Hawaiians. Since it is unconstitutional for government agencies to engage in racial discrimination when spending taxpayer dollars or providing benefits, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and other Hawaiian entitlement programs are likely to be found unconstitutional. The only way to save them within the U.S. legal framework would be to declare that ethnic Hawaiians constitute an Indian tribe. However, ethnic Hawaiians are nothing like an Indian tribe. There is no way they can satisfy the 7 mandatory criteria for tribal recognition used by the U.S. Department of Interior. So the only way to save the entitlement programs is for Congress to over-rule the Supreme Court and dodge the usual administrative procedures for tribal recognition. Senator Akaka wants Congress to create a fake Indian tribe just to preserve the entitlement programs which Native Hawaiians have become so hopelessly addicted to. The Akaka bill is probably unconstitutional, because it exceeds the power of Congress. It would be the first time in history that Congress would give political recognition to a tribe that has never existed, and then set up a program to get people to enroll in the tribe, and then hold tribal elections to see who will be the chiefs.

The Akaka bill makes a claim that the U.S. owes reparations to Native Hawaiians because of its very small role in supporting the local revolution that overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893. However, an informal essay by Ken Conklin and a formal legal analysis by attorney Patrick Hanifin both show that the U.S. owes nothing to the race of Native Hawaiians. Partly that is because the Kingdom of Hawai'i was a multiracial nation where ethnic Hawaiians were in the minority. Thousands of people of Japanese, Chinese, and Euro-American ancestry lived in the Kingdom. Many of these were naturalized, denizized or natural-born subjects of the Kingdom who had full and equal citizenship, voting rights, and property rights. Non-natives were full partners in the Kingdom of Hawai'i, not merely guests. Native Hawaiians exercised self-determination in welcoming newcomers and making them into full partners. The Akaka bill is racist because it ignores the equal rights of these full partners and their descendants who live in Hawai'i today, plus all the other people who have helped build Hawai'i since the overthrow of 1893. The Akaka bill violates the fundamental principles of fairness in the concept of aloha for all.

Ethnic Hawaiians are not indigenous to Hawai'i. The overthrow and annexation were entirely legitimate, even though about half the Native Hawaiians (but less than 20% of the entire population) protested. Neither the overthrow nor the annexation resulted in any stolen lands. When the ex-queen Lili'uokalani tried to get money in 1910 by suing the United States for compensation for "her" "stolen" Crown Lands, the court ruled against her. But even if she had won, it would have meant that she personally had owned the land, and not the race of Native Hawaiians.

Race-based political sovereignty is not necessary for Native Hawaiians to exercise their culture and spirituality. Sovereignty, to be possible, must be multiracially inclusive, or else the race of Native Hawaiians could only claim a share of the land in proportion to their population in the same way as any other separatist group. In actuality, we're all sovereign right now already. Most sovereignty proposals contain morally outrageous demands for racially exclusionary superior voting rights and property rights. All people of Hawai'i, regardless of race, should feel free to participate in discussions about sovereignty where predetermined "answers" are not forced down their throats by the sovereignty activists.

Some of the historical, legal, and moral arguments in the Akaka bill are also contained in a piece of healthcare legislation S.87 and H.R.562 (formerly S.1929 in the 106th Congress) whose 30 preamble "findings" are extensively analyzed and refuted one by one. Additional readings provide further insight.



Supreme Court Prohibits Racially Segregated Voting in OHA Elections: The Rice v. Cayetano Decision

Are Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) an Indian Tribe? Federal Criteria for Recognition of Tribal Status. Open letter to State legislators opposing any racial apartheid for Hawai'i.

Does the U.S. Owe Hawaiians Anything?

Are kanaka maoli entitled to reparations? (a lengthy legal argument by attorney Patrick Hanifin)

A Brief History of Citizenship and Voting Rights in Hawai'i (Kingdom, Republic, Territory, and State) by attorney Patrick W. Hanifin.

Were non-kanaka maoli historically full partners in Hawai'i, or only second-class guests?

Did kanaka maoli exercise self-determination?


Are kanaka maoli indigenous to Hawai'i? Would the status of being indigenous give them special rights?

Was the 1893 overthrow of the monarchy illegal? Was it a theft of a nation owned by kanaka maoli and stolen by non-kanaka maoli?

Was the 1898 annexation illegal?

Were the lands stolen? Do the ceded lands rightfully belong to kanaka maoli alone?

Lili'uokalani Loses a Big One (The Crown Lands) Lili'uokalani v. United States, 45 Ct Cl. 418, 1910

Is sovereignty necessary for Hawaiian culture to survive and strengthen?

What kind of sovereignty might be historically and morally justifiable, as well as politically possible?

Aren't we all sovereign now? (an informal essay by attorney Patrick Hanifin)

Voting Rights, Property Rights, and Hawaiian Sovereignty: The Outrageously Racist Demands of the Hawaiian Supremacists

We Need A Second Dialog on Sovereignty Where All Can Participate Without Predetermined Conclusions.

S1929 Federal legislation to provide racial entitlement for healthcare: point-by-point rebuttal of false and twisted historical and legal claims buried in the fine print by sovereignty activists

Some books and websites which support the concept that kanaka maoli are not entitled to race-based sovereignty?

(c) Copyright 2001 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved


Email: ken_conklin@yahoo.com