Major Articles Opposing the Hawaiian Government Reorganization bill (Akaka bill) -- June 1 through December 31, 2006. U.S. Senators transcripts of speeches: Alexander(four), Cornyn(two), Craig, Enzi, Kyl, McConnell, Sessions(two); Alston Ramsay, National Review Editorial; Washington Times Editorial; Tim Chapman, Town Hall; Wall Street Journal Editorial; Duncan Currie,The Weekly Standard; John Fund, Wall Street Journal; Mary Katharine Ham,; The black leadership network Project 21; Wes Vernon, Renew America; National Review Editorial; Peter Kirsanow, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; The Heritage Foundation, Center for Legal and Judicial Studies; others in Honolulu newspapers including Jerry Coffee (personal friend of John McCain writes open letter to him), Cliff Slater, Elaine Willman

Here is a table of contents of the articles in the order they appear lower on this webpage. To see the actual articles, scroll down.

June 1, 2006: National Review editorial by Alston Ramsay describes the "bastardization of history" underlying the Akaka bill, and says "Bad history inevitably makes bad law."

June 1, 2006: Washington Times editorial says the Akaka bill "is an attempt to legalize and codify what the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional in 2000: a race-based government" and concludes "The Akaka bill subverts the ideal of equality without racial distinction toward which America strives. Mr. Akaka's legislation should not have proceeded this far, and deserves to be firmly defeated."

June 1, 2006: Tim Chapman of calls the Akaka bill "An unconstitutional act." He says "winning this floor fight will be critical because of how dangerous the Native Hawaiian bill is."

June 2: The Wall Street Journal has an editorial "The Akaka State? A recipe for Balkanization heads for the Senate floor." The conclusion: "Republicans this week have a chance to get one right by keeping an unconstitutional bill from reaching the floor of the Senate."
[Article available only to subscribers; but copied in full in chronological order below]

June 4, 2006: Cliff Slater (Honolulu Advertiser) pokes holes in the Native Hawaiian victimhood claims, links corruption of mainland tribes with corruption of Bishop Estate.
A footnoted version of this important article is available at

June 5, 2006: Duncan Currie (The Weekly Standard) publishes lengthy review of Hawaiian political history, and concludes: "The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act remains a noxious affront to E pluribus unum, and to anyone who gives a fig about colorblind justice and equal protection. As the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights concluded last month, it deserves an emphatic rejection--if not from the Senate or the House, than from President Bush."

June 5, 2006: John Fund (Wall Street Journal) asks "Will the Senate impose race-based government on Hawaii?" He concludes "But the Akaka bill is not just another special-interest boondoggle. It too important not to have senators give it the most exacting scrutiny. Creating a race-based government in Hawaii would create a dangerous precedent that could lead to ethnic balkanization on the mainland too."

June 5, 2006: Mary Katharine Ham ( describes her conversations with Native Hawaiians who complain the nobody is asking them what they really want. Ham concludes "This "Hawaiian issue" will become a national issue this week. The Akaka bill's attempt to create a race-based government is antithetical to American values. If the Senate knows that the people of Hawaii—even native Hawaiians—believe that, then maybe we can indeed avoid a bad situation."

June 5, 2006: The black leadership network Project 21 issues press release citing U.S. Commission on Civil Rights report and expressing concern that the Akaka bill conflicts with America's "melting pot" philosophy.

June 5, 2006: Elaine D. Willman, the National Chair for the Citizens Equal Rights Alliance (CERA), says "The Akaka Bill is wrong on every level. Tell Congress to make this nightmare go away."

June 5, 2006: Wes Vernon, Renew America, "Dismantling of the United States: Happening right before our eyes" discusses the balkanization produced by the Mexican immigration and Akaka bills; says it's almost as though these two Senate bills could be imagined to be linked as a conspiracy to dismantle America.

June 5, 2006: National Review reruns "A Race-Based State -- Hawaii wants a segregation that would boggle your mind."

June 6, 2006: Peter Kirsanow, member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and member of the National Labor Relations Board writes a strong message in the National Review entitled: "A Pandora's Box of Ethnic Sovereignty -- Race-based Hawaii, an island we don't want to travel to."

