May 2003 -- OHA Hires Washington Lobbyist, While OHA Administrator Namu'o and OHA Trustee Mossman Explain the Urgency of Akaka Bill As Pork Barrel Legislation

Here are the items offered below:

(1) Article published in the Honolulu Advertiser on Saturday May 24, 2003 reporting that Washington D.C. lobbying firm Patton Boggs LLP has been hired to push the Akaka bill, on a retainer fee of $450,000.

(2) Article published in a weekly Honolulu "alternative" newspaper by Clyde Namu'o, OHA Administrator. The article clearly states that the main purpose of the Akaka bill is to protect racial entitlement programs, not some mystical concept of Hawaiian nationhood or parity with Native Americans or Native Alaskans.

(3) Article published in both the Maui News of May 25, 2003 [no permanent URL available] and in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin of May 27, 2003, written by Boyd Mossman, a current OHA trustee and retired circuit court judge on Maui. The Namu'o and Mossman articles contain the same general arguments.

(4) Op-ed “viewpoint” essay submitted by Ken Conklin to the Star-Bulletin as a rebuttal to Boyd Mossman.



Posted on: Saturday, May 24, 2003

OHA hires lobby firm to help push Akaka bill

By Vicki Viotti and Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Staff Writers

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has hired a well-known law and lobbying firm in Washington to add muscle to its push for a bill that would give Hawaiians federal recognition.

The legislation — known as the "Akaka bill" after sponsor U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai'i — would create a formal process for Hawaiians to form their own sovereign government that would be recognized by the United States, much like American Indians and Native Alaskans. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee approved the bill last week, and it could now go to the full Senate for a vote.

OHA trustees on Thursday authorized a maximum of $450,000 for expenditures by Patton Boggs, LLP, an international law firm that the board hired after conducting interviews last week in Washington, said Clyde Namu'o, OHA administrator.

The trustees will receive weekly reports from the firm to monitor their spending and progress, Namu'o said.

The firm's work will include the preparation of a report on the federal recognition campaign for the Bush administration, in the hopes of persuading the White House to support the bill, according to Namu'o.

"There's a window of opportunity to get this bill passed, and we need to do everything we can do," he said.

Patton Boggs lobbies for such heavyweights as AOL Time Warner, Mars Corp. and Sony. Its roster of about 225 lobbying clients also includes major trade associations and state and local agencies.

Thomas Hale Boggs Jr., one of its principals, is known as a prominent Democrat who has taken a personal interest in Hawaiian recognition. He is considered one of the capital's most well-connected and influential lobbyists.

Hawai'i's congressional delegation has made progress on Hawaiian recognition since Akaka first proposed the bill in 2000, but has not been able to overcome opposition from conservative Republicans. Republican Gov. Linda Lingle and her staff have approached the Bush administration for its support.

Sen. Dan Inouye, D-Hawai'i, has said that a White House endorsement is key. The Clinton administration supported a version of the bill in 2000, when it passed the House but stalled in the Senate. Last session, a version of the bill cleared the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and the House Resources Committee before being blocked.



Published in The Honolulu Weekly, Volume 13, No. 22, May 28-June 3, 2003.
[Note: this is only the general URL for this newspaper's website. The article might or might not be available in the Weekly's limited “archives” as time goes by.]

A call to action

The Hawaiian nation is in a race against time for both federal recognition and self-determination.

Today, we Hawaiians find ourselves at a historic crossroads, with our very existence as a distinct native people hanging in the balance. As long as Hawaiians remain classified as a “race” in the eyes of the federal government, our people will remain vulnerable to legal attacks such as those currently making their way through the courts, which seek to deprive us of our rights as an indigenous population with a well-established history of sovereign nationhood.

Most recently, the danger of our current “race-based” federal status was yet again made clear in a May 16 opinion letter sent by the U.S. Justice Department to Sen. Olympia Snowe, chair of the Senate’s Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. The letter identifies what the Justice Department describes as “significant constitutional concerns” over a bill that would amend the federal Small Business Act to authorize grants and other assistance for the “development and enhancement ... of small business startups and expansions owned by Indian tribe members, Native Alaskans and Native Hawaiians.

