Native Hawaiian Opposition to the Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill


Since 1999, a year before the "Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill" was first introduced in Congress, there has been strong and growing opposition to this bill from kanaka maoli (Native Hawaiians) themselves. This small webpage provides a glimpse into some of that opposition. Native opposition to the Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill carries great significance. After all, the bill is supposed to be for the benefit of Native Hawaiians. When the so-called "beneficiaries" speak out in opposition, saying the bill would be more harmful than beneficial to themselves, everyone should pay attention.

The clear purpose the the bill is to protect race-based government benefit programs against legal challenges that they are unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. It is both legally and morally wrong for government to take money away from all the people and use it to provide benefits available only to one racial group. The exception is that Indian tribes can receive government assistance even though they are racially-defined groups. The Akaka bill seeks to use this Constitutional loophole by creating a phony "Native Hawaiian" tribe out of thin air and giving it federal recognition.

Each year many tens of millions of federal dollars flow into Hawai'i for a growing list of race-based programs. Although "Native Hawaiians" are allegedly the beneficiaries, it turns out that perhaps most of the money goes to bureaucrats, institutional staff, attorneys, contractors and "service providers" who may or may not have native ancestry, so there is a ripple effect or multiplier that helps the economy of the State of Hawai'i. That's why the entire political power structure, both Democrat and Republican, favors the Akaka bill. It is pork barrel politics splintering Hawai'i's rainbow society along racial lines.

The most vocal opposition to the bill among ethnic Hawaiians comes from the Hawaiian nationalist independence activists. They believe that the overthrow (1893), annexation (1898), and statehood vote (1959) were all illegal, and that Hawai'i should be "liberated" from its 110-year continuing belligerant military occupation by the United States. They believe that reparations under international law will be far larger than the amounts now given to ethnic Hawaiians under race-based assistance programs. But even if there were no reparations, they would prefer to have independence rather than wardship through federal welfare handouts. Their position is well summarized in a verse of the famous song "Kaulana Na Pua" also known as "Mele 'Ai Pohaku" written by Ellen Wright Prendergast in 1893 in protest to the overthrow of the monarchy:

'A'ole makou a e minamina
I ka pu'u kala o ke aupuni.
Ua lawa makou i ka pohaku,
I ka 'ai kamaha'o o ka 'aina

We do not crave
the government's mountain of money.
Enough for us are the stones,
the wondrous food of the land.

Some of the independence activists deserve some moral credit for their principled stand in favor of independence, even if it costs substantial amounts of lost welfare benefits for themselves and their families. However, even greater moral credit should be given to the majority of ethnic Hawaiians, who are proud to be patriotic Americans, and who quietly oppose the Akaka bill because of its racial divisiveness. They understand that everyone deserves to be treated equally and fairly by government, and in the long run they will be better off succeeding through their own individual efforts than through race-based federal wardship.

The Akaka bill would be disastrous for the civil rights of ethnic Hawaiians, both those who join the tribe and those who do not. For a discussion of this point, see:



A website created by ethnic Hawaiians specifically to oppose the Akaka bill is:

Readers of that website should look in the archives for letters of opposition sent to the website editor, and look in "latest news" for published news articles and letters to editor.

One cartoon published on that website was especially compelling, from the viewpoint of the independence activists. It shows the “inherent rights” of ethnic Hawaiians being swept under the rug of the Akaka bill by Senators Akaka and Inouye (standing on top of the rug), and Governor Linda Lingle. The original URL for this cartoon on was
and on this website it is:


On September 2, 2000 the Royal Order of Kamehameha sent a letter on its official stationery strongly opposing the Akaka bill that had only recently been introduced, for the first time, into the 106th Congress. Here is a photograph of the front page of that letter, followed by the letter's full text.

** Text of the first page of the letter transcribed from the photograph; the full text of the letter was published on the Nation of Hawai'i website as message number 142:

September 2, 2000
United States Secretary of State
Madeleine K. Albright
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW , 7226
Washington, D.C. 20500
RE: Senate Bill 2899 / House Resolution HR4904

On behalf of The Royal Order of Kamehameha I - Heiau o Mamalahoa Helu 'Elua and my Ali'i 'Ai Moku Sir Paul K. Neves K.C.C.K who is the personal representative of the Ali'i Nui, I send you greetings and this urgent message.

Dear Madam:

The Royal Order of Kamehameha I, strongly condemns the above referenced proposed legislation as a clear violation of the process for reconciliation between the United States Government and the Hawaiian Kingdom and its Hawaiian Nationals. The arrogance of the United States Department of the Interior follows Hawaiian testimony given during island-wide hearings conducted on or about December 11th, 1999. Your Government continues to violate our treaties and international law and Hawaiian Nationals are being denied the right to object to this outrage. Hearings have been cancelled on all but one island.

Under municipal law, U.S. Public Law 103-150, the United States of America clearly indicated violations of the Treaty with the Hawaiian Kingdom and its intent to seek reconciliation. This reconciliation process must begin with sincere talks between representatives of the Hawaiian Kingdom and representatives of your State Department. Anything less would be improper venue and would be intervening in government internal affairs. Additionally, this proposed law attempts to address us as a race which is improper, we are a nationality.

Senate Bill 2899 / House Resolution HR4904 contains numerous accounts of incorrect historical facts about Hawai'i's history. This Bill is intervening in the internal affairs of the Hawaiian government by designating the United States Secretary of the Interior as the leading authority along with other U.S. Federal agencies and agencies of the illegal State of Hawaii over what are clearly Hawaiian Kingdom matters.

The Royal Order of Kamehameha I again, strongly protests against and condemns this improper attempt to interfere with the reconciliation process. The Order denounces it as another violation of international law between nations.

We demand that this legislative activity be stopped immediately and forthwith. We respectfully request that Diplomatic exchanges between our two nations commence as soon as possible.

On behalf of my Ali'i 'Ai Moku I remain,

Mamo Dominic Vea, Ku'auhau
Ali'i Sir Robert C. McKeen Jr. Kakau'olelo

U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka
U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye
U.S. Representative Patsy Mink
U.S. Representative Neal Abercrombie
Gov. Ben Cayetano
The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
Members of the United States House of Representatives
Members of the United States Senate
President of the United States of America - Bill Clinton

In September 2003 a couple rogue members of a different branch of the Royal Order went to Washington as part of an OHA-sponsored group lobbying in support of the Akaka bill, thus showing the great divisions this bill has created within the ethnic Hawaiian community:


On September 7, 2003 there was a protest march through Waikiki whose size was estimated at 5,000 to 8,000 people. The purpose of the march was for ethnic Hawaiian activists and their non-Hawaiian supporters to show solidarity in defending the race-based government programs and the Kamehameha School racially exclusionary admissions policy against legal challenges. Although most marchers were probably in favor of the Akaka bill, a substantial number of opponents defied the "unity" theme and carried signs expressing opposition. Here is a photo of Bumpy Kanahele, a well-known Hawaiian activist, whose sign describes the Akaka bill as a form of "genocide."

This photo has an independent URL at:

And here is a collection of several photos of different groups of Akaka opponents in the march. This montage of photos has an independent URL at:

Finally, to get an impression of the size of the march and its effectiveness in coordinating the wearing of red shirts (representing the blood that binds Native Hawaiians together) -- here's a photo taken from the porch of the Moana Surfrider Hotel in Waikiki:



What follows are sources where researchers can go to find evidence that there have been large numbers of statements by natives in opposition to the Native Hawaiian Recognition bill. However, as the following article shows, it is difficult to find such statements themselves, because government agencies supporting the bill suppress them.

Hilo Hawai’i Tribune, Sunday, August 24, 2003, excerpts

Foes of Akaka bill cry foul

By Samantha Young/ Stephens Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - Native Hawaiians who oppose a sovereignty bill in Congress are complaining their views are being ignored by lawmakers. They say a Senate committee that heard testimony earlier this year issued a glowing report of a measure allowing Native Hawaiians to seek federal recognition. Both the supporters of Native Hawaiian independence and those seeking to eliminate preferential treatment for Native Hawaiians are loudly criticizing the Senate Indian Affairs Committee's May endorsement of a bill backed by their state's political leaders. "What I don't really understand is why the report doesn't give a balanced analysis or at least an indication to what the opposition is," said Honolulu attorney Paul Sullivan, who opposes special Native Hawaiian funding. Meanwhile, an advocate of Native Hawaiian independence called the committee's written assessment of the legislation a "biased picture. "It is the view of people who want it to pass as it is, and they are discounting the independence side who have legitimate claims," said David Ingram, who lobbied against the bill during a March visit to the Capitol. Letters of opposition outnumbered those in favor of the bill. Opponents submitted 17 letters and seven testimonies alleging the bill is unconstitutional or would prevent Native Hawaiians from gaining independence. By comparison, eight individuals wrote in favor of the bill. The letters were made public separately in a 397 - page transcript of the February hearing that was released last month. The transcript also included the supportive testimony of state political leaders, including Republican Gov. Linda Lingle and Office of Hawaiian Affairs board trustee Haunani Apoliona. Opponents were invited only to submit their concerns in writing. "None of us has been invited to appear in Washington and address the committee," said Sullivan, who outlined his concerns in a 52 - page informational packet called "Killing Aloha" mailed to senators on the Indian Affairs Committee. Hawaii lawmakers say opponents testified during five days of hearings held in Oahu two years ago. The February hearing was designed for the new governor to air her views, Zell said. In an article published in the Hawaii Bar Journal, attorney Patrick Hanifin, a partner at Honolulu law firm Im Hanifin Parsons LLC, argued that the sovereignty bill seeks to create the same racial classification rejected by the Supreme Court two years ago. "The federal government would empower the members of the racial class to form a government," wrote Hanfein, whose article was submitted to the committee.


Here is a list of some messages from the Nation of Hawai’i website that show opposition to the Akaka bill. To retrieve any particular message, simply replace the message number at the end of the URL. For example, message # 493 is

The most recent messages are at the top. Additional messages have been published since this list was compiled.

To see the list of all the messages at Hawaii nation, including new ones posted since this list below was created, go to

645 What would Queen Lili`uokalani have thought of the Akaka bill?
638 Akaka bill doesn't right wrongs done to Hawaiians Sun 2/22/04
637 The Trouble with Kamehameha's Support of Federal Recognition Hawaii Nation Info hawaiination Wed 2/18/2004
634 The Dangers of Federal Recognition Hawaii Nation Info hawaiination Mon 2/16/2004
630 OHA is selling us down river Hawaii Nation Info hawaiination Tue 2/3/2004
628 OHA trying to eliminate options Hawaii Nation Info hawaiination Sun 1/18/2004
598 Stop Akaka and OHA Isaac D. Harp isaacharp Mon 11/10/2003
597 Natives, Senators & Oil - ANWR/Akaka Bill connection Hawaii Nation Info hawaiination Mon 11/10/2003
557 Economic implications of dependent-status relationship Hawaii Nation Info hawaiination Thu 9/4/2003
551 Foes of Akaka bill cry foul Hawaii Nation Info hawaiination Sun 8/24/2003
547 Inside the "Akaka Bill" Hawaii Nation Info hawaiination Sun 8/17/2003
546 From Native Hawaiian to Native American? Hawaii Nation Info hawaiination Sun 8/17/2003
538 Implications of Federal Recognition via the Akaka Bill Fri 8/1/2003
534 Activists mark history with sovereignty event Mon 7/28/2003
522 READ IMMEDIATELY & FIGHT BACK re Akaka Bill Wed 7/2/2003
493 Danners, the Oil-igarchy, Alaska and Hawai'i Hawaii Nation Info hawaiination Sun 3/9/2003 (Important for anyone wanting to get the goods on the Danner sisters and the link between their lobbying efforts and the Alaska North Slope Corporation)
487 Hawaiians will not benefit by Akaka bill Wed 2/26/2003
486 Voices of Sovereignty: Community Response to Akaka Bill Tue 2/25/2003
480 Press Conference re Akaka Bill: Noon today 2/24/03
329 FEDERAL LIES: The Akaka Bill - 2/27 in Wai'anae Mon 2/18/2002
319 Akaka Bill Update - DOI shows true colors Charles Lehuakona Isaacs Jr. Tue 1/15/2002
263 Akaka bill foes to meet at palace Sun 7/22/2001
142 Royal Order of Kamehameha on Akaka Bill Mon 10/2/2000
130 Akaka Bill Testimony Streaming Video Mon 9/4/2000 The complete and unedited four hours of testimony 8/28/2000 on the Akaka bill from the Island of Kaua`i is now available on the Internet as streaming video [no longer available]
126 Akaka bill roundly criticized Fri 9/1/2000
124 Kauai residents strongly oppose bill Tue 8/29/2000
123 Press Release from Kaua'i Sun 8/27/2000
115 Report does NOT reflect community mana'o Wed 8/23/2000
87 Akaka bill would hurt Hawaiian nationhood Fri 7/14/2000
85 Sovereignty bill opposed Thu 7/13/2000
83 Akaka bill should be rejected by Hawaiians Wed 7/12/2000
45 Nation-within-nation would be suicide Tue 6/13/2000
37 Letter to Sen. Akaka 4/24 Kekuni Blaisdell Mon 6/5/2000



At this website

There are two lengthy pages filled with the names of people whose written testimony can be downloaded in pdf form. Some people submitted valuable testimony in both venues. These hearings were held in December 1999, before the Rice decision came down (although oral arguments had been held) and before the Akaka bill was written. The theory of the hearings was that the Apology bill had said there should be some reconciliation, so now the Clinton DOI/DOJ came to Hawai'i to ask Native Hawaiians "What would you like us to do for you?" DOI/DOJ were clearly hoping Hawaiians would sit on Santa Claus' lap and give a laundry list of goodies that would satisfy demands for reparations. DOI/DOJ also clearly had their own agenda of afterward stating their predetermined conclusion, that Hawaiians should be given federal recognition as an Indian tribe because that's what Hawaiians want. Some of the independence activists were sharp enough to recognize that agenda and to oppose it, even at this early stage. They angrily rejected the suggestion that they beg for goodies, and said they want "their country" back and would reject federal handouts. Kekuni Blaisdell's testimony is quite interesting (both items, one on each list), and so is Lana Robbins (in the second group). There are also statements by some supporters of unity and equality who reject "reconciliation" on grounds of Constitutional principles or balkanization.

Written Statements Received in Connection with Meetings held during December 1999 on the Reconciliation Process between the Federal Government and Native Hawaiians

Download statements by Amona, Agard (both), Albertini, Arakaki, Ashford, Blaisdell, Burgess, Birnie, Cabaniss, Castanha, Ching (Baron), Conklin, Correa, Cypher, Evans, Goemans, Gomes, Gora, Hanifin, Hubbard, Johnson, Ka Mo'i, Kajihiro, Kakalia, Kanahele, Kinney, Laenui, Lee Loy, Lopez-Reyes (twice), Midkiff, Nalua'i, Newhouse, Pai, Peabody, Pisciotta, Rogers, Salazar, Ross, Schoettle, Smith, Wolfgramm, Yardley, Yim

Public Comments Received by the Department Regarding the Draft Report dated August 23, 2000

Some names of interest are: Awana, Blaisdell, Carroll, Castanha, Hanifin, Ingham, Kelly, Lee Loy, Loa, Peck, Remington, Robbins

See also a published article by Dr. Kekuni Blaisdell:



It appears there are no records of the testimonies available on the internet. Paper records might be available in the Library of Congress and other repositories. However, there are several published newspaper articles reporting on the hearings that indicated massive opposition to the bill.

The Honolulu Advertiser, August 29, 2000:

More than 150 indigenous groups in America are clamoring for federal recognition, yet Native Hawaiians are divided on its merits and expressed their skepticism at yesterday’s opening hearing on the Native Hawaiian recognition bill. ... While some praised Akaka’s measure as an imperfect yet necessary step toward sovereignty, others pledged their loyalty to Queen Lili‘uokalani, who was overthrown in 1893, and called for the restoration of the Hawaiian kingdom. One audience member went so far as to tear up a copy of the draft bill in front of Hawai‘i’s congressional delegation. "This is what I think of the bill," said Mohala Haunani of the Big Island. "This bill tells me I’m going to be an Indian." Experts say a lack of consensus in the Hawaiian community could hurt passage of the bill ... Kekane Pa of Kaua‘i did not feel much aloha for supporters of the bill. "They are giving up the birthright to their national lands," he said. At one point, Abercrombie grew impatient with the bill’s detractors. "If you don’t recognize the federal side, then you have no business here," he said.


Honolulu Advertiser, August 29, 2000:

Hawaiians accused Sens. Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye yesterday of dividing Hawaiians by canceling Neighbor Island hearings on a bill to provide federal recognition of the Hawaiian people. They spoke at a hastily called hearing of their own, held at Lydgate Park in Wailua. Michael Grace, an activist for restoration of a Hawaiian nation, said the meeting was called to provide a voice for residents unable to travel to O‘ahu for the hearings. "This bill is no good. Under international law they have no right to make this. Hawai‘i is an occupied nation," Grace said. ... Kanoelani Medeiros said she believes canceling the hearing divides Neighbor Islanders from Hawaiians on O‘ahu, just as the bill divides the Hawaiian people. "This bill is an unlawful propaganda to confuse, separate and suppress us," Medeiros said.


Eyewitness Bob Rees wrote in a published article in "Honolulu Weekly" that opposition to the bill was 9-to-1 at the hearings in Honolulu, but that the bill's sponsors reported the opposite. See the below two paragraphs from:

During the Aug. 28-Sept. 1 [2000] hearings, based on testimony actually delivered, opponents outnumbered proponents by 9 to 1. Even the testimony in favor came hedged with pleas for substantial changes in the bill. However, the official version of the hearings, as Rep. Neal Abercrombie spun it after just the first day of hearings, was that “Phone calls and letters to the delegation are overwhelmingly supportive.” The report taken back to Congress indicated there had been almost no opposition. On Sept. 14, following a few revisions—including clarification that the relationship of the U.S. government with Native Hawaiians would be that of a trustee with wards—the Senate Indian Affairs Committee passed the bill. Only five pre-selected witnesses from Hawaii were allowed to testify, and all five favored the bill in spite of long-standing Hawaiian objections to the trustee-ward concept.

The Honolulu Weekly, January 30, 2002. Two articles, by Anne Keala Kelly and J. Kehaulani Kauanui. Excerpts follow.

The Akaka Bill and Hawaiian self-determination.
Anne Keala Kelly

The discord within the Hawaiian community — and the lack of trust many Hawaiians already felt toward the delegation representing them in Washington — increased threefold with the drafting of yet a third bill, S. 1783 or Akaka Bill No. 3 ... the Akaka bills is seen increasingly as a threat to Hawaiian self-determination — and to building consensus among Hawaiians for an independence platform. Mililani Trask, Hawaiian attorney and member of the Akaka Bill Working Group points out ... S. 746 was drafted in Washington, and, she says, "it just keeps the pork barrel chugging. It says that we can exercise our right to self-determination by taking federal money." In fact, recognition itself has become a tough sell, a symbol of America’s legal double talk to a people who are ... increasingly aware of their history who refer openly to the U.S. presence in Hawai‘i as an illegal occupation. ... Veteran activist Kekuni Blaisdell, coordinator of the Hawaiian sovereignty roundtable, Ka Päkaukau, agrees. "These bills violate our inherent right to self-determination," he says, "and place us under U.S. federal Indian law, creating a process whereby we have a puppet government that has to be acceptable to the Secretary of the Interior and approved by the state of Hawai‘i. It is worse than what we have now. "This legislation exists for the purposes of having känaka maoli go on record as formally relinquishing our rights to our sovereignty and our lands," Blaisdell says. ... Whichever way this legislation ends up, when it’s all said and done, the political system of the wealthiest, most militarized country in the world will have gone to a lot of trouble to simultaneously address and cover up the fact that Hawaiians never wanted America here in the first place.

Taking the Apology Seriously
By J. Kehaulani Kauanui

Besides defining Hawaiians on a blood-quantum basis, the proposals for federal recognition now before us refuse to acknowledge our inherent sovereignty as a people over our national lands. At the very least, these lands are the Kingdom Crown and Government Lands (now unfortunately better known as the so-called "ceded" lands), amounting to 1.8 million acres of ‘äina. The legislation proposes to recognize Hawaiians as an indigenous people who have a "special trust relationship" with the United States and, hence, a right to self-determination under U.S. federal law. But we don’t need these bills to know that. We already know we are indigenous people. We also know that we cannot and should not depend on any trust relationship with the United States. (Isn’t what we have with the state of Hawai‘i bad enough?) And we already know we have a right to self-determination under U.S. federal law, given our history under U.S. colonialism and our indigenity. We don’t need federal recognition to tell us these things. This bill is really only a transfer plan of wardship status in the name of the "trust relationship." In other words, instead of being wards of the state, our people would be considered wards of the federal government. But even this is not assured because there is no guarantee that the United States government will support the protection of the trust. This was made crystal clear when the Department of the Interior and other governmental agencies recently recommended that any and all reference to the trust relationship be taken out of the bill. Sen. Akaka has claimed, "We must not let this window of opportunity close." But our sovereignty cannot fit through any old window. While some scramble to keep a window open, the federal government could forever close its doors to an independent nation. This is why the voice of Hawaiians-at-large (both on-island and off-island) rings a resounding "No consent!" Hawaiian sovereignty and self-determination are inherent — as acknowledged in the U.S. Apology Resolution — and, therefore, cannot be legislated by the United States. The bill problematically pushes for a predetermined political status. Overwhelmingly, Hawaiians want self-determination, not predetermination!

J. Kehaulani Kauanui is an assistant professor of American Studies and anthropology at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.


THE U.S. COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS hearing in Honolulu in 2000 produced numerous statements of opposition to the Akaka bill; but those statements are not available except on paper. The extremely lengthy report does include some blistering remarks which are footnoted to those paper documents. The full report is at

and also directly from the USCCR at:


A Native Hawaiian activist opposing the Akaka bill, Anne Keala Kelly, has done extensive research exposing how outside money and political influence from Alaska are being used to support the Akaka bill. Ms. Kelly has published articles providing details of how the Akaka bill, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, and the Danner sisters are financially supported by Alaska oil money and some Alaska native corporations who expect to profit if the Akaka bill passes, in return for the support of Hawai’i’s Senators Akaka and Inouye for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. See:


The following people named in the following article are all Native Hawaiians opposed to Akaka bill (in order of appearance): Anne Keala Kelly, Haunani-Kay Trask, Didi Lee Kwai, Kekuni Blaisdell, Mililani Trask, Noenoe Silva, Terri Napua Keko'olani
Hawai`i Island Journal August 1-15, 2003
From Native Hawaiian to Native American?
As the Akaka Bill drives forward in Congress, Hawaiian voices are urging a closer look.
by Anne Keala Kelly

Just days after the U.S. Senate web site posted yet another draft of the Akaka Bill (6 and counting) dated June 27th, the handful of Hawaiians who had access to its location got the clearest sense of what federal recognition legislation actually boils down to.

A bill that, in its initial form, gave some autonomy to Hawaiians has at last been stripped down to mean total control will belong to the Department of the Interior and a select few Hawaiians. Many Hawaiians still don't understand the process of federal recognition despite four years of questions, disagreements, and an apparent lack of support for the bill outside of the homesteads. And presently, homesteaders are the only members of the Hawaiian community being targeted for "education" about the bill by the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA).

The legislation, as written, sets up a "Hawaiian governing entity" that takes its orders from the Department of Interior (DOI), the secretary of which changes with each new administration. At present, the DOI is being sued by American Indians who allege that they were robbed of billions of dollars throughout the 20th century; that agency is responsible for holding Indian land assets in trust. Although they have been ordered twice by a federal court to come up with a full accounting of those assets, the DOI appears to have misplaced the records.

"Ninety-nine percent of Hawaiians don't know what's in this most recent draft of the bill," said Haunani-Kay Trask, a professor at the Center for Hawaiian Studies, UH-Manoa. "Structurally, the whole point of self-determination means that the Hawaiian people determine their future. They don't allow the feds or the state to determine it - that would be state determination, not self-determination. Our people are so colonized, though, 27 military bases, six million tourists a year . . . that'll change your thinking."

OHA is the only Hawai'i state agency with an office in Washington D.C., which Trask believes was the plan all along. "They're gearing up to federalize themselves. What they are doing isn't representative of democracy - this isn't a Hawaiian agency, it's a state agency becoming a federal puppet."

With so much confusion over the details of the actual legislation, many find the lack of restraint on the part of legislators and OHA trustees to be alarming. Combine that with the few community meetings being staged to sell this legislation only to homesteaders, and Hawaiians as a people begin to take on the appearance of steers being herded to the slaughterhouse.

Didi Lee Kwai, elementary school teacher and homesteader in Papakolea, attended one of the two meetings on Oahu and was disappointed in the presentation. "One problem was that they didn't allow a chance to ask questions," said Kwai. "Just common sense based on the history of the U.S. and the way they break treaties, like they did with the Hawaiian Kingdom, means Hawaiians should not trust the U.S.

Also slipped into the CNHA booklet is another booklet called the "CNHA Policy Brief: The Economic Impact of Native Hawaiian Federal Recognition." It manages to detail terrifying threats that have been brandished like guns since the U.S. Supreme Court's Rice v. Cayetano decision of February 2000, allowing non-Hawaiians to vote for OHA trustees.

The booklet asserts that without federal recognition it is likely that the Arakaki lawsuit, which challenges the validity of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act as race-based, will succeed, which would supposedly put an end to OHA and the Hawaiian homesteads. The booklet says that in the event of a victory for Arakaki, "homesteaders will face eviction . . . programs that benefit scores of organizations and thousands of individual Native Hawaiians will be eliminated." It then lists nine state and non-profit organizations that receive federal grants adding up to over $59 million per year.

In a nutshell, page two of the CNHA Policy Brief lays out the specifics used by state agencies like OHA and SCHHA to push the Akaka Bill. The logic they invoke, however, requires that Hawaiians must literally surrender all of their claims for the bargain basement price of $59 million, give or take a few million. And that's with no assurance that the federal obligations to Hawaiians will be maintained. The fact remains that nowhere in this or any other version of the Akaka Bill is any one Native Hawaiian entitlement protected.

Referring to Section 7 of the bill, instructing the creation of a roll, Kekuni Blaisdell, independence advocate, said, "A roll is a term used in Indian Country. To me this newest draft of the bill puts us in the state of federal Indian ward-ship and makes it clear that we are wards of the United States. This means that we ultimately lose all title of our lands to the United States."

Mililani Trask, member of the United Nations' Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, specifically calls into question the process OHA has used with this bill and new changes in the wording. "First of all, our people have not had hearings," said Trask. "And the newest draft has narrowed the definition of Hawaiian. Where it once allowed for all Hawaiians, it now states that you must show your qualification in three different criteria and the only Hawaiians who could do that with ease are Hawaiian homesteaders."

Specifically, Trask is referring to Section 3 Part 7 of the bill, requiring Hawaiians to prove their lineage via 19th century Hawaiian Kingdom records and 1920 homestead eligibility. Trask's concerns include the absence of anything in the bill that allows for a process of appeals, and its manner of empowering the federal government to choose the process.

"In the first bill, native genealogists certified the roll; in this bill, it says adults will certify it, but it doesn't say who," said Trask. "At this time, there are only a handful of Hawaiians who are in receipt of state and federal funds. And they are the service agencies and organizations that are all members of CNHA. So, only those with the funding are going to be able to organize."

An example of what Trask and others are talking about is the current effort being made by the SCHHA and CNHA. Between those two non-profits and the Hawai'i State Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL), some Hawaiians see the way trust money is changing hands as highly questionable.

When the Chair of the CNHA, Ray Soon, was still the Director of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL), he initiated the transfer of $150,000 of trust assets to SCHHA. Micah Kane, a leading Republican who played a key role in Linda Lingle's gubernatorial campaign, completed the transfer when he became the DHHL director. Once transferred, the money was allocated to lobby for the Akaka Bill. SCHHA then hired the CNHA to put together a plan. So the money literally went from Soon's old job to his new job. Robin Danner, president of the CNHA and the Vice Chair of SCHHA, was also on both the giving and receiving end.

The distrust many Hawaiians have for state agencies like OHA and DHHL, and monolithic non-profits such as the CNHA, stems in part from this mode of shifting Hawaiian money. More recently, questions have arisen regarding Danner, who appeared on the Hawaiian political scene about four years ago after she moved from Alaska to Kauai. Although she is Hawaiian, she lived much of her life in Alaska and worked with Alaska Natives in the Arctic region who, along with the oil industry, have been lobbying to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling.

The Alaska connection to Native Hawaiian specific policies and law making in Washington D.C. is an area of analysis just beginning to happen in the Hawaiian community. More often than not, the dog that wags the federal tail that creates legislation pertaining to Hawaiians is shielded by distance and political/legal double-speak. But given the confusion over who is doing what and why, a genealogical sense of how Alaska State interests are connected directly to the Hawaiian predicament and the push to federally recognize Hawaiians may be helpful.

The Akaka Bill, which has undergone more facelifts than Cher, has recently reportedly been renamed the Akaka /Stevens bill. A Republican from Alaska, Senator Ted Stevens is a longtime friend of Senator Inouye, and the one responsible for every congressional initiative to open drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He helped usher in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), which divided all Alaska Natives into two groups: those who have corporate relationships with the oil industry and those who do not. Some Alaska Natives now have money, but most have very little, and in addition, they lost their hunting and gathering rights in many areas of Alaska. ANCSA did for, or rather, to, the Alaska Natives what the Akaka Bill promises to do: extinguish all native title to land.

Why bring any of this up now? Because Alaska oil dollars made their way into the Hawaiian community as financial support for the CNHA's efforts to lobby for the Akaka Bill. Last September, some of that money was used to pay for the CNHA's "1st Annual Native Hawaiian" conference in Waikiki, a gathering which itself became a lobbying effort for the Akaka Bill.

Between all the members of CNHA, that organization controls virtually all of the Native Hawaiian federal dollars that flow to Hawaiian non-profits. So, the force with which CNHA, SCHHA, and OHA have pushed for this bill has come under criticism in the Hawaiian community as being nothing more than a handful of well-established Hawaiians preserving their own bank accounts over the well-being of all Hawaiians.

Asked what he thinks Hawaiians should do in response to the bill, Blaisdell said, "Hawaiians have to denounce and reject this for what it really is. It's locking us into chains forever, and our descendants after us - we have no right to do it. Our colonial history is just a brief moment in the long course of our existence that reaches across the Pacific Ocean."

Noenoe Silva, Asst. Professor of Political Science, UH Manoa, echoes what Blaisdell said. "I read what Clyde Namu'o said in the OHA paper ["S( Hawaiians find ourselves at a historic crossroads, with our very existence hanging in the balance." June 2003]. He is suggesting that our identity as a nation is threatened, but it would take more than a few lawsuits to extinguish that. The Turks occupied Greece for 400 years and do the Greeks think of themselves as Turks? Of course not."

Best known for recovering the anti-annexation Ku'e Petitions of 1897 - signed by more than 20,000 Hawaiians - and publishing them in 1998, an act of scholarship that literally changed the way Hawaiians view themselves historically, Silva doesn't see how Hawaiians can have self-determination in this situation.

"Is any American legislation worth giving up title to our land? Through this process, the U.S. is hoping to extinguish our title, but even if they succeed, Hawaiians will fight." Silva adds, "If we lose that, we lose everything. I understand that we need funding for education and healthcare, but we can use our land to generate our own funding. We must take care of our 'aina."


The following article was published in the daily newspaper of the island of Kaua’i, whose name is The Garden Island News. The author, Lela Hubbard, is an ethnic Hawaiian who has long been active on Hawaiian sovereignty issues and has followed the progress of OHA throughout the life of that institution. This is the complete text of her article.

Guest Viewpoint for Monday -- January 12, 2004

Looking at OHA and the future


The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) has budgeted $7 million for Federal Recognition of an indigenous Hawaiian Nation. The Ha Hawaii process which was set up for the first Native Hawaiian Convention, 'Aha Hawai'i 'Oiwi, is being followed for this second attempt at an 'aha which would consist of elected delegates who would draft a constitution that would ultimately be ratified (accepted) by the Hawaiians who participate in the process. The first 'aha failed due to lack of adequate funding and limited community support.

OHA has had to modify their timeline for achieving nationhood because Hawaiians have protested that elections were projected too quickly and without adequate education. Sadly, honest education is still lacking. Pap and propaganda promote nationhood as well as scare tactics that insist we will lost everything if Federal Recognition fails. But objective materials need to be developed that show the advantages and disadvantages of indigenous nationhood. Is it true that we have to give up our lands, and then the U.S. will decide what to give back to us? Is it true under USC that domestic, indigenous, dependent nations can never become independent nations?

Does re-establishing the Kingdom of Hawaii give the Hawaiian nation a firm legal basis? Could a coalition be formed to create an interim constitution based on the constitutions of the Kingdom of Hawaii with amendments that eliminate property qualifications and that permit women to vote? Since we have been told that lawsuits can eliminate OHA and the Hawaiian Home Lands as well as federal funding for Hawaiian programs, re-establishing the Kingdom of Hawaii realistically means that a Hawaiian native nation could be quickly jump started --- as long as tight provisions would be included to safeguard any assets transferred to the Kingdom of Hawaii. The draft constitution of Queen Lili'uokalani listed the successorship; the Kawananakoa Family would thus be the designated Ali'i. This re-instated nation could apply for federal recognition and would be eligible to ask for recognition from the family of nations. What would be the advantages and disadvantages of such a path? This initiative should be voted on by Hawaiians as well as any other ideas -- before delegates are elected to draft the permanent constitution for the Hawaiian Nation. The United States had the Articles of Confederation before the permanent constitution was created. Those colonists had more experience in self-determination than we Hawaiians have been permitted in modern times, but their first attempt at governing produced a weak product.

It appears that OHA's tight control on the nationhood process is creating confusion and misinformation in the Hawaiian community. OHA hired Hoakea to present the enrollment process throughout the state and to ask for community input. But is OHA really listening? OHA's first sovereignty working group died last year as well as the Hawaiian Civic Club's initiative to unite Hawaiians started in 2002. Why does OHA have so many working groups for nationhood? Shouldn't the people be making suggestions and controlling the nationhood process? Every island should have an open group working towards nationhood and funded by OHA. Moreover, the existence of these groups should be well-publicized so that interested Hawaiians can participate. And the work product of these groups should be on OHA's Web site for all to pursue.

OHA's materials for Ho'oulu Lahui or colorful, slick and highly professional propaganda. If OHA wants to educate they must present all sides of all issues. Then we have a chance to make our own decisions instead of being herded like sheep. But we Hawaiians may be guilty of complacency, lack of interest and an inability to make nation-building a top priority for our personal agendas. Why? Boredom, no personal stakes in the process, fear of the United States (the Patriot Act and the contrived Iraq War), or total integration and Americanization?

OHA is an advocate for Hawaiians. They serve us. We must inform OHA of what we want in a nation and not accept what OHA tells us is the perfect and necessary path. Moreover, OHA has sent groups to the U.S. Continent to educate Hawaiians, sympathetic groups and organizations as well as politicians in various states and Congress. Have those people on the continent heard the message from those who oppose Federal Recognition? Shouldn't that be part of the educational process?

On the other hand, we applaud OHA's televised debates on the Akaka Bill and hope OHA will continue to present programs on nationhood on Olelo. We hope that OHA will expand the voices heard from the Hawaiian Community. We hope that OHA will show more respect for the basic intelligence of Hawaiians who know in their na'au what is right and just.

Fairness is sharing the stage and the wealth with the opposition.

Lela M. Hubbard is a resident of A'iea, O'ahu

The Honolulu Advertiser, Tuesday, February 3, 2004

OHA is selling us down river

By J. Kehaulani Kauanui

Recently, The Honolulu Advertiser reported how the Office of Hawaiian Affairs was criticized in its voter sign-up for micromanaging the process of forming a Native Hawaiian government by co-opting the labor of a working group for its point-by-point plan to have a governing entity in place to help push the passage of the Akaka bill.

Sadly, OHA's actions clearly indicate that they are determined to co-opt Hawaiian self-determination. Annelle Amaral of the O'ahu Council of Hawaiian Clubs noted in a recent speech that since OHA is a state agency and works closely with the congressional delegation, its legitimacy in the process is questionable: "You can't let the Akaka bill drive the building of the nation ... you have to have some credibility in what you're doing with the process. All the voices have to be heard."

Certainly we need to hear from Hawaiians who oppose federal recognition and instead choose to protect Hawai'i's claims to independence under international law. OHA has smothered their voices of dissent and fair representation. That's not self-determination, it's pre-determination.

Recently, in a public e-mail message posted to the Kanaka Maoli Allies list, OHA trustee Oswald Stender defended the proposal for federal recognition and argued that it would do nothing to prohibit claims beyond the federal model — "no guarantees."

Yet, when one looks at the history of U.S. federal recognition for indigenous domestic dependent nations, it is clear that there are guarantees that would come along with the passage of the bill.

For one, it would set up a process to extinguish title to the national lands of the Hawaiian people — title that heretofore has not been relinquished, as acknowledged in the U.S. Apology Resolution. That is, once the bill sets up the process for the formation of a governing entity, approved by the U.S. federal government, the governing officials elected by Hawaiian people would be seen as already having waived the right to our national claims under international law.

In such a case, the will of the people will look to have been expressed — as a form of self-determination — in a way that would make international intervention impossible. The OHA trustees are intentionally creating and promoting a misleading appearance of consent, and it is simultaneously creating a land claims settlement between the Hawaiian people and the state.

At the very least, those supporting federal recognition should work to bring about a plebiscite for Hawaiian people — unhampered by any state agency — to vote on this or any model of sovereignty.

It is one thing for those against independence to opt out of that model of sovereignty and pursue federal recognition. But the answer to whether or not people are fully informed as they make their way toward federal recognition is evident in the way OHA is creating and controlling the process.

It is true that prioritizing the independence claim in lieu of federal recognition will not serve to protect the federal funding for Hawaiians now threatened by the lawsuits. But those worried about federal monies should consider what exactly they are willing to forfeit in exchange for merely attempting to protect those funds.

The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement estimates that the federal funding stream to the state, for its agencies serving Hawaiians, is estimated at $70 million a year. In other words, the OHA trustees aim to sell us down the river to try to save less than 1 percent of the entire state's budget.

Don't fall for it.

J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of American studies and anthropology at Wesleyan University. She lives in Middleton, Conn.


The following article was published in The Hawaii Island Journal (a semi-monthly newspaper) for February 16-29, 2004. Since that newspaper published its major articles on its own website only after a delay of 15 days, the article was also published as message #634 of the Hawaii-nation series at

The Dangers of Federal Recognition

By J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Ph.D.

In evaluating the dangers of federal recognition, Hawaiians should look to cases from Indian Country, Native Alaska, and the U.S. Territories of the Pacific, which all shed light on the problems and pitfalls of domestic dependent nationhood. The proposal for Hawaiians found in the Akaka-Stevens bill is modeled on similar legal precedents for more than three hundred federally recognized American Indian tribal nations. But it seems more likely that this limited proposal would pave the way for an arrangement similar to the kind had by more than 229 Alaska Native villages – a position which is far more degraded than that of federally recognized American Indian tribes.

Alaska Natives’ federal recognition status has shifted radically just between the Clinton and Bush administrations. Under Clinton, in 1993, the Secretary of the Interior published a list of federally recognized tribes and included Alaska Native villages as tribal entities on this list, where the preamble reads: “the villages and regional tribes listed as distinctly Native communities and have the same status as tribes in the contiguous 48 states.” But their status as federally recognized entities was recently challenged by George W. Bush’s administration. And there is currently a debate over Alaska Natives’ legal status that is being spearheaded by Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), the same Stevens co-sponsoring the Hawaiian federal recognition bill with Akaka.

Recently, Stevens pushed to consolidate funding for these Alaska Native entities into regional organizations without their input or consent. And now there is a legal challenge against the Department of the Interior for even putting the villages on the federal list in the first place. Their status was disputed in the 1998 US Supreme Court case of Alaska v. Native Village of Venetie Tribal Government when the court ruled that Venetie’s land base did not count as Indian Country in the legal sense. Because Indian Country is legally defined to include all dependent Indian communities in the United States, the Venetie Village did not qualify because their lands are not held in trust by the US federal government. Hence, they cannot assess tax, enforce their own laws, or assert their jurisdiction over these lands as do American Indian governments do on reservations. Moreover, the Alaska Native Villages are subjected to Alaska state laws.

Even if Hawaiians were to monitor the federal recognition process and ensure that their status was more like American Indian tribal nations than Alaska Native villages, at the very most, the Hawaiian self-governing model would still allow for no more than a domestic dependent entity under the full and exclusive plenary power of Congress. While U.S. federal policy on Native Americans states that the federal government must consult with tribal governments regarding decisions about tribal lands, resources and people to honor the “government-to-government relationship,” the U.S. Congress has a long history of abusing its plenary power to subordinate tribal governments. Domestic dependent nations are treated as wards of the federal government while it poses as guardian. Even worse, the U.S. Congress most often delegates it executive power to the Bureau of Indian Affairs within the Department of the Interior, which is directed by presidential appointees. Moreover, the exercise of federal plenary power not only comes from the Congress, the President, and the Department of the Interior – it also comes from the U.S. Supreme Court, which has notoriously been ruling against tribal power for Indian nations and increasing the power of the states over them. The U.S. Supreme Court construes the powers granted by the U.S. constitution to the Congress through its interpretation of the Indian Commerce Clause of the constitution. Through a series of precedents set by the rulings in Indian cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled time and time again that the federal government has exclusive power over Indian affairs.

In addition to these cases for American Indians and Alaska Natives, there are also lessons from the Pacific Islands. Two examples are that are instructive are the U.S. Pacific Territories of Guam and American Samoa, both of which are unincorporated territories, one organized and the other unorganized, respectively. Their histories reveal the political limitations of domestic governing entities within the U.S. nation-state. These two islands are also subject to U.S. congressional plenary power under the authority of the Territorial Clause of the U.S. constitution, as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court. As such, legal cases move beyond the federal district courts anytime there is a question about their sovereign power. Then they are adjudicated by the U.S. Supreme Court under territorial case law, which upholds the doctrine that they are, along with Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, “foreign in a domestic sense,” which is hardly any different than the status of American Indian tribal nations. Even the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands is subject to exclusive congressional power by the United States.

The only island-nations that have managed to release themselves from the grip of U.S. plenary power are those of the former Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands under the United Nations – the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Belau. For example, as the United States Government entered into political status negotiations with representatives of the peoples of the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall islands, the Compact of Free Association was signed on October 1, 1982 and June 25, 1983, respectively. Under Public Law 99-239, January 14, 1986, a Compact of Free Association was negotiated between the United States and the reorganized Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. In accordance with the Trusteeship Agreement, the Charter of the United Nations and the stated objective of the Trust Territory system, the United States promoted the development of the peoples there toward self-government and independence according to the freely expressed wishes of the peoples themselves. The Compact was approved by majorities of the peoples of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands in United Nations-observed plebiscites, conducted on June 21, 1983 and September 7, 1983, respectively. Furthermore, the newly formed governments of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands were formed on-island prior to any negotiation with the United States. The Compact of Free Association was also approved by the Governments of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands in accordance with their respective constitutional processes.

The Compact also delineated a section to protect the un-adjudicated claims of the people of the Marshall Islands. For example, with regard to the lands on Ejit, the Compact stated that the President of the United States would negotiate with the Government of the Marshall Islands an agreement, without prejudice as to any claims which have been or may be asserted by any party as to rightful title and ownership of any lands on Ejit.

If Hawaiians were to consider demanding a mutual consent decree, to ensure bilateral agreements, a section could also be included which would preserve their title to the so-called ceded lands – 1.8 million acres of former Crown and Government Lands of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i. A request for a mutual consent decree along would certainly be telling for Hawaiian pro-federal recognition forces, since it is unlikely that the U.S .government would agree. Then they would see the real deal. We can learn from Chamorro activists in Guam who worked for the inclusion of a mutual consent decree in their draft proposal for Commonwealth status in the early 1990s. The United States, through the Department of the Interior, rejected it entirely. That rejection indicates that the U.S. government will continue to assert its plenary power over any model other than independence.

Now more than ever, it seems, Hawaiians and others wishing to protect Hawaii’s national claims under international law must voice a resounding statement of refusal to consent. As many people know, those advocating for independence are divided between two central legal strategies: decolonization from the United States through UN protocols and U.S. deoccupation through protocols mandated by the Laws of Occupation. In the case of unifying for the purposes of stopping federal recognition, the legacy of the Ku‘e Petitions from 1897 are instructive. There were two different Hawaiian nationalist groups – Hui Aloha ‘Aina and Hui Kalai ‘Aina – that widely opposed annexation. Hui Aloha ‘Aina’s petition unequivocally stated their resistance to U.S. incorporation. The petition by Hui Kalai ‘Aina went a step further by not only articulating their refusal of incorporation, but also demanded the restoration of the Kingdom. Although their goals differed, together they successfully defeated the Treaty of Annexation in 1897 by demonstrating their lack of consent to become part of the United States.

Perhaps a similar strategy of working across political differences, for the purposes of stopping federal recognition, could indefinitely defer the proposal for a Hawaiian nation within U.S. policy for Native Americans. The petition could specifically be signed by Native Hawaiians and non-Hawaiian descendants of those who were citizens of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i. That sort of alliance would surely go far in demonstrating to pro-federal recognition forces how many of us refuse to consent to the signing away of our nation.

J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of American Studies and Anthropology at Wesleyan University in Connecticut where she teaches at the Center for the Americas. For the 2003-2004 academic year, she is based at the School of American Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as a postdoctoral research fellow, where she is completing her first book tentatively titled “The Politics of Hawaiian Blood and the Question of Sovereignty.”

The Honolulu Advertiser, Sunday, February 22, 2004

Akaka bill doesn't right wrongs done to Hawaiians

By Kunani Nihipali, Ho'oipo Kalaena'auao Pa and Pu'uhonua "Bumpy" Kanahele

Queen Lili'uokalani protested the overthrow of her kingdom in 1893, protested later at her trial and again against the 1898 annexation by the United States.

The Hawaiian nationals, na 'oiwi o Hawai'i and non-Hawaiian citizens of the kingdom registered their protest against annexation through the Ku'e petitions of 1897. In 1898, Queen Lili'uokalani wrote in her book, "Hawai'i's Story by Hawai'i's Queen": "The people of the Islands have no voice in determining their future, but are virtually relegated to the condition of aborigines of the American continent."

Treaties of commerce, friendship and navigation between the Hawaiian kingdom and the United States were signed as late as 1875 and 1887. Clearly, the United States acknowledged the international independence of the Hawaiian kingdom by entering into these treaties.

More than a century has passed and not much has changed. Native Hawaiians have no real say in our future as we are being told the Akaka-Stevens bill is all we can hope for, and that therefore, we should accept this process for federal "recognition" now so that we will have a government-to-government relationship akin to that of Native Americans or Native Alaskans.

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act resulted in the extinguishment of aboriginal title to facilitate oil exploration in Alaska. This was accompanied by the recognition of Alaska Native governments as corporations. It is important to understand the underlying motivation of the United States in proposing recognition of the Native Hawaiian governing entity as a domestic dependent nation.

Ann Keala Kelly recently wrote, "If federal recognition can lead to Hawaiians relinquishing claims to any part of Hawai'i, 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 2 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."

The reality is that this is no bargain, but a path to extinction. The re-formulation of our nation to create historic legitimacy for the political economy of the United States' 50th state is nothing but a re-enactment of the betrayal.

The ramifications of the Akaka-Stevens bill are difficult to foresee, as well as to comprehend. The bill ignores the reality that today there is a continuing wrong that must be righted, in that the United States government does not recognize the government of the Hawaiian people.

The bill does not right that wrong. It states that the U.S. Constitution "vests Congress with plenary authority to address the conditions of indigenous native people." Clearly, this is not recognition of the government of the na 'oiwi o Hawai'i; it refers to "Indian tribes."

For purposes of the commerce clause, the kingdom of Hawai'i was a foreign nation, still is a foreign nation, and leaving aside the question of whether this is a valid statement with respect to Indian nations, it most assuredly does not apply to us!

We cannot survive without access to and control over our 'aina (land), our wai (fresh waters) and our kai (ocean). The bill does not recognize a land base for the entity. Settlement negotiations have referred to a pro-rata share of the so-called "public trust," the lands of the Hawaiian kingdom, the lands of the Hawaiian people.

They were never ceded! The usurpers of the Hawaiian kingdom took these lands and then passed them to the United States without consent or compensation. Stolen title was all that was conveyed! Why should we accept only a portion of those lands?

As proposed, the bill would have the state of Hawai'i exercising jurisdiction over these same lands. The inherent conflicts of interest are immense, and it reaffirms the status quo. Conflicts and co-optation prevent a just reconciliation of our native trust with the public trust. There is nothing in the bill that recognizes the primacy of the native trust.

The withholding of revenues owed to na 'oiwi o Hawai'i from the ceded-lands trust is a tool of the state to push the Office of Hawaiian Affairs into a final "global settlement." As a state agency, OHA's action to effect a proposed settlement is fraught with conflicts, without authority and unacceptable.

Large amounts of rent are owed by the federal and state governments to na 'oiwi o Hawai'i for the use of these lands.

Internationally recognized fundamental human rights are at stake here. As we embark on unifying efforts to rebuild and strengthen our nation, we must recognize that we are being co-opted into accepting a quasi-domestic dependent-nation status rather than the status our kingdom enjoyed, independence!

Until all the steps of reconstruction and reparation are taken, meaningful reconciliation will not occur, and there should be no final settlement. Decisions are being made on our behalf without the requisite consultation and consent. We are not equal partners, our bargaining power is weak and the voice of Hawaiian independence advocates today, which echo the queen's protests and those of her people, are most often excluded from decision-making processes and ignored.

There is no consensus.

We are not mere "artifacts." The United States and the state of Hawai'i relegate our inherent rights to the past, constrain our development and allow only those activities that support their own necessary illusion: that we, na 'oiwi o Hawai'i today, do not present a challenge to their legitimacy.

State sovereignty in Hawai'i is built on illusions. To claim that the state's legitimacy is based on the rule of law is hypocritical and contradicted by history. The laws and the legal system of the United States purport to create "domestic dependent nations," but even that is truly only an illusion.

We must reject assumptions that legitimatize our subjugation, and be allowed to evolve. These are necessary steps to achieving self-determination and building a sound native-governed community.

As George Jarrett Helm determined, we are in a "revolution of consciousness ... What we (are) looking for is the truth." The facts do matter! In our case, the facts are being misused to support the illusion of reality.

What do we hope to protect? What have the co-opted ones forsaken? The answer is, the heart and soul of our nation, our queen, and our kupuna (elders) and aloha I ke kahi I ke kahi, a respectful and peaceful co-existence.

With our thoughts, we create our reality. It would be a tragedy if after all our queen and ancestors who signed the Ku'e petitions have done to evidence their protests and the legitimacy to have our recognized, independent-nation status restored, we allow the wrongdoing United States of America to reduce our claim for independence to a subservient status.

As Ekolu Wale No, we have been engaged in a number of efforts to rebuild social cohesion, economic self-sufficiency and self-governance. We have learned to address our contemporary problems by reinvigorating the principles embedded in the traditional teachings of our kupuna. Our continued respect for our cultural values is helping us to resolve our political, economic and social problems.

Finally, as Joseph Nawahi asserted, "The cause of Hawai'i and independence is larger and dearer than the life of any man connected with it. Love of country is deep-seated in the breast of every Hawaiian, whatever his station."

Kunani Nihipali, Ho'oipo Kalaena'auao Pa and Pu'uhonua "Bumpy" Kanahele are with Ekolu Wale No.


The Kamehameha Schools newsletter "Imua" refuses to print this op-ed by one of their alums. It is especially important that KS graduates see this article.

The Trouble with Kamehameha's Support of Federal Recognition
by Randall Kekoa Quinones Akee

A recent Kamehameha Schools CEO alert dated Feb 3, 2004 by Dee Jay Mailer states that Kamehameha Schools fully supports federal recognition efforts for Native Hawaiians. This effort, undertaken by Hawai`i's Congressional delegation, governor, state agencies, and a small number of federally-funded non-profit agencies, has done little to foster input and dialogue with the average Native Hawaiian. Indeed, the process as of late has been primarily state-driven, with OHA, DHHL, and the governor taking the lead in these lobbying efforts. When has the will of the Hawaiian people, let alone the will of ke ali`i Pauahi, ever been well-represented by the State of Hawai`i?

It is important to note that federal recognition will not safeguard any of Kamehameha School's assets, nor will federal recognition ensure the continuance of the institution or end the potential for other legal challenges. Federal recognition deals with the political status of Native Hawaiians as a whole in relation to the federal government of the United States; this legislation does nothing to solidify or establish a relationship between private Native Hawaiian trusts or any other privately-held Native Hawaiian organizations.

Particularly disturbing is the fact that Kamehameha Schools, as a trust in perpetuity, is not taking the long-run view of this situation. Endorsing federal recognition, as the Akaka bill now stands, is clearly taking the short-run perspective on Native Hawaiian self-government. The bill neither guarantees a permanent revenue stream or resource base for a Native Hawaiian governing entity, nor does it establish explicit protection of Native Hawaiian rights.

The current legislation really seeks to protect two state agencies and their public trust assets. While this is an important effort, the question still remains: what long-run benefits and opportunities are we giving up in exchange? The reality is we don't know. We haven't discussed the alternatives thoroughly enough to really get a sense of what could be or what is desired by the Native Hawaiian community. Instead, Native Hawaiians and other state residents have been told that federal recognition is the ultimate solution to the problems for Native Hawaiian programs, services, and funding. As a leading Hawai`i educational institution, Kamehameha Schools could have taken the lead in fostering community input and voice; instead, like the other institutions that are behind federal recognition, they have sought to endorse the Akaka Bill with no justification or sharing of their research and analysis of the bill. Why would a private, non-profit trust undertake such an obvious political stance on such a poorly-formed piece of legislation?

The short-sighted view taken by Kamehameha Schools really stems from a misunderstanding about the funding of Native Hawaiian programs. The CEO alert cites the fact that federal recognition will serve to secure services and programs for Native Hawaiians. Unfortunately, this is not exactly true. An important distinction must be made between Native Hawaiian entitlements and Native Hawaiian appropriations. Most, if not all, of the federal programs and legislation established for Native Hawaiians are simply appropriations. This means that funding occurs at the will of Congress. An entitlement, on the other hand, refers to funding or programs that are immune to Congressional dictates -- a good example of this is Social Security. Individuals who have participated in the Social Security system are automatically entitled to receive their Social Security payments once they reach eligibility age. This program funding does not fluctuate according to political power plays or Congressional appropriations. Most Native Hawaiian programs do not enjoy this luxury. Hence, without a solid funding guarantee or resource base, a Native Hawaiian governing entity established under the current federal recognition legislation would be forced to seek federal appropriations on a continual basis.

Kamehameha was founded by Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop to foster industrious Native Hawaiian men and women. There's nothing industrious about begging for federal funds for a Native Hawaiian nation for the rest of eternity.

Randall Kekoa Quinones Akee
Kamehameha Schools Alumni Class of 1990


The following message was circulated on the internet in February 2004 by Professor J. Kehaulani Kauanui, providing 10 reasons why ethnic Hawaiians should oppose the Akaka bill.




1. PASSAGE OF THE AKAKA BILL would signify the first time in history that the Hawaiian people acquiesced to the illegal, US backed overthrow of their queen and their country in 1893. Do you want to be counted among the first Hawaiians who would willingly surrender their sovereignty? A`ole.

2. If Hawaiians agree to federal recognition they are agreeing to give all power over their supposed “self-determination” to the US Secretary of the Interior and the US Congress FOREVER. In other words, “self-determination” as promulgated by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, the Department of Hawaiian Homelands and others really means the Hawaiian people agree to become subject to the needs and desires of whoever happens to get elected to the US Congress, and whoever the President of the United States assigns as Secretary of the Interior. Do you want to be counted among the first Hawaiians who would willingly surrender their freedom to the United States? A`ole.

3. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is a state agency whose loyalty is to the best interests of the state, not the Hawaiian people. OHA is subject to the laws that govern the US legal and judicial system. When the US Supreme Court ruled on Rice v Cayetano in 2000, OHA was told plainly that it cannot facilitate any sort of “election process” that is exclusive to Hawaiians. Therefore, conducting an “enrollment” that will be used to create an “election” of a puppet “governing entity” is itself illegal under the laws that OHA is bound to. Do you want to be counted among those Hawaiians who are knowingly participating with the state of Hawai`i in the illegal takeover of the Hawaiian people’s political future being perpetrated by OHA? A`ole.

4. The Akaka Bill intentionally denies our inherent sovereignty as a people and is in essence only a transfer plan of ward-ship status in the name of the “trust relationship.” In other words, instead of being wards of the state, Hawaiian people would be considered wards of the federal government. Do you want to be counted among those Hawaiians who would willingly allow themselves to become wards of the federal government given the history of that government’s treatment of Native peoples in the US and throughout the Pacific? A`ole.

5. Hawaiians are being compelled by the state to support federal recognition to protect federal funds that currently go to non-profit groups and the state, but at the expense of the total independence claim. Hawaiian sovereignty and self-determination are already inherent—as acknowledged in the U.S. Apology Resolution and, therefore, cannot be legislated by the United States. Do you want to be counted among the Hawaiians who are willing to give up their inherent rights? A`ole.

6. There is no language in the Akaka Bill that addresses protections for Hawaiians from future lawsuits, nor is there anything in the bill that will increase or protect the federal monies Hawaiian non-profits are already receiving. Which means that Hawaiians are essentially agreeing to trade any potential for determining their own political path in the future, any claim to their lands and freedom, and for what? To maintain the status quo... which adds up to about 60-70 million federal dollars per year (less than 1% of the entire state budget!). Do you want to be counted among the Hawaiians who sold out their people for a few measly federal dollars? A`ole.

7. This bill is designed to facilitate a land claims settlement for the nearly 2 million acres of “crown and government lands” renamed “ceded lands” when the US took control, and will transfer forever our legitimate claims to ownership over this land. Currently the Hawai’i state agency, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, is trying to make a deal with the state of Hawai’i to settle Hawaiian claims for these lands as soon as federal recognition happens. Do you want to be counted among the Hawaiians who are knowingly perpetrating the theft of the Hawaiian people’s national lands? A`ole.

8. Supporting any bill for federal recognition will severely limit future assertions of Hawaiian sovereign self-determination by containing them within a U.S. federal framework. A self-governing model provided by the bill would be no more than a domestic dependent entity under the full and exclusive plenary power of Congress. Do you want to count yourself among those Hawaiians who are wreaking havoc on the struggle that future Hawaiians will have take up in the event that federal recognition passes? A`ole.

9. The same organizations that backed Freddie Rice are also going after American Indian tribal nations. This means that federal recognition is already a risky proposition given the right-wing tide in the USA with financing campaigns from groups like: Society for Color-Blind America, Americans Against Discrimination and Preferences, the United States Justice Foundation, the Center for Equal Opportunity, and the Pacific Legal Foundation. Do you want to be counted among Hawaiians who knowingly walked their people into a “relationship” with the United States that will be as troubling as what most of the hundreds of Native American tribes have been forced to deal with for hundreds of years? A`ole.

10. We must heed our own legacy of Hawaiian opposition to U.S. annexation that our kupuna left us when they submitted petitions that together represented the vast majority (over 38,000 signatures out of 40,000) of Hawaiian people in 1897. In those petitions, Hawaiians clearly stated their opposition to becoming part of the United States in any way, shape or form. Do you want to be counted among those Hawaiians who would desecrate the memory of their own `ohana and all of our ancestors for a few federal dollars? A`OLE! A`OLE PONO! KU`E! KU`E! KU`E!

Date: Tue, 16 Mar 2004
From: jkauanui@w...
Subject: What would Queen Lili`uokalani have thought of the Akaka bill?

Welina kakou-

At the UH Law School conference held last weekend to Kukakuka about the pros and cons of the Akaka bill, both Mahealani Kamau`u and Haunani Apoliona, along with Charlie Rose, were asked a question from the audience as to what they thought the Queen would have thought about the politics of federal recognition we Kanaka Maoli are facing today. Both Kamau`u and Apoliona suggested that the Queen would have acknowledged the "changing times" and would have been "practical," and seemingly implied that she would not have been opposed to such a proposal. In response, Dr. Noenoe Silva has offered her mana`o on the question. Please forward to `ohana, allies, friends, comrades, and opponents. I am sending this with her permission.0 Mahalo, Kehaulani

----- Forwarded message------
Date: Mon, 15 Mar 2004 09:46:02 -1000
From: "Noenoe K. Silva"
Subject: Queen Liliuokalani
To: "J. Kehaulani Kauanui"

aloha kakou,

I was thinking more about what was being said about Ke Alii Aimoku Liliuokalani. Unfortunately, I missed most of the morning panel because of our leaking water heater, so I didn't hear what was actually said. I know that you all were disturbed by the idea put forth that the Queen would have thought the Akaka Bill was a good idea as a practical solution to the problem of anti-Kanaka lawsuits. So I want to say, because I have recently completed my study of the Queen's actions 1893-1898, what I think.

The Moi fought for the independence of her country whenever she could be effective. The overthrow happened because she felt she had to fight the Bayonet Constitution, which had already eroded the independence of the country through the cession of Pearl Harbor to the U.S. She tried to fight and she lost big when the oligarchy conspired with US troops. But she still kept fighting, using her diplomatic channels to write formal protests and to send delegations to the US to speak to the president.

In 1894, she protested the establishment of the republic through written documents and another delegation. In 1895, she wrote a very strong protest of all these events, which was read at her trial. As soon as she was released from being imprisoned in 1896, she went to the US to try to persuade the American people, the Congress, and the new president, McKinley that annexation was unjust. She used everything in her power to try to preserve the independence of the kingdom: she used her impeccable manners and position and title as Queen to show people that she was not as she was represented in those racist cartoons; she made herself visible at McKinley's inauguration; she wrote a book length protest, Hawaii's Story by Hawaii's Queen; she wrote more letters of protest to McKinley; she ensured the Hui protests were delivered to McKinley; and she directed the organizing of the anti-annexation petition drive. When she heard that the United States Congress voted to take Hawaii through the Newlands joint resolution, she wrote in her journal: "Auwe! Kuu aloha i kuu Aina hanau a me kuu lahui aloha. Ka iwi o kuu iwi ke koko o kuu koko. Aloha! Aloha! Aloha! " (Aue! My love for my birth Land and my beloved people. Bones of my bones, blood of my blood. Aloha! Aloha! Aloha!) She only stopped after the troops moved in and she felt she could no longer be effective.

During this entire time, 1893-1898, she had serious health problems. While still in Hawaii nei, she received what she called 'electricity" treatments (electric shock). While in Washington DC, some lumps developed on her neck which she was convinced were cancer. She underwent somewhat successful treatment but was terribly ill and, I imagine, exhausted. If you look at the picture on the frontispiece of her book (1897) and then compare it to the picture taken in August 1898, she appears to have lost a great deal of weight. She fought for independence until she no longer could,, and then she turned the fight over to the younger ones, David Kalauokalani, James Kaulia, and Robert Wilcox. She continued to fight to save her land for many years after that.

I think as long as we have some young and healthy ones to kupaa for our land and our country, we need to Onipaa, be steadfast in movement. Aloha aina, not more bureaucracy.

aole makou a e minamina we do not value
i ka puukala o ke aupuni the government's hills of money
ua lawa makou i ka pohaku we are satisfied with the pohaku
i ka ai kamahao o ka aina wondrous food of the land
Ma hope makou o Liliulani we are behind Liliuokalani
A loaa e ka pono o ka aina Until there is pono in our land
haina ia mai ana ka puana the story is told
o ka poe i aloha i ka aina of the people who love the aina

o ko'u wahi manao wale no,

----- End forwarded message -----


** Note: Mililani Trask was formerly head of the Hawaiian sovereignty group Ka Lahui Hawai'i, at a time when it was reported to have more than 20,000 members. She was also a trustee of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. At the time this action alert was published, she was a representative to the United Nations commission on the status of the indigenous peoples of the world. **


To: All Sovereign Hawaiians

From: Mililani B. Trask

Aloha All:

Last week we all learned about a new version of the Akaka Bill S. 344. According to press releases the only major change is insertion of language that allows the U.S. to appoint a 9-member commission whose job it will be to verify Hawaiian blood on the roll. This is a lie.

Hawaii Claims Lost

What the press release did not say is that new sections were added to ensure that Hawaiian Claims for the overthrow and for economic development rights under our treaties will be lost. All historic claims relating to mismanagement or transfer of trust lands and assets will also not be allowed. These claims cannot be addressed under international law at the U.N. They must be litigated with the U.S. in Federal court.

Section 8(c)(2) provides that the U.S. Federal Court will have jurisdiction to hear existing claims against the U.S. arising under Federal law existing on the date of enactment of this Act. This means that all historic claims will not be allowed.

Global Settlement or No Recognition of the Nation

Another new addition to the Bill is the requirement that the U.S. and the State of Hawaii must obtain a global settlement for Hawaiian lands and revenues before the Hawaiian nation is recognized. In addition, the new Bill says that the U.S. congress and the State Legislature must pass laws approving the global settlement before the nation is recognized [See Sec. 8 (b) (13) and Sec. 7 (4) (a)]. Robin Danner and CNHA are quoted in the Washington Press Release supporting the Bill and lying about its content.

According to Press Statements, this deal was worked on by the State (Lingle, OHA, DHHL), Interior (with Justice advising), the Hawaii Federal Delegation and select Hawaiians (Robin Danner & CNHA).

The plan is to move the bill before the end of May. All Hawaiians need to oppose the Bill ASAP. Senator Bill Frist is being pressured by Dan Inouye to set the Bill for floor debate and a vote. There is an immediate need to contact Frist and all U.S. Senators voicing opposition to the Bill.

Illegal Lobbying with Trust Funds

In addition, it appears that OHA has already spent over 4 million dollars lobbying for the Bill. DHHL has paid CNHA $150,000 (that we know of) for a campaign to lobby the bill by threatening homesteaders with the Rice case. Letters should be sent to the U.S. Solicitor General and Attorney General asking for a federal investigation into the use of Hawaiian trust funds by DHHL and OHA for lobbying S. 344 and the use of Hawaiian program funds by CNHA and their Board of Directors for Lobbying. Remember, this national scandal involving CNHA has already been exposed in the 2003 Fall issue of Native American.



Senator Bill Frist - Fax: (202) 228-1264

Tell him NOT to give S. 344 time on the floor and that we want a hearing on S. 344 in Hawaii.

U.S. Senators

Tell them not to support S. 344 and that Hawaiian people oppose the Bill. Ask for hearings in Hawaii. Ask for their support for a federal investigation into CNHA, DHHL and OHA's illegal use of millions of dollars of trust assets for lobbying this bill and the Alaska ANWR Bill. Email and fax numbers are listed at:

U.S. Attorney General – John Ashcroft – email:

Tell him you oppose the Bill and the illegal use of millions of dollars of trust funds and program funds for lobbying S. 344. Ask him to initiate a federal investigation into CNHA (The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement), OHA & DHHL's use of trust funds for lobbying.

U.S. Solicitors General – Ted Olson – Fax: 202-514-3648

Ask him to initiate an investigation into CNHA, OHA and DHHL's use of millions of dollars of Hawaiian Trust Funds and program funds to lobby the Akaka Bill. Tell him you oppose the measure.

U.S. President – George Bush – email:

Tell him you oppose S. 344 as a Hawaiian. Tell him that for 4 years we have asked for hearings in Hawaii. Ask him to support a federal investigation into the use of millions of federal, state and private trust funds for lobbying S. 344 by CNHA, OHA and DHHL.

The Honolulu Advertiser, Sunday, April 25, 2004

AKAKA BILL NO: Unnecessary bargain extinguishes all claims in exchange for recognition

By J. Kehaulani Kauanui

** J. Kehaulani Kauanui is assistant professor of anthropology and American studies at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. **

1. The U.S. apology of 1993 recognizes that "the indigenous Hawaiian people never directly relinquished their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people or over their national lands to the United States, either through their monarchy or through a plebiscite or referendum."

Passage of the bill would mark the first time in history that we acquiesce to the illegal U.S.-backed overthrow in 1893. If the bill passes, we would have to give all of our power to be self-determining to the secretary of the interior and the Congress forever.

2. The Native Hawaiian Education Act already explicitly states, "Congress does not extend services to Native Hawaiians because of their race but because of their unique status as the indigenous people of a once-sovereign nation as to whom the United States has established a trust relationship."

If the relationship already exists, then why is the Akaka-Stevens bill necessary? If we are unable to protect our people with current U.S. laws, then what good is the bill if it passes?

3. Acceptance of programs for Native Hawaiians does not indicate acceptance of domestic dependent nationhood within the United States. International law does not require oppressed peoples to refuse support for their survival while working for independence. As a colonial power, the United States has the duty to offer these services until it relinquishes its control.

4. When the United States helped to overthrow the queen in 1893 and illegally annexed Hawai'i in 1898, it deprived kingdom citizens of their right to their independent nation. Descendants of those citizens are entitled to recover that status and their citizenship therein. An independent Hawai'i would then be able to invoke measures under international law to guarantee our distinctive indigenous status.

5. Even though the U.S. policy toward kanaka maoli has been different from other people of the territory (1900-1959) and the state (since 1959), the apology disproves any assertion that we have accepted Native American status.

6. There is nothing in the bill that protects the federal money that Hawai'i state agencies currently receive, which amounts to less than 1 percent of the state budget. Proponents of the bill are willing to give up our rights to independence to try to save funding that comes to $175 per Hawaiian.

7. There is no reason we should assume we would escape state law under the bill. Tribal nations are continuously plagued by court challenges brought by states and nonindigenous individuals challenging their sovereignty and assets, especially when the Supreme Court routinely privileges states' rights.

8. There is no language in the bill that addresses protections for kanaka maoli from future lawsuits. And the bill itself could be ruled unconstitutional, since the Supreme Court likely would find Hawaiian inclusion under the Indian Commerce Clause to be unconstitutional.

9. Our claims to independence under international law stem from the fact that our loss of self-determination at no time amounted to a legal termination of political sovereignty, which was not lost via conquest, cession or adjudication.

10. The United States predetermined statehood as the status for Hawai'i, then misinformed the United Nations that we had freely exercised our self-determination and chosen statehood. Fortunately, the U.S. apology admitted that exercise had never occurred, because we were entitled to a U.N. plebiscite to determine our political status, which should have included the independence option, with eligible voters limited to descendants of kingdom citizens.

11. Supporters of the bill refuse to acknowledge the ways that federal recognition sets up a process for the extinguishment of all claims in exchange for that recognition. The bill is designed to facilitate a settlement for the nearly 2 million acres of "ceded lands," our Hawaiian national lands.

12. Proponents of the bill also insist it won't foreclose our claims under international law, and even argue that the bill is a "first step" toward independence. But they don't understand how the United States asserts its plenary power to keep indigenous sovereigns both domestic and dependent.

Moreover, they depend on the Indigenous Peoples Model within the United Nations, whereas independence supporters opposed to the bill rely on the model of either decolonization or de-occupation.


On April 26, 2004 Ken Conklin published an article criticizing the Honolulu Advertiser for offering only two choices for sovereignty in its April 25 edition.

Hawaiian Sovereignty - Let's Choose the Aloha Alternative

By Kenneth R. Conklin

The Honolulu Advertiser of Sunday April 25, 2004, had two articles about the Hawaiian Recognition bill (Akaka bill) S.344 and H.R.665. One supports the Akaka bill. The other opposes it and supports independence from America instead. The Advertiser presents only those two concepts. But we do not need to choose between two evils. There is another possibility -- the aloha choice of unity and equality.

For the full analysis, see:

The Honolulu Advertiser, Sunday, May 2, 2004

COMMENTARY: Pro, con articles on Akaka bill fail to address land issues

By Haunani-Kay Trask

Haunani-Kay Trask has been a Hawaiian nationalist for more than 20 years. [and is former chairperson and current professor at the Universityof Hawai’i Center for Hawaiian Studies]

The April 25 pro and con articles on the pending Akaka bill do not address the deals struck between Gov. Linda Lingle, the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, the federal Interior and Justice departments, the Hawai'i congressional delegation and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement relating to the global settlement for Hawaiian lands and revenues. In the interests of clarity, here is what needs to be understood:

• The current Akaka bill is not the product of a democratic process. Only the listed entities above were included in the creation of the latest version of the bill. Sovereignty groups, community organizations and the larger Hawaiian public were intentionally excluded.

• No hearings have been held on the current bill, precisely to exclude oversight by the native community. New sections were added to the bill that provide that the U.S. courts will have jurisdiction to hear claims against the United States arising under federal law on the date of enactment of the bill. No historic claims, such as loss of self-government and lands at annexation, will be allowed.

• The bill requires the United States and Hawai'i to obtain a global settlement for Hawaiian lands and revenues before the Hawaiian nation is recognized. In other words, Big Brother will determine our land and resource base and the structure of our governing entity. This is not self-determination. It is state determination.

• Native Hawaiians must agree to extinguish our rights to lands and sovereign powers over them as a prerequisite to federal recognition. This is outrageous. If we have no land base, no entitlements and no political entity, we won't need federal recognition.

• In the April 7 version of the bill, certification of organic documents that provide for the creation of the Native Hawaiian governing entity is subject to future negotiations with the federal and state governments as well as congressional legislation and state legislation to implement any agreement. This process forces Hawaiians to agree to the worst settlements in order to meet the 20-year sunset provision. Without a settlement, we lose the right to bring claims against the United States. Such a timetable encourages government negotiators to wait out the 20 years, when all claims expire.

Apart from obvious bad intentions, this deal also violates U.S. law and international law. Hawaiians need to understand the current version of the Akaka bill as a termination, rather than resolution, of the question of native existence and recognition.

The argument made by Davianna McGregor, that something is better than nothing, is on its face ridiculous. In its current version, the Akaka bill constitutes a total taking of native lands and entitlements. This is worse than nothing. It is a form of debasement, rather like accepting the status of a house slave, when the alternative is mass resistance to slavery itself.

The argument made by her opponent, Kehaulani Kauanui, that independence is preferable to dependence, is obvious on its face. So, too, her suggestion that models of decolonization or deoccupation exist as alternatives to the Akaka bill. But like all supporters of independence, Kauanui does not explain how the United States, the world's sole superpower, will be forced to give up Hawai'i, its dozens of military bases, thousands of resident settlers and millions of tourists.

If the United Nations couldn't prevent the U.S. war in Iraq, why should Hawaiians expect the United Nations to enforce the decolonization of Hawai'i? Or is Kauanui suggesting a war of national liberation? The sad reality is that those who support independence haven't a clue how to achieve it.

What is to be done?

Hawaiians need to be included in the federal policy on recognized native nations on our own terms. Talk of independence is just that ... talk. What Hawaiians need is power — the power to reclaim ceded lands, all entitlements that accompany them, and substantive recognition as a self-governing nation.

In other words, Hawaiians need sovereignty on our own land base in our own country run by our own elected representatives. We do not need the latest version of a paper nation railroaded by the congressional delegation and their hand-picked Hawaiian collaborators. Hawaiians must oppose the current Akaka bill. If passed, it will be the death knell of any native claim to land and self-government.


Here's a press release about an anti-Akaka bill rally at 'Iolani Palace Tuesday morning May 4, 2004. It was posted on the Hawaii-Nation bulletin board Tuesday morning. This is clearly an event staged for the media. The lead-time is far too short to get lots of people to the rally, and a workday morning is also not likely to allow very many to attend. Nevertheless, the event will probably be covered in some of the TV newscasts Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, and the newspapers Wednesday.

From: Hawaii Nation Info
Date: Tue May 4, 2004 7:04 am
Subject: Press Conference against Akaka Bill

Sent: Monday, May 03, 2004 8:23 PM


TUESDAY, MAY 4, 2004

Contact Person: Malia Nobrega
Phone Number: 286-5461
Email Address:


Honolulu, Hawai'i, May 3, 2004 -- Native Hawaiians stand in opposition to key provisions of the Akaka-Stevens Bill (S. 344), which the U.S. Senate passed on April 30th. New amendments have been added to ensure that Hawaiian claims for the illegal overthrow and for economic development rights under treaties will be extinguished within 20 years. Because the Senate has already passed the bill and the House of Representatives Resources Committee is expected to hear the measure within the month, many Hawaiian organizations want to bring awareness to the community that time is of the essence to stop this bill. Upon passage of the bill, a 20-year time clock will start ticking for the complete elimination of the Hawaiian peoples claims to inherent sovereignty as a people and over our national lands.

The new 7th version of the bill has been introduced without the involvement or consent of the Native Hawaiian community. The legislative measure proposes a process for reorganization of a Native Hawaiian governing entity under the control of the Secretary of Interior and that is contingent upon negotiations regarding the transfer of lands, assets, and governmental powers. Despite the bills extreme importance to Hawaiians and the entire State of Hawai`i, there have been no statewide hearings on the bill since the first version surfaced 4 years ago.

Another new addition to the Bill is the requirement that the U.S. and the State of Hawaii must pass additional legislation to implement any global settlement for Hawaiian lands, natural resources, assets, protection of existing rights, and governmental powers before the Hawaiian nation is recognized.

`Ilio`ulaokalani Coalition, Native Hawaiian Education O`ahu Island Council, Waikiki Hawaiian Civic Club, and a cohort of long time Hawaiian sovereignty activists will be holding a press conference on Tuesday, May 4 at 9:45 a.m. on the steps of the `Iolani Palace to voice urgent concerns from the Hawaiian community. We will stand together as Hawaiian community organizations to uphold the right of self-determination of the Hawaiian peoples.


The press conference at ‘Iolani Palace, announced in the item above, produced two newspaper articles in the Honolulu dailies.
The Honolulu Advertiser, Wednesday, May 5, 2004

New call for Akaka bill hearing

By Vicki Viotti

Hawaiian sovereignty activists, declaring the current federal recognition bill a "time bomb," are calling on Congress to give the measure another hearing in Hawai'i before passing amendments that some believe will shortchange Native Hawaiians in their claims. The bill's most troublesome feature, they said, is a recent amendment that sets a 20-year deadline for a Native Hawaiian government to organize and negotiate with the state and federal governments. Those negotiations would clarify its powers and settle existing claims on lands and assets now controlled by the state and federal governments. The congressional measure, known as the Akaka bill, still awaits a final vote on the Senate floor and has not "crossed over" to the House, spokesmen for U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka and U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie said. About a month ago, Akaka's office announced plans to have a similar bill introduced in the House before the Senate acts, to improve chances of the measure passing this session. Mililani Trask, a longtime sovereignty advocate and outspoken critic of the bill in the past, was at the Capitol earlier this week. In a telephone interview from New York, she said she has a copy of a twin bill poised for introduction in the House. It's this maneuvering that concerns people such as Vicky Holt Takamine, president of the 'Ilio'ulaokalani Coalition. The Hawaiian community has not had a chance since 2000 to discuss the bill in grass-roots meetings, Takamine said. "We strongly support the process of self-determination, and we need the opportunity to engage in that process," she said. "It's a time bomb, and it's already ticking." Officials for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, as well as OHA legal consultant Jon Van Dyke, have said that 20 years would be far longer than the six years accorded to other Native American groups to reach a settlement. However, attorney Le'a Kanehe of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., said the restoration of sovereignty to Hawaiians, once citizens of an internationally recognized nation, is more complex than settlements for tribal groups and is not really comparable. Van Dyke acknowledged the complexities, but sees the amended bill as basically "a good thing" — laying out a clear "right to sue" for Native Hawaiians that they do not now possess. Other claims that can be made in international courts of appeals are not precluded by the amended bill, he added. "It's a limited grant of jurisdiction, but it's something," Van Dyke said. "The Native Hawaiian people are the only native group that hasn't had a claims commission or settlement package enacted for them. Hawaiians are still on the outside looking in. "It's a start."

Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Wednesday, May 5, 2004

Hawaiians find fault with revised Akaka bill

By Rosemarie Bernardo

Several organizations have described as "flawed" and "dangerous" the changes made to a bill granting federal recognition to Hawaiians as indigenous people. Vicky Holt Takamine, president of the Ilioulaokalani Coalition, said: "It is very dangerous to the native Hawaiian community. We stand to lose more than we will gain." At a news conference at the Iolani Palace yesterday, members of Ilioulaokalani Coalition, Ka Lahui Hawaii and Na Koa Ikaika o Ka Lahui Hawaii and several individual advocates expressed objections over amendments made to the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, known as the Akaka bill. Some advocates also said the U.S. Senate did not give Hawaiians the opportunity to review or provide feedback on the changes. One major change includes a 20-year statute of limitations to file any claims against the United States. "It's not eliminating future claims or claims down the road. It talks about claims in existence," said Paul Cardus, spokesman for Sen. Daniel Akaka. "Sen. Akaka has made it clear that the legislation does not serve as a settlement for any claims against the United States." The Senate Indian Affairs Committee passed the Akaka bill on April 21. It has yet to clear the Senate. A companion bill is expected to be introduced in the U.S. House by Rep. Neil Abercrombie this week. Advocate Mililani Trask said Native Americans have the right to make claims to District Court without a 20-year limitation. "We would not be able to address the illegal overthrow, address the breach of trust issues," Trask said in a telephone interview from New York. "We're looking at a terrible history. ... That history needs to be remedied." Trustee Rowena Akana of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs said: "Some tribes have received federal recognition 25 years ago and still don't have all their documents for enrollment. To expect native Hawaiians to get it all together in 20 years is a great discomfort to me." OHA trustees plan to travel to Washington, D.C., next month to discuss the changes made to the Akaka bill. Robin Danner, president and chief executive of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, said, "We have 20 years to file claims, not to settle them. "Wouldn't it be great to never have a deadline and have all claims open. It's also understandable that a deadline was included," said Danner.


The first public split in the ranks of the large, wealthy institutional supporters of the Akaka bill appeared to come on Sunday May 9, 2004 (Mothers Day) with the publication of a letter to editor APPARENTLY from one of the 9 Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. This [former] trustee expresses shame at having the same last name, Akaka, as the Senator whose name is on the bill.

West Hawaii Today (Kona, the Big Island), Sunday, May 9, 2004

Akaka Bill shameful


I am ashamed to bear the same name as the revised Akaka Bill that will further put our Hawaiian people into a quagmire after more than one hundred years since the theft of our Hawaiian Nation. This recent version of the Akaka Bill S 344 is not the vehicle "...that would grant federal recognition to Native Hawaiians." Nothing could be further from the truth! Even the title of this latest version of the Akaka Bill has been changed (April 21) from "Native Hawaiian Recognition Act" to "Native Hawaiian Governmental Reorganization Act." The Bush Administration, through its Department of Interior Secretary Gayle Norton, is calling for a reorganization of our Hawaiian Government before we Hawaiians have the opportunity of self-determine what our government is to be.

With the passage of this Bill, we Hawaiians will have 20 years to go round and round in circles set up the Bush Administration Department of Interior, forcing us Hawaiians to get approval at each and every step of the way from the first the Head of the Department of Interior, Congress and State Legislature; then to go back and forth with these entities on every single issue to be resolved. They intend with this process to have us Hawaiians "spin our wheels" by following this bureaucratic paper "trail of tears" and quicksand.

There is no rush to pass this fault-laden Bill at this time. It has been over four years since we had a Federal Hearing at home for Hawaiian Justice. This "revised" Akaka Bill S 344 is so drastically different from any of its past versions that it necessitates Federal Hearings to be held on these Hawaiian Islands. This is only fair as it deals with self-determination and our Hawaiian destiny in our own homeland of over one thousand years. It is imperative this be a true democracy as our Hawaiian future is at stake.

E. Moanikeala Akaka

Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee

[** Note from Ken Conklin, website editor: Either the author of this letter, or else the newspaper editor, made an error of judgment in printing that title “Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee.” E. Moanikeala Akaka is a FORMER trustee, but has not been a board member for at least 4 years. If a currently sitting OHA trustee had published such a letter it would be very big news indeed, since OHA is spending millions of dollars lobbying for the bill and “educating” the public to support it. **]

Honolulu Advertiser, Monday, July 12, 2004
Letters to the Editor

Washington knows about opposition to the Akaka bill

Regarding the July 8 article "Akaka bill in danger of failing": The bill will continue to fail, as it has for the past five years, and, in different forms under Sen. Inouye, for more than a decade, because now, more than ever, the Washington, D.C., powers-that-be know there is overwhelming opposition here at home.

With much aloha and all due respect to our congressional delegation, and all federally funded supporters of federal recognition, we must denounce the desperate and futile attempts to tag this unacceptable bill onto major legislation that needs to be passed.

The reality, revealed during our recent visit to Capitol Hill, is that the Akaka bill has been and is going nowhere this session.

Koani Foundation directors, and many other Native Hawaiians, traveled to Washington in May in conjunction with the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. We met face to face with people from numerous congressional offices and the U.S. departments of Justice and the Interior. We successfully shared the huge opposition that exists to the bill at home in Hawai'i, and we got more than we anticipated.

Everyone was aware of the Native Hawaiian Reorganization Act. Staffers for Sens. Frist, McCain, Kyle, Domenici and many others agreed there is absolutely no chance of passage this session.

During the visit, we were informed, despite heavy propaganda in Hawai'i to the contrary, that: The bill has not been heard on the Senate floor; Sen. Kyle's hold remained in place, would not be lifted and could not be circumvented by any number of votes; Sen. Frist has no intention of scheduling it even if the hold were lifted; and Indian Affairs Chair Sen. McCain himself does not support the bill.

Even some of our own congressional staff people had to concede that little or nothing will be achieved during this pre-election session, including the Akaka bill. To them, we repeated our continuing opposition to dysfunctional federal recognition. We also repeated our continuing dedication to working together, with the stakeholders, toward an appropriate governance form — one that we can support.

Kai'opua Fyfe
Director, The Koani Foundation
Lihu'e, Kaua'i

Honolulu Advertiser, Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Letters to the Editor

Royalism or tribalism indigenous to Hawai'i?

The Akaka bill is a cruel hoax — an irrational reaction to panic caused by Rice v. Cayetano. It sought unprecedented federal sanction for the state's Asian-Hawaiian and Caucasian-Hawaiian racial preferences while cynically repealing existing federal recognition for the nearest kinship group: 50 percent and more Native Hawaiians of the blood. Primary beneficiaries of that deceitful bill are the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Kamehameha Schools. Why did Kamehameha support the bill's sleazy political manipulation of public perception knowing there is an honorable and realistic way to shelter threatened customs and practices? Is royalism indigenous to Hawai'i or was it an imposition from outside: a normal feature of colonialism derived from the British monarchy? If so, then Kamehameha I was as likely to be an actual king as Mickey Mouse is an actual mouse. The job of Congress is not to legalize fantasies. Is tribalism indigenous to Hawai'i? Jane S. Warren, a missionary, wrote in a book published in 1869, "The Morning Star": "This Sandwich Islands lad was Henry Obookiah. He was an orphan. He had seen his father, mother and dear little brother killed in a savage war with another tribe on the islands."

Maui Loa

Honolulu Advertiser, Thursday, July 22, 2004
Letters to the Editor

Native Hawaiians deserve better than the Akaka bill

I am writing with deep concern about the effort to push through the Akaka bill by Gov. Linda Lingle and other elected officials who seem determined to force this legislation on the Hawaiian people. The Koani Foundation directors who went to Washington, D.C., in May report they were told by representatives for Sens. Frist, Kyle, McCain and Domenici that there is absolutely no chance of passage for this bill. So why is so much money and press being wasted in its support? There has been little effort to educate our people as to the consequences of this legislation. No effort or money has been spent to explore alternatives. Why? Is this the only option? I think there could be more to lose than gain for Native Hawaiians. Imagine the shock to our people in 1893 finding out after the fact that their country had been stripped from them. To voice their opposition, more than 38,000 signatures were collected from Native Hawaiians who opposed the illegal occupation and annexation by the United States. The box containing these documents was found on the floor in a hallway, almost 100 years after they were sent to Washington. The effort of our kupuna went unheard. We have seen what has happened to our people over the years. The Akaka bill benefits the general public, not Native Hawaiians. If this bill becomes law, our rights will be "sold down the river" a second time. Native Hawaiians will have agreed the past means nothing and we willingly submit to foreign rule. If any of your family signed the original petitions, consider what they would think if you gave it all away by not catching on to another fast-talking set of trinket bearers. For a few shiny dollars we are selling out our future, our being, our culture and our Islands. In these days of homeland security, maybe Hawaiians should look to our own homeland. Iraq was just given the right to a sovereign government. Why not Hawai'i? Shouldn't we have the same chance? At least give the Hawaiians a fair forum to explore nationhood, not a political marketing plan that is still trying to sell a day-old fish to a Hawaiian. We deserve better.

Uncle Moon Keahi
Waiehu, Maui

Honolulu Advertiser, Friday, August 13, 2004
Letters to the Editor

JACL convention should look at all sovereignty sides

The 111-year struggle against the American occupation and colonization of our homeland of Hawai'i has been a difficult and laborious endeavor.

In 1993, supporters such as the Japanese-American Citizens League adopted resolutions in support of the continuing call for Hawaiian sovereignty. Its solidarity with our struggle is an important indication to the world and the U.S. government of the righteousness of our cause.

However, we are deeply disappointed and concerned that at its national convention, it has chosen to hold a workshop that presents only one controversial perspective on Hawaiian sovereignty — the pro-Akaka bill perspective — to the exclusion of other voices. We assume that this is an oversight on the part of the conference organizers and request that equal time be given at the convention to activists and scholars who can present a reasoned, critical analysis of the Akaka bill and how the bill could actually do harm to kanaka maoli human rights and self-determination.

Federal recognition is a contentious issue for our kanaka maoli people. As embodied in the Akaka-Stevens bill, substantial kanaka maoli claims to land and sovereignty would be silenced through the creation of a puppet government subordinated to the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Moreover, the proposed legislation would maintain the prevailing inequalities of Hawai'i's political and social hierarchies. Kanaka maoli would be reduced to permanent wardship as beneficiaries of the federal dole. The victories that the American business and military interests could not secure through armed invasion and a failed treaty of annexation would be consummated through federal recognition, which will aim to silence our century of protest.

As advocates for a more profound interrogation of the inequalities and prejudices that injure all human society, we invite JACL to join us in calling for an honest, open and broad discussion of the politics of Hawaiian self-determination, because of the gravity of these issues for kanaka maoli today.

Kekuni Blaisdell, Lynette Cruz, Ikaika Hussey, Terri Keko'olani, Noenoe Silva, Jon Osorio and Vicky Holt Takamine


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