The Akaka bill was introduced in both the Senate and the House of the 109th Congress on January 25, 2005. The bill numbers are S.147 and H.R.309. Speeches were given by Senators Akaka and Inouye, and Representatives Abercrombie and Case; and entered into the Congressional Record. Those speeches contain numerous historical, legal, and moral errors, along with misleading rhetoric. Professor Conklin got his red pen out of its trophy case and went to work.
The complete text of the Akaka bill can be seen at:
The history of the Akaka bill related to the current 109th Congress can be seen (and will be continuously updated) at:
All four speeches by Akaka, Inouye, Abercrombie, and Case; together with Professor Conklin’s red-pen corrections and comments, and the grades he gave to the speeches, can be seen below.
As a professor I was accustomed to marking the term papers my students submitted. I would use a red pen to write comments in the margins or between the lines. Then I would give a grade ranging from A (excellent) to F (hopeless failure).
On January 25, 2005 both of Hawai’i’s Senators and both of Hawai’i’s Representatives gave speeches at the time they introduced the Akaka bill into the 109th Congress. The transcripts of those speeches are available in the Congressional Record. Each speech is copied below, with red-pen corrections and comments on some of the main points.
Dan Akaka seems worried that he might fail the course, and with good reason. He has written and rewritten his term paper through dozens of revisions since Spring 2000, but has always seemed reluctant to accept criticism from those who disagree with his findings. He was given the freedom to get help from as many people as possible; but he talked only with his best buddies, most of whom seem woefully misguided.
Now that Dan Akaka has once again turned in the latest draft of his term paper, and he and his classmates have given their oral presentations, it’s time to think carefully about what they said.
Dan Akaka clearly deserves an A for style, because he speaks well and has a nice mix of personal stories sprinkled among his historical, legal, and moral assertions. Dan Inouye gets a B for style; his presentation is a notch below Dan Akaka’s. They both get high style marks for trying to make the other Senators feel sorry for Native Hawaiians, and for leading them to believe the bill is merely a way to correct some oversights and set things right.
Ed Case gets a C for style. His flowery language is correct, but only if directed toward the opposite intention! Ed says “The stakes are nothing more or less than the survival and prosperity not only of our indigenous people and culture, but of the very soul of Hawaii as we know and love it.” Ed is right to be very worried. The conclusion is that the bill should be defeated rather than passed, precisely to preserve both ethnic Hawaiians and the very soul of Hawai’i as we know and love it. Neil Abercrobmie gets a D for style, because his speech is very short and lacks conviction. There’s no excuse for such shortness and lack of persuasiveness, because the “speeches” by Ed and Neil were actually never spoken, but were merely submitted in writing afterward and could have been prepared carefully for as many days as needed to do a good job (the “speeches” are in the “extensions of remarks” section of the Congressional Record, where Congressmen are allowed to “revise and extend” whatever they actually spoke on the floor of the House). Neil’s poor showing is especially surprising because he had plenty of opportunity to let other people write his speech for him ahead of time -- people he pays because they are smarter and better writers!
But all four of these guys get F for content because there are many false statements and misleading half-truths; and the whole concept is morally repugnant. If the speeches were given in an introductory course the two Dans and Ed might receive a "gentleman's C" -- the grade generous professors sometimes gave to friendly students who made a sincere effort but just couldn't measure up to expectations. Neil would get a D- if it was a warm sunny day. However, since this course is at the advanced graduate level, style is automatically assumed to be excellent, and the only grade is for content. Perhaps these guys should try a different career like going to work for their buddies back home in Hawai’i, who asked them to push this legislation through Congress to protect some well-intended but socially divisive and unconstitutional programs.
Here are the four speeches with red-pen corrections and comments.
DAN AKAKA. (Congressional Record, January 25, 2005, pages S454-S455)
Mr. President, I rise today with the senior Senator from Hawaii to introduce the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005.
What government is being reorganized? There was never a Native Hawaiian government. Kamehameha the Great killed all his enemies and “unified” the Hawaiian islands only with the help of white military experts and fighters. He named his closest advisor, John Young, to be governor of his home island of Hawai’i. The grave of John Young is in Mauna Ala (the Royal Mausoleum) along with the tombs of the kings and queens. Throughout the Kingdom from 1810 to 1893, most cabinet officers and many Legislators (both elected and appointed) were white.
This is bipartisan legislation that we have been working on with our colleagues in Hawaii's Congressional delegation for the past 6 years.
Actually, the first time any version of this bill was introduced to Congress was July 20, 2000. Today is January 25, 2005. Let’s see [counting on fingers]. That’s four and a half years. I’ll recommend a remedial arithmetic class.
During the past 2 years, we have worked closely with Hawaii's Governor, Linda Lingle, Hawaii's first Republican governor in 40 years, to get this legislation enacted. We have also worked closely with the Hawaii State legislature which has passed two resolutions unanimously in support of Federal Recognition for Native Hawaiians. I mention this, to underscore the fact that this is bipartisan legislation.
The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005 does three things:
(1) It authorizes the Office of Native Hawaiian Relations in the Department of the Interior to serve as a liaison between Native Hawaiians and the federal government. Funding for Native Hawaiian programs currently administered by the Departments of Health and Human Services, HHS, Education, or Housing and Urban Development, HUD, would continue to be administered by those agencies.
No new legislation is needed for this purpose. The 108th Congress passed HR 2673, the omnibus appropriations bill, in December of 2003, and President Bush signed it into law in January 2004. That bill established the Office of Native Hawaiian Relations in the Department of the Interior. I’m very surprised you have forgotten this only one year after you yourself sponsored the inclusion of that section in that bill! See:
Note also what your buddy Ed Case said in his speech: “Most recently, the Department of Interior also moved forward on the establishment of the Office of Hawaiian Relations. Structurally organized under the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget, the new office is a welcome and positive step forward in coordinating policies within the Department as they affect Native Hawaiians. Already, the Department oversees pertinent issues such as Hawaiian home lands, historic preservation, the Native American Graves Protection Act, the Native Hawaiian Culture and Arts Program, and the consideration of Native Hawaiians in natural resources management, including at our Hawaii national parks.”
(2) It establishes the Native Hawaiian Interagency Coordinating Group--an interagency group to be composed of federal officials from agencies which administer Native Hawaiian programs and services. Many are not aware that Native Hawaiians have their own programs which are currently administered by different agencies in the Federal Government. This group would encourage communication and collaboration between the Federal agencies working with Native Hawaiians.
Yes, indeed, there are already more than 160 race-based programs, all illegal under the 14th Amendment. More about this in my comments on your friend Dan Inouye’s speech.
(3) It establishes a process for the reorganization of the Native Hawaiian governing entity. While Congress has traditionally treated Native Hawaiians in a manner parallel to American Indians and Alaska Natives, the formal policy of self-governance and self determination has not been extended to Native Hawaiians. The bill establishes a process for the reorganization of the Native Hawaiian governing entity for the purposes of Federal recognition.
But as noted previously, there never was any Native Hawaiian governing entity; therefore, none could now be reorganized. This bill proposes to help create one out of thin air.
The bill itself does not extend Federal recognition--it authorizes the process for Federal recognition.
Can we quote you on this later, in court? As soon as this bill is passed, even though it might take many years to invent the “governing entity” to be recognized, you and your buddies will be claiming that all your race-based programs are legally permissible because this bill has (allegedly) already recognized such an embryonic entity even though not yet born. In a lawsuit known as Arakaki2, seeking to dismantle OHA and DHHL as unconstitutional, a federal judge has already ruled in 2004 that the mere fact that the Akaka bill has been introduced in Congress makes the existence of OHA a political question on which the court must defer to Congress; thus, the mere introduction of this bill in Congress seems to be having the same effect as though the Akaka bill had already passed and the tribe had already gotten its governing documents recognized by the Secretary of Interior.
Following recognition of the Native Hawaiian government, negotiations will ensue between the Native Hawaiian governing entity and Federal and State Governments over matters such as the transfer of lands and natural resources; the exercise of governmental authority over any transferred lands, natural resources and other assets, including land use; the exercise of civil and criminal jurisdiction, and the delegation of governmental powers and authorities to the Native Hawaiian governing entity by the Federal and State Governments.
Yes. That’s one of the really scary parts of this bill. All Hawai’i’s people, who currently own all the public lands of Hawai’i, will be expected to turn over huge portions of those lands to the exclusive use by one racially-defined group, even while the members of that group continue also to share in all the other lands. The governing council of this new “tribe” will exercise civil and criminal jurisdiction over its own members, and perhaps also over people with no native ancestry who happen to be living on or passing through the tribal lands; and all this police and judicial authority will be exercised without the protection of the U.S. and State Constitutions due to the exercise of “sovereignty.” The members of the tribe will also continue to vote as citizens of the State of Hawai’i, thus being the “swing vote” that decides how much the State will give away to the tribe. Conflict of interest!
This reflects the cooperation between the Federal and State governments and the Native Hawaiian governing entity. It also reflects a new paradigm where recognition provides the governing entity with a seat at the table to negotiate such matters.
The bill will not diminish funding for American Indians and Alaska Natives because Native Hawaiians have their own education, health and housing programs which have been separately funded since their creation in 1988.
This bill in itself does not affect current funding for the real Indian tribes. But surely those tribes have much to fear in the future, as this new phony tribe with 400,000 members competes against them for scarce federal dollars.
Finally, the bill does not authorize gaming in Hawaii.
True, this bill does not authorize gaming; but neither does it prohibit that. The newly created Akaka tribe will surely go to court to demand equal treatment with all the other tribes.
Some have characterized this bill as race-based legislation. As indigenous peoples, Native Hawaiians never relinquished their inherent rights to sovereignty.
It can be argued whether Native Hawaiians are indigenous, and whether they are “a people.” See:
We were a government that was overthrown. While the history of the Native Hawaiian government ended in 1893 As mentioned previously, it was not a Native Hawaiian government. Most cabinet ministers and many elected members of the Legislature were white. A revolution produced regime change and the monarchy was replaced with a Republic. The independent nation of Hawai’i continued to exist, under different leadership, enjoying diplomatic recognition and continuing treaty relationships with all the other nations that had previously given such recognition. with great emotion and despair, inspired by the dignity and grace of Queen Liliuokalani, Native Hawaiians have preserved their culture, tradition, subsistence rights, language, and distinct communities. The only “distinct” Native Hawaiian communities are those which were artificially created because of the 50% blood quantum rule in the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1921. Except for the “homelands,” ethnic Hawaiians are widely dispersed and thoroughly integrated throughout all neighborhoods and professions. We have tried to hold on to our homeland. Hawaii, for us, is our homeland. Hawai’i is the homeland for all persons born in Hawai’i. Thousands of Asian and white families have been born and raised in Hawai’i for many generations (some for as many as eight generations). It is racist to say that Hawai’i is the homeland only for ethnic Hawaiians.
I am Native Hawaiian and Chinese. I appreciate the culture and ethnicity of my ancestors. I can trace my Chinese roots back to Fukien Province in China. My Native Hawaiian roots, however, are in Hawaii because it is our Hawaiian homeland.
Since you also have roots in China, is China also your homeland? This is an important issue, because many ethnic Hawaiians born and raised in California and other states and even other nations, and whose genealogy is mostly white or Asian, nevertheless claim that Hawai’i is their (racial) homeland. The Akaka bill acknowledges that concept. I suggest you decide once and for all whether you are an American of Chinese and Hawaiian ancestry, or whether you are solely or primarily a Hawaiian. The same logic that allows someone born and raised in California to claim he is an indigenous Native Hawaiian merely because he has one great-great-grandparent who was native Hawaiian -- that logic would also allow you to claim to be an indigenous Chinese entitled to voting and property rights in China.
My Chinese ancestors came to Hawaii to build a better life. My Native Hawaiian grandparents and parents had America come into their homeland and forever change their lives. This is a profound difference.
So, are you saying that the Chinese side of your family owes something to the Hawaiian side? Did your Chinese ancestors do something wrong to your Hawaiian native ancestors, so that your right hand owes compensation to your left hand?
I am proud to be an American, and I am proud to have served my country in the military. As long as Hawaii is a part of the United States, however,
WOW! Your carefully-chosen language suggests the possibility that Hawai’i might secede. This phrasing was not an accident. In a speech in the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on July 15, 2002, you used exactly the same phrasing twice, while carefully hinting at the possibility of independence. “Opposition to the legislation comes from two quarters: those who advocate independence for Hawaii, and those who ... characterize such legislation as race-based. ... As long as Hawaii is a part of the United States, the United States must fulfill its responsibility to Hawaii's indigenous peoples. ... Misinformation is being spread in Hawaii regarding this bill as precluding sovereignty for Native Hawaiians. This cannot be further from the truth. This legislation deals with the United States' legal and political relationship with Hawaii's indigenous peoples within the context of federal law. As I stated before, as long as we are Americans and as long as Hawaii is a part of the United States, I firmly believe the United States must fulfill its responsibility towards its indigenous peoples. This bill accomplishes that goal." The full text of that speech is at:
I believe the United States must fulfill its responsibility to Hawaii's indigenous peoples. I believe it is imperative to clarify the existing legal and political relationship between the United States and Native Hawaiians by providing Native Hawaiians with Federal recognition for the purposes of a government-to-government relationship. Therefore, because this legislation is based on the political and legal relationship between the United States and its indigenous peoples, which has been upheld for many, many years, by the United States Supreme Court, based on the Indian Commerce Clause, I strenuously disagree with the mischaracterization of this legislation as race-based. No previous tribal recognition has ever recognized all “indigenous people” or all “Indians” as a group. Each tribe is recognized not because of their members’ race but because of the tribe’s history as a political entity whose internal government exercised substantial authority over its members from before Western contact continuously up to the present. The Akaka bill is defined solely by race, giving eligibility to ALL members of a single race and excluding all persons who lack that racial ancestry. Also, the bill would exclude today’s descendants of whites and Asians who were full-fledged citizens with voting rights in the Kingdom. That clearly shows the bill’s intention to recognize a racial group, not a political group.
Why is this bill so important? This bill is critical for the people of Hawaii because of the monumental step forward it provides for Hawaii's indigenous peoples. As many of my colleagues know, the Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown in 1893 with the assistance of agents from the United States.
But those U.S. agents only assisted; they were not the primary instigators of the revolution, and they did not have most of the weaponry. See:
In 1993, we enacted Public Law 103-150, commonly referred to as the Apology Resolution, which acknowledged the illegal overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii and the deprivation of the rights of Native Hawaiians to self determination. The Apology Resolution committed the United States to acknowledge the ramifications of the overthrow in order to provide a proper foundation of reconciliation between the United States and the Native Hawaiian people. That resolution of sentiment commemorating the 100th anniversary of the overthrow contains exuberant language filled with false and distorted historical claims. For analysis, see:
This bill provides a step forward in the process of reconciliation.
On the contrary. This bill magnifies grievances and stirs up racial hostilities.
The bill establishes the structure for Native Hawaiians and non-Native Hawaiians to discuss longstanding issues resulting from the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii. The structure is the negotiation process between the federally recognized Native Hawaiian government and the Federal and State governments that I referred to earlier in my statement.
This discussion has been assiduously avoided because no one has known how to address or deal with the emotions that are involved when these matters are discussed. There has been no structured process. Instead, there has been fear as to what the discussion would entail, causing people to avoid and shirk the issues. Such behavior has led to high levels of anger and frustration as well as misunderstanding between Native Hawaiians and non-Native Hawaiians.
You ain’t seen nothin yet. Just imagine the bitter language and open hostility this bill will create, as federal, state, and tribal negotiators try to divide up Hawai’i’s lands and legal jurisdictions along racial lines. This bill does nothing to bring us together. Its whole purpose is to rip us apart.
As a young child, I was discouraged from speaking Hawaiian because I was told that I needed to succeed in the Western world. My parents witnessed the overthrow and lived during a time when all things Hawaiian, including language, which they both spoke fluently, hula, custom, and tradition, were viewed unfavorably and discouraged. I, therefore, was discouraged from speaking the language and practicing Hawaiian customs and tradition. My experience mirrors that of my generation of Hawaiians.
Please note that the childrearing decisions made by your parents and other ethnic Hawaiians were made by their own free choice. Please also note that English was the language of instruction in 95% of the Kingdom’s schools in 1892, a year before the overthrow, under the sovereign leadership of the monarchy exercising self-determination on behalf of the people. This adoption of English language and Western ways was not due to the overthrow, and not due to any sense of shame -- it was a decision made by parents who wanted to secure the best possible future for their children. See:
My generation learned to accept what was ingrained into us by our parents, and while we were concerned about the longstanding issues resulting from the overthrow dealing with political status and lands, we were told not to “make waves'' by addressing these matters. My children, however, have had the advantage of growing up during the Hawaiian renaissance, a period of revival for Hawaiian language, custom, and tradition. My grandchildren, benefitting from this revival, can speak Hawaiian and know so much about our history.
Yes, indeed. All Hawai’i celebrates the revival of Hawaiian language and culture, which has taken place under the century-long sovereignty of the United States and without any need for the racial separatism contained in the Akaka bill.
It is this generation, however, that is growing impatient with the lack of progress in efforts to resolve longstanding issues. It is this generation that does not understand why we have not discussed these matters. It is this generation that cannot believe that we, as Native Hawaiians, have let the situation continue for 110 years.
Some hot-heads in this generation resemble the hot-heads among African-Americans during the 1960s and 1970s (which was, by the way, also a century after the Civil War and the abolition of slavery). Perhaps the passage of a century gives rise to something analogous to a rebellious mid-life crisis. With patience and forebearance, and perhaps psychiatric assistance, we can get through this turbulent period. The Akaka bill merely serves to stir up racial hostilities, and further resentment when the bill is defeated.
It is an active minority within this generation, spurred by frustration and sadness, that embraces independence from the United States.
It is for this generation that I bring this bill forward to ensure that there is a structured process to address these issues.
So, the purpose of this bill is to provide an outlet to channel the anger of a few independence activists? Or are you saying instead (as noted earlier) that the Akaka bill is the first step (a “structured process”) on a path to rip the 50th star off the flag?
My point is that Hawaii's people, both Native Hawaiians and non-Native Hawaiians, are no longer willing to pretend that the longstanding issues resulting from the overthrow do not exist. We need the structured process that this bill provides, first in reorganizing the Native Hawaiian governing entity, and second by providing that entity with the opportunity to negotiate and resolve issues with the Federal and State governments to alleviate the growing mistrust, misunderstanding, anger, and frustration about these matters in Hawaii. This can only be done through a government-to-government relationship.
If one member of a family is lashing out against the rest of the family with anger and threats, should the family simply let him have his way? Sometimes, if a family member addicted to drugs or alcohol (like Hawaiians addicted to government handouts) angrily demands more money to feed his habit, the loving thing to do is to say no.
This bill is of significant importance in Hawaii. It has no impact on any of the other states.
WOW! This bill would have a profound impact on all America. It would set a precedent for defending unconstitutional race-based government handouts by converting a racial group into a phony Indian tribe with 400,000 members. In doing so, it disrespects genuine Indian tribes, and further balkanizes America. It would set a precedent for the federal government to reach inside a state and authorize the creation of an apartheid regime for 20% of its citizenry. Why other states should oppose the Akaka bill, see:
Why all America should oppose the Akaka bill, see:
Hawaii's entire Congressional delegation supports this legislation. Our Governor, the first Republican to be elected in 40 years, supports this legislation. Indeed, it is her Number One Federal priority. The Hawaii State Legislature supports this legislation. And most importantly, a clear majority of the Native Hawaiian people and the people of Hawaii support this legislation. Yes indeed. All Hawai’i politicians want the federal government to take money from citizens of other states and send it to Hawai’i. The longstanding and overly generous race-based welfare programs in Hawai’i are becoming too burdensome for the people of Hawai’i to finance by ourselves, so we want the rest of America to relieve us of this burden. Ethnic Hawaiians make up 20% of Hawai’i’s population. Most politicians believe (erroneously) that they vote as a block. Accordingly, the ethnic Hawaiians are perceived as the “swing vote” in every election, and all politicians feel compelled to support race-based programs in order to get re-elected. We are doing our best to dismantle the race-based programs through court action. We hope Congress will not enable the perpetuation of these racist programs; and by defeating this bill, will send a resounding message that such programs must cease.
I ask you to stand with me and my esteemed friend, Hawaii's revered senior Senator, our two House members, our Governor, the Hawaii State legislature, and the people of Hawaii to enact this critical measure for my state.
I ask unanimous consent that the text of my bill be printed in the RECORD.
And so it was printed. See:
DAN INOUYE. (Congressional Record, January 25, 2005, pages S458-S459)
Mr. President, I am pleased to join my colleague, Senator Akaka, as a cosponsor of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act.
Having served on the Indian Affairs Committee for the past 27 years,
Yes, you have served on the Indian Affairs Committee for 27 years; and your friend Dan Akaka has also served on the Indian Affairs Committee for many years. Now, why in the world would Hawai’i’s two Senators invest so much time and energy on the Indian Affairs Committee when there are no Indian tribes in Hawai’i? The answer is obvious. For many years, Hawai’i’s Senators have been quietly inserting the words “Native Hawaiian” into legislation intended to provide benefits to genuine Indian tribes. That has brought billions of federal dollars to Hawai’i at the expense of taxpayers throughout America, and has spawned large, entrenched, powerful bureaucracies in Hawai’i that rely on the continuing flow of federal dollars.
I know that most of our colleagues are more familiar with conditions and circumstances in Indian country,
And being familiar with the conditions and circumstances of life on the Indian reservations, why would they want to impose such terrible conditions on the people of Hawai’i?
and naturally, they bring their experience with Indian country to bear in considering this measure, which has been pending in the Senate for the past six years.
Actually, the first time any version of this bill was introduced to Congress was July 20, 2000. Today is January 25, 2005. Let’s see [counting on fingers]. That’s four and a half years. I’ll recommend a remedial arithmetic class.
Accordingly, Mr. President, I believe it is important that our colleagues understand what this bill seeks to accomplish as well as how it differs from legislation affecting Indian country.
It is a little known fact that beginning in 1910 and since that time, the
Congress has passed and the President has signed into law over 160 Federal laws designed to address the conditions of Native Hawaiians.
Thus, Federal laws which authorize the provision of health care, education, housing, and job training and employment services, as well as programs to provide for the preservation of the Native Hawaiian language, Native language immersion, Native cultural and grave protections and repatriation of Native sacred objects have been in place for decades.
As noted above, all Hawai’i politicians want the rest of America to continue sending billions of federal dollars to Hawai’i; and that’s the primary reason why Hawai’i’s two Senators have spent their careers sitting on the Indian Affairs Committee, to insert “Native Hawaiian” into legislation intended to benefit genuine tribes. The fact that there are over 160 such programs shows how badly addicted Hawai’i has become.
The Native Hawaiian programs do not draw upon funding that is appropriated for American Indians or Alaska Natives--there are separate authorizations for programs that are administered by different Federal agencies--not the Bureau of Indian Affairs or the Indian Health Service, for instance--and the Native Hawaiian program funds are not drawn from the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee account. Thus, they have no impact on the funding that is provided for the other indigenous, native people of the United States.
But of course if this Akaka bill passes and a Hawaiian tribe is created, then sooner or later all these programs will be regularized and managed through the same agencies that oversee all the other tribes. Regardless which agencies manage which programs, the 400,000 members of the Hawaiian tribe will be competing for limited funds against the genuine tribes, most of which are far smaller and cannot afford to send hordes of lobbyists to Washington.
However, unlike the native people residing on the mainland, Native Hawaiians have not been able to exercise their rights as Native people to self-determination or self-governance because their government was overthrown on January 17, 1893.
As noted in my comments to Dan Akaka’s speech, there never was a Native Hawaiian government. Nearly all cabinet members, many legislators, and thousands of voters in the Kingdom of Hawai’i were white. After the regime change of 1893, the independent nation of Hawai’i continued to enjoy diplomatic relations and treaties with all the same nations as before; and the Speaker of the House of the Republic was native Hawaiian. During the early years of the Territory of Hawai’i, about 70% of all the Legislators were ethnic Hawaiian. A recent governor of the State of Hawai’i was ethnic Hawaiian. In 1959 the vote in favor of statehood was 94%. Thus, even if every “no” or blank vote was cast by ethnic Hawaiians, who make up about 20% of the population, then the vote would still have been 70% in favor of statehood among ethnic Hawaiians. That is a powerful exercise of self-determination.
