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Akaka Bill Committee Actions for December 16 and December 17, 2009. Markup will be done. Significant changes possible. Committee vote seems likely.

This article was originally published in Hawaii Reporter (online newspaper) on Friday, December 11, 2009, and was the first available information about these important committee hearings to be published in any media, print or electronic.

Hawaii Reporter, December 11, 2009

Akaka Bill Committee Actions for This Coming Week

House committee markup Wednesday December 16; Senate committee meeting on Thursday December 17.

By Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. , 12/11/2009

The Akaka bill is scheduled for important committee actions in both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate this coming week. None of Hawaii's print newspapers, or TV or radio stations, have reported what is about to happen.


The House Natural Resources Committee will meet on Wednesday December 16, at 10 AM (5 AM Hawaii time) for full committee markup of six bills. The markup session will probably be webcast live -- a link on the committee's website allows access to hearings beginning ten minutes before the scheduled time. Details of the agenda, including titles and descriptions of all six bills, and a link to the live webcast, are on the committee's webpage for this meeting at

Five of the bills are non-controversial and of small importance, as can be seen on the agenda. Including the highly controversial Akaka bill on the same agenda with the other five bills is reminiscent of how the bill passed the House in 2000. On September 26, 2000 the Akaka bill was included in a group of eight non-controversial bills which all passed by voice vote under suspension of the rules at the dinner hour in a nearly empty chamber. The bill immediately before was for purchase of a historic house in the area of the Gettysburg National Park, and the bill immediately following was to acquire a small parcel of land near the CIA headquarters. For details about what happened on September 26, see


The U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs set the date of a routine business meeting for Wednesday December 9 with an agenda of two items, including the Akaka bill. However, that business meeting was then postponed to Thursday December 17 (possibly the last day before the holiday recess)

In a stealth maneuver, the committee leadership scheduled the Akaka bill on the agenda for December 9 (later moved to December 17) but did not list it in the agenda in any way that would be easily visible to the public. The original December 9 agenda that includes the Akaka bill has been available since December 1 for anyone who knew where to look for it; but either none of the news media found it, or else they decided not to report it.

To see the Akaka bill listed on official letterhead stationery as one of the two items to be discussed at the meeting originally set for December 9, download a pdf file of the letter at

To see the postponement of the meeting from December 9 to December 17 (but not mentioning what was on the agenda), see the top line of

There is no indication whether there will be any witnesses, nor whether the meeting will be webcast.


The Akaka bill has been introduced in every session of Congress since 2000. There have been more than a dozen different versions of it because the Hawaii delegation has scrambled to respond to numerous pressures. Although Senators Akaka and Inouye have both served for many years on the Committee on Indian Affairs (Hawaii is the only state that has both of its Senators serving on this committee), they seemed strangely incapable of understanding the consequences of the bill language they were submitting; or perhaps they did understand those consequences but pretended not to.

There has been opposition from America's Indian tribes regarding possible competition from gambling casinos; opposition from the Bush administration's Department of Justice regarding issues of civil rights and sovereignty; opposition from Hawaii's race-based ethnic Hawaiian institutions concerned about too many restrictions on the future tribe; opposition from radical ethnic Hawaiians demanding the right to secede to make the entire State of Hawaii an independent nation; opposition from ethnic Hawaiians with greater than 50% native blood quantum who fear dilution of their special rights; and opposition from Hawaii civil rights activists seeking to protect equality under the law for all people regardless of race.

For a detailed history of the Akaka bill during 2009, with links to detailed histories for earlier years, see

Three matched pair versions of the bill were introduced in the current House and Senate of the 111th Congress (six bills in total) between January and May, 2009. The latest version was introduced in both the House and Senate on May 7, 2009, and is now apparently the "real" bill.

The House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing on H.R.2314 on June 11. A meeting of the committee to mark up the bill was scheduled for July 9, but cancelled without explanation on the afternoon of July 8. The explanation became clear later.

After a bill has had a hearing, then the committee must meet to mark up the bill; i.e., to revise the language in the bill in light of the hearing, and make sure to "cross all the t's and dot all the i's." There could be important changes not only in the details of the bill's language but also in its major concepts.

Around the time of the June 11 hearing, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation publicly expressed strong opposition to the restrictions that the language of the bill would place on the resultant Akaka tribe, and also some concerns about the procedures in the bill for setting up the tribe, including the method for certifying who is "Native Hawaiian." Presumably the markup meeting will accommodate the concerns of OHA and NHLC, and might go so far as to strip out of the bill important protections for civil rights and sovereignty which were put into the bill during the past several years in response to objections from the Bush administration Department of Justice.

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a hearing on S.1011 on August 6, and has been dormant on the Akaka bill since then.

The fact that both the House and Senate committees are meeting on the Akaka bill in the same week indicates that disputes among the large race-based institutions and Hawaii's political power brokers have probably been resolved, and there will be a major effort to pass the bill in the early months of 2010.

An additional element of urgency comes from Congressman Abercrombie's announcement that he will soon resign his seat in order to run for Governor. On September 27, 2000, the day after Abercrombie successfully pushed the Akaka bill through the House on a stealth maneuver, the Honolulu Advertiser quoted him thusly: "My heart is pounding; I am so happy," Abercrombie said after the House vote. "This is the biggest thing that has ever happened to me in my legislative career. Forty-one years ago, I came to Hawaii without any idea of serving in Congress on behalf of Hawaii's people. What I owe to Hawaii in some small measure has been repaid today. It justifies my life in public service."

It would not be surprising if Rep. Abercrombie times his impending resignation from Congress to coincide with passage of the Akaka bill. Then, as Governor, he could preside over the sweetheart-deal "negotiations" whereby the State of Hawaii hands over most or all of the public lands to the Akaka tribe, along with jurisdictional authority for taxation, law enforcement, zoning, divorce and child custody, etc.

'''Dr. Conklin's book "Hawaiian Apartheid: Racial Separatism and Ethnic Nationalism in the Aloha State" is in the Hawaii Public Library, and also at


Full Committee Markup
Date: Wednesday, December 16, 2009 At 10:00:00 AM

The House Natural Resources Committee, led by Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), will meet in open markup session to mark up the following bills: H.R. 725 (Pastor): To protect Indian arts and crafts through the improvement of applicable criminal proceedings, and for other purposes. "Indian Arts and Crafts Amendments Act of 2009"

H.R. 2288 (Salazar): To amend Public Law 106-392 to maintain annual base funding for the Upper Colorado and San Juan fish recovery programs through fiscal year 2023. "Endangered Fish Recovery Programs Improvement Act of 2009"

H.R. 2476 (DeGette): To amend the National Forest Ski Area Permit Act of 1986 to clarify the authority of the Secretary of Agriculture regarding additional recreational uses of National Forest System land that are subject to ski area permits, and for other purposes. "Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2009"

H.R. 3726 (Christensen): To establish the Castle Nugent National Historic Site at St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands, and for other purposes. "Castle Nugent National Historic Site Establishment Act of 2009"

H.R. 3538 (Simpson):To authorize the continued use of certain water diversions located on National Forest System land in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness and the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in the State of Idaho, and for other purposes. "Idaho Wilderness Water Resources Protection Act"

H.R. 2314 (Abercrombie): To express the policy of the United States regarding the United States relationship with Native Hawaiians and to provide a process for the recognition by the United States of the Native Hawaiian governing entity. "Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009"

House Natural Resources Committee
Full Committee Markup

Wednesday, December 16, 2009, at 10:00 a.m.

Room 1324 Longworth House Office Building


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