(c) Copyright 2001 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved
Following are excerpts from a series of newspaper articles that ran December 13, 14, and 15, 2000. In each case the URL for the full article is provided for reference, but not as a hot link.
Wednesday, December 13, 2000
Hawaii's two senators say that
when Congress reconvenes this week,
they expect that lawmakers will
work only on spending bills
By Pat Omandam, Star-Bulletin
A federal bill that addresses the political status of native Hawaiians will
have to wait until next year, U.S. Sens. Daniel K. Akaka and Daniel K.
Inouye said today.
The Hawaii senators said that when the U.S. Senate and House reconvene
later this week it is expected that they will work only on fiscal year 2001
spending bills before adjournment.
They anticipate no further action on S.2899/H.R.4904, known as the
Akaka bill, during this session. While disappointed, the two believe there is
a strong foundation to advance the measure when the next Congress
convenes, in 2001.
Hawaiian activist Kekuni Blaisdell of Ka Pakaukau said today that the delay
gives opponents more time to raise sentiment against the proposal. He and
others contend that the bill does not allow Hawaiians to seek sovereignty in
the international arena, which many believe is the only venue for true
"I doubt that very many people have read and understood the final bill as it
was revised and submitted for passage. And if they did, they will oppose
it," Blaisdell said.
Hawaii's Congressional delegation has lobbied hard since this summer for
the bill's passage to address a Feb. 23 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that
struck down the state's Hawaiians-only voting restriction for Office of
Hawaiian Affairs elections. The justices ruled that native Hawaiians are a
racial classification and not a tribe that has a political relationship with the
Posted on: Thursday, December 14, 2000
Native legislation dies in U.S. Senate
By Susan Roth, Advertiser Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — The Native Hawaiian recognition bill was dead in the
Senate yesterday, a victim of Republican objections that could not be
overcome as the 106th Congress draws to a close.
The measure, which easily passed the House in September to the surprise
of advocates and opponents alike, faced an uphill battle in the Senate
because of the objections of a group of Republican lawmakers who
ultimately succeeded in blocking it.
Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai‘i, who led the effort to draft and pass the
measure, vowed to reintroduce it next year, saying he was confident that
it has a strong foundation to advance in the next Congress.
"I’m very disappointed, but I’m looking forward to the 107th Congress,"
Akaka said. "We’ll have more time and options available, and we’ll be
better able to respond to debate and overcome concerns in the new Congress.
"Despite my disappointment, our progress was well worth the effort,"
the senator continued. "We started just last spring, and people weren’t
sure how far we would go. This is a tremendous gain we’ve made here."
Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawai‘i, who used his influence in the Senate to
move the bill to the brink of passage, also expressed disappointment and
agreed to help reintroduce the bill early in the next Congress.
"Thousands of native people across the United States share our
disappointment," Inouye said in a statement. "American Indians and
Alaska Natives have demonstrated their strong support for this
legislation that memorializes the legal position of the United States
that all of the indigenous, native people of the United States have a
right to self-determination and self-governance, and that this right
clearly includes the native people of Hawai‘i — Native Hawaiians."
The senior senator also noted that because "sovereignty is inherent in
the people" and does not depend on recognition by the U.S. government,
Native Hawaiians can go ahead and start reorganizing their government
regardless of what happens with the legislation.
"This process can proceed without the involvement of the federal
government and, indeed, many have suggested that the process of
reorganizing a government to represent the Native Hawaiian people should
proceed without the involvement of the United States," Inouye said.
Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawai‘i, who almost single-handedly pushed the
bill through the House, expressed disappointment but took pride int the
progress made by the bill’s supporters.
"We were able to educate Congress and the public on Native Hawaiian
issues, secure the backing of a wide variety of interested parties, and
refine the legislative language to address the most salient points at
issue. I am particularly pleased that we succeeded in garnering
bipartisan support for the bill," said Abercrombie, who also plans to
reintroduce the measure in the House next year.
In addition to clarifying the U.S.-Native Hawaiian relationship and
moving toward sovereignty, the bill was intended to protect programs and
services for Native Hawaiians in the aftermath of the Supreme Court
ruling in the Rice vs. Cayetano case. In February, the court decided
that non-Hawaiians could vote for trustees for the state Office of
Hawaiian Affairs. But the decision did not address the programs that
officials believe are now threatened by legal challenges.
Because the bill was introduced late in the congressional session and
in an election year with other political priorities, its chances were
slim from the start. Opponents in Hawai‘i ignored it at first, certain
that it would never pass, but they mobilized when it passed the House on
Sept. 26, and they mounted a lobbying campaign against it in the Senate.
At that point, the shortage of time meant that the bill could not reach
the Senate floor for a regular debate and vote, so Hawai‘i’s lawmakers
had only two real options, both of which required unanimous consent of
100 senators: The bill could pass unanimously on its own, or it could be
attached to another piece of legislation.
A handful of conservative Republican senators raised objections and
prevented unanimous passage, and their continued objections blocked the
bill from being attached to one of the remaining spending bills expected
to pass today and tomorrow.
Tuesday evening, the Hawai‘i senators’ last hope ended when
congressional leaders sealed a deal on the last spending bill for labor,
education, and health and human services appropriations. The Native
Hawaiian bill was discussed, but it was not included in the spending package.
"That’s a result we sort of expected some weeks ago," said Gary
Hoitsma, a spokesman for Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., who opposed the
bill on philosophical grounds, believing that it would amount to racial
preference for Native Hawaiians. "There are a lot of things dying now.
We feel that this bill is something that needs to be looked at a lot
more closely before it becomes law."
Hoitsma agreed that the Hawai‘i lawmakers will have a better shot at
passage next year, but he did not expect that Inhofe and other opponents
will change their minds.
"Some of us will still have concerns, and we’ll be prepared to talk
about them," he said. The Hawai‘i senators "will have to be counting votes."
Staff writer Yasmin Anwar contributed to this report.
Posted on: Thursday, December 14, 2000 in Honolulu Advertiser
Hawaiians assess bill's fate in 2001
Native legislation dies in U.S. Senate
By Yasmin Anwar, Advertiser Staff Writer
It was a bright hope at the end of a dark year of relentless challenges
to hard-won entitlements for many Native Hawaiians.
So when news hit that a bill died in the 106th Congress that would have
given federal recognition to the Native Hawaiian community, its local
supporters slumped under heavy disappointment, uncertain of where to
turn in the face of impending litigation that threatens to stop federal
financing of Hawaiian programs.
While some held out hope yesterday that the bill would be resurrected
in January when the next Congress convenes, others gave it bleak chances
of surviving a divided Congress with a Republican in the White House.
With the election of George W. Bush, "it’s dead forever," speculated
Tony Sang, chairman of the state Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations.
Like others who had placed their faith in federal recognition, he had
few if any contingency plans: "We’re looking for protection from the
lawsuits. What else can we do?" he said.
U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka introduced the bill in July to protect federal
money for Native Hawaiian entitlements in the aftermath of the U.S.
Supreme Court ruling in February striking down Hawaiian-only balloting
for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
The measure outlined a process to establish a Hawaiian governing entity
to do business with the United States, bringing Native Hawaiians in line
with federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native groups.
The bill drew a curious mix of opponents ranging from supporters of
total Hawaiian independence, who shunned the label of "Indians," to
local and national opponents of affirmative action and a group known as
"Aloha for All" that is seeking to dismantle Hawaiian-only entitlements.
Among the opponents was Theodore Olson, the Washington appellate lawyer
who successfully defended Bush’s efforts in the U.S. Supreme Court to
halt the Florida recount. He successfully argued last year against OHA’s
Hawaiian-only balloting during oral arguments in the landmark
But many Native Hawaiians who are dissatisfied with the status quo, and
not ready for total independence, looked to the measure to protect them
from lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Hawaiian entitlements
since Rice vs. Cayetano.
Now, with no assurance that the Akaka bill will survive to defend
Hawaiian entitlements from potentially devastating court decisions next
year, those who have lobbied for federal recognition of Native Hawaiians
said the outlook for the Hawaiian sovereignty movement looks bleak.
[Haunani-Kay Trask, Professor at the University of Hawai’i Center for Hawaiian Studies] anticipates civil disobedience from a Hawaiian "underclass" that
has risen from neglect of U.S. redress for past injustices.
She said that in the face of dwindling options for Hawaiian
sovereignty, "the strategies are litigation and negotiation" and "we
need a land base to improve our conditions."
Yesterday, OHA trustees-elect Haunani Apoliona, Rowena Akana and
Clayton Hee called a news conference to lament the bill’s failure to
survive the battle over the Florida recount and the partisan split in
But they were not ready to concede defeat and expressed confidence that
the bill’s sponsors would resurrect the measure next month. In the
meantime, they said, OHA must do its best to defend itself from two
formidable federal lawsuits threatening to dismantle the agency and
other Hawaiian programs.
The greatest threat looming is a lawsuit filed by Honolulu resident
Patrick Barrett, who is challenging the constitutionality of Article 12
of the Hawai‘i Constitution, which established OHA, adopted the federal
Hawaiian Homes Commission Act and provided for native gathering rights
on private property.
Lance Larsen, a Big Island resident who claims to be a subject of a
lawful Hawaiian kingdom that follows the Constitution that existed
before the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, said the fate of the
Akaka bill makes little difference to members of his group.
"It means nothing at all," said Larsen, who has taken his case to the
World Court in The Hague, Netherlands.
OHA trustee-elect Apoliona said the Hawaiian community needs to stay
united and focused despite the setback and that the sovereignty movement
is far from dead: "Our ancestors did not fold under adversity, and
neither will we."
Thursday, December 14, 2000
road lies ahead
for Akaka bill
By Pat Omandam, Star-Bulletin
A Republican administration and a split Congress will make it very hard for
Hawaii's all-Democratic delegation to secure passage of a native Hawaiian
recognition bill, say Hawaiians who support the Akaka bill.
Meanwhile, Inouye said federal recognition is not the only path for
Hawaiians because indigenous people states do not require federal
authorization to reorganize their native governments.
"This process can proceed without the involvement of the federal
government, and indeed, many have suggested that the process of
reorganizing a government to represent the native Hawaiian people should
proceed without the involvement of the United States," Inouye said.
Opponents, including some Hawaiian groups, said their rights and claims
for sovereignty at the international level would be voided if the measure
Posted on: Friday, December 15, 2000, The Honolulu Advertiser
Akaka to revive recognition bill
By Susan Roth Advertiser Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - Fresh from the defeat of the Native Hawaiian recognition
bill, Hawai‘i’s senators say they intend to reintroduce it much earlier
next year before Congress gets preoccupied by other issues, which helped
doom the measure this year.
In the last session, they introduced the bill in July, leaving only
four months to move it through Congress in a busy election year.
Starting earlier next year will give them more options and more time to
navigate the legislative waters, said Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai‘i, the
bill’s chief architect.
"I can’t help but look forward," Akaka said. "Maybe we can see some
things in a little better perspective now. I hope that the spirit of
comity and bipartisanship we are calling for will set a tone for
consideration of this bill."
The delegation’s late start this year meant that they had only two
legislative avenues for passing the bill - unanimous approval or
attachment to another must-pass measure. The same group of conservative
Republicans blocked both routes.
Akaka hopes that next year the measure can come to the Senate floor for
a debate and vote, where a handful of senators would not be able to stop
it. It could pass as an amendment to another bill or on its own.
The slender margin of Republican dominance in the House and the 50-50
split in the Senate give the bill’s supporters additional reason for
hope next year because many, if not all, Democrats have backed it. But
having George W. Bush in the White House might also cause problems for
the bill. President Clinton was seen as much more sympathetic to the
issue of Native Hawaiian rights.
In a way, the delegation will be starting from scratch again, but Akaka
said he is confident the measure could pass the House a second time. The
House leadership is not substantially changing, and the Republican
heavyweights who helped Hawai‘i Democratic Rep. Neil Abercrombie get the
bill passed by voice vote in the House in September are returning to Congress.
Akaka said all 46 Democrats in the current Senate would have voted for
the bill, and he expects that the new Senate will make the job even
easier if he can get the measure to the floor for a majority vote.
"I’m sure we’ll get some Republicans to support us," he said. "I knew
we’d attract some Republican votes this year, and the next time around
we’ll get them again. I think there’s time to work a little more to take
care of their concerns."
All the bill needs is one Republican vote to get a majority, but if any
opponent threatens to filibuster it, 60 votes will be necessary to end
the debate. Akaka said he believes he has a good shot at getting the 10
Republican votes he would need.
Several Republicans had expressed concerns that the bill would create
new U.S. financial obligations to Native Hawaiians while American
Indians already are struggling from a dearth of money. Sen. Dan Inouye,
D-Hawai‘i and a top member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, was
able to assuage some of those fears by promising to keep Hawaiian money
separate from Indian programs.
But the most tenacious objections came from senators who believed the
measure would amount to a federally sanctioned system of racial
preference for Native Hawaiians.
"Our delegation will have to sit down again, pull all the concerns
together and begin to address them, and develop another strategy to move
the bill as quickly as we can next time," Akaka said.
EDITORIAL Posted on Friday, December 15, 2000 in Honolulu Advertiser
Death of Hawaiian bill is not the final chapter
It’s a solid bet that the next effort to get a Native Hawaiian
"recognition" bill through Congress will be even tougher going than it
was this time around.
But the last-minute death of the legislation in the U.S. Senate this
week may not have been the worst possible outcome for those who are
pushing for Hawaiian self-determination. The measure will be introduced again next session. And in the meantime,
two things can happen that will strengthen both the legislation and its
chances of passing.
The first is that Hawaiians, unilaterally, can continue their
discussions and their work toward their own definition of a Hawaiian
entity. They don’t need Uncle Sam’s permission to do that.
It would be helpful if, by the time this bill is considered again,
Hawaiians can agree and put forth at least an example of what a Hawaiian
political entity would look like.
The second is that potential flaws in a bill that slipped into an
amazingly fast track in Congress can be worked out over the interim. For
instance, there could be greater clarity that this piece of federal
legislation does not prevent Hawaiians from pursuing a future political
identity that goes beyond the relationship envisioned here.
In short, there is time now to temper the steel of the argument for
Hawaiian self-determination and recognition.
Some analysts, including University of Hawai’i professor Haunani-Kay
Trask, fear that the national climate for affirmative action or
recognition of group rights is worsening. This could spell trouble for
the Hawaiian effort.
But the effort must move forward. In the short run, there are valuable
programs aimed at helping the Hawaiian community that today are under a
legal cloud. It is imperative that the cloud be lifted or the programs
restructured in a way that will stand legal and constitutional test.
Meanwhile, the failure of the recognition bill this time around must
not lead to impatience or worse. The process is moving - slowly and
perhaps clumsily - but it is moving.
Editorial Friday, December 15, 2000 in Honolulu Star-Bulletin
will be back in
The issue: The Hawaiian recognition bill has died in the Senate.
Our view: The measure will be reintroduced in the next session of Congress
and its prospects for passage should not be dismissed.
ONE lamentable casualty of the protracted battle over the Florida election returns was the Hawaiian
autonomy legislation before Congress. Hawaii's Senators Akaka and Inouye are resigned to its death
in the current session but vow to reintroduce the measure next year.
The proposal was rushed into legislative form primarily because of the Rice vs. Cayetano decision of
the U.S. Supreme Court last February, which nullified the Hawaiians-only voting restriction for the
Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
It was felt this lent urgency to the effort to obtain federal recognition of Hawaiians' desire for some
form of self-government such as that practiced by American Indian tribes, especially because
President Clinton, who was expected to sign the bill into law if it passed, would soon leave office.
From the outset, passage in this session was a long shot because of the pressure of time.
Inouye, and in the lower house Rep. Neil Abercrombie -- with Rep. Patsy Mink taking a hands-off
position -- resorted to extraordinary tactics in their attempts to win passage.
Abercrombie almost single-handedly succeeded in winning approval by the House last September.
However, in the Senate, a handful of conservatives raised objections and prevented unanimous
passage. The conservatives also blocked any attempt to attach the measure to one of the spending
This failure should not be taken as fatal. The bill will be revived next year and its chances of
adoption should not be discounted, even though the Republicans narrowly maintained control of
Congress. Nor should it be assumed that George W. Bush would veto the measure if it came to his
desk. Bush's controversial victory may make the president-elect more prone to compromise with
liberals on such issues.
Hawaii's congressional delegation, though small, has much seniority and influence far beyond its
numbers. Inouye, one of the most highly respected members of Congress, is a former chairman and
currently senior Democrat on the Indian Affairs Committee, which might handle this bill.
Some form of limited sovereignty appears to be the most realistic approach to satisfy Hawaiian
aspirations for self-government. Full sovereignty for a Hawaiian nation, advocated by some, is a
fantasy that can only impede progress toward this achievable goal.
If Hawaiians and sympathetic non-Hawaiians unite behind the Akaka bill, it may pass.
Unfortunately, a consensus among Hawaiian has yet to be achieved.
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