This bill would provide a process for the reorganization of the Native Hawaiian government and the resumption of a political and legal relationship between that government and the government of the United States.
As noted earlier, there never was a Native Hawaiian government. The political and legal relationship between the United States and the Kingdom of Hawai’i was with a multiracial citizenry, whose executives, legislators, judges, and voters included thousands of whites and also some Asians. Any resumption of that political and legal relationship cannot be racially exclusionary as the Akaka bill is.
Because the Native Hawaiian government is not an Indian tribe, the body of Federal Indian law that would otherwise customarily apply when the United States extends Federal recognition to an Indian tribal group does not apply.
WHOA! That statement of yours is very misleading. Here’s what your buddy Dan Akaka said about the Akaka bill in his speech just moments before your speech:
“Following recognition of the Native Hawaiian government, negotiations will ensue between the Native Hawaiian governing entity and Federal and State Governments over matters such as the transfer of lands and natural resources; the exercise of governmental authority over any transferred lands, natural resources and other assets, including land use; the exercise of civil and criminal jurisdiction, and the delegation of governmental powers and authorities to the Native Hawaiian governing entity by the Federal and State Governments.“ Dan Akaka certainly thinks the body of Indian law WILL apply to the newly invented Akaka tribe. And by the way, why is this bill being considered by the Committee on INDIAN Affairs?
Thus, the bill provides authority for a process of negotiations amongst the United States, the State of Hawaii, and the reorganized Native Hawaiian government to address such matters as the exercise of civil and criminal jurisdiction by the respective governments, the transfer of land and natural resources and other assets, and the exercise of governmental authority over those lands, natural resources and other assets.
Yes. Just like a real Indian tribe!
Upon reaching agreement, the U.S. Congress and the legislature of State of Hawaii would have to enact legislation implementing the agreements of the three governments, including amendments that will necessarily have to be made to existing Federal law, such as the Hawaii Admissions Act and the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, and to State law, including amendments to the Hawaii State Constitution, before any of the new governmental relationships and authorities can take effect.
There will be bitter fighting and growing racial tension. Perhaps no agreement can be reached.
That is why concerns which are premised on the manner in which Federal Indian law provides for the respective governmental authorities of the state governments and Indian tribal governments simply don't apply in Hawaii.
At present, Indian law does not apply in Hawai’i. But of course the whole purpose of this bill is to change that.
Our state government, both the Governor and the state legislature of Hawaii, fully support enactment of this measure. They will be at the table with the United States and the Native Hawaiian government to shape the relationships amongst governments that will best serve the needs and interests not only of the Native Hawaiian community but those of all of the citizens of Hawaii.
As noted in my reply to Dan Akaka, the 20% of Hawai’i’s people who are ethnic Hawaiians will be voting on both sides of these negotiations -- both as members of the tribe and also as the “swing vote” among State of Hawai’i voters. State politicians have already been “giving away the store” to ethnic Hawaiians in an effort to secure their “swing vote,” and the remaining 80% of the people are too afraid to say anything in opposition for fear of being branded “racist.”
Mr. President, we have every confidence that consistent with the Federal policy of the last 35 years, the restoration of the rights to self-determination and self-governance will enable the Native Hawaiian people, as the direct, lineal descendants of the aboriginal, indigenous native people of what has become our nation's fiftieth state, to take their rightful place in the family of governments that makes up our constitutional system of governance.
You have your dream. For the rest of us, it’s a nightmare.
ED CASE (Congressional Record, Extensions of Remarks - January 25, 2005, pages E75-E76)
Mr. Speaker, I am proud and humbled to again cointroduce with my Hawaii
colleague, Mr. ABERCROMBIE, during this 109th Congress, as we did in the 108th Congress, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005. Identical legislation was introduced today by Hawaii Senators AKAKA and INOUYE, again marking a united commitment by Hawaii's entire delegation to the most vital single piece of legislation for our Hawaii since Statehood.
There is no doubt that this bill is the most important, far-reaching piece of legislation since Statehood. That’s why we need vigorous debate, with truly open hearings to be held in Hawai’i.
* This legislation affirms the longstanding political relationship between Native Hawaiians, the indigenous peoples of our Hawaii, and our federal government , and extends to Native Hawaiians the time-honored federal policy of self-determination provided other indigenous peoples under U.S. jurisdiction.
As noted in my reply to Dan Akaka, it is debatable whether ethnic Hawaiians are an “indigenous” people. Furthermore, the federal policy of self-determination under the Indian commerce clause of the Constitution applies to political entities known as tribes, which predated the coming of the Europeans, and which exercised authority over their members continuously up to the present. The Constitution is silent about so-called “indigenous” people; and it recognizes political entities, not racial groups.
* Mr. Speaker, allow me to be direct: this is crucial to the Hawaiian people and to our Hawaii. The stakes are nothing more or less than the survival and prosperity not only of our indigenous people and culture, but of the very soul of Hawaii as we know and love it.
Mr. Case, your words are correct, but directed to the opposite intention. The defeat of this bill is indeed critical to the ethnic Hawaiian people and to all of our Hawai’i. Indeed, as you say, “the stakes are nothing more or less than the survival and prosperity not only of our indigenous people and culture, but of the very soul of Hawaii as we know and love it.” If this bill passes it will turn our ethnic Hawaiian people into wards of the federal government subject to a tribal government that strips them of many legal protections enjoyed by ordinary citizens of Hawai’i; and it will destroy the Aloha Spirit by creating a race-based government that pulls us apart rather than bringing us together.
* I speak to you today on behalf of all of Hawaii's people and all those worldwide for whom Hawaii, in all of her forms, be they natural, environmental, cultural, social, and spiritual, is a truly special and unique place. And I say to you that that Hawaii--the Hawaii that is the indigenous home of all Native Hawaiians, that my own ancestors and many other non-Native Hawaiians committed themselves to since recorded Western discovery in 1778, and that so many throughout the world continue to view as a beacon for what can be in our world--that Hawaii has never been so at risk as today.
Yes indeed. And it is you, Mr. Case, and your buddies, who are placing us at risk by proposing this disastrous legislation.
* It is at risk because it is a creation of and rests upon the foundation of our Native Hawaiian people and culture, and their survival and prosperity are at risk. As they go, so goes Hawaii as we know it, and a Hawaii which is not Hawaiian is not a Hawaii I can bear to accept.
Mr. Case, the population of ethnic Hawaiians has multiplied tenfold during the first century of American sovereignty, from less than 40,000 in 1900 to more than 400,000 in 2000. Hawaiian culture and language have undergone a tremendous renaissance during the last thirty years, without any need for racial apartheid.
* Nor is federal recognition for Native Hawaiians exclusively a Hawaii issue. Census figures show that our country is home to more than 400,000 Native Hawaiians, with 160,000 living outside of Hawaii. And clearly the preservation of the Hawaii that so many throughout our world have come to know and love is of great concern to so many well beyond our borders.
Indeed, many people with no native ancestry, whose families have been born and raised in Hawai’i for several generations, are much more “Hawaiian” than those of native ancestry who were born and raised in California or elsewhere. Hawai’i belongs to all the citizens of Hawai’i, not to one racial group and not to people whose lives are spent in other states or countries.
* So our goal is not only reaffirming the longstanding historical and legal relationship between Native Hawaiians and the United States, not only delivering fairness and justice to Native Hawaiians, but ensuring the very survival and prosperity of our Native Hawaiian people and culture and, through them, Hawaii itself. And this is a truly common goal, evidenced by broad-based support among Hawaii's political leaders, and Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike, which spans ethnic, partisan and other distinctions.
All people of Hawai’i respect and participate in Hawaiian culture, regardless of race. The Aloha Spirit transcends race. And for that very reason, we oppose the racial separatism of the Akaka bill.
* The goal of assisting Native Hawaiians is not new to our Federal Government . Beyond a longstanding relationship that was reaffirmed when Hawaii became a territory in 1900 and a State in 1959, over 160 federal statutes have enacted programs to address the conditions of Native Hawaiians in areas such as Hawaiian homelands, health, education and economic development based on Congress' plenary authority under our U.S. Constitution to address the conditions of indigenous peoples.
The Constitution does NOT give Congress plenary power over “indigenous peoples.” It gives Congress authority to engage in political relationships with political entities known as tribes, eachof which existed before European contact and exercised authority over its members continuously until now. The relationship is with a political entity, not with a racial group. The Akaka bill, however, is blatantly racial, and does not include the people of no native ancestry whose ancestors were full-fledged voting members of the political entity known as the Kingdom of Hawai’i.
These have been matched by state and quasi-autonomous entities such as the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, and private entities like The Kamehameha Schools. And they have borne fruit with a renewed focus on unique Native Hawaiian needs and a renaissance of Native Hawaiian culture. Federal recognition is the means by which these indispensable efforts can be carried forward into the next generation of Native Hawaiian governance.
As mentioned before, there never was any unified nation of Hawai’i in which there was an exclusively “Native Hawaiian governance.”
* Federal recognition is also the time-honored means of memorializing our government's relationship with the indigenous peoples of the contiguous 48 states and Alaska. There, either government -to-government treaties or the Bureau of Indian Affairs recognition process or legislative recognition have extended self-determination and affirmed relationships. Although the difference between those peoples and Native Hawaiians is exclusively geographic,
NO! The differences are NOT merely geographic. The differences are profound. The Indian tribes tried to remain separate and apart from settlers; but Hawaiians welcomed newcomers and adopted their religion, language, and governmental structures. Indians were systematically slaughtered, or forced to move thousands of miles from their ancestral homes; but Hawaiians continued to hold political power and remained the largest landowners. Indians were not given American citizenship until 1924. But in Hawai’i, ethnic Hawaiians became American citizens with full voting rights, on the same basis as whites, as soon as Hawai’i was annexed to the United States in 1898.
such means have simply not been either available or exercised in the case of Native Hawaiians.
* Nor is the concept of extending federal recognition to Native Hawaiians a new one. The enactment into law in 1993 of the Apology Resolution (P.L. 103-150) expressed a national commitment to reconciliation efforts between Native Hawaiians and the Federal Government . Subsequent efforts through the Departments of Justice and Interior, as well as the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders established by executive orders of both Presidents Clinton and Bush, yielded federal recognition legislation and the inclusion of Native Hawaiians in federal programs and services as top priorities. During the 106th Congress, the House even passed federal recognition legislation for Native Hawaiians on September 26, 2000.
The Akaka bill passed the “full House” in 2000 by voice vote by “unanimous consent” under suspension of the rules on the calendar of non-controversial bills at the dinner hour when about ten House members were present, all lined up to “pass” their favorite minor bills. At no time during committee hearings or on the floor of either House or Senate has the Akaka bill ever been subjected to negative testimony, except during a five-day hearing in Honolulu in summer 2000 when there was a massive outpouring of opposition from ethnic Hawaiians and people of all races. Independent reporter Bob Rees wrote an article saying that opponents outnumbered supporters nine-to-one. Maybe that’s why, since summer 2000, there has never again been a genuine hearing on the merits of the bill where opponents could testify.
* Most recently, the Department of Interior also moved forward on the establishment of the Office of Hawaiian Relations. Structurally organized under the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget, the new office is a welcome and positive step forward in coordinating policies within the Department as they affect Native Hawaiians. Already, the Department oversees pertinent issues such as Hawaiian home lands, historic preservation, the Native American Graves Protection Act, the Native Hawaiian Culture and Arts Program, and the consideration of Native Hawaiians in natural resources management, including at our Hawaii national parks.
* The time has clearly come for our Federal Government to strengthen its relationship with Native Hawaiians in order to resolve longstanding issues and ensure the survival and prosperity of the Native Hawaiian people and culture and of their special home.
As pointed out previously, the population of ethnic Hawaiians has multiplied ten-fold, and Hawaiian culture has had a tremendous revival and flourishing, without any such legislation.
For all of us in Hawaii, Mr. Speaker, and in fact for all Native Hawaiians, wherever, throughout our country and world they may live, I urge the passage of this vital legislation.
NEIL ABERCROMBIE (Congressional Record, Extensions of Remarks - January 25, 2005, pages E72-E73)
* Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Mr. Speaker, I am proud today to introduce the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, also known as the Akaka Bill. This legislation is supported by the Hawaii State Legislature, Governor Linda Lingle, numerous Native Hawaiian organizations and a variety of other ethnic and Native American groups. This bill represents another step in the reconciliation process between Native Hawaiians and the U.S. federal government .
* On January 17, 1893, the government of the Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown by a group of American citizens, who acted with the support of U.S. Minister John Stephens and a contingent of U.S. Marines from the U.S.S.
No, a majority of the revolutionaries were local residents who were natural-born or naturalized subjects of the Hawaiian kingdom. The 1500 armed members of the Honolulu Rifles and the Annexation Club who backed the revolution vastly outnumbered the 162 U.S. blue-jackets who came ashore from a boat in the harbor to prevent violence.
One hundred years later, a resolution extending an apology on behalf of the United States to Native Hawaiians for the illegal overthrow of the Native Hawaiian government and calling for a reconciliation of the relationship between the United States and Native Hawaiians was enacted into law.
As I previously pointed out in comments to your buddies, there never was a unified Native Hawaiian government. The Kingdom unified by Kamehameha the Great and continuing as a monarchy until 1893 had at all times cabinet members, governors, legislators, and citizens with full voting rights who had no native ancestry. The resolution of sentiment commemorating the 100th anniversary of the overthrow contains exuberant language filled with false and distorted historical claims. For analysis, see:
* This measure continues the reconciliation process by establishing a procedure through which a Native Hawaiian governing entity could achieve federal recognition if it chooses to do so.
Whatever small group of a few thousand ethnic Hawaiians chooses to form such a “governing entity” to protect their federal handouts can get federal recognition and purport to represent all 400,000 of them.
This recognition would extend the policy of self-governance and self determination currently extended to American Indians and Alaska Natives. It also protects existing Native Hawaiian programs and begins to address the claims of the Native Hawaiian people. This bill does not authorize Native Hawaiians to conduct gaming.
This bill itself does not authorize gambling, but also does not prohibit it. Once the tribe is established it will probably seek legislation to authorize a casino, or file a lawsuit demanding equal treatment with other tribes.
* This legislation is critical to the future of the State of Hawaii.
Yes, it is critical to defeat this legislation.
Most importantly, Native Hawaiians deserve the right to decide their future and chart their own destiny.
We all deserve that right. That’s why there must be a plebiscite among all Hawai’i’s people before authorizing the carving up of Hawai’i into racial enclaves.
It is time their inherent rights are restored.
Ethnic Hawaiians have the same inherent rights as everyone else -- rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
* I urge my colleagues to resolve these longstanding issues with the Native Hawaiians and support this legislation.
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