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History of the Akaka Bill From January 25 to March 10, 2005 -- bill introduced; McCain opposed but will not block it; Senate Indian committee hearing; committee amended bill and approved it

Here is an outline of some of the major events to be covered in detail below (about 35 pages of detail):

January 25: Bill introduced in both House and Senate

January 27: Senator McCain announces he will not use his power as committee chairman to kill the bill.

March 1: Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs holds a hearing (audio/video download available)

Governor Linda Lingle lobbies Senators

March 9: Senate Indian committee holds business meeting and approves Akaka bill with amendment


On January 25, 2005 the “Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization” bill was introduced in both the Senate and the House. Its bill numbers are S.147 and H.R.309. Both bills have identical wording, so that if they both pass, then no conference committee would be necessary and the bill would go directly to the President for signature. The complete text of S.147 as taked directly from the Congressional Record can be seen at:

On January 25, 2005, at the time they introduced the new Akaka bill in the Senate and House, speeches were given and entered in the Congressional Record by Senators Akaka and Inouye, and Representatives Abercrombie and Case. The full text of those speeches can be seen, along with red-pen corrections and comments by Professor Ken Conklin, at:

Honolulu attorney Paul M. Sullivan updated his 61-page point-by-point analysis of the Akaka bill, including cartoons by Daryl Cagle. See:

Honolulu Advertiser, Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Akaka requests hearing for Native Hawaiian bill

By Frank Oliveri
Advertiser Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Hawai'i Sen. Daniel Akaka wants the Senate Indian Affairs Committee to hold a hearing on Native Hawaiian federal recognition in late February or early March when Hawai'i Gov. Linda Lingle is in Washington.

The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005 — otherwise known as the Akaka bill — was introduced in the Senate and House yesterday by all four Hawai'i lawmakers, beginning the process that they hope will culminate in a vote by Congress this year. The bill's next step is in committee: Indian Affairs in the Senate and Resources in the House.

The Akaka bill would set a framework for the creation of a Native Hawaiian government. That governing body would then be empowered to negotiate with the federal and state governments over the disposition of Native Hawaiian lands, the exercise of civil and criminal jurisdiction, and the delegation of governmental powers and authorities to Native Hawaiians by the federal and state governments. Akaka said his goal is parity in federal policies between Native Hawaiians, Native Americans and Native Alaskans.

Patricia Zell, minority staff director and chief counsel of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, said Lingle, a Republican, would prefer to testify on behalf of the Akaka bill while she is in Washington attending a National Governors' Association meeting.

In an impassioned plea on the Senate floor yesterday, Akaka said the legislation would not sanction race-based preferences as has been stated by those opposed to the bill. "Native Hawaiians never relinquished their inherent rights to sovereignty," Akaka said. "We were a government that was overthrown. ... I strenuously disagree with the mischaracterization of this legislation as race-based."

West Hawaii Today (Kona), January 26, 2005

Hawaiian recognition bill reintroduced

By Samantha Young
Stephens Media Group

WASHINGTON -- Reminding that the U.S. government overthrew the Kingdom of Hawaii more than 100 years ago, Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, on Tuesday revived a bill that would allow Native Hawaiians to seek self- governing rights. "As indigenous peoples, Native Hawaiians never relinquished their inherent rights to sovereignty," Akaka said as he reintroduced a Hawaiian federal recognition bill that has been a major focus of state leaders and native advocates. "We were a government that was overthrown," said Akaka, who is part Hawaiian. "Native Hawaiians have preserved their culture, tradition, subsistence rights, language and distinct communities. We have tried to hold on to our homeland. Hawaii for us is our homeland." Hawaii's four Democrat lawmakers backed the legislation that would allow Native Hawaiians to organize and seek government recognition.

Eventually, the new Hawaiian entity could negotiate with federal and state governments for control of land, natural resources, law enforcement authority and other rights, Akaka said.

The bill is slated for a vote on the Senate floor by Aug. 7, according to an agreement reached last year between Hawaii senators and Republican leaders. Hawaii senators say they have the backing of their Democrats and a handful of Republicans. It remained to be seen whether they have enough votes to pass the recognition bill and send it to President Bush. The president has not commented on the measure. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said Tuesday he believes the bill will garner the 51 votes needed to pass the Senate -- but critics have raised concerns.

Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., has likened recognition of a Hawaiian nation to a racial initiative that would divide people in the state.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, maintained Hawaiians were informed in 1959 that they would not be given recognition when the islands became a U.S. state. McCain said Tuesday he told Hawaii senators "I'd be glad to listen to their arguments." McCain said he would hold a hearing on the reintroduced bill and would allow it to be voted on in the Indian Affairs Committee.

The White House also has expressed reservations about the bill, questioning whether the Constitution could allow Native Hawaiians to be treated like Indian tribes that are granted formal government recognition.

