Akaka bill, Alaska Oil money, Native Alaskan Corporations, Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, Drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, Gambling Casinos, and Alaska Senator Ted Stevens -- How They’re All Related

The Hawaiian recognition bill is being supported by the Alaska oil industry, by the Republican delegation from Alaska, and by Alaska native corporations. The Alaska North Slope Corporation has provided large donations to the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, and financial support for the sisters Jade Danner and Robin Danner, who are leading the CHNA propaganda efforts to convince Hawaiian Homestead residents and others to support the Akaka bill for fear of losing their homes and benefit programs if they don't. Alaska oil companies and corporations clearly believe they can make huge profits in Hawai'i if the Akaka bill passes, perhaps by using the preference given to Indian tribes in bidding for federal construction and services contracts.

To download an exposee of the Alaska oil connection to the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill, taken from the Hawaii Island Journal of October 16-31, 2003, click here (the first page of this article is a wonderful cartoon showing a pipeline of money flowing from Alaska to Hawai’i):


The following items are offered below:

(1) A compilation of a 5-part article by Anne Keala Kelly serialized from December 19, 2003 through January 19, 2004 in the newspaper “Indian Country Today.” This article is an investigative report of the connections between Alaska oil money, the billion-dollar Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (Inupiat Tribe), Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, the Danner sisters, and the Akaka bill.

(2) A newspaper article from the Denver Post of January 14, 2004 reporting that Senator Stevens and the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation have been trying to get local approval in Denver for the construction of an Alaska native-controlled gambling casino near Denver International Airport. The article also reports that Senator Stevens has tried to pass legislation in Congress that would allow the Alaska native corporations to build casinos throughout the United States.

(3) A newspaper article from the Honolulu Advertiser of April 19, 2005 describing the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement convention to be held in August says “In addition to Native Hawaiian representatives and leaders, the [ENTIRE!] 38-member board of directors of the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN), representing hundreds of Native Alaskan nonprofits, governments and communities, will join the conference.” And other Indian tribe businesses will also be attending. Clearly, these “foreign” business interests from outside of Hawai’i expect to make some huge profits in Hawai’i if the Akaka bill passes.



The following is a compilation of a 5-part article by Anne Keala Kelly serialized from December 19, 2003 through January 19, 2004 in the newspaper “Indian Country Today” and also included in the on-line version of that newspaper. For each of the five parts of the article, the URL and publication date are provided.

Special Report: The Alaska-Hawaii connection (Part One)

How Inupiat, Gwich’in, and Native Hawaiian power bases impact ANWR and Native Hawaiian recognition

Posted: December 19, 2003
by: Anne Keala Kelly / Special Report

(Editors note: This special report was first published in the Fall 2003 edition of Native Americas, the journal of hemispheric indigenous issues published by First Nations Development Institute.)

Just hours before the war in Iraq officially began on March 19, the Boxer Amendment stripped a provision from the budget bill that would have allowed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). So close was the race that Vice President Cheney went up to the hill in anticipation of casting the tie-breaking vote. But what had been a tense, one vote race, turned into a 52 to 48 victory for the environmentalists at the eleventh hour, disappointing oil industry advocates who have poured millions into lobbying Congress to open the Refuge.

Had the President announced the beginning of the war the day before, it’s still unlikely the amendment would have succeeded. An identical provision in the House version of the bill failed on April 11, 247 to 175, leaving incentives in the bill for oil companies who want to drill in the Refuge. Presently, the full Senate is deliberating S.14, a bill that contains the Native American Energy Development and Self-Determination Act of 2003, a section of which waives the federal government’s liability for regulating agreements between tribes and energy companies. As the Senate continues to deliberate President Bush’s energy policies, and debates about the value of oil ensue, it will become increasingly difficult to keep drilling out of the Refuge. Advocates are likely to position themselves around any of a number of valid questions, such as how can we justify risking American lives in the Middle East to secure that region’s oil reserves without being willing to drill the wells dry in our own back yard?

This story is about that untapped oil at the top of the world and its connection to the little known Native Hawaiian Federal Recognition Bill, referred to as the Akaka Bill. It’s a peek behind the curtain of how the Alaska oil industry’s efforts have secretly stepped into the Hawaiian community to secure Senator Akaka’s support for drilling in the Refuge. And it’s about how a multi-national Alaska Native corporation, flush with oil money and tied to Senator Akaka, has tried to convince the Hawaiian people to simultaneously oppose the Gwich’in people, who are fighting to keep drilling out of the Refuge, and accept the Akaka Bill.