June 6, 2006: The Heritage Foundation, Center for Legal and Judicial Studies issues a report entitled: "The "Native Hawaiian" Bill: An Unconstitutional Approach in Furtherance of a Terrible Idea" by Ed Meese and Todd Gaziano

Major speeches against the Akaka bill were made on the floor of the U.S. Senate during several hours of debate on June 7 and 8, 2006, by Senators Alexander(four), Cornyn(two), Craig, Enzi, Kyl, McConnell, Sessions(two). A webpage gathers complete transcripts of the debate, with an index at the top.

June 8, 2006: Jerry Coffee, a personal friend of Senator John McCain and a fellow long-term prisoner of war with him in Viet Nam, sends him a "Dear John" letter begging him to oppose the Akaka bill: "Help -- Dangerous Legislation"


National Review Online, June 01, 2006

Bad History, Bad Law
Proponents of the Akaka bill have a twisted sense of history.

By Alston B. Ramsay

It's long been said that Hawaii is the crown jewel of multiculturalism, a place where, throughout its history, the races have coexisted peacefully. A place where a shared sense of purpose and unity has fused people from all over the world into a single entity. A place of such boundless optimism that the state has legally defined the Aloha Spirit as the call to "emote good feelings to others."

How times change: Hawaii no longer celebrates statehood day, because it might be too divisive; T-shirts emblazoned with "The native are restless" are selling briskly; and a 2005 court decision barring a race-exclusive admissions policy at a private school was met by 20,000 protesters. It doesn't seem that many good feelings are being emoted these days—at least, not by the crowd pushing for a new native government with special privileges and rights for those with the proper genealogy.

S. 147, "The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act," was first introduced in the Senate by Hawaii Democrat Daniel Akaka in 1999, and, after a long wait backstage, it is expected to hit the floor in the first week of June. The bill will carve out a new entity in Hawaii that will conduct sovereign-to-sovereign relations with the United States, much as Native American tribes do today. But no one is exactly sure what the new government will look like, because the Akaka bill leaves all the details up in the air. Even the definition of "native Hawaiian" is to be determined at a later date: one drop of blood, two drops, who knows.

Bad history inevitably makes bad law, and the Akaka bill is a case in point. When it is opened up for debate, proponents will cite three findings of "fact": that the United States, in violation of national and international law, overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893; that the Hawaiian people have never ceded the right to govern themselves; and that, as Senator Akaka put it back in 1993, the "deprivation of Hawaiian sovereignty, which began a century ago, has had devastating effects on the health, culture, and social conditions of native Hawaiians." There's nothing quite like misplaced charges of racism and imperialism to move a piece of legislation. But alas, few if any of these allegations are true, at least according to most standard historical sources, including Ralph S. Kuykendall's definitive work on Hawaiian history. Before the demagoguery commences on the Senate floor, it's advisable to examine the relevant allegations.

The tortured genesis of the Akaka bill has its origins in the 1993 Apology Resolution, in which Congress enshrined into law the above claims. (The Senate vote for the resolution was only 65–34, far short of the unanimity one might expect to see in a serious apology.) Though Senator Akaka explicitly stated on the floor that the bill was only what it was purported to be—an apology—it has nonetheless become a rallying cry for proponents of the Akaka bill: Congress has verified the native-government contingent's version of events. Congress, clearly, is not infallible.

The most common trope in the medley is that the United States was complicit in the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. The revolution that toppled the queen, however, was strictly an internal affair, a fight between those who wanted to strengthen the monarchy, and those who wanted a more democratic government. The misperception arises from the U.S. minister's involvement: But he acted outside his authority and was subsequently relieved of his duty by the president, as was the military commander who brought troops ashore to safeguard American property. (These troops did not engage in hostilities, were not prominent, and were ordered to remain neutral.) President Grover Cleveland later intimated that he thought the queen should be restored, but alas, he had no sway over the independent, fully autonomous, internationally recognized Republic of Hawaii.