“To the extent that these grants would provide benefits to members of federally recognized Indian tribes ... or to persons who have a clear and close affiliation with a recognized tribal entity,” the opinion letter reads, “… courts would likely uphold them as constitutional. ... To the extent, however, that the bill could be viewed as authorizing the award of government benefits on the basis of racial or ethnic criteria, rather than tribal affiliation, the … standard would not apply.

“To avoid this constitutional concern,” the opinion concludes, “... we recommend that the term ‘Native Hawaiians’ be deleted.”

Such “deletion” of Hawaiians’ rights as a forcibly dispossessed indigenous population is precisely why the Office of Hawaiian Affairs supports the intent of the Hawaiian Recognition Bill (aka the Akaka Bill) currently before Congress, which would give Hawaiians what we clearly deserve: at least the same level of status and protection enjoyed by Native American tribes and other peoples indigenous to territory now within U.S. boundaries. Without such recognition, we could soon lose the right to any indigenous status whatsoever.

Certainly, OHA’s Board of Trustees is respectful of the fact that there are many in the Hawaiian community who do not support the recognition bill, who question its specific provisions or who fear a veiled intent to co-opt true autonomy. But we believe there will be time and opportunity to resolve such issues once at least a basic level of recognition is achieved. Without recognition, there may be no more time.

In addition, OHA’s board understands that federal recognition is only part of the story. What we also need, and need now, is to form an official body that is accepted by the Hawaiian people as their legitimate representative. That is why on May 1, OHA, partnered with other Hawaiian community organizations, launched the most important initiative in the trust’s 23-year history — an intensive, community-based campaign to facilitate the process of forming a broad-based Hawaiian governing entity within a year. The process has been christened Ho‘oulu Lähui Aloha — or, To Raise a Beloved Nation.

Let’s be very clear on one thing: OHA’s board has absolutely no intention of dictating the form or policies of the resulting governing entity. In fact, OHA plans to be dissolved and to transfer all trust assets to the new governing body once it is established.

OHA’s role is strictly to facilitate the process, and to communicate the need for urgent action. We are committed to letting the Hawaiian people choose the shape of their nation for themselves through community-selected delegates at a broadly inclusive ‘aha, a convening of representatives charged with framing the governing documents of the Hawaiian sovereign body. Whether the consensus is for a nation-within-a-nation model of self-determination, a drive for full independence, or any other possibility, so be it. OHA’s role is strictly to offer the mechanism for debating and eventually deciding such issues.

In keeping with the urgency of the times, the governance campaign’s timetable is tight: OHA proposes that nation-building discussions should begin at häläwai (meetings), organized within the community. Informational forums, round-table discussions and electronic bulletin boards will all be available as venues for the community to share their thoughts, concerns, ideas and passions in the journey toward Hawaiian governance. In addition, we will be undertaking a media campaign to ensure that the message of justice and reconciliation that Hawaiian nationhood represents is heard and understood by everyone, Hawaiian or not, whether living in Hawai‘i or elsewhere.

Needless to say, the critical role in the success of this process lies in the participation of as broad a spectrum of the Hawaiian community as possible. We fervently urge all Hawaiians of every point of view to get involved. Everyone must be heard so that we may arrive at consensus on the shape of our new nation.

The time to act is now. The loss of programs serving Hawaiians is a clear and present danger: At this very moment, besides the Justice Department’s challenge to federal support for Native Hawaiian-owned small businesses, legislation ranging from housing to employment to education is being scrutinized.

Notably, though approved by Congress and signed by President Bush, the bill reauthorizing the Native Hawaiian Education Act, which would provide about $31 million to educational programs serving Hawaiian children over the next year, has been put on hold.

As OHA Chair Haunani Apoliona said at the launch of the self-governance initiative: “There are people and organizations committed to seeing that all of the laws and programs which serve to protect and perpetuate our beloved culture and traditions are undermined and taken away. In the face of these challenges, we risk our culture and our people becoming mere historical artifacts.”