Advocates of Hawaiian recognition say Congress has a duty to reconcile the government's relations with Native Hawaiians after U.S. soldiers illegally overthrew the island monarchy in 1893. Akaka said Congress has the political and legal authority in the Indian Commerce Clause of the Constitution to recognize Hawaiians as indigenous people of the United States.

"As long as Hawaii is a part of the United States, I believe the United States must fulfill its responsibility to Hawaii's indigenous peoples," he said.

Other provisions of the bill would authorize the Office of Native Hawaiian Relations in the Department of Interior to serve as a liaison between Hawaiians and the federal government. The measure also creates an interagency coordinating group to oversee federal funding to Hawaiians.

West Hawaii Today (Kona), Thursday, January 27, 2005

McCain says he will not block recognition bill

By Samantha Young
Stephens Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., announced Wednesday that he will not stop a Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill even though he has said he personally opposes it. "While I still have concerns with this legislation, I will not block its consideration on the Senate floor if that's the will of this panel," said McCain, the new chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee.

At the panel's first meeting of the year, McCain listed the Native Hawaiian bill among the committee's priorities. He said he also will convene hearings on Indian health care, trust reform, tribal recognition and Indian gaming.

McCain's public commitment to allow the Hawaiian bill to reach on the Senate floor came two weeks after he predicted the measure would not clear his own committee. His earlier comments sparked alarm among advocates of the legislation in Hawaii and Washington, including Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, who met privately with the Arizona senator. McCain had explained his opposition by saying that when Hawaii became a state in 1959 there was an implicit agreement that Hawaiians would not be granted self governing rights like Indian tribes.

Inouye was present Wednesday when McCain commented on the Native Hawaiian matter. Afterward, Inouye smiled, motioned in McCain's direction and said, "Did you hear him?" Hawaii lawmakers in December secured an agreement with Republican leaders that their recognition bill would be allowed a vote before Aug. 7.

The state's four Democrat lawmakers on Tuesday reintroduced the recognition bill, which sets up a process for Hawaiians to organize and seek federal recognition from the U.S. government.

Meanwhile, Hawaii sources said McCain plans to hold a hearing either in late February or early March while Gov. Linda Lingle is in Washington for an annual governors' conference. The board of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs also is expected to fly to Washington to show its support, said OHA Washington lobbyist Martha Ross.


A HEARING ON THE AKAKA BILL, S.147, WILL BE HELD IN THE COMMITTEE ROOM OF THE SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON INDIAN AFFAIRS ON TUESDAY MARCH 1, 2005 AT 10 AM WASHINGTON TIME (5 AM HAWAI’I TIME). The hearing will be broadcast live over the internet with the use of “Realplayer” through a link provided on the webpage of the Indian Affairs Committee at
The link is not yet available, but if the committee follows the same procedure used two years ago, that link will be placed on the committee webpage and will be activated shortly before the hearing begins.

It appears that, as in the past, the hearing will be “rigged” to allow live testimony only from invited guests favorable to the bill, probably to include Hawai’i Governor Linda Lingle, OHA Chair Haunani Apoliona, and perhaps DHHL Chair Micah Kane.

Sending testimony is complicated by the fact that U.S. mail is still delayed for perhaps several weeks before delivery to Congress, due to the need for heightened security precautions including X-ray, and to irradiate it for anthrax. The quickest way to send testimony is by e-mail with immediate follow-up by fax. Hardcopy can then be sent if time allows.

Send testimony by e-mail to the committee, not later than March 4, at

Immediately follow up by sending testimony by both e-mail and fax to the Chairman of the committee, Senator McCain, with a cover letter asking that it be distributed to all committee members. If time allows, also send a hardcopy by U.S. mail or FedEx.

Senator John McCain
241 Russell Senate Ofc. Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone # (202) 224-2235
Fax # (202) 228-2862

Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Saturday, February 26, 2005, HEADLINE STORY

Gov pans Akaka bill effort
Inouye and Akaka are criticized for not educating colleagues on Hawaiian issues

By Mary Vorsino

Gov. Linda Lingle says Hawaii's senators have failed to adequately educate their congressional colleagues on the Akaka bill, which would grant federal recognition to native Hawaiians and is scheduled to go before a Senate committee on Tuesday.

"I think they need to make their colleagues aware of the bill. ... I think they need to redouble their efforts," Lingle said in a telephone interview yesterday from Washington, D.C., where she is attending a meeting of the National Governors Association. "I have been a little frustrated that it hasn't gone further on the congressional side."

Lingle plans to testify at next week's Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing, the first for the bill this year. Both Hawaii senators and several Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees also are scheduled to make comments.

But the Republican governor said yesterday that during her time in Washington, D.C., she has stepped up efforts to talk to senators about the Akaka bill after being disappointed at how ill-informed some lawmakers are on the measure.

"I kept running across people who had never heard of it," she said, though she declined to say who she has talked to about the bill. Lingle added she was "under the impression" that Hawaii's two senators had been charged with persuading members of Congress to back the bill, while she was to convince the Bush administration to support it. "I find I'm splitting my time" between the two efforts, Lingle said. "I just feel the delegation ... they just weren't talking to enough people."

Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye said Lingle's criticism is unfounded, given that members of Congress consider thousands of bills annually and "no one expects any member to know everything that happens," especially when it does not pertain to their state. "At this stage, I think the most important step would be the president," said Inouye. "My relationship with the president is not as good as Gov. Lingle's relationship. ... That's where she can do the most good."

President Bush has not voiced his position on the bill, but Lingle and others -- including Inouye -- are confident that he will back it if it passes.

The Akaka bill was introduced to Congress in 2000 and would establish an office in the U.S. Department of Interior to address native Hawaiian issues and create an interagency to administer programs for native Hawaiians. Under the bill, which has been revised several times since its introduction, the federal government would formally recognize Hawaiians -- as it does American Indians and native Alaskans -- as a native population.

Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka has said he has received assurances that the bill will pass out of committee and onto the Senate floor for a vote from Senate Republicans who had prevented a vote on the measure last year. He hopes the bill will come to a full Senate vote by August. Akaka's spokeswoman, Donalyn Dela Cruz, said yesterday that the senator is confident that this will be the year that the Akaka bill is passed. "I think Sen. Akaka is definitely hopeful," she said. "He's worked very hard in reintroducing it this year ... but Sen. Akaka definitely has a fight ahead of him."

Inouye's chief concern about the Akaka bill this session is that the measure will get buried under other massive issues facing Congress, including the funding of the Iraq war and Social Security reform. "This year may be a difficult year," he said. "The agenda is an overwhelming one. We're at war. The president has his sights set on revisions of the Social Security laws. He has a plan to make permanent certain tax cuts. "There's a full platter. A measure like this, it's important to Hawaii, but it's not on the top" of Bush's agenda.

Dela Cruz said that Akaka has met with all members of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and has talked extensively to other senators about the bill. Inouye also said that he has briefed members of the committee, including its chairman, Sen. John McCain.

McCain has voiced opposition to the bill, saying he would prefer to increase funding for existing native Hawaiian programs rather than pass the measure. "When Hawaii became a state," the Arizona Republican said in January, "there was an implicit agreement at that time that native Hawaiians would not receive the same status as native Americans."

But Inouye said yesterday that McCain has assured him that he will vote to report the bill out of the Indian Affairs Committee so that it can get a full Senate vote. "I can't ask for anything more," Inouye said.

Lingle said the bill has languished for too long, and she intends to "stay very focused this year" on its passage. "We're ready to move forward on this," she said, adding that she is not thinking about how to proceed if the bill fails for a fifth year.


Based on the article above, cartoonist Corky Trinidad published the follwing cartoon in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin of Sunday February 27, 2005. (Note: the word "Kaka" means "crap.") The cartoon has its own URL of

That cartoon also calls to mind another cartoon by Corky in the Star-Bulletin of October 26, 2003 showing Governor Lingle lobbying President Bush for the Akaka bill during a ride to the airport when President Bush was visiting Hawai’i on a layover from a trip to Asia.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Governor promotes Akaka bill on the Hill
Associated Press

Gov. Linda Lingle met with Sen. John McCain at his Washington, D.C., office yesterday, the eve of a congressional hearing on a bill to grant federal recognition to native Hawaiians, her office said.

McCain is chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which has scheduled a hearing on the so-called Akaka bill for this morning. The Arizona Republican has said that although he opposes the Hawaiian recognition bill, he would not interfere with an agreement between the Senate's GOP leaders and Hawaii Sens. Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye to allow a Senate vote on the bill this year.

Lingle, who is in Washington to attend the National Governors Association events, said yesterday's meeting was positive and that she felt optimistic about today's hearing, her spokesman, Russell Pang, said. Lingle was scheduled to testify at the hearing, along with Attorney General Mark Bennett, Haunani Apoliona, chairwoman of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and Micah Kane, director of the Hawaiian Homes Commission.

Lingle also spoke to President Bush about the measure Sunday night at a black-tie dinner for the governors at the White House, which Lingle attended with her chief of staff, Bob Awana. "She said it's been a unique opportunity to talk to the president in a more relaxed environment," Pang said. Lingle spent Sunday night at the White House in first daughter Jenna Bush's bedroom and was to stay there again last night, Pang said. Six other governors, all Republicans, were also overnight guests at the White House. Lingle was scheduled to leave Washington tomorrow for Los Angeles, where she was to speak to her alma mater, California State University at Northridge.

Honolulu Advertiser, Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Lingle testifies in favor of Akaka bill

Here is the text of Gov. Linda Lingle's testimony in favor of U.S. Senate Bill 147, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005, also known as the Akaka bill. Lingle testified today in Washington, D.C., before the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

Chairman (U.S. Sen. John) McCain, Vice-Chair (U.S. Sen. Byron) Dorgan, Senator (Daniel) Inouye, Senator (Daniel) Akaka, and other committee members, thank you for this opportunity to speak with you today about an issue of great importance to my state. Knowing the many pressing national issues you are facing, I am especially grateful for the time you are allocating to hear testimony today on SB147, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005.

I am appearing before you on behalf of the people of Hawai'i. We are seeking justice for the Native Hawaiian people, who have been made to wait too long for the kind of recognition that Congress has granted to America's other indigenous peoples.

Let me address up front the claim by some opponents of SB147 that federal recognition of Native Hawaiians constitutes a race-based preference or racial discrimination. Calling SB147 a race-based preference ignores both the facts and the historic relationship that has existed between the United States, the former Kingdom of Hawai'i and the Native Hawaiian people since at least 1826.

Let's look at the facts.

Native Hawaiians were governed by their own leaders and their own laws long before Europeans and Americans came to the Hawaiian Islands.

The United States recognized and understood that the Kingdom of Hawai'i was a sovereign nation as evidenced by the exercise of Congress' constitutional authority to confirm treaties between the United States and the Kingdom of Hawai'i as far back as 1826.

When the United States annexed Hawai'i as a territory, it effectively subordinated the Native Hawaiian government to the federal government. Hence the United States' relationship to the people governed by the Native Hawaiian government was political, not racial, in nature.

To those who opine that SB147 will result in racial discrimination, I would posit that the only discrimination that can reasonably be associated with this bill is if it fails to become law. Let me explain this point.

The United States is inhabited by three indigenous peoples-American Indians, Native Alaskans and Native Hawaiians. While these three indigenous groups differ in culture, history, and anthropological origin, all share three fundamental attributes: (1) they were here long before any European explorer ever set foot on the North American continent or the Hawaiian archipelago; (2) they lived according to their own governmental structures on their homelands long before the federal government of the United States was imposed upon them; and (3) the United States historically acknowledged their existence as distinct nations.

Congress has given two of these three populations full self-governance rights. The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act allows Native Hawaiians to receive parity with the nation's other indigenous peoples. To withhold recognition of the Native Hawaiian people therefore amounts to discrimination since it would continue to treat the nation's three groups of indigenous people differently.

The United States has historically recognized Native Hawaiians as a separate indigenous people by entering treaties with them as early as 1826 and enacting over 150 pieces of legislation relating them, including measures as recent as 2004.

Yet today there is no one governmental entity able to speak for or represent Native Hawaiians. The Act before you today would finally allow the process to begin that would bring equal treatment to the Native Hawaiian people.

You are not being asked to extend the ability to establish a self-governing structure to the Native Hawaiians because of their race. Rather you are being asked to do so because of their unique status as the indigenous people of a once sovereign nation to whom the United States has a recognized trust responsibility. Passage of SB147 would grant simple, but profound justice to the proud Native Hawaiian people whose future well-being is essential to the long-term well-being of the State of Hawai'i.

Besides granting long-delayed justice to the Native Hawaiian people, SB147 achieves four important results for everyone in the State of Hawai'i.

1. Enhances the ability of individual Native Hawaiians to become more self-sufficient, which reduces their reliance on state and federally funded services. A Native Hawaiian government using existing appropriated funds will be in a position to engage in meaningful economic development that not only will generate revenue for social services and other programs, but most importantly will create new employment opportunities for individual Native Hawaiians.

2. Provides greater accountability for and makes more efficient and effective use of state and federal programs. In more than 150 pieces of legislation passed during the past 85 years Congress has recognized the unique needs of Native Hawaiians. Having a single governmental entity to represent and speak for the Native Hawaiian people will maximize the effectiveness of these programs and make it easier to ensure accountability.

3. Creates the best opportunity to preserve the Native Hawaiian culture. The unique nature of Hawai'i is derived largely from the indigenous culture of the Native Hawaiians. Native governments, like the one established by this Act, are well documented to best nurture and protect traditional native culture and values. In Hawai'i, where the Native Hawaiian culture is the primary attraction for a tourist industry that fuels the State's economy, preservation of the Native Hawaiian culture is an economic imperative.

4. Protects existing programs by clarifying that the relationship between the United States and the Native Hawaiian people has government-to-government origins rather than racial origins. Current and continuing legal challenges are unnecessarily putting programs to benefit Native Hawaiians at risk. As I previously testified before your committee in 2003, this bill is vital to the survival of the Native Hawaiian people, it is vital to providing parity in federal policy for all native peoples in America, and it is vital to the continued character of the State of Hawai'i.

Let me conclude by telling you that this bill will be a unifying force for our state. It is supported by every elected official of both major political parties, it is supported overwhelmingly by people of all ethnic backgrounds, and it is supported by a majority of the state's business community, including the two largest banks. Your passage of SB147 will allow a process to begin that will lead to the kind of self-government enjoyed by the nation's other indigenous people and it will reaffirm our nation's commitment of equal treatment for all its citizens. Thank you again for allocating the committee's valuable time to consider this matter of great importance to the people and the State of Hawai'i.



Honolulu Advertiser, Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Vote on Akaka bill could come next week

By Dennis Camire and Vicki Viotti

WASHINGTON — Legislation formally recognizing Native Hawaiians as an indigenous people could come up for a vote in the Senate Indian Affairs Committee as early as next week. The development was cheered by supporters, and the legislation's lead sponsor, Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, D-Hawai'i, predicted the committee would approve the bill and that it would get a full Senate vote before August. "This bill holds the promise for all of us in Hawai'i to come to terms with Hawai'i's unique and often painful history, to rectify inequities and to move on as a state," Akaka said.

The measure would create a framework for Native Hawaiian governance that would be able to negotiate with the United States and Hawai'i over disposition of Native Hawaiian assets.

Its journey through Congress has been marked by fits and starts since introduction in 2000. It was approved by the full House that year, only to stall in the Senate until it was reintroduced in January.

As a hearing on the legislation began yesterday, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, said he had concerns about the bill's impact on agreements, liabilities or obligations made when Hawai'i became a state in 1959. Another concern was spreading federal resources for Native Americans and Native Alaskans "any thinner than they already are" with the possible addition of Native Hawaiians, McCain said. But after hearing from Gov. Linda Lingle and other Hawai'i and Native American officials, McCain said, "a lot of my concerns were satisfied," but more work is needed.

The legislation, nicknamed the Akaka bill, is formally known as the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005. It would lead to the U.S. government's recognition of the nation's 400,000 Native Hawaiians in the same way that it recognizes American Indians and Native Alaskans.

Lingle said the people of Hawai'i are "seeking justice for the Native Hawaiian people who have been made to wait too long for the kind of recognition that Congress has granted to other indigenous peoples." "This bill is vital to the survival of the Native Hawaiian people," Lingle said. "It is vital to providing parity in federal policy for all native peoples in America, and it is vital for the continued character of the state of Hawai'i."

Rep. Ed Case, D-Hawai'i, said he was optimistic about the bill's chances for passage in the House. "We have continued to work very well with both the Republicans and the Democrats on the relevant committees in the House," he said. "My sense is that we're simply picking up where we left off."

The real issue is the Bush administration's position, which is not known, Case said.

McCain noted that the Justice Department was invited to testify on the legislation but did not.

The oral testimony also did not include remarks that some of the bill's opponents submitted in writing. Among the opponents is Maui Loa, who identified himself as chief of the "Hou Band" of those with at least 50 percent Hawaiian blood. Those in this blood-quantum category — described as "native Hawaiians of the Blood" — have been underserved by the state, with federal resources going toward beneficiaries of less-Hawaiian ancestry, he said, adding that the Akaka bill, as written, would perpetuate that shortcoming. "The Hou Band prays that Congress in its desire to fix one problem does not create further hardship for the native Hawaiian of the Blood by permanently codifying the broadened definition," he said.

Another opponent, Kai'opua Fyfe of the Kaua'i-based nonprofit Koani Foundation, submitted testimony calling the bill "fatally flawed" because it proposes to recognize "only a portion of the class of people, those who descend from the original inhabitants of Hawai'i," rather than the descendants of the multi-ethnic subjects of the kingdom overthrown in 1893. Fyfe also urged the committee to hold hearings in Hawai'i, a plea echoed by others observing the proceedings from Honolulu. Among them are lawyers William Burgess, who has represented plaintiffs in a court challenge against Hawaiian entitlement programs, and Bruce Fein, a constitutional lawyer who has written arguments against the Akaka bill appearing in The Advertiser.

Both attorneys said federal recognition accorded to Native Americans shouldn't extend to Hawaiians because there is no existing native government entity in Hawai'i to recognize. The government that was overthrown was multi-ethnic, they said.

In the hearing chambers, however, the message delivered from Hawai'i was entirely supportive.

Last week, Lingle criticized the state's two senators for not doing enough to educate Congress about the legislation. But yesterday, spokesman Lenny Klompus said Lingle had no further comment on the criticisms. "Today was such a positive day, the governor prefers just to move forward, and she is looking forward to next week and the senators doing their part to pass this out of committee," Klompus said.

Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawai'i, had a cold and missed yesterday's hearing, said his spokesman, Mike Yuen. Donalyn Dela Cruz, spokeswoman for Akaka, noted that Lingle thanked Akaka publicly yesterday for his work on the bill. "In regard to the criticism ... I don't think it's directed toward Sen. Akaka," she said. "That's not something the senator is going to dive into because he has had a very positive relationship with the governor in working to get this bill through."

While in Washington for the winter meeting of the National Governors Association, Lingle said, she met with a variety of Bush administration officials and members of Congress to talk about the legislation. She said she also spent Sunday and Monday nights at the White House as a guest of President and Laura Bush. "It gave me a unique opportunity in a casual way to mention it," she said. "Obviously you don't want to be a pest when someone invites you to their home. But they know this is a concern of mine." Under questioning from the Indian Affairs Committee's top Democrat, Sen. Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, Lingle said that she didn't press administration officials to commit to supporting the legislation. "I asked them to keep open-minded to let us continue to present information," Lingle said. Lingle said she wished she could tell "with 100-percent certainty" what the Bush administration's opinion would be. "I can't do that, but I can tell you that I am very optimistic and, again, they know how important this is," she said.

Haunani Apoliona, who chairs the Office of Hawaiian Affairs board of trustees, said she was optimistic about the bill's chances. She began her testimony with a chant, saying "We deserve to be treated with the same respect as America's other indigenous groups."

Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Wednesday, March 2, 2005, Excerpts providing additional information

The committee's chairman, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the panel would vote on the bill, commonly called the Akaka bill after sponsor Sen. Daniel Akaka, next Wednesday, giving some impetus to a measure that has stalled in the past three sessions of Congress.

Rep. Ed Case, D-Hawaii, sponsor of a companion bill in the House with Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, called it "the most vital single piece of legislation" for Hawaii since statehood in 1959. Self-determination for native Hawaiians has become a more prominent issue since Congress in 1993 passed the "Apology Resolution" in which the United States acknowledged wrongdoings in the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom in 1893 and recognized the inherent sovereignty of the indigenous islanders over their land. Self-determination, said Akaka, D-Hawaii, a native Hawaiian and author of the Senate bill with his Hawaii colleague, Sen. Daniel Inouye, "holds the promise for all of us in Hawaii to come to terms with Hawaii's unique and often painful history." Akaka said Lingle's support demonstrates that addressing the conditions of Hawaii's indigenous peoples is a nonpartisan priority. "The aloha spirit, for which the people of Hawaii are known, is grounded in the culture and tradition of Hawaii's indigenous peoples," Akaka said. "For that reason, Hawaii's citizens, whether or not they are native Hawaiian, appreciate and support efforts to preserve the culture and tradition of native Hawaiians."

McCain, who said he was keeping an open mind on the legislation, expressed concern that self-governance could result in depleting already inadequate federal funds for American Indian programs. But Lingle and others testifying, including the chairwoman of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Haunani Apoliona, and Jade Danner of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, gave assurances that the costs would be minimal. They also stressed that the bill would specifically rule out the legalization of native Hawaiian gambling enterprises and that it would take an act of Congress to recognize gambling.

Lingle optimistic on Akaka bill passing
** sub-article By Ron Staton, Associated Press

After testifying before a U.S. Senate committee and meeting with its chairman, Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday she is optimistic that the native Hawaiian recognition bill will be approved. Lingle said the bill will go up for a vote next Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, which must approve the measure before it goes to the full Senate.

Lingle said she also is optimistic that if the so-called Akaka bill, which has stalled in the past three sessions of Congress, is passed by both the Senate and House, the Bush administration will support it. "But we don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves," the Republican governor said in an interview from Washington, D.C. "We first need to get it through the Senate and House."

Lingle said she stayed at the White House Monday night and had the opportunity to mention the bill again to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. She said she also talked to Karl Rove, Bush's senior political adviser.

Lingle said she was still meeting with Senate Republicans to make them aware of the bill and perhaps sign them on as co-sponsors. "We are trying to talk to as many Republicans as we can in both the House and Senate," she said. The governor said she is leaving it to the four Democrats in Hawaii's congressional delegation -- Sens. Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye and Reps. Neil Abercrombie and Ed Case -- to talk to congressional Democrats.

Lingle said she met privately with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the chairman of the Senate committee who, in the past, has said he was opposed to the bill. "He pledged to be open-minded and I think he has done that," she said. "He asked good questions (at the hearing)."

The question of how the bill would affect non-Hawaiians has come up only in issues such as land use and taxation, Lingle said. Any changes in those areas would require agreement by Congress, the state Legislature and the native government entity, she said. "We have removed that as an issue," she said.

She also said the question of how the bill would affect Native Alaskans and American Indians is no longer an issue. "Both groups testified and said our bill would not have an impact on them," she said.

In her testimony, Lingle said she was speaking on behalf of the people of Hawaii for a bill that overwhelmingly is supported by people of all ethnic backgrounds. "We are seeking justice for the native Hawaiian people, who have been made to wait too long for the kind of recognition that Congress has granted to America's other indigenous peoples," she said.

"You are not being asked to extend the ability to establish a self-governing structure to the native Hawaiians because of their race," Lingle said. "Rather you are being asked to do so because of their unique status as the indigenous people of a once sovereign nation to whom the United States has a recognized trust responsibility."


This excellent report contains many important political details not mentioned in other news reports about the Indian Affairs Committee hearing.
Hawaii Tribune-Herald (Hilo), Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Lingle hopeful of bill

Governor: Hawaiian recognition legislation will be signed by Bush

Stephens Media Group

WASHINGTON -- After spending three days at the White House, Gov. Linda Lingle told a Senate panel on Tuesday she believes President Bush would sign a Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill if Congress approves the measure.

Lingle gave the upbeat assessment at a Senate hearing on landmark legislation that would allow Native Hawaiians to create their own government and seek sovereignty from the United States. "I am optimistic if the Senate passes this and the House passes it, (Bush) will be supportive," said Lingle, who is friendly with the president. The Senate Indian Affairs Committee sponsored the session, where Hawaii state officials urged the Native Hawaiian bill be moved towards passage.

The Justice Department, which is known to have reservations, did not send a witness to testify and did not return phone calls seeking comment on the bill.

The Native Hawaiian bill creates a process for an estimated 400,000 Hawaiians to organize and seek self governance from the federal government.

McCain said the committee would vote on the bill next week, early in the session so that Hawaii senators could get the measure to the floor by August, as promised in a deal they struck with Senate leaders last fall. "The history of Native Hawaiians is not one of the shining moments in our history," McCain said. "That said, I want to make sure this legislation is not inconsistent with any agreements of 1959," when Hawaii was granted statehood.

The Arizona senator said his staff was researching whether Hawaii's statehood agreement prohibited Hawaiian recognition, a concern that Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett said Tuesday was unfounded.

McCain also said the bill should not release the state of Hawaii from its financial obligations to Hawaiians. "I'm happy to keep an open mind on this issue," McCain said. "I have reservations but I think these reservations will be ventilated here in this process."

Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, both D-Hawaii, last year secured an agreement with Republicans leaders to allow a vote on the bill this year. Previous attempts to bring the matter to the floor have been blocked. "The difference this time is we'll be able to take it to the floor," Akaka said after the hearing which drew dozens of Hawaiians to the small Senate room. "We're expecting to do it before August."

Rep. Ed Case, D-Hawaii, said he and Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, planned to wait until the Senate approves the bill before proceeding with the legislation in the House. The House passed the bill in 2000. "We have no reason to believe any of our support has eroded," Case said.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Lingle said she met this week with White House budget director Joshua Bolten and Bush advisors Karl Rove and Claude Allen about the bill.

Lingle, who slept two nights at the White House, said she also raised the issue with Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney during dinner. In her meetings, Lingle said she explained how the state of Hawaii faces a flood of legal challenges in how it handles Native Hawaiian homelands, education and other grants.

A federal law would give the state ammunition against these claims, the governor and Attorney General Bennett said. "We believe we can with passage of this bill have a clear mandate once and for all for the dismissal of all lawsuits," Bennett told the committee.

But the White House has its own legal questions. Lingle said. Bush administration officials continue to express doubts that the federal government can recognize Native Hawaiians as it now does Native Americans and Native Alaskans, Lingle said. "The official concern is tied to the constitutionality of the bill," Lingle said.

Specifically, the Justice Department has suggested the Indian Commerce Clause does not apply to Native Hawaiians, who were never organized as a tribe like Native Americans.

White House officials also have questioned whether a Native Hawaiian entity would promote racial preferences, Lingle said. That view is also shared by several dissident groups in Hawaii.

White House spokesman Ken Lisaius said Tuesday that the administration has yet to take a position on the measure.

OHA chairwoman Haunani Apoliona presented the bill as one of fairness, pointing to Indian tribes and Alaska Natives who have been recognized by the federal government. "In this legislation, as Hawaiians, we seek only what long ago was granted this nation's other indigenous peoples," Apoliona said.

Hawaii representatives assured McCain the bill would not allow gambling and would not steer federal funding from Indian tribes.

Tex Hall, the chairman of the National Congress of American Indians, reiterated his support for the bill but asked that lawmakers add clarifying language to the bill that funding to the Indian Health Service and other Indian services not be shared with Hawaiians.


** Ken Conklin reporting **
On Wednesday March 9 the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs held a business meeting, which was broadcast live over the internet (sound only). During that meeting the committee spent ten minutes discussing the Akaka bill. The committee approved an amendment to clarify that Native Hawaiians generally will not be eligible to receive federal funds intended for Indians and Indian tribes (currently about 160 federal programs that benefit Native Hawaiians are funded through provisions specifically naming them in legislation for particular Indian programs, rather than through the general programs of the Bureau of Indian Affairs).

Committee Chairman Senator McCain began by thanking the Senators from Hawaii "for working with the Committee to allay one of the reasons for my concern with the bill." He said S.147 could result in as many as 400,000 people being recognized as indigenous native people. He described the substitute amendment.

Senator Craig Thomas (R Wyoming) said he "didn't know", apparently the way the bill as drafted now it is "something we could go with" but was "concerned about attempts to change the bill in the future to grant more of a sovereignty kind of thing or to make more money to go here", "frankly" he had some "concerns."

Senator Gordon Smith (R Oregon) thanked the Hawaii Senators, said it costs our nation very very little to recognize these indigenous people in the way they wish to be recognized. It is long overdue given the history of Hawaiian statehood and the way it came into the United States. Its the minimum thing we can do. It has my whole hearted support and "I hope Senator Inouye has me down as an original co-sponsor."

Senator Byron Dorgan (D North Dakota) Vice Chairman thanked the 2 Hawaii senators, noted that he is also a co-sponsor and said it is a "major step forward."

Senator Inouye thanked Senator McCain for scheduling the meeting last week (the March 1 hearing); said he was sorry that illness prevented him from appearing but he was "glad the Governor was here." Senator Akaka appreciated Chairman McCain and Vice Chair Dorgan and the co-sponsors, including Maria Cantwell and Lisa Murkowski.

The Committe then, with no dissent, adopted the amendment and then adopted S.147 as amended.

The text of Akaka bill S.147 as amended can be seen (when it becomes available) at:

Click here to download a pdf file for the testimony of each major witness who appeared at the Indian Affairs Committee hearing, including Governor Lingle, Senator Akaka, Congressman Ed Case, Congressman Eni Faleomavaega, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and the National Congress of American Indians.

West Hawaii Today (Kona), Thursday, March 10, 2005

Senate panel OKs Native Hawaiian bill


By Samantha Young
Stephens Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- A Native Hawaiian bid to win federal recognition from the U.S. government came a step closer on Wednesday when it was approved by a key Senate panel.

The Indian Affairs Committee approved legislation that would allow Native Hawaiians to organize and seek federal approval to establish an elected government. The committee approved the measure by a voice vote after a brief discussion where four senators spoke in support and one senator expressed reservations.

Hawaii senators departed the hearing room all smiles and said they would meet with Republican leaders to schedule a Senate floor debate and vote for the bill. "We know we can get it to the floor, but the question is when," said Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii. Republican leaders promised last year to make time for the Hawaiian bill before Aug. 7. Republican senators previously have blocked the legislation on procedural grounds.

It remained unclear whether the measure will garner the necessary votes to win passage in the Senate. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said he expected opponents would "use every means at their disposal" to prevent the measure from becoming law.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who had been critical of the Native Hawaiian effort, chose not to block the bill. McCain last week said Congress might not have the legal authority to recognize Native Hawaiians under agreements forged with Hawaii at the time of statehood.

Akaka said McCain's concerns were addressed.

Before the committee approved the bill, McCain inserted a provision shielding American Indian programs and services from sharing congressional funding with Native Hawaiians. "I understand it's not the purpose of this legislation to allow Native Hawaiians access to programs for Native Indians," McCain said.

Inouye said he welcomed the Indian provision. "That's what we've been saying all along," Inouye said. "We've been assuring everyone that this measure would not in any way reduce funding for Indians. We just put it in writing."

But Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., said he remained concerned that a Native Hawaiian sovereign government might in the future try to grab funding now allocated to Indian tribes.

The Hawaiian bill establishes a process for an estimated 400,000 Native Hawaiians to organize their own government.

Supporters said legal and political recognition of Native Hawaiians is a matter of fairness for the first inhabitants of the islands. They also pointed to the more than 150 laws approved by Congress since the early 1900s that allocate funding and territory to Native Hawaiians. "It's not any attempt at secession. It's a cry for respect," said Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore.

Critics contend Congress does not have the authority to recognize Native Hawaiians as they did American Indians who are specifically referenced in the Constitution as America's first indigenous people.

The Justice Department has raised the Constitutional concern in letters to lawmakers. However, neither the Justice Department nor the White House has publicly commented on the Native Hawaiian bill.

At a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing last week, Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, who has met with Bush and his staff regarding the issue, said she believed the president would sign the bill if Congress passed it.

Smith said his support and that of Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska would be vital to win passage of the bill on the Senate floor. "Without Republicans it wouldn't become law," Smith said.

Akaka expressed optimism that more Republicans would sign onto the bill. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, also is supportive. "Prior to this the problem was Republicans were looking at the White House for guidance," Akaka said. "I think attitudes are changing."


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