Considering this, the claim that Hawaiians have never explicitly given up their sovereignty is fool's gold: There never was sovereignty to give up, at least not in any sense which could conceivably justify the recompense demanded by the Akaka bill. A monarchy ruled the country until 1893, and then, after an internal battle, an independent government came into being, which was recognized by all nations as legitimate. The new Hawaiian government pushed for annexation, and finally became a U.S. territory in 1900. Annexation brought with it full suffrage, which marked a first for native Hawaiians, who commanded an absolute voting majority for the next 20 years, and a plurality for 10 years after that. Over the next half century, Hawaii pushed for statehood, with natives often leading the charge. (The nephew of Queen Lilioukalani, the overthrown monarch, introduced into Congress the first Hawaiian-statehood bill in 1919.) Finally, in 1959, Congress extended an invitation of statehood. An astounding 99 percent of eligible voters turned out for the state plebiscite, and 94 percent voted for statehood. The sovereignty debate should have ended right there.

But it didn't. A small but vocal minority has risen during the last 30 years and propagated the myth that native Hawaiians have suffered immensely from the forceful end of the monarchy, and that Hawaiian culture has been destroyed—exact details seem to end there. Insofar as the "culture" is defined merely by a monarch, this may be true. But as defined in any other way, Hawaiian culture has evolved not in opposition to U.S. values, but alongside them. What defined Hawaii throughout the 19th century was its openness to evolution and a concomitant resistance to xenophobia. King Kamehameha I had foreigners as top advisers in the early 1800s, after he had established, by force, the Kingdom of Hawaii. King Kamehameha II ended cultural taboos preventing men and women from eating together; he also abolished the worship of idols by fiat. Kamehameha III introduced a written constitution, which was for all Hawaiians, regardless of race. The kingdom was a crossroads of Pacific trade, and Hawaiian culture developed against an international mise en scène. (At various times, individual groups of migrant workers—Chinese, Japanese—outnumbered native Hawaiians.)

In other words, throughout Hawaii's history, it has been Hawaiians themselves who have cast aside antiquated traditions in favor of Western ideas and advancements on all fronts—economic, technological, civic. There never was a "native" government to speak of, and the collapse of the monarchy in 1893 did not lead to violence or oppression; it led to property rights, universal suffrage, and democracy. The history of Hawaii is not one of victimization, but one of enlightenment, of old traditions merging with new ones, without the civil strife that often accompanies such change. It is the melting pot personified—or, at least, it used to be.

For proponents of the Akaka bill, history as an abstract concept is not intended to enlighten or illuminate; it is instead a blunt instrument, a tool used to bludgeon opponents into enacting poorly conceived legislation. Somehow, this bowdlerized history has managed to escape scrutiny, to the point where it rationalizes overthrowing the fundamental premise that all Americans, regardless of race, religion, or politics, are bound together in a common destiny. If the Akaka bill passes, the bastardization of history will be one of its more pronounced casualties.

—Alston B. Ramsay is an associate editor of National Review.

The Washington Times, June 1, 2006

Island separatist

Hawaiian Sen. Daniel Akaka's seven-year project, the "Native Hawaiian Governmental Reorganization Act" often called simply the Akaka bill, has been labeled many things -- from manifest destiny in reverse to unhinged multiculturalism -- but what it really is is an attempt to legalize and codify what the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional in 2000: a race-based government.

The case of Rice v. Cayetano, which came to the Supreme Court from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, challenged the policy established by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs of allowing only native Hawaiians to vote for its trustees. In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court decided that the "Hawaiian only" policy violated the 15th Amendment, overturning the 9th Circuit decision and striking down the voting restriction. Mr. Akaka's legislation would bestow autonomy on native Hawaiians similar to that of American Indians or Native Alaskans -- a precedent of sovereignty that the Supreme Court has recognized.

In his push to get the legislation back on the Senate's agenda, Mr. Akaka asserted that, "those who characterize this bill as race-based fail to understand the federal policies towards indigenous peoples." The language of the bill, however, defines "Native Hawaiians" in terms of lineage, but does not include a host of other factors that are generally used to characterize American Indians. As the bill does not include as a prerequisite the participation in a specific community, a native Hawaiian governing entity could include the 240,000 native Hawaiians living in Hawaii or all of the 400,000 native Hawaiians living across the United States -- the latter making it the more populous than the largest Indian tribe.

It is clear that, as Sen. Lamar Alexander, an ardent opponent of the bill, told an audience at the Heritage Foundation last week, if the bill passed, "for the first time in American history... it would establish a new sovereign nation within the United States based solely on race." In January, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights lodged its opposition to the bill, associating it with "other legislation that would discriminate on the basis of race or national origin and further subdivide the American people into discrete subgroups accorded varying degrees of privilege."

Postponed indefinitely by Hurricane Katrina, the Akaka bill is scheduled to come to the floor when the Senate returns next week. Mr. Akaka has referred to the bill as "my efforts to bring parity to Native Hawaiians." But no matter how thickly veiled the legislation may be in the multicultural rhetoric of making up for past wrongs, the bill smacks of a divisive move toward racial separation, not inclusion.

The Akaka bill subverts the ideal of equality without racial distinction toward which America strives. Mr. Akaka's legislation should not have proceeded this far, and deserves to be firmly defeated.

-------------------, June 1, 2006

An unconstitutional act

By Tim Chapman

If Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii gets his way, the Senate next week will pass S. 147, a bill that would for the first time create a race-based system of governing in the United States.

Akaka's bill, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, would erect a new governmental structure to have jurisdiction over American citizens who have "one drop" of Native Hawaiian blood. As many as 400,000 American citizens across the nation would be subject to this new governing body.

Surely, a United States Senate composed of 55 Republicans and at least a handful of right-thinking Democrats could stop this nonsense in its tracks -- or better yet, not even allow such an atrocity to come to the floor for a vote.

But this is not so. Senate leadership, bound by a deal secured by Akaka, has scheduled a vote for next week. The deal was agreed to mostly because Akaka has been doggedly attempting to attach this bill to every high profile train leaving the Senate station. At every corner he has been turned back by conservatives like Sen. Jon Kyl, (R-AZ), with the help of Republican leadership.

Now, it appears that opponents have run out of ways to block Akaka, so he will get his vote. And it's expected to be close. Indeed, conservatives haven't even closed ranks to swat the measure down. The bill boasts nine co-sponsors, five of them Republicans: Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Gordon Smith (R-OR). That leaves Republicans little wiggle room if they want to kill the bill.

One GOP Senator who is determined to do just that has been on a rampage against the bill lately. Tennessee's Lamar Alexander has taken to the Senate floor numerous times to decry race-based governing and recently headlined an event at The Heritage Foundation in which he made the case against Akaka's pet project.

Alexander wonders about the timing of the bill. "Why would the Senate do that? Here we have Iran, we have Iraq, we have gas prices … all important issues. Why would we be spending time on the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act?" Alexander says the vote is the result of Akaka's deal-making.

Alexander warned the Heritage audience that the vote would be close and that once the issue hit the floor it would be of paramount importance. "If it passes, for the first time in American history … it would establish a new sovereign nation within the United States based solely on race." According to Alexander, this new governing entity would "have government to government relations with the United States of America. That sounds like sovereignty to me.

"The question this bill poses is very fundamental to the existence of our nation," he continued. "It creates a new government based on race. Our constitution guarantees just the opposite: equal opportunity without regard to race." This is a "dangerous piece of legislation and it needs to be stopped in its tracks."

Alexander and other opponents of race-based governing scored a major victory recently when the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued a report condemning the Akaka bill and urging Senators to vote against it. The Commission's report said that S. 147 "would discriminate on the basis of race or national origin and further subdivide the American people into discrete subgroups accorded varying degrees of privilege," a development that Alexander referred to as the "further balkanization" of American culture.

In addition, recent polling of Hawaiians themselves gives opponents of race-based governing hope. A poll commissioned by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii showed that by a 2 to 1 margin respondents were against Congress approving the Akaka bill. The poll also showed Hawaiians overwhelmingly want to vote on the measure in a referendum before Congress considers the bill. But the push for a Hawaiian referendum on the Akaka bill is stymied by a Hawaiian law that says any such referendum must be generated by the state legislature.

Grassroots opponents of the Akaka bill in Hawaii say this state law prevents the majority of Hawaiians from making their voice heard on the issue because large institutions backing Akaka have too much influence over members of the state legislature. As such, the fight will have to be fought on the floor of the United States Senate where Akaka has much more support than he does in his own state.

Alexander hopes conservatives will muster enough votes to stop the resolution, but he is unsure. "It will be a long debate. Several of us are prepared to offer a great many amendments to this." Those amendments will be crucial to conservative efforts to defeat the bill or at least weaken it to the point were it is toothless.

As Alexander and others have noted, winning this floor fight will be critical because of how dangerous the Native Hawaiian bill is. "It's so offensive," says Alexander, "because instead of saying from many one, it says we are going to create a new sovereign nation of American citizens within the United States of America. And what will the admission be? Blood! Exactly what has been ruled throughout our history in the Constitution it could not be."

Tim Chapman is the Director of the Center for Media and Public Policy at The Heritage Foundation and a contributor to's Capitol Report.


Wall Street Journal, Friday, June 2, 2006, Page A18

The Akaka State?
A recipe for Balkanization heads for the Senate floor.

The last time we wrote about the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, in July 2005, we called it secessionist, unconstitutional and un-American. And that was being kind.

Our view of the bill -- which, like Freddy Krueger, refuses to die -- hasn't changed. But now that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has promised to bring it to a cloture vote in the coming days, it's worth reminding readers what this ugly drama from the beautiful state is all about.

The Reorganization Act -- better known as the Akaka Bill, after its U.S. Senate sponsor, Democrat Daniel Akaka -- would create a sovereign government, similar to existing Indian tribes, for the roughly 400,000 people who identify themselves as "Native Hawaiians." At a minimum, such recognition would protect dozens of federally funded programs for native Hawaiians that in recent years have come under increasingly successful Constitutional challenges as violations of the 14th and 15th Amendments.

But it would probably do much worse. The Akaka Bill could also lead to discriminatory treatment of non-Native Hawaiians, who already are excluded from private schools run for the exclusive benefit of the Natives. Vast tracts of land (entire islands, perhaps) might also be set aside exclusively for Native use. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a state agency, acknowledges that the Akaka Bill allows for the "complete legal and territorial independence from the United States and the re-establishment of a Hawaiian nation-state." Years, if not decades, of litigation would follow its passage.

No wonder that, while the bill is popular among Hawaii's political class, including Republican Governor Linda Lingle, it has generated remarkable resistance among Hawaiians. More than 80% of Hawaiians are not "Natives," and, believe it or not, the great majority actually think they are entitled to equal protection under the law and do not want to create a privileged class among them.

As one Kaleihanamau Johnson told the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, "I am of Hawaiian, Caucasian and Chinese descent . . . and do not support the Akaka Bill." She added that if the bill "comes to pass, I will be forced to choose on which side of the fence to stand. I will choose the Anglo-American tradition of the right to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness. This will prevent me from recognizing all that is Hawaiian in me. I consider the Akaka bill to be a proposal to violate my rights."

Ms. Johnson is not alone. In its January report, the Civil Rights Commission found that the Akaka Bill would "establish an impermissible racial preference in the establishment and operation of a governing entity." The report noted that, unlike the Native Americans to which Governor Lingle tries to liken Native Hawaiians, "membership would be defined solely on the basis of ancestry, not on the basis of geographic, cultural, and political cohesiveness and the presence of an established community as is done for other Indian tribes."

The Commission also found that "nothing in the [Akaka Bill] guarantees that the race-based entity to be created would be democratic in nature," and that the Akaka Bill "could prompt other native or indigenous entities or other ethnic groups to seek similar rights through self-governance programs."

The Commission went on to recommend against the bill. Extraordinarily, however, its findings were removed last month from the January report, apparently under pressure from Commissioners Michael Yaki and Arlan Melendez, both Democrats. Now it looks as if the bill will pass the Senate if brought to a floor vote. It has the backing of most, if not all, 45 Democrats, as well as Republicans such as Lisa Murkowski and Ted Stevens of Alaska, Norm Coleman of Minnesota, and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Maybe this all seems like a quaint and distant debate. But Hawaii is no less a state than New York or Texas, and the legal precedents established there matter to the mainland. The Akaka Bill should frighten everyone who cares for the American ideal of e pluribus unum, and fears the ethnic Balkanization of the country. Republicans this week have a chance to get one right by keeping an unconstitutional bill from reaching the floor of the Senate.

Honolulu Advertiser, Sunday, June 4, 2006

** Note: A footnoted version of this important article is available at


Plight of Native Hawaiians not dire

By Cliff Slater

Among members of Congress, there seems to be a misunderstanding that Native Hawaiians are a tribe, living together, speaking Hawaiian, poor, downtrodden and underprivileged. In short, that they are like Indian tribes as described by the 2003 U.S. Senate Budget Committee:

"Regardless of where (native Americans) reside, however, they continue to rank at near the bottom of nearly every social, health, and economic indicators, as compared to all other groups of American citizens. They continue to suffer the highest rates of unemployment and poverty, live in substandard housing, have poor health, receive an inadequate education and contend with disintegrating social systems."

This is far from the case with Native Hawaiians, who have integrated themselves into the general population as evidenced by their lifestyle and living standards. A statistical review reveals more similarities to Hawai'i's general population than differences.

According to the state Data Book and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Data Book, the average household income of Native Hawaiians is 9 percent less than Hawai'i's people as a whole, while the unemployment rate for Native Hawaiians is greater (6.4 percent versus 3.8 percent).

Native Hawaiian households with annual incomes of $200,000 or more are a smaller percentage than Hawai'i generally (1.4 percent versus 2.8 percent) with smaller percentages earning $50,000 or more (45.3 percent versus 57.3 percent). And 18.3 percent of Hawaiians are below the poverty level, versus 12 percent of Hawai'i residents overall.

Compare these data with the American Indians whose "unemployment rate hovers near 50 percent" and whose average annual per-capita income is $8,284.

There is a Native Hawaiian underclass, as has developed with other minorities. This boosts the crimes and incarceration rates, single-mother birth rate, and drug use. However, remove this class from the statistical base, make due allowance for a lower-than-average age for Native Hawaiians, and we find that they are, for the most part, remarkably similar to the rest of Hawai'i society.

Because there has been so much intermarriage by Hawaiians, only 1 percent of Hawaiians are now pure-blooded, and only 10 percent of Native Hawaiians have 50 percent or more Hawaiian blood. A perusal of lists of Hawaiian names is a good indicator. For example, of the nine Native Hawaiian trustees of the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs, only two have Hawaiian last names.

Because so few qualify for the former legal definition of "native Hawaiian" — those with at least 50 percent Hawaiian blood — what has evolved is the current definition of "Native Hawaiian" (capital N) for the Akaka bill as anyone having an indigenous Hawaiian ancestor. This means that anyone with as little as 1/256th Hawaiian blood is a "Native Hawaiian." Many native Hawaiians (small n) object to this watering down of the definition.

While 5 percent live on leased land in the Hawaiian Home Land areas, the other 95 percent live in the larger community. Only 60 percent of Native Hawaiians even live in Hawai'i. The other 40 percent live in all of the other 49 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

Only 1 percent of Native Hawaiians speak Hawaiian as their primary language, but even they also are fluent in English. Thus, 99 percent of Hawaiians have English as their primary language. Most Native Hawaiians do not speak Hawaiian beyond a few words.

The Akaka bill states:

"Despite the overthrow of the government of the kingdom of Hawai'i, Native Hawaiians have continued to maintain their separate identity as a single distinct native community through cultural, social and political institutions, and to give expression to their rights as native people to self-determination, self-governance and economic self-sufficiency."

With due deference to Sen. Akaka, that is a real stretch.

Since the 1970s, there has been a revitalized interest in Hawaiian culture, but it has been by all racial groups.

For example, at the Women's Correctional Center, classes on native plants, lei-making and care of lo'i (taro patches) are being taught by a group of predominantly Caucasian people to inmates who are predominantly Native Hawaiian.

Native Hawaiians may engage in traditional Hawaiian activities such as hula and canoe-paddling, but so does the rest of the population.

We all enjoy Hawaiian music, but it is not aboriginal Hawaiian music. Instead, it is Western music that Hawaiians and others have modified and adapted. The favored musical instruments are of European origin. For example, the 'ukulele originally was Portuguese and the guitar Spanish.

All of Hawai'i's ethnic groups, the Filipinos, Koreans, Chinese, Japanese and more, engage in their own regular cultural activities.

Native Hawaiians are not a tribe anything like native American Indian tribes. That is because at the arrival of Western culture, Hawaiians embraced it enthusiastically rather than rejecting it. At the time of Cook's arrival in 1778, the Hawaiian Islands were each governed by a separate chief, with an aboriginal culture and no written language. Within 60 years, Hawai'i had developed a reputation as one of the most literate nations in the world.

Hawaiians openly embraced Western immigration, customs, technology and capital. The constitutional monarchy established in 1840 was modeled on Britain's. The Hawaiian monarchs had a palace and were received as royalty by Queen Victoria in England.

Despite the racism that prevailed at the time, the Hawaiians were treated differently. Intermarriage with Caucasians was confined mainly to Hawaiians. While Hawai'i's leading clubs excluded Asians and other ethnic minorities, Hawaiians were not excluded. At the time of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ended such exclusionary policies, the president of the exclusive O'ahu Country Club was a Native Hawaiian.

The history and condition of Native Hawaiians cannot be equated with that of American Indians.

What should concern us is the excessive amounts of money that native tribes in the U.S. are spending on political influence — and the possibility that a Native Hawaiian government might do the same.

Professor Randall Roth and Judge Sam King's book, "Broken Trust: Greed, Mismanagement & Political Manipulation at America's Largest Charitable Trust" (University of Hawai'i Press, 2006) reveals a corrupt Hawai'i political environment that created, and allowed to continue, Bishop Estate trustees taking million-dollar annual salaries and engaging in other unsavory acts. If it had not been for the Internal Revenue Service forcing their ouster, those trustees would still be in office.

This should serve as a warning.

Time magazine reported four years ago: "And leaders of small, newly wealthy tribes now have so much unregulated cash and political clout that they can ride roughshod over neighboring communities, poorer tribes and even their own members. The amount of money involved is staggering. Last year, 290 Indian casinos in 28 states pulled in at least $12.7 billion in revenue. Of that sum, Time estimates, the casinos kept more than $5 billion as profit."

What has happened in many states is that excessive contributions are made to elected officials by American Indian tribes seeking to expand their reservations. Expanded areas are then used for tax-free retail gasoline and cigarette sales, and some of the profits generated are used for more political influence ad infinitum.

This is very real influence. With gambling or without, a Native Hawaiian government will have a great deal of money in hand to influence political decisions.

It is likely to eventually have control of the 30 percent of Hawai'i's land that is held in trust for Hawaiians by various entities including the $10 billion Kamehameha Schools (formerly Bishop Estate), the Hawaiian Home Lands Commission and the island of Kaho'olawe.

This land is separate from that owned by wealthy Native Hawaiian private estates such as the $2 billion Campbell Estate and the thousands of individual Native Hawaiian families who own their own homes.

And then there is the cash hoard of $400 million held by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a quasi-state agency, which spends lavishly on Washington attorneys and lobbyists such as Patton Boggs.

The Akaka bill has never been voted on in Hawai'i, and rarely publicly discussed. Virtually the entire political establishment in Hawai'i supports the Akaka bill. However, while a few individual businesses have endorsed it, not a single business organization has taken a position on it.

Informal online and telephone polls indicate that informed Hawai'i residents, including possibly even Native Hawaiians, are opposed to it.

If the people of Hawai'i are opposed to the Akaka bill but the politicians are wholeheartedly in favor of it, one might be forgiven for thinking that we should follow the money.

After a protracted and expensive period of trying to sign up Native Hawaiians for a native roll, only 12 percent of Native Hawaiians signed and, ironically, many of these opposed the Akaka bill.

The last vote that Hawaiians cast on the issue of sovereignty was in 1959, when 95 percent of Hawai'i's citizens voted for statehood. A majority of Native Hawaiian voters, then, must also have voted for statehood.

In the end, we have to consider who is likely to benefit from a Native Hawaiian government. Judging from American Indian governments, it will not be the least affluent. With no requirement for secret ballots, the elites will most likely control it, and they will be the ones to benefit.

The tragedy is that a better result would ensue if Native Hawaiians were to relinquish a race-based policy and instead adopt the Basques' policy of defining a Basque as someone who speaks the language and understands the culture. It would result in cultural revival, ensure that lower-income Native Hawaiians would get their