Considering the potentially devastating legal and political threats that Hawaiians now face, OHA’s trustees feel unanimously that it is their duty under the trust’s mandate to move forward in support of federal recognition and the speedy adoption of a Hawaiian governing entity as the best ways to protect the future of the Hawaiian people. But, as Apoliona put it, “OHA is only helping to launch the wa‘a. It will be the collective and responsible actions of people of the Hawaiian community to steer us to our ultimate destination.”

Clyde Nämu‘o is the administrator of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

To schedule a group meeting on Hawaiian nationhood, or for more information, call 594-1759, toll free from the other islands at 1 (800) 366-1758, or visit



Hawaiians must unite or vanish into history

By Boyd P. Mossman

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

As the Office of Hawaiian Affairs launches a campaign to educate the people of Hawaii about issues relating to the creation of a Hawaiian governing entity, I would like to express my views on some of the critical issues facing us and explain why OHA has embarked upon an accelerated effort to gain federal recognition and establish a Hawaiian governing entity.

As I do so, I am aware of those who want only complete independence from the United States as well as those arguing equal rights who want no Hawaiian benefits to continue. I do not address these groups; they will not be interested in these words. I address those who must wonder what recognition, nationhood, ceded-lands settlement and equal rights have to do with living here in Hawaii.

Persons of Hawaiian ancestry today in Hawaii make up the largest percentage of those in prison, the homeless, the undereducated, the broken families and the drug-addicted. A familiar pattern, perhaps, as with the American Indian and Alaskan native tribes who involuntarily gave up their homelands to a United States intent on expanding its borders. In each case, including the Hawaiians, concern and attention subsequently resulted in a trust relationship between the United States and the native peoples, and, for better or for worse, these indigenous peoples have been accommodated in one way or another for more than 100 years.

Though there is no complete consensus as to the historical justification for the overthrow of the Hawaiian nation and annexation by the United States, suffice it to say that the United States knowingly or unknowingly caused the independent kingdom to be denied its inherent rights as a nation.

OHA is now trying to accomplish in two to three years what has not been accomplished in the last 110 years: achieving federal recognition and creating a governing entity that will assist Hawaiians in defending against the equal-rights lawsuits pending in the federal courts.

In this way we believe we will be able to prevail in court and preserve not only the benefits and entitlements received by Hawaiians today, but also preserve the Hawaiian people and culture. If we succeed, then the people of Hawaii will continue to enjoy the warmth and aloha of a culture and people who themselves will be able to conduct their affairs within the United States with recognition given them, as has been to the American Indians and Alaskan Eskimos.

If we fail, if we lose in the courts, if we cannot convince Congress of the potential elimination of an entire people who once ruled themselves, if we cannot convince the Hawaiians themselves and bring them together in a united effort, then you will have seen the last of the Hawaiians as we know them today. Hawaiians will be no different from Californians, Georgians or New Yorkers. We will no longer be identified as the descendants of a nation with a unique history, language and identity. We will melt into history, becoming only a memory.

The recognition, trust, benefits and entitlements provided to Hawaiians will disappear, as will OHA's trust fund, Hawaiian Home Lands and the many state and federally funded programs addressing needs of Hawaiians.

Thus, since it is the mandate of OHA to provide for the betterment of Hawaiians, we are compelled to press forward against the sling stones of contention and dispute to educate all the people of Hawaii, then to facilitate the birth of a Hawaiian governing entity that will perpetuate the culture and people whose home, whose aina, whose spirit these islands are. Many questions remain, and time will tell the effect of our effort, but I suggest that it would behoove us all to continue to keep Hawaii "Hawaii," for as the Hawaiians go, so will Hawaii.



Akaka Bill -- Pork Barrel Politics Splintering the Rainbow

Attorney Boyd Mossman does his duty, zealously pleading his case (Star-Bulletin 5/27/03) on behalf of his evil client (the Akaka bill). Let's hope the jury can see beyond the lawyer's eloquence and protect society by putting away this monster forever.

