Here is an outline of some of the major events to be covered in detail below (about 35 pages of detail):
Lobbying for support from Republican Senators and President Bush, by Republican Governor Lingle, Democrat Senators Akaka and Inouye, OHA trustees, and others.
Who is to blame for sluggish progress: Lingle, or Hawai'i's Democrat Senators and Congressmen?
March 17: Bruce Fein 3 major essays entered into Congressional Record by Senator Kyl (R,AZ) as he announces his continuing opposition to the bill.
March 31: Hawai'i state Legislature "informational briefing" by Inouye, Abercrombie, and Case, during Congress' Easter recess
April 17: Senator Kyl demands 45 hours of time on the Senate floor to debate the bill.
April 24: Honolulu Advertiser editorial calls for Congressional hearings to be held in Hawai'i so local people can testify before the bill moves forward. (this idea was ignored).
April 26: "Chief Maui Loa" of the "Hou Band of Native Hawaiians of the Blood" published "An Open Letter to the White House: native Hawaiian sovereignty" in the nationally circulated journal "Indian Country Today" at:
The basic concepts in this document were published as a paid advertisement in the form of a two-page spread in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin (print edition) on April 26, 2005. A photo image of that ad can be seen at:
May 16: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs finally issues its committee report to accompany the bill.
May 20: Amended Akaka bill text finally published on Library of Congress website (amended bill had been approved by committee on March 9)
May 31: "Kau Inoa" racial registry has only 18,000 signatures (less than 5% of those eligible) after 17 months of intensive and expensive advertising and outreach.
June 1: Bruce Fein publishes 49-page booklet "Hawaii Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand" which includes point-by-point rebuttal of Apology resolution of 1993 and of major provisions of Akaka bill.
June 14,15,16: Fein essay entered into Congressional Record by Senator Kyl in three installments
June 21: Senator Akaka whines about Bruce Fein on Senate floor
West Hawaii Today (Kona), Friday, March 11, 2005
Republican senator signs onto Hawaiian bill
By Samantha Young
Stephens Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- Legislation recognizing Native Hawaiians is picking up Republican support on Capitol Hill, which Hawaii lawmakers say will be needed if it is to pass the U.S. Senate.
Gov. Linda Lingle announced Thursday that Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., intends to cosponsor the bill, which establishes a process for Native Hawaiians to organize and establish their own government.
"It is abundantly clear this bill is critical to the future of the indigenous Hawaiian people," Graham said in a statement. "I hope my name on the bill will encourage my colleagues to support Gov. Lingle in her quest to get this bill passed this session."
Other Republican sponsors include Sens. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore. Last year, Sens. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, also supported the bill.
If Hatch and Stevens renew their support, it would mark the most Republican backing since the bill was proposed five years ago.
Spokesmen for Hatch and Stevens could not be reached Thursday night.
Hawaii Democratic senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka have said the 45 members of the Democratic caucus would back the bill. The caucus consists of 44 Democrats and Sen. Jim Jeffords, an independent from Vermont.
Graham signed on to the bill a week after he met with Lingle, who was in Washington last week for the National Governors Association annual meeting.
Lingle also met with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a critic of the bill who said this week some of his concerns had been laid to rest. Inouye and Akaka also met with the Arizona senator.
"The governor continues to work on this," Lingle spokesman Lenny Klompus said. "She's going to continue to talk to everyone who can help move the process along."
The vote counting is critical for advocates of the Hawaiian bill who will need at least 51 votes to win approval of the measure if all senators vote.
Republican leaders promised last year to make time for the Hawaiian bill before Aug. 7. Inouye said the Senate likely would tackle legislation on bankruptcy reform and Social Security before addressing the Hawaiian bill.
The Hawaiian bill establishes a process for an estimated 400,000 Native Hawaiians to organize their own government. Critics have said Congress does not have the legal authority to recognize Hawaiians as they do Native Indians or Alaska tribes.
The Bush administration has not taken a position on the bill. However, Lingle said last week she believed the president would sign the measure.
Honolulu Advertiser, Saturday, March 12, 2005
Lingle urged to get Bush backing
By Vicki Viotti
Hawai'i congressmen are urging Gov. Linda Lingle to use her relationship with the Bush administration to secure its public backing of the Akaka bill, something they say will be the key to its passage.
The bill, which would give Native Hawaiians federal recognition as a political class, will be hard pressed to win enough votes unless the administration signals its "affirmative support," according to a letter to Lingle from Democratic Reps. Neil Abercrombie and Ed Case.
The Republican governor this week countered that the top priority rests not on winning Bush administration support but on garnering enough votes in both houses of Congress.
"From my perspective, they need to focus on their own kuleana and get this through the House," Lingle said.
Lingle cited the Feb. 15 letter, which acknowledged that the original strategy last year was to "ensure the administration's neutrality and subsequently to obtain its support of federal recognition."
However, Abercrombie and Case said in the letter that at the end of the session the Bush administration sent a signal to block a provision inserted in an appropriations bill, language acknowledging a political relationship between Native Hawaiians and the federal government that would have helped get the full recognition bill through this year.
"An open statement of support early in this Congress will assure our colleagues of the administration's position and foreclose any contradictory statements at a later time, particularly at key decision-making moments," they said in the letter.
Lingle said her White House sources were unaware of any such signal being sent and that the whole push for White House backing is an effort to "deflect attention from the issue at hand, to get it through the Senate and House."
Case, reached by telephone yesterday, maintained that the administration did flash a red light on the inserted language and said the governor doesn't understand how lawmaking works in Washington. Many Republican senators and representatives weigh the White House position on an issue before voting, he said.
"Nothing whatsoever will advance federal recognition faster than affirmative White House support," he said.
"The governor appears to be under the mistaken impression that the White House position doesn't matter until the bill passes," Case continued. "That's not how it works. The White House routinely injects itself in the congressional process, and Congress routinely consults the White House."
Lingle said she has had success in persuading Republican senators to co-sponsor the bill and to get Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., once a critic of the measure, to back off that position.
"It's important to point out that Senator McCain has kept his promise to keep his mind open about the bill," she said. "I've had success now, and I feel like this is a good use of my time. ... I'm going to try to help them get the votes they need in the Senate. It's a matter of first things first."
Abercrombie countered that Lingle may be putting her energy into the vote-getting campaign because she's "not able to deliver" the White House support.
"To the degree that she was able to influence Senator McCain, I say 'congratulations,' " Abercrombie said. "But she doesn't get to take a hike on her responsibility.
"She got in (as governor) in great measure because of her alleged relationship with Mr. Bush," he added. "I would suggest that a cease-fire gets called, that she turn her face in the direction of what she's supposed to take care of."
Honolulu Advertiser, Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Letters to the Editor
Don't blame governor for Akaka bill's lack of success
It's clear by their March 12 comments that Reps. Ed Case and Neil Abercrombie are becoming increasingly frustrated that Hawai'i's delegation in Washington has not been able to get the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005 (the Akaka bill) passed by Congress during their tenure.
The bill to provide federal recognition to Native Hawaiians has languished for years. And it has not mattered which political party has controlled Congress or the White House.
That's why it's almost laughable when Case and Abercrombie say the governor does not understand how Washington works. Well, frankly, that's not her job. That's why voters sent Case and Abercrombie to Washington.
In a recent letter to the governor, Case and Abercrombie confirmed that the strategy on the Akaka bill was to "ensure the administration's neutrality and subsequently obtain its support of federal recognition." So far, the governor has done just that.
Realizing that she can also use her relationships with Republicans in Congress, the governor has had success in addressing Arizona Sen. John McCain's concerns about the bill. And in fact, Sen. McCain enthusiastically passed the bill out of committee, crediting Gov. Lingle's testimony for its passage. She also has had success in getting more Republicans to sign on as cosponsors of the bill, including Sens. Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), Norm Coleman (Minnesota), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Gordon Smith (Oregon).
It's a shame that Hawai'i's congressmen, who were elected to represent us in Washington, feel the need to blame the governor for their inability to work with their colleagues across the aisle in Congress in moving this important piece of legislation forward. I hope they stop politicizing this nonpartisan issue and get back to focusing on the bill's passage during this session of Congress.
As everyone has said, it's the right thing to do.
James R. "Duke" Aiona Jr.
State lieutenant governor
Honolulu Advertiser, March 17, 2005
Lingle administration is politicizing the Akaka bill
Lt. Gov. Aiona's comments on our joint effort to enact Native Hawaiian federal recognition (Letters, March 15) are most disturbing, not only because he doesn't understand either the facts or the process, but more directly because he appears to be joining with Gov. Lingle in a purposeful politicization of a crucial issue that we have all striven to keep strictly nonpartisan.
Federal recognition has been before the U.S. House since 2000. It has been co-introduced on a bipartisan basis, reported out of committee with bipartisan support, and passed by the House without partisan disagreement, all during a period of Republican majority.
In the 108th Congress (2003-04), the Lingle administration's undertaking was to assure that the White House remained at least neutral on federal recognition. This did not happen, as the White House at the last minute rejected recognition language for which the Hawai'i delegation had painfully gained both Republican and Democratic support.
It's crucial to passing federal recognition that this not be repeated and that Congress, during (not after) its deliberations, be clear that the measure has White House support, and we wrote Gov. Lingle to that effect. (See www.house.gov/ case or www.house.gov/ abercrombie.) Although we welcome her assistance with our congressional colleagues, considering the Lingle administration's stated relationship with the president, this is where the governor should and must focus.
This discussion needs to end here because we need to work together as a bipartisan team to move federal recognition through to passage in both the House and Senate. It would be a tragedy if this effort were pushed into the same partisan politics that have destroyed too many other worthy efforts in D.C.
We will do our job, and we look forward to the governor doing hers.
U.S. Reps. Neil Abercrombie and Ed Case
Bruce Fein is a Constitutional law attorney and international consultant with Bruce Fein and Associates and the Lichfield Group. During the period from October 2004 through March 2005 he became aware of the dangers of the Hawaiian Government Reorganization bill S.147 (also known as the Akaka bill) and published three major articles opposing the bill. On March 17, 2005 Senator Kyl (R, AZ) made a statement on the floor of the U.S. Senate reaffirming his opposition to the Hawaiian bill, and entered into the Congressional Record the three articles by Bruce Fein. A WEBPAGE HAS BEEN CREATED THAT CONTAINS THE FULL TEXT OF SENATOR KYL’S STATEMENT ON THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE, INCLUDING THE FULL TEXT OF ALL THREE OF BRUCE FEIN’S ARTICLES. The actual pages of the Congressional Record can be seen, along with URLs for the original sources of the three articles and some closely related articles. Go to:
While Congress was on vacation for the Easter recess, all four members of Hawai’i’s delegation were at home. The state Legislature held an "informational briefing" (propaganda circus) for two hours devoted entirely to the Akaka bill on Thursday, March 31, 2005. Senator Inouye, and Representatives Abercrombie and Case, made presentations and answered friendly questions from the Legislators (members of the public were not allowed to ask questions). At the same time, Senator Akaka visited the Kamehameha Schools campus on Maui. Four newspaper articles covered these events.
Honolulu Advertiser, Friday, April 1, 2005
Akaka bill may hinge on Bush
By Vicki Viotti
Hawai'i's congressional delegation yesterday predicted that the long-stalled bill for federal recognition of Native Hawaiians finally would clear the Senate this year but that a nod from the White House is needed to get it through the House.
U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye and U.S. Reps. Neil Abercrombie and Ed Case took questions from the state Senate and House Hawaiian affairs committee during an informational briefing that drew a standing-room-only crowd to a state Capitol conference room.
Lawmakers called the briefing to get an update on the "Akaka bill." U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, its namesake and lead proponent, had meetings on Maui yesterday and declined the invitation. A second briefing with state officials discussing the effects of the bill will be scheduled later this session, said state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, D-21st (Nanakuli, Makaha).
No questions were taken from spectators, some of whom transmitted their silent endorsement or opposition by flashing placards with slogans of support or scorn for the current version of the measure, Senate Bill 147.
The briefing did air questions from state lawmakers about how the bill would affect non-Hawaiians, including worries that the measure could produce an "us or them" tension among residents here.
Although he acknowledged the need to deal with such public concerns, Inouye kept his focus on charting the bill's course through the Senate, which he predicted would pass the measure. Senate leaders promised the delegation last session that the bill would get a vote on the Senate floor by Aug. 7, before a summer recess.
"I'm convinced that we will have that vote, and I'm convinced that we will prevail by a hefty margin," Inouye said.
Abercrombie said he then would introduce the Senate's approved bill in the House and hoped it could have its first hearings in the first weeks of September, after the House returned from break. But the Republican majority shies away from tangling with the Bush administration, he said, and is unlikely to let the bill pass without a signal that the president would sign it.
"The question is not whether we can pass it out of the committees, but it's whether or not the Bush administration will look favorably on the legislation," Abercrombie said.
He reiterated the delegation's latest position, that the state's Republican governor is best positioned to lobby for Bush's support. After the briefing, two members of Gov. Linda Lingle's administration — Attorney General Mark Bennett and Hawaiian Homes Commission Chairman Micah Kane — said the discussions they've had with the president and his administration have been positive.
The delegation has asserted that an attempt to pass legislation supporting federal recognition last session was spiked because of a thumbs-down from the White House, but Bennett maintained that his contacts within the White House say no such signal was sent.
"The (Bush) administration has expressed no opposition to this bill," Bennett said. "They're not shy about telling if they have a problem with the bill."
State lawmakers, meanwhile, kept an eye on the future impact of the bill, looking beyond the measure's procedures for organizing a Native Hawaiian government to anticipate how this new political entity would interact with non-Hawaiians.
"There's a tendency to have an 'us and them' perspective," said state Rep. Lyla Berg, D-18th (Kahala, 'Aina Haina, Kuli'ou'ou). "We can move into an era with fear, we can move into the same space with fascination. How can we deal with the fear?"
State Rep. Cindy Evans, D-7th (N. Kona, S. Kohala), echoed some of this sentiment, asking about various possible scenarios. What would happen, for example, if Native Hawaiians wanted to be citizens of their own government but not the United States?
"I don't think the U.S. would provide the authorization to the sovereign nation to allow that," Inouye answered.
The delegates said they believe most such scenarios are extreme and that the Native Hawaiian entity could only negotiate the measure of sovereignty that the federal government would approve. Most likely, they said, the new government would focus on the job agencies such as the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands do now: managing land and cash assets. Extensive independent privileges are an improbable outcome, Inouye said.
"If the negotiations are foolish enough to say Hawaiians would not have the same responsibility as everyone else, then it would be an 'us or them' situation," he said.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Friday, April 1, 2005, ** Excerpts adding information **
Public meetings sought on impact of Akaka Bill
By B.J. Reyes
State lawmakers want to educate the public on the merits of the Akaka Bill in Congress, now that the measure to grant federal recognition to native Hawaiians appears as close as it ever has been to passing out of the Senate.
"I'm under the assumption that the Akaka Bill will pass, and so my concern is, Is the state prepared to help with the implementation of that legislation?" said House Hawaiian Affairs Chairman Scott Saiki (D, Moiliili-McCully). "I think we need to continue educating the public to assuage their fears or concerns about the legislation. People need to know what the legislation will mean on a practical day-to-day basis."
U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye told state lawmakers he has received assurances from Republican leaders of the Senate that the bill would be considered for debate and a roll call vote on the Senate floor by August.
"I am convinced that we will have that vote," Inouye said. "I am convinced that we will prevail."
The bill would then go to the U.S. House, where Reps. Neil Abercrombie and Ed Case said they have been working with colleagues to ensure that the bill has bipartisan support. Both said Republican leaders in the House are supportive but are waiting for President Bush to state a position on the bill.
State Attorney General Mark Bennett, who along with Gov. Linda Lingle has met with the president to lobby his support, said that while the Bush administration has not spoken out in favor of the bill, it is worth noting that he has not spoken negatively about it, either.
"The Bush administration (is) like every other federal administration: They are not shy about telling the Congress if they have a problem with a bill," Bennett said.
Lawmakers said they would hold further informational briefings to hear from Bennett, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and others.
Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chairwoman Haunani Apoliona said the situation is similar to statehood in 1959 and the creation of her office during the 1978 Constitutional Convention.
"People didn't know what the future was going to bring. ... There was fear, just like there is now," she said. "If you look back to those two experiences, the world didn't end, and I don't think the world's going to end with the native Hawaiian government."
Some remain opposed to the Akaka Bill. They appeared at yesterday's hearing with signs reading, "You have no right to cede our rights," and "Federalization is militarization," among others.
Among them was Ikaika Hussey, a native Hawaiian from Kaneohe and a frequent critic of U.S. military action in places such as Kahoolawe and Makua Valley -- land that is considered sacred to many native Hawaiians.
"It pulls power away from Hawaii and puts it in Congress," he said. "It will foreclose real justice on the justice of Hawaiian land, on the question of the ceded land."
Ceded lands are crown or public lands that were ceded to the new republic of Hawaii after the overthrow of the monarchy, and then to the territory of Hawaii after U.S. annexation of the islands in 1898 and to the new state of Hawaii in 1959.
Ceded lands make up about 1.4 million acres, or 95 percent of state-owned lands.
The Maui News, Friday, April 01, 2005, ** Excerpts **
Akaka: Prospects bright
By CLAUDINE SAN NICOLAS, Staff Writer
PUKALANI – Addressing Maui’s Native Hawaiian youth, U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka said he’s confident legislation affecting their future will be approved in Congress.
Akaka visited the Kamehameha Schools Maui campus Thursday morning, reminiscing about his own school days and answering questions about the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, also known as the Akaka Bill.
A student asked Akaka what he would do if the bill doesn’t pass in the Senate.
"I never thought of that," Akaka said with a smile. Students and faculty chuckled.
"As far as I know, we’re going to pass it," Akaka said. "Now that you’ve said that, I’m not going to give up."
Following the committee’s approval of the Akaka Bill, the two Hawaii senators wrote to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Democratic leader Harry Reid to request that the legislation be brought before the Senate for debate and a roll-call vote.
Akaka said he has heard no response and plans to follow up on his request when he returns to Washington. He said he also will lobby Republicans to seek their support for the measure. So far, Akaka has the backing of at least three Republicans, who’ve signed on as sponsors of the Akaka Bill.
With Akaka’s visit already scheduled Thursday on Maui, he was unable to attend an informational briefing on the legislation held at the state Capitol in Honolulu.
But, in written remarks, Akaka told Hawaii lawmakers that he has the full support of his Democratic colleagues for passage of the Akaka Bill.
He said his biggest challenge has been getting the backing of President Bush’s administration.
"The White House wields a tremendous amount of authority over the legislative branch in terms of which bills are allowed to be considered in the House and Senate," Akaka wrote.
Akaka, who will celebrate his 30th year in elected office in 2006, said he does not believe he’ll see the day when the Hawaiian governing entity is established. Estimates are that it could take as long as five years before it receives approvals from Congress and the president.
"The way I see it, when it happens, I probably won’t be around," Akaka said.
He encouraged Kamehameha students to take advantage of their educational opportunities and to learn as much as possible.
"We’re all depending on your generation to do your best and step in," he said.
Akaka said lawsuits charging racial discrimination in Native Hawaiian programs, including an admissions preference policy at Kamehameha Schools, could prevail. But if the Akaka Bill were enacted into law, Akaka said Native Hawaiians could argue they have legitimate status as a political body, which would shield Hawaiian entitlement programs from lawsuits charging racial discrimination.
"So there’s an importance to this, but I didn’t do the bill for that," Akaka said.
Akaka said one of his personal goals in Congress has been to "uplift the Hawaiians." And the Akaka Bill has been one of the ways he’s sought to achieve that.
In response to a question from a student, Akaka said issues involving Hawaiian homestead lands and other benefits would be negotiated by leaders of the federally recognized Native Hawaiian government and the United States.
In his written remarks to Hawaii lawmakers, Akaka said he believes it’s wrong to predetermine the outcome of long-standing matters, such as land conflicts, in the federal bill.
"I believe that once the entity is reorganized, it will be in a position to negotiate these issues for its citizens with Native Hawaiians controlling the outcome of the process," Akaka said.
Akaka is the first U.S. senator of Native Hawaiian ancestry and is the only Chinese-American member in the Senate.
The Maui News, Friday, April 01, 2005 ** excerpts **
Akaka Bill workshop brings out outspoken opponents – advocates of independence
By CLAUDINE SAN NICOLAS, Staff Writer
LAHAINA – While a bill to federally recognize Native Hawaiians has advanced in the U.S. Senate and lawsuits challenging Hawaiian-only programs pose threats in the courts, a workshop on the Akaka Bill brought out some of its most outspoken opponents – Native Hawaiians who advocate independence.
Representatives of the Council of Native Hawaiian Advancement held a workshop on the Akaka Bill attended by about 20 people Tuesday night at the Lahaina Civic Center. Another workshop was held Wednesday in Wailuku.
At the Lahaina meeting, audience members who favor an independent Hawaii lashed out that the federal recognition bill only provided Hawaiians self-governance within the confines of U.S. powers and controls.
They also said that the U.S. government has had a history of making agreements and then breaking them, and that there was no guarantee the Akaka Bill would make things right.
"I’m never going to say the United States has never wronged native peoples," said Jade Leialoha Danner, the council’s director of government affairs and community consultation. But she said federal recognition is a start for Native Hawaiians to have a say in their future and take charge of issues involving their health, education and welfare.
"It’s about the federal government saying to Native Hawaiians: ’I see you as your are. I know who you are.’"
In response to an audience question, Danner said no one would be required to be listed on the roll.
"Those Native Hawaiians who do not want to participate do not have to participate," she said.
When asked whether nonparticipants would still be afforded the same benefits of those on the roll, Danner said "generally not."
"I encourage you not to participate if you don’t want to participate," she said.
Under Section 8 is a protection clause that reads: "Nothing in this act serves as a settlement of claims against the United States." Danner said claims against the U.S. government would have to be filed within 20 years from the date of federal recognition.
Danner said in other federal recognition scenarios, native people only get one to six years to file claims. She said that if Native Hawaiians aren’t able to state their claims within 20 years "then we have a real serious issue in our community."
The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement estimates it would take approximately five years to develop a membership process and base roll for those who will be given federal recognition.
Federal recognition will not guarantee good government, only self-governance and the participation of citizens, Danner said.
While the federal recognition bill awaits action by Congress, the council is compiling a list of resumes and biographies of people interested in being appointed to the nine-member commission. Individuals must be Native Hawaiian and have knowledge and experience in ancestry verification and lineal descendancy.
Federal recognition and the establishment of dual citizenship for Native Hawaiians has been urgent in part because of two lawsuits, according to Danner. One is Arakaki vs. Lingle, and the other is Doe vs. Kamehameha Schools. (Doe stands for the unnamed plaintiff in the case.)
The Arakaki lawsuit, named for lead plaintiff Earl Arakaki, was filed in federal court in March 2002 on behalf of 16 plaintiffs. It claims that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment by using taxpayer money to unequally serve one group of people, those of Hawaiian ancestry.
The lawsuit seeks to end state homestead leases, grants, loans and other benefits administered by OHA and DHHL.
The Akaka Bill was first introduced five years ago after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated OHA’s Hawaiians-only voting restriction. The measure is intended to help Native Hawaiians gain political status similar to that of more than 500 American Indian and native Alaskan tribes.
It would protect federal money for Hawaiian programs and help Hawaiians form a governing entity. Hawaiian independence advocates contend the bill threatens to forfeit Native Hawaiians’ full claims to land and other entitlements.
Doe vs. Kamehameha Schools challenges the private school’s admissions policy that gives preference to Native Hawaiian students. The mother of a boy who was denied admission claims the admissions policy is racial discrimination and unlawful.
Although the lawsuits are on different tracks, Danner said they affect Native Hawaiians and their status with the federal government.
Tony Sang, chairman of the State Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations, said his group has debated the issue for three years and decided to support the Akaka Bill.
Sang, who grew up on homestead land on Molokai but now resides on a Hawaiian homestead in Waimanalo, Oahu, said he sees the Akaka Bill as a means of protection from people who want to take programs and benefits away from Native Hawaiians.
He said previous cases challenging benefits for Native Hawaiians have prevailed, and he worries the same could happen in the Arakaki case.
Danner said she’s yet to hear from supporters of an independent Hawaii about what process Native Hawaiians could follow to achieve independence.
She supports passage of the federal recognition bill for Native Hawaiians, but she doesn’t stand in the way of those seeking independence.
"I’m not trying to make you go one way," Danner said.
Sang said he also respects those fighting for an independent Hawaii.
"It’s your choice," he told them.
Danner said that if people want to support the Akaka Bill, they can send letters to members of Congress. She said her office can provide samples of letters seeking support for the measure.
The phone number for the council’s Oahu office is 521-5011. Its Web site can be found at www.hawaiiancouncil.org.
ON MARCH 31, 2005 TWO COMMITTEES OF THE HAWAI’I STATE LEGISLATURE HELD A JOINT MEETING TO RECEIVE AN INFORMATIONAL BRIEFING ABOUT THE AKAKA BILL FROM HAWAI’I’S TWO FEDERAL SENATORS AND TWO FEDERAL REPRESENTATIVES. SENATOR INOUYE, REP. ABERCROMBIE, AND REP. CASE PRESENTED THEIR STATEMENTS IN PERSON; SENATOR AKAKA HAD A PREVIOUS COMMITMENT BUT SENT A WRITTEN STATEMENT READ ALOUD BY STATE SENATOR COLLEEN HANABUSA. A QUESTION-AND-ANSWER PERIOD FOLLOWED. A COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT OF THE 96-MINUTE EVENT IS AVAILABLE AT:
*** SENATOR KYL DEMANDS 45 HOURS TO DEBATE AKAKA BILL **
[note: the Senator’s name is consistently mis-spelled in this news article. The correct spelling is KYL]
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Sunday, April 17, 2005
Senator could delay Akaka bill
U.S. Sen. John Kyle, R-Ariz., requests 45 hours to debate the recognition bill
By Ron Staton
A key senator's request for extended debate time poses a potential problem in gaining approval for the federal native Hawaiian recognition bill.
In agreeing to allow the so-called Akaka bill to go to the Senate floor for a vote by Aug. 7, Sen. John Kyle, R-Ariz., requested 45 hours to debate the issue on the Senate floor, according to Clyde Namuo, administrator of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
Kyle was responsible for a hold on the bill that prevented an earlier vote.
His request "could make it difficult for (Majority Leader Bill) Frist to find that large a block of time for discussion," Namuo said.
A Washington law firm OHA has hired to help lobby for the bill is meeting with Kyle to determine if he really needs all that time, said Namuo, who spoke at a briefing late last week for members of the Senate Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee and the House Hawaiian Affairs Committee.
Namuo also said the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which approved the bill on March 9, hasn't yet filed its report.
Until it does, the Senate cannot take a floor vote on the bill, which would grant native Hawaiians the same rights of self-government enjoyed by American Indians and Native Alaskans. The measure also would allow Hawaiians to form a native government.
Sen. Daniel Akaka, who introduced the bill, is working with the Senate leadership to get it scheduled, including setting the length of time for debate, according to Donalyn Dela Cruz, his press secretary.
Akaka remains confident the bill will be put on the Senate calendar, she said.
Gov. Linda Lingle told reporters last week that she is optimistic the bill will be approved and become law, saying she has been able to bring in more Republican support.
She said this also depends on Hawaii's all-Democrat congressional delegation holding on to the 100 percent support it claims among Senate Democrats, which would account for 44 votes.
"The bill is poised to pass," said Hawaiian Homes Chairman Micah Kane, who briefed state legislators along with Namuo and Attorney General Mark Bennett.
Kane said he has gone to Washington seven times over the past two years for discussions with members of Congress and the Bush administration.
Bennett said the only reservations he has heard from the Bush administration, which has not taken a public position on the bill, are legal concerns from the Justice Department, and not any policy or philosophical concerns.
These legal issues are not unique to the current administration and have been raised previously, he said.
The legal issues, Bennett said, are whether or not Congress has the power to pass the Akaka bill; the blood quantum determination, or who would get to vote and form the native government; and whether the bill would violate the 14th Amendment on racial preferences.
"I am 100 percent convinced Congress has the absolute power to pass the Akaka bill," Bennett said.
If the bill passes, Bennett said he believes the definition of who is Hawaiian as adopted by native Hawaiians -- the blood quantum question -- would be upheld.
On the third issue, the preferences Congress supports are political and not racial and therefore are permitted and not barred under the 14th Amendment, he said.
The statehood Admissions Act recognizes native Hawaiians and the state's obligation to them, he said.
Both Bennett and Lingle say they believe it is significant that the White House hasn't issued a negative opinion on the bill. Lingle said Bush support is not needed for the bill to pass.
Sen. J. Kalani English said he is pleased the bill seeks justice for native Hawaiians but asked, "What about those not of Hawaiian blood who pledged loyalty to the king?"
"The kingdom did not separate citizens by race," English said. "There were many people in the body politic who were not Hawaiians," including many cabinet members and other government officials.
Asian families also lost their Hawaiian citizenship and couldn't become Americans under annexation because of the Asian exclusion act, English said.
Bennett said he doesn't think the Akaka bill would prevent non-Hawaiians from being included, and Lingle said all residents of Hawaii would benefit from the bill.
The Honolulu Advertiser, Sunday, April 24, 2005
Akaka bill needs new hearings in Hawai'i
Rarely have so many felt in the dark about something so important to Hawai'i residents. And now, as the Akaka bill appears poised for consideration by the Senate — a milestone for this piece of legislation — the time is ripe for a new round of congressional hearings to be held in the Islands.
Even under the best of circumstances, it would be difficult to fathom the depth of the changes that federal recognition for Native Hawaiians could bring to the state and its residents. The concept constitutes uncharted territory in the Islands, where the historical experience of the indigenous population stands wholly distinct from that of Native Americans or Native Alaskans. And the bill has indeed had a polarizing effect, with emotions running high.
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has mounted public-education campaigns about earlier incarnations of the bill, to be sure. But even with that, and the media coverage and various community forums held over the years, many residents have expressed the desire for renewed debate at home.
Members of Hawai'i's congressional delegation have said that residents already expressed their thoughts during initial hearings held on O'ahu. At the time, those who testified represented the spectrum of views from the Hawaiian community. Some praised the notion as an imperfect but necessary step to secure the constitutionality of Hawaiian-only programs; others maintained that only restoration of complete sovereignty would suffice. But a voice clearly missing from that encounter is that of non-Hawaiian residents.
That was almost five years ago, and despite the significant political barriers that remain, many believe the bill's prospects for passage have improved with bipartisan support from the state's leadership and new allies signing on in the Senate.
Congressional staffers say hearings at this point in the game would be a step backward. Yet it is difficult to move forward with so many unanswered questions.
Indeed, most D.C. lawmakers admittedly know little about the issue, which further underscores the need for substantive hearings here, attended by more than our own delegation.
Non-Hawaiians are taking a much greater interest in the bill. Many understandably wonder what effects they might feel should Hawaiians gain recognition as a political entity with a degree of self-governance.
Some worry that the bill leaves most specifics to be negotiated by Hawaiian, state and federal leaders. Others observe that, while many ideas would be technically possible under the bill, the political climate for radical change doesn't exist.
Keep it open
Congressional leaders recently have said the bill's best shot lies in keeping it "beneath the radar" on Capitol Hill. That approach is a disservice to our democratic ideals. Many people — Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian alike — have questions and thoughts as yet unexpressed. Their voices must be heard and their questions answered.
On April 26 "Chief Maui Loa" of the "Hou Band of Native Hawaiians of the Blood" published "An Open Letter to the White House: native Hawaiian sovereignty" in the nationally circulated journal "Indian Country Today" at:
The basic concepts in this document were published as a paid advertisement in the form of a two-page spread in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin (print edition) on April 26, 2005. A photo image of that ad can be seen at:
Honolulu Advertiser, Tuesday, May 3, 2005
Filibuster squabble may stall vote on Akaka bill
By Dennis Camire
Advertiser Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — Legislation recognizing Native Hawaiians could be among the bills facing delay in the Senate because of the unrelated dispute simmering over President Bush's judicial nominees.
Senate Republican leaders promised Hawai'i's two Democratic senators at the end of the last congressional session that the Native Hawaiian bill — aka the Akaka bill after its sponsor, Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, D-Hawai'i — would come to a vote by Aug. 7.
But if majority Republicans exercise a so-called "nuclear option" and change rules to stop filibusters of judicial nominees, Senate Democrats have threatened to retaliate.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said that if the Republicans change the filibuster rules, Democrats might use other Senate rules to slow or stop all but the most essential legislative business.
Exempted would be military and national security legislation and bills related to the continuation of critical government services, Reid said.
The Akaka bill would be stalled along with everything else.
The legislation, originally introduced in 2000, would lead to federal recognition for Native Hawaiians in the same way that it recognizes American Indians and Native Alaskans. It would create a framework for Native Hawaiian governance.
The fight over judicial nominees could also delay the transportation bill, which includes an authorization for a proposed Honolulu rail transit system, and the energy bill, which could lead to oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
"If the Republicans go ahead and push the button on their 'nuclear option' and Democratic leadership reacts, it will most likely cause the Native Hawaiian bill to stall," said Mike Yuen, spokesman for Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawai'i.
Both Inouye and Akaka are working with the Senate leadership to have the bill, which has three Democratic and four Republican co-sponsors, scheduled for full Senate consideration.
"Thus far, we have not received a commitment because of the heavy schedule," Akaka said. "But they are considering it. We're going to push again ... to get a time specific."
Inouye also is requesting a debate and vote at the earliest opportunity, Yuen said.
In the meantime, the senators have been conducting a low-key information campaign to persuade other lawmakers to support the Native Hawaiian bill.
"We're not formalizing it like having appointments, but I see them on the floor or as we have a minute or two, we can just mention it," Akaka said. "But I never really say what position are you going to take. I try to act like a good lobbyist by giving them all the information and letting them think about it."
The senators remain cautiously optimistic about the bill's chances, if and when it comes up for a vote.
"I still feel that we have a good chance that we can get the votes we need to pass it," Akaka said. "But we need that floor time, and as the days roll by, I'm getting more anxious to be able to get a time certain."
Inouye still expects that those opposed to the bill will do all they can to derail it, Yuen said.
"He and the members of the Hawai'i congressional delegation believe that the biggest challenge to enactment will be the support — or lack of support — from (President Bush's) administration, Yuen said.
On the House side, both of Hawai'i's congressmen said the support is there for the bill's approval.
"No question," Rep. Neil Abercrombie said. "We've had it over and over and over again, including even passing it out of the House (in 2000)."
Both Abercrombie and Rep. Ed Case said they were concerned about the impact of the Senate battle over the filibuster of judicial nominees.
"I think that would present the greatest unknown right now to putting that bill on the (Senate) floor," Case said. "It has nothing to do with the Akaka bill. It just has to do with the flow of legislation through the Senate."
Senators could come to a full-scale confrontation over the judicial nominee issue as soon as next week when they return from a weeklong recess. The stakes are high since the battle's outcome is likely to determine who will fill future U.S. Supreme Court vacancies.
Both Republicans and Democrats already have offered compromises in the struggle only to have them rejected by the other side.
The Republicans, who control the chamber with 55 members compared with 44 Democrats and one independent, say all of Bush's nominees deserve a vote on the Senate floor and the Constitution guarantees it.
The minority Democrats say the filibuster is a well-established Senate rule and a 200-year-old tradition that protects the rights of the minority party, no matter which party is in that position.
Democrats also note that only 10 nominees have been blocked since 2001 when Bush took office, compared with 206 that have been confirmed. That includes J. Michael Seabright, who was confirmed last week to be a U.S. District judge in Hawai'i.
On May 20, 2005 the Library of Congress website finally got around to publishing the text of the Akaka bill as it was amended on March 9. It only took ten weeks! The text of the amended version can be seen at:
In addition, the Indian Affairs Committee published a lengthy report to accompany and justify the bill. The entire report is available at:
In mid-May, 2005 the latest movie in the Star Wars series was released, breaking box-office records. A TV network also re-ran an earlier movie in the series. The Honolulu Advertiser of Sunday, May 22 printed a cartoon by Dick Adair, showing a movie theater where the scene on the screen was two opponents battling with light-swords. One audience member asks, "I've lost track. What are they fighting about now?" A neighboring audience member answers, "The Akaka Bill." From the perspective of Ken Conklin, editor of this website, Luke Skywalker is Senator Kyl, while Darth Vader is Senators Akaka/Inouye. Naturally, Darth Vader represents the Evil Empire of racially exclusionary institutions trying to create an apartheid government in Hawai'i. And to Senator Kyl as Luke Skywalker, we say: The Force is with you.
The cartoon was originally published in the Honolulu Advertiser at:
On Monday May 30, 2005 the Associated Press and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported that 18,000 PEOPLE HAVE PLACED THEIR NAMES ON A RACIAL REGISTRY OF ETHNIC HAWAIIANS. The idea is to build a list of certified "Native Hawaiians" that can quickly be converted to a tribal membership roll as soon as the Akaka bill passes. A similar AP article by the same author, including somewhat different details and a different spin, was published by yahoo news on June 8. Both articles are available on a separate webpage (see below).
The really BIG NEWS IS THAT THERE ARE MORE THAN 400,000 ETHNIC HAWAIIANS WHO COULD HAVE SIGNED UP, AND THAT ONLY 18,000 NAMES WERE GATHERED DURING 17 MONTHS OF MASSIVE ADVERTISING AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH BOTH IN HAWAI’I AND ON THE MAINLAND. MORE THAN 95% OF ETHNIC HAWAIIANS SEEM EITHER APATHETIC OR HOSTILE TOWARD ESTABLISHING A RACE-BASED GOVERNMENT.
OHA, Kamehameha Schools, and other powerful, wealthy institutions have sponsored a lavish propaganda campaign including 17 months of fancy TV, radio and newspaper ads. Countless sign-up tables at Hawai'i and mainland shopping centers, colleges, and community events have been staffed by highly salaried OHA employees. Free "Kau Inoa" T-shirts and campaign buttons were given to anyone who signed up. At some events there was free food, and music. Total spending for ads, salaries, travel, gifts, printing, and postage probably add up to several hundred dollars per collected name. The cost per name will rise in the future because the most enthusiastic people have already signed up.
Full text of published articles on the "Kau Inoa" racial registry, and analysis, are available on a webpage at
The annual King Kamehameha Day (an official State of Hawai'i holiday) was celebrated on June 11, 2005. This year's holiday was politicized because of the Akaka bill. An editorial cartoon was published imitating Herb Kane's famous painting of the Battle of Nu'uanu Pali; but in the cartoon what was being pushed over the edge of the Pali was opposition to the Akaka bill. The cartoon sparked a letter to editor. A nearly full-page ad was published showing the Kamehameha statue at Ali'iolani Hale, accompanied by powerful language stating that Kamehameha was a unifier but the Akaka bill seeks to divide us. A webpage was created containing Herb Kane's painting, the cartoon takeoff on it, the letter to editor, the advertisement, and additional information about Kamehameha's birthdate and how the Kamehameha holiday came to be established; and the role of non-natives (especially John Young) in the founding and flourishing of the Kingdom of Hawai'i. That webpage is at:
Constitutional law expert Bruce Fein published a booklet June 1, 2005 under the auspices of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii: "Hawaii Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand." Mr. Fein's essay is of special interest to scholars because of his analysis of the apology resolution of 1993 as well as the provisions of the Akaka bill. It can be downloaded in pdf format here:
Senator Kyl (R, AZ) obtained unanimous consent to print Mr. Fein's essay in the Congressional Record in three installments on three consecutive days: June 14, 15, and 16 of 2005. Each installment was introduced by brief remarks by Senator Kyl. The relevant portions of the Congressional Record are copied here:
On June 21, 2005 Senator Akaka made a very brief statement on the Senate floor complaining about the writings of Bruce Fein which Senator Kyl had entered into the Congressional Record. Senator Akaka's rant can best be described as "whining," and it fails to provide any rebuttal of any of Mr. Fein's points. Here is the full text of Senator Akaka's brief remarks:
(Senate - June 21, 2005)
Mr. AKAKA. Mr. President, I rise today to talk about S. 147 the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005. My colleague, the junior Senator from Arizona, for whom I have great respect, has inserted several documents written by outside sources into the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD over the past months, criticizing my legislation as a racebased measure. I vehemently disagree with his characterization of my bill as race-based.
We will be debating S. 147 on the floor of the Senate in a few weeks and, at that time, we will have a full opportunity to talk about the legislation, which extends the Federal policy of selfgovernance and self-determination to Native Hawaiians, Hawaii's indigenous peoples, thereby establishing parity in Federal policy toward American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians.
S. 147 is widely supported in Hawaii. Governor Linda Lingle has testified twice in 4 years in support of this bill. The Hawaii State Legislature has passed resolutions in support of Federal recognition for Native Hawaiians in 2000, 2001, and 2005. Resolutions in support have also been passed by the
Alaska Federation of Natives and National Congress of American Indians. Finally, a substantial number of my constituents, Native Hawaiians and non-Native Hawaiians support this bill.
In 1993, P.L. 103-150, the Apology Resolution, was enacted into law. The Act provides an apology to Native Hawaiians for the participation of U.S. agents in the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893 and sets up a process of reconciliation between Native Hawaiians and the United States. My colleague from Arizona has submitted multiple articles criticizing the Apology Resolution and purporting to justify one of the most painful experiences in Hawaii's history, the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893.
I have worked on this bill for the past 6 years with the rest of my colleagues in Hawaii's Congressional delegation. This bill is a step in the right direction for all people of Hawaii because it provides a structured process that will allow us to finally resolve many of the longstanding issues resulting from the overthrow. It is disturbing that opponents to the bill rely so heavily on mischaracterizations of the legislation to advocate their position.
I stand by Hawaii's history as enacted in P.L. 103-150. The facts as cited are well-documented by historians. It greatly saddens me that the opponents to my bill feel the need to rewrite Hawaii's history, as painful as it is for those of us who have lived it, in order to advocate their position on S. 147. It is one thing to oppose my bill. It is quite another, however, to trivialize the history of Hawaii.
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