That bill could ultimately leave the Hawaiians as politically powerless as the Gwich’in, whose political status is "Indigenous," a legal term used in this case to define Aboriginal peoples who are nationals of the country they are surrounded by. As a federally recognized tribe, the Gwich’in are subject to the plenary powers of Congress. The United States’ classification of Hawaiians and how that would affect their political future is part of the debate over federal recognition legislation that seeks to define them as "Native Americans." Among Hawaiians who oppose the bill, such a definition is viewed as an attempt to extinguish the dual political status Hawaiians have as Aboriginal people and citizens of an occupied, independent nation state that was illegally annexed by the U.S. in 1898.

Connections between what is happening with the Gwich’in people, and what may happen with Hawaiians should they choose to go the way of federal recognition, don’t end with the plenary powers of Congress or Senator Akaka’s vote on drilling. Hawaiians and Gwich’in actually have another critical link in common: that being how Alaska’s oil industry has, via the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, influenced Hawaiian politics on the issue of the Akaka Bill. The answer to why this connects the Gwich’in struggle to keep drilling out of the Refuge, with Hawaiian debates over the Akaka Bill, is manifesting itself in the form of who has power over federal dollars for Hawaiians and who is pressuring them to accept federal recognition.

(Continued in Part Two)


The Alaska-Hawaii Connection, Part Two

Council for Native Hawaiian advancement

Posted: December 30, 2003
by: Anne Keala Kelly / Special Report

Three years ago, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement was organized to help nonprofits that provide Hawaiian social services apply for or keep federal funding. This range of nonprofits manages or assists in health care, housing, education and cultural programs. Robin Danner, a Native Hawaiian who, at 36, moved home to Kauai four years ago and became a part of the Hawaiian political scene, led the way to assemble the Council. After living 25 years in Alaska with her parents and brothers and sisters, she brought a working knowledge of how Alaska Natives have navigated the path to Native corporate and non-profit federal contracts. For Hawaiian nonprofits, generally seen as organizations that live off federal fat, her experience in banking and her skills in applying for and receiving federal dollars, was a welcome boost to their beleaguered situation.

Once established, the Council quickly came to include non-profit powerhouses who handle most of the millions of federal dollars earmarked for Native Hawaiians. It also includes CEOs and trustees from Native Hawaiian trusts like Kamehameha Schools (formerly known as Bishop Estates), and the Queen Lili’uokalani Trust. Since its inception, the Council has become part of the status quo, serving as facilitator of the prestigious administration for Native Americans Project, a federal contract which is worth $1.2 million, and directed by Robin’s younger sister, Jade. The Council has also received a pledge of $100,000 from Bank of Hawaii and other institutional support, including $100,000 from the Inupiat-owned Arctic Slope Regional Corporation.

The need for an organization like the Council became apparent in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2000 decision in Rice v. Cayetano. That ruling used the 14th and 15th Amendments to invalidate Hawaiian-only voting in elections to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a Hawaii state agency that fronts as representative of the Hawaiian people. It was the first time the 15th Amendment was used to protect the rights of a white man, Freddie Rice. Since then, funding and tax breaks given to Hawaiian nonprofits and trusts have come under legal attack as unlawful, race-based benefits. So, it made sense to put groups working on specific Hawaiian issues together so they could apply for federal grants collectively.

Lesser-known, less well-connected nonprofits looking for funding have joined or considered joining the Council, hoping to team up with other nonprofits. "My first impression of Robin Danner was that she was very cordial and had honorable intentions," said Patrick Kahawaiolaa, president of Keaukaha Community Association, a Hawaiian Homestead organization. "It was about a year-and-a-half ago and she held a workshop to talk about the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement’s goals, and technical assistance for communities hoping to get federal grants. She seemed like a very astute businesswoman who was there to help people."

What has emerged as the Council’s most pressing concern, however, is not what many Hawaiian non-profit organizers were expecting. In September 2002, the Council’s First Annual Native Hawaiian Conference took place at the Sheraton Waikiki. With video taped messages from the Hawaii Congressional delegation that were shown daily, the gathering took the shape of a rallying cry for the Akaka Bill. "I went to the conference to gather information and see about grant writing," said Kahawaiolaa. "But we were being lobbied to get going and push the Akaka Bill. Every day on the big screen here came Inouye and [Congressman] Abercrombie and God rest her soul [Congresswoman] Mink. Akaka even made a personal appearance and said, ‘We gotta do this and you’re wrong if you don’t support this bill.’"

The Council held its second gathering in Waikiki in August 2003. This time the congressional giant himself, Senator Daniel Inouye, addressed several hundred Hawaiians in person, assuring them that there now exists a "rare demonstration of unity" between Hawaii state, local, and federal lawmakers on the matter of federal recognition. Inouye then went on to urge Hawaiians to do the same and unite behind this bill.

CEO and President of the Council, Robin Danner proved her ability to gain the cooperation of influential politicians and financial institutions in a very short time. In July of 2001, more than a year before the Council hosted its first annual convention for Hawaiians, it held the "1st Annual Native Hawaiian-Alaska Native Summit." Funded by Bank of Hawaii, First Hawaiian Bank, American Savings Bank, Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle, and others, it was an invitation-only gathering with the stated purpose of discussing common issues of managing Native trusts, foundations, and service agencies.

The participants at the summit were senior members of the United States Congress. Keynote speakers included Senators Inouye and Akaka; other speakers were then Senator, now Governor of Alaska, Frank Murkowski (who last January appointed his daughter to take over the two remaining years of his senate term); Representatives Mink and Abercrombie; Alaska Representative Don Young; and Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who sent his message via videotape. Senator Stevens, who as pro tempore is third in line to the presidency of the United States, has put his name to the Hawaiian Federal Recognition Bill, which was re-dubbed the Akaka-Stevens Bill in June of this year.

Although Hawaiians are not organized into villages and corporations like the 138 Alaska Native villages and 13 Alaska Native Corporations that comprise the Alaska Federation of Natives, the network of Hawaiian nonprofits in the Council For Native Hawaiian Advancement is a close imitation. But the Council is either intentionally or unwittingly also mimicking the federation’s interest in Alaskan oil and federal control.

(Continued in Part Three)


The Alaska - Hawaii connection: Part Three

How Inupiat, Gwich’in, and Native Hawaiian power bases impact ANWR and Native Hawaiian federal recognition

Posted: January 06, 2004
by: Anne Keala Kelly

A relationship too close?

It’s understood within the Hawaiian community that Robin and her sister Jade have in the past two years become prominent in the discourse around Hawaiian federal recognition. People take note that their ties to the Inupiat Eskimos come from being a part of that community for many years, that they have relatives, including nieces and nephews, who are of Inupiat ancestry and reside in Barrow, Alaska.

The financial support for the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement from the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation was not unusual all by itself. Different Hawaiian groups maintain cultural and political relationships with numerous American Indian tribes and Alaska Native corporations. So, the money from Arctic Slope Regional Corporation to the Council was seen by most Hawaiians as generosity between Native communities and support for Robin Danner from her friends in the great white north.

What was not made public was the business arrangement between a company called Danner and Associates, with which both Robin and Jade Danner are affiliated, and an Alaska non-profit group called Arctic Power. Arctic Power is a joint lobbying effort that receives millions from the state of Alaska. It is also funded in part by numerous corporations and organizations with interests in Alaska’s oil industry, including the Teamsters and oil companies such as Exxon Mobil Corporation.

When asked about her role in Danner and Associates, Robin Danner said, "We have a number of sibling-based initiatives, I am active in real estate." She stated further in an e-mail, "I don’t have an ownership interest in it [Danner and Associates], I don’t manage it, I’ve never been paid by it, I’ve never done any work for it - I can’t really tell you much more than that."

However, based on a signed contract between Danner and Associates and Arctic Power, and an invoice signed by Robin Danner, there is a relationship between Robin Danner, Danner and Associates, and Arctic Power that dates back at least to February 2002.

The Gwich’in, the Inupiat, the oil

"My personal position on ANWR is to support the Inupiat People and their right to self determination - WHATEVER it is. For me, it doesn’t matter if they oppose or support ANWR or oil. What matters is that their Native voice is important above all others on this one issue." Robin Danner, January 2003.

Inupiat-owned Arctic Slope Regional Corporation owns 5 million acres of land, including the Alpine oil field, which is the tenth largest producing oil field in America. A map of the North Slope shows that millions of acres surrounding the Refuge are dotted by oil producing fields.

Thus far, all drilling has taken place outside of the 5 percent of the Arctic Coastal Plain known as ANWR, which is where the Porcupine Caribou birthing grounds are located. It’s estimated that the oil inside the Refuge will take 10 years to deliver and is only enough to sustain U.S. oil consumption for six months.

So, why are the state of Alaska, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, and multi-national oil corporations lobbying the Congress to grant access for drilling the Refuge? And how did drilling inside a national "Refuge" ever become an option?

The 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), is considered by an overwhelming majority of indigenous peoples in and outside of the U.S. to be the worst Native settlement in modern times. It is also one of the most amended Congressional Acts in the history of the United States. When oil corporations and the state of Alaska realized the substantial wealth and jobs that could be generated from drilling in Prudhoe Bay and the surrounding area, the push was on for a claims settlement. Throughout Alaska, in exchange for extinguishing Native title to 90 percent of their lands, tribes were given what amounted to less than $3 per acre.

Despite the less than generous terms of the ANCSA, however, the Inupiat Eskimos have been financially successful strategists. They formed the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, and it has paid off. With a rate of growth ahead of the S&P, last year’s revenues through oil and other subsidiaries were about $1.5 billion. Among their subsidiary corporations is one that maintains a contract with the U.S. to supply fuel to the military, another that provides support services for U.S. military radar systems, a company that operates a plastics manufacturer in Guadalajara, Mexico, and a business in Venezuela that watches that country’s oil industry.

But ANCSA was not attractive to all of Alaska’s Native tribes, and some communities were split; there were no hearings or votes taken at the villages. Of the eight Gwich’in villages on the U.S. side of the border, two opted out of ANCSA and maintained title to their lands, and a traditional subsistence life. And like many federally recognized tribes, the Gwich’in have a tenuous relationship with the U.S. government.

The Inupiat, on the other hand, have a corporate relationship with the state and federal government. In 1983, Department of the Interior Secretary James Watt signed a controversial land exchange with the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation that brought the total acreage of the corporation’s contingent subsurface rights in the coastal plain of the Refuge to 92,000 acres.

In spite of the stipulation prohibiting development, unless Congress opens the Refuge, the corporation has already made $39 million from speculative lease agreements with Chevron, Texaco, and British Petroleum. In fact, within five years of the 1983 land exchange, efforts were begun in earnest to open the Refuge to drilling. But the Gwich’in people, who live on the south and east border of the Refuge, have put up resistance to every proposal put before Congress and have maintained a grassroots struggle without corporate money.

"If oil companies are allowed access to the Refuge, it would set precedence that any Refuge can be accessed for mining and oil and timber," said Gwich’in spokesperson, Faith Gemmill. From her home in Fairbanks, Gemmill discussed her people’s concerns about Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and the State of Alaska’s attempts to open the Refuge to drilling.

"When our elders realized the proposed drilling in the Refuge would threaten the Porcupine Caribou calving grounds, they held a traditional gathering [in 1988] and all Gwich’in came to my village - Arctic Village. It was unanimously decided that we cannot allow the oil companies to gain access there. It’s sacred; it’s the nursery of the caribou. It’s where life begins. We humans cannot intrude at that time when they are giving birth and nursing. They need to be left alone and it has to be quiet. The caribou are our family. We made a commitment to protect the caribou and our way of life, and if we are not successful we will perish, too."

Other animals that birth and den in the Refuge include grizzly bears, polar bears, and many different species of birds.

The Inupiat, who own the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, are a coastal people who rely mainly on marine life for their traditional foods; the Porcupine Caribou account for about 10 percent of their diet. But for the Gwich’in, who strategically established their villages along the migratory paths of the Porcupine Caribou herd, the caribou are 70 percent of their food.

"Oil development itself in the process creates heavy metals," said Gemmill. "Scientists are saying that the productivity of the Central Arctic herd that used to birth near Prudhoe Bay has been impacted." Then, referring to what Rosemary Ahtuangaruak, Inupiat and Mayor of the City of Nuiqsut, has said publicly, Gemmill added, "Inupiat hunters are reporting that the Arctic herd’s meat is now yellow in color - that’s indigenous knowledge."

(Continued in Part Four)


The Alaska - Hawaii connection (Part 4)

Posted: January 14, 2004
by: Anne Keala Kelly

The Hawaiian Connection

Senator Akaka doesn’t receive much in the way of money from oil and gas interests, but Alaska’s Republican politicians support his and Senator Inouye’s Akaka Bill, which was reintroduced to the U.S. Senate on Feb. 25, 2003. Newly elected Republican Governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, helped kick off the lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill, and met with Attorney General John Ashcroft and Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton to discuss the bill. Lingle joined Hawaii’s congressional chorus, insisting that this bill is the only hope Hawaiians have of establishing any type of governing entity that will protect their federal funding. In addition to this, when President Bush made a 12-hour visit to Hawaii in late-October, Governor Lingle made the matter of the federalization of Hawaiians the central issue she discussed with the President.

That Alaska’s oil interests continue to lobby in Hawaii for support of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is odd, though, given that efforts to open that area to oil companies already have the support of Senators Inouye and Akaka.

"Why they continue to lobby is a good question," said Dan Ritzman, the Washington-based outreach director of Alaska Coalition, an organization devoted to protecting Alaska’s wild public lands. "I’ve always been happy that Arctic Power is willing to spend a lot of money on someone they have solidly to begin with, like Senator Akaka," said Ritzman. "It wouldn’t be the first time Arctic Power has wasted their money. Last year they had a racist, stupid ad on billboards in Alaska that said, ‘Protecting ANWR is Cheap,’ and next to that was a drawing of an Arab man, and then it said, ‘if you want to protect the Refuge you’re helping Arabs.’"

In January 2002, Greener & Hook, a consulting firm whose clients include the National Republican Congressional Committee, placed an ad in the Honolulu Star Bulletin. It read: "Senator Akaka: Quyanaqpak (Thank you very much) For Your Support." The ad then went on to say that drilling in a "tiny part of our homeland - ANWR" is synonymous with "self-determination," a catch-all term that is used three times in the ad, ending with, "Self-Determination Means Supporting the People Who Live in ANWR!" In the small print at the bottom of the page it said: "Paid for by the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation." But the invoice for payment to Greener & Hook shows that Arctic Power paid for half of the ad.

The timing of the Honolulu Star Bulletin ad coincided with nationwide campaigns both for and against Senators Murkowski and Stevens’ attempts to amend the 2002 Energy Bill, which they lost several months later in a vote of 54 to 46.

A few months after the Honolulu ad appeared, Jade Danner wrote a letter to the editor of the Star Bulletin responding to a commentary the paper had published by Chuck Burrows, that criticized Senator Akaka’s decision. She wrote:

"ANWR is in their [Inupiat] backyard, and they support limited development. Senator Akaka walked their land and talked with them. He voted with them, knowing it would bring the scorn of people like Charles Burrows. He made the right decision. He recognized them for the true environmentalists that they are - each and every decision made with the environment in mind. As a proponent of self-determination, Senator Akaka knows that it means more than supporting the decisions you personally agree with or that are easy to support. It means supporting local people, relying on local expertise and deferring to local decisions."

It’s worth mentioning that repeated invitations to Senator Akaka by the Gwich’in to "walk their land," and talk with them have never been accepted, even though in 1995 he visited two Inupiat villages.

In November 2002, a debate on the floor at the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs Convention took place on the issue of whether or not that organization should support the Gwich’in people. The Hawaiian Civic Clubs have thousands of members throughout the United States and maintain some degree of political and cultural influence in the Hawaiian community at large. When the resolution was introduced, Robin Danner spoke out in opposition. She argued that what’s happening in the Arctic is a dispute between two Native peoples that Hawaiians should stay out of. In her argument, Danner was condemning a resolution identical to one that was hotly debated at the National Congress of American Indians meeting, where it was decided that both the Inupiat and the Gwich’in would respect each others gathering and subsistence rights. (A compromise measure was reached at its San Diego convention whereby NCAI would oppose drilling on public lands and take a neutral position on drilling proposed for private tribal lands.)

"This isn’t a quarrel between two Native peoples," said Chuck Burrows. The retired school teacher and president of Ahahui Malama I ka Lokahi, a cultural, environmentalist group in Hawaii that supports the Gwich’in, does not see the issue as a dispute between Natives. "Robin Danner argued that drilling in the ANWR is an issue of self-determination," he said. "But the Gwich’in and the Inupiat don’t have bad feelings towards each other."

Whether or not this is a disagreement between two Native peoples continues to cloud the issue. "Uniformly, the Inupiat have fought to keep development out of the Arctic Ocean because of the Bowhead Whale, which is their cultural and subsistence food," said Ritzman. "It isn’t any different for the Gwich’in who are fighting to protect the Porcupine Caribou. But the idea that a Native corporation is trying to open the Refuge makes this a tricky issue, it’s hard to apply any kind of label. Yes, the Inupiat are shareholders of Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, but the power and direction of the corporation lies in the hands of a few individuals."

In the end, the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs was persuaded to vote against the resolution to support the Gwich’in struggle. Burrows said, "Robin Danner made an impact with the idea that the land in question is not the Gwich’in homeland, but the Inupiat homeland. And she persisted with the belief that Hawaiian support for the Gwich’in is maha’oi (brazen). But as Indigenous people we share the same relationship with the land - from the land derives our culture and spirituality."

The funding that has flowed from Arctic Slope Regional Corporation to the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement shows that the Inupiat people appreciate the support from both Robin and Jade Danner. Cultural exchanges that flow among relatives are deep and lasting. However, when Jade Danner published her letter in the Star Bulletin she neglected to mention that she billed Arctic Power for writing it, as part of her contractual agreement. And Arctic Power’s only concern is to represent big oil, the state of Alaska, and Arctic Slope Regional Corporation’s desire to open the Refuge to drilling.

(Concluded in Part Five)


The Alaska - Hawaii connection (Part Five of Five)

Posted: January 19, 2004
by: Anne Keala Kelly

(Editors note: Part five concludes this special report, first published in the Fall 2003 edition of Native Americas, the journal of hemispheric indigenous issues published by First Nations Development Institute.)

A request for an interview with Jade Danner yielded a phone call asking to have the questions emailed to her.

Question: Are you or have you ever been a paid lobbyist for Arctic Power or any other Alaska corporation, specifically with interests in oil development?

Answer: "I’ve never been a ‘lobbyist,’ paid or unpaid, for Arctic Power or any other Alaska corporation with an interest in oil development. Two years ago, I was contracted by Arctic Power for six weeks to assist the Inupiat people in their efforts to set the record straight and educate the Hawaii public about their position in the ANWR debate … I was not paid to ‘lobby’ government officials or people in positions of power who could influence the outcome of the ANWR debate in Congress, nor have I ever written a letter or spoken to anyone in Congress about this issue. I was not and am not presently a paid lobbyist."

State of Alaska public records include a copy of a contract, with no date of termination, between Danner and Associates and Arctic Power, signed by Jade Danner on Feb. 15, 2002. It is an agreement to pay Danner and Associates, "A flat monthly fee of $5,000 for services." Included in the "Scope of Work" section is: "Development of a Strategic Plan in conjunction with Arctic Power for Hawaii, Monitor and respond to opposing editorials/stories in local news media, Provide periodic updates to Arctic Power about activities and progress in Hawaii, Communicate with Hawaii’s Senators’ staff to determine how to be most effective in assisting with educating the Hawaiian populace about the facts of ANWR, other projects as may be assigned by Arctic Power," and more.

Staff members from both Senators Inouye and Akaka say they have no knowledge of Jade Danner being paid to represent drilling in the Refuge. "I have met with both Jade and Robin Danner," said Patricia Zell, aide to Senator Inouye and Chief Counsel to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, "and we’ve never discussed ANWR. I have no knowledge of either of them being paid lobbyists."

Paul Cardus, Senator Akaka’s press secretary, similarly said that Jade Danner never met with the senator or anyone on his staff about drilling in the Refuge. "No one was aware of her role as a lobbyist, no one met with her to discuss ANWR." He continued, "Jade Danner never met with or spoke to the Senator."

Yet, payment from Arctic Power to Danner and Associates, for specifically deflecting Native Hawaiian criticism of Senator Akaka on the matter of drilling in the ANWR, is stated in such a way as to suggest Senator Akaka is aware of business arrangement between Danner and Associates and Arctic Power. A Danner and Associates ANWR Activity Log lists eight activities undertaken on behalf of Arctic Power. Number 7 reads: "… Worked to defeat local attempts to use Hawaiian forums as an avenue to pass resolutions opposing Senator Akaka’s position on ANWR. Provide appropriate follow-up in communicating action to Senator Akaka’s office."

Robin Danner’s connection to Arctic Power has yet to be fully explained. When asked if she has ever been financially compensated for efforts on behalf of drilling in the Refuge done by her through the Council she responded, "The answer is clearly no; I have not done any lobbying through CNHA."

Robin Danner did, however, in her position with the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, bill Arctic Power to reimburse travel expenses for attendance at a Teamster’s Honolulu Convention. If any of that money was reimbursed directly to the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement that would mean Alaska oil lobbying money went directly into the Council’s bank account. If the travel expenses were not reimbursed to the Council, then Robin Danner used Council money to represent Arctic Power at the Teamster’s Convention. When asked about this, she explained that the Council’s reimbursement form was a matter of reverse invoicing for airline coupons that were "used to attend a regional conference of the Teamsters … I was invited to speak at their conference, accepted and did so. Jade did not attend, she did not accompany me, she was not invited."

There are numerous contradictions in this statement, the substance of which point to Robin Danner receiving payment from Arctic Power. Robin’s insistence that her sister Jade was not present and did not give a speech at the Teamster’s Convention means that money paid to Danner and Associates from Arctic Power was for the speech Robin delivered at the Teamster’s Convention. Number 2 on the Danner and Associates ANWR Activity Log reads: "Prepare and deliver speech to the Teamsters with Presentation of Bowhead Ear Drum to Senator Daniel Akaka … Provide appropriate feedback to Senator Akaka’s office and Arctic Power." This activity log, along with a request for travel reimbursement that was signed by Robin Danner on Feb. 27, 2002, became part of a $7,500 Danner and Associates invoice submitted to Arctic Power in March 2002.

As it stands, two politically powerful Hawaiians, with ties to Alaska oil money and two U.S. Senators, have garnered tremendous support for the Akaka Bill and inspired a dearth of support for the Gwich’in and their efforts to keep drilling out the Refuge. Their economic dealings shine an explanatory light on the political relationship between the Hawaiian people and Hawaii’s Congressional delegation, and a few unsettling similarities between Hawaiians and Alaska Natives. In addition to the struggle to survive physically, economically, and culturally, the Gwich’in and the Inupiat have a valuable lesson for Hawaiians.

If federal recognition can lead to Hawaiians relinquishing claims to any part of Hawaii, they could end up in a situation like that between the Inupiat and the Gwich’in, which tends to define as corporate Natives versus cultural Natives. Right now, the acreage of Hawaiian Homestead land, which is part of the nearly two million acres of "Crown and Government land" renamed "ceded lands" when the United States took control, is virtually the same amount of land the Alaska Natives ended up with after their settlement: just 10 percent of what was once all theirs.

In late-May 2003, the state agency of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, now lobbying harder than anyone for passage of the Akaka Bill, authorized $450,000 for the services of international law firm Patton Boggs, LLP. Also on the Patton Boggs’ client list is, indeed, Arctic Power.

It’s been reported that Thomas Boggs Jr., has taken a personal interest in the Hawaiian Federal Recognition bill. A small bit of history about who Thomas Boggs Jr., is: son of the late Senator Hale Boggs whose plane went down in Alaska and was never found. (Senator Boggs is portrayed by Walter Mathau as the senator who didn’t believe the Warren Commission in Oliver Stone’s film, JFK). When Boggs Jr.’s firm was known as Patton Boggs & Blow, Boggs lobbied the hill during the Carter Administration against restrictions on the sale of weapons to Guatemala. The firm represented the Guatemalan General turned President, Romeo Lucas Garcia.

Boggs personally represented Amigos del Pais, a group of landowners in Guatemala that helped fund Garcia’s death squads, supported throughout the 1980s by the Reagan Administration’s CIA, and responsible for the deaths of over 200,000 of Guatemala’s indigenous peoples, workers, and human rights activists. That the Office of Hawaiian Affairs would put themselves into business - and by proxy, all the indigenous people of Hawaii - with a firm that has a history of representing the interests of systemic murderers of indigenous peoples is indeed troublesome.

Even beyond the uncertainties of Hawaiian political identity, Alaska’s Native and corporate conflicts, and the strange bedfellows of a Hawaii State agency that is supposed to represent the Hawaiian people, there remain questions about power and political process. Is it ethical for the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement to use Alaska Native oil money to sell the Hawaiian community on the Akaka Bill, or for its CEO to receive payment from the oil industry and the State of Alaska for influencing Hawaiians and Senator Akaka on the issue of drilling in the Refuge? If Alaska’s oil industry can reach into the Hawaiian community and make its will known, what other influence does it have in determining the future of Hawaiians?




The Denver Post, Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Senator tied to backers of casino plan

By Mike Soraghan
Denver Post Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - The backers of an Indian casino east of Denver have close financial ties to one of the most powerful lawmakers in Congress, Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Ted Stevens.

One of the lead companies is a tenant of a company Stevens invested in. Another lead company has retained Stevens' brother-in-law as a lobbyist on Indian gambling issues.

Stevens, R-Alaska, has immense control over the nearly $800 billion doled out by Congress every year. As a consequence, he's able to single-handedly push through legislation by attaching it to must-pass spending bills.

That could come in handy for the casino proponents, whose proposal says the tribes involved want to "expedite resolution" of their claims "by congressional approval."

Stevens has tried pushing Indian-area gambling in the past.

A year ago, he drafted an amendment to a spending bill that would have allowed Alaskan natives to build casinos anywhere in the United States but never introduced it. The proposal had similarities to the current proposal to build an Indian casino on Interstate 70 near Denver International Airport.

Recently, the taxpayer group Citizens Against Government Waste called on Stevens to resign in the wake of media reports that he's become a millionaire doing business deals with companies that benefit from his legislation. Stevens has rejected any calls to resign.

One of those companies is Arctic Slope Regional Corp., a $1 billion-a-year Alaskan native corporation that pays $6 million to lease a building owned by Stevens and a group of investors. Stevens was allowed to invest in the group without risk in 1997.

Arctic Slope would be one of the primary investors in the "Homecoming Project," the Colorado Indian casino project being put together by Longmont venture capitalist Steve Hillard.

Arctic Slope is the controlling member of Native American Land Group, the entity put together to buy land and develop the casino, according to Hillard's confidential proposal, obtained by The Denver Post. The Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, according to the proposal, have entered into an agreement with the group to share revenue from the casino.

The amendment that Stevens drafted last year would have allowed Alaskan native corporations, including Arctic Slope, to open casinos anywhere in the mainland United States by treating them as tribes for the purpose of Indian gambling.

The amendment raised alarms in Las Vegas and was opposed by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. Stevens has never explained what the purpose of the amendment was.

"We don't talk strategy," said Stevens spokeswoman Courtney Schikora.

The other major member of Native American Land Group is Hillard's venture capital firm, Council Tree Communications.

Council Tree has hired the lobbying firm of Stevens' brother-in-law to represent it before Congress on Indian gambling issues. Congressional lobbying records show that Council Tree retained William Bittner, the brother of Stevens' wife, and his firm, Birch, Horton, Bittner and Cherot, to lobby on telecommunications issues in 1999.

Council Tree added Indian gambling to its lobby firm's portfolio early last year, a time that coincides with Stevens' gambling amendment.

St. George Tanaq Corp., another native Alaskan group proposing to invest in the casino, also employs Bittner as a lobbyist. Indian gambling is not listed as one of St. George Tanaq's issues. The corporation is an investor, along with Stevens, in the company that owns the building in which Arctic Slope is a tenant.

Stevens declined to comment on his relationship to the casino proponents. "That's between (Arctic Slope) and Birch, Horton, Bittner & Cherot," Schikora said.

Hillard, Bittner and officials from Arctic Slope did not return calls last week seeking comment.

The Denver casino proposal has been pitched as a way to satisfy claims of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes from the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, when 700 U.S. troops attacked a peaceful Indian village along Sand Creek in southeastern Colorado Territory. At least 150 Indians were killed.

Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., who has worked for years to create a Sand Creek Massacre memorial, opposes the proposal.

"It's not a good thing to do," Campbell said. "Many people, including me, think it might be sacrilegious to link gambling to the Sand Creek Massacre."

Campbell, chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee and the only Indian in the Senate, said he doesn't oppose Indian casinos or Colorado's gambling industry. He said he is unaware of any current legislative attempts to create more Indian-area gambling in Colorado.

Hillard, a lawyer from Alaska, has spent his career negotiating financial arrangements between Indian tribes and the U.S. government.

He has contributed $2,000 to Stevens' campaign accounts and $1,000 to Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo. Council Tree executives have contributed $8,000 to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who is in a hotly contested race.

Mike Soraghan can be reached at 202-662-8730


(3) A newspaper article from the Honolulu Advertiser of April 19, 2005 describing the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement convention to be held in August says “In addition to Native Hawaiian representatives and leaders, the [ENTIRE!] 38-member board of directors of the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN), representing hundreds of Native Alaskan nonprofits, governments and communities, will join the conference.” And other Indian tribe businesses will also be attending. Clearly, these “foreign” business interests from outside of Hawai’i expect to make some huge profits in Hawai’i if the Akaka bill passes.

Honolulu Advertiser, Tuesday, April 19, 2005

500 expected at Native Hawaiian Conference

The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) has set the fourth annual Native Hawaiian Conference for Aug. 30-Sept. 2 at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel.

More than 500 conferees are expected to meet, discussing development issues in the Hawaiian community, ranging from health- care to education.

The conference theme is "Na Wai Ke Kuleana? Na Kakou!" ("Who Is Responsible? We All Are!").

In addition to Native Hawaiian representatives and leaders, the 38-member board of directors of the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN), representing hundreds of Native Alaskan nonprofits, governments and communities, will join the conference.

Members of the InterTribal Economic Alliance, a coalition of tribal leaders focused on business development and creating economies in their homelands, also plan to attend.

Registration fee for the entire conference package is $350 for CNHA members and $480 for nonmembers. A two-for-one rate is offered to people who attended last year's conference. Daily rates of $120 for members and $160 for nonmembers also are available. Discount hotel rates also are offered.

Participants will be entered in a drawing for a seven-day Norwegian Cruise Line vacation.

Information: 521-5011 or visit www.hawaiiancouncil.org


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