The Akaka bill is pork barrel politics at its worst. For the sake of money, land, and political power some greedy individuals and institutions are willing to carve up Hawai'i along racial lines and provoke long-term political instability. There's nothing new about ethnic pork-barrel politics in Hawai'i (or elsewhere). What makes the Akaka bill uniquely dangerous is that it would create an unprecedented apartheid regime in Hawai'i -- a sovereign race-based government to protect racially exclusionary entitlement programs that Mossman admits are otherwise unconstitutional. The whole political system is being distorted to serve a well-meaning purpose now grown to evil proportions.

Over 160 racial programs, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, have spawned bloated bureaucracies with high-paid staff, thoroughly entrenched in our corporate and political power structure. Companies, banks, and law firms depend on huge contracts obtained through this system, and also have defenders of the system sitting on their interlocking boards of directors. Legislators tremble because everything might come tumbling down when courts rule the system is unconstitutional. Both candidates for Governor competed vigorously last year to see who could kow-tow lowest to these bureaucracies. Just imagine! If everyone were treated equally by government, then needy people would all get help from race-neutral agencies, and race-centric power structures would vanish. That would be disastrous, says Mr. Mossman.

The Akaka bill offers a way to get past the Constitution's requirement for equality under the law. Simply invent a phony Indian tribe and get Congress to recognize it! Then we can keep the racially exclusionary entitlement programs in place, let the current evil system grow stronger, and keep the pipeline from Washington pouring gigabucks into Hawai'i. Our "indian tribe" will be the largest in America -- an 800-pound gorilla elbowing out the genuine Indian tribes in competition for scarce federal dollars. But if "indigenous" Hawaiians can become a tribe, why not millions of "indigenous" U.S. residents of Mexican heritage in Texas or California, who have at least one Aztec ancestor? And shouldn't African-Americans get reparations for slavery?

Counselor Mossman is a trustee of the Hawaiian grievance industry. He pleads that ethnic Hawaiians are the poorest, most downtrodden group in Hawai'i. Indeed, some are poor and downtrodden. But according to Census 2000, about half have family incomes above $50,000, while 12% are above $100,000. Why should some wealthy people get government freebies based on race, when thousands of truly needy people lacking the magic blood get nothing? Government help based on need alone, regardless of race, is fairer than help based on race alone regardless of need. If ethnic Hawaiians truly are the neediest, they'll get most of the help when help is based on need.

Today a whole generation have grown up addicted to getting goodies through racially exclusionary agencies. It should come as no surprise when folks identify more closely with their race than with their citizenship in America, or when they proclaim only the Hawaiian portion of their ancestry, diminishing or ignoring their other heritages. Let's be clear -- addiction to government entitlement programs is like addiction to drugs. It damages both the recipients and the larger society. Taking away the drugs is the loving thing to do, even if the addict screams in anger.

In an especially plaintive cry, Mossman says that if the Akaka bill fails, "then you will have seen the last of the Hawaiians as we know them today ... We will no longer be identified as the descendants of a once-proud nation with a unique history, language and identity. We will melt into history and become a memory only." Nonsense, counselor! The facts contradict you. Just look around. Hawaiian language and culture are flourishing as a proud 30-year-long renaissance continues. Thousands of people with no Hawaiian blood learn the language and participate in cultural activities in a spirit of love, respect, and brotherhood. The population of Native Hawaiians in 1900 was less than 40,000 while in year 2000 it was over 400,000 -- a tenfold increase during the century of American sovereignty in Hawai'i. Neither the people nor the culture are endangered. Making them simultaneously a hereditary elite and wards of the government, constantly begging for handouts, is a path to spiritual and cultural extinction.

There are many scholarly, historical, legal, and moral arguments against the Akaka bill. They can be found at: [.]

Most ethnic Hawaiians, like most everyone in Hawai'i, are proud to be Americans; pleased to live in the State of Hawai'i under a single unified sovereignty; glad to know that government will encourage the flourishing of cultural diversity by treating everyone equally under the law. We are called the rainbow state for a good reason. Each color of the rainbow shows its unique beauty, while unified they are awesome. Let's not tear the rainbow apart. Let's not put a green stripe over here, and a red stripe over there. If we break the rainbow, its pot of gold will be replaced by a bucket of ashes. The response to the Akaka bill should be the same as the response to illegal drugs -- just say no.


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(c) Copyright 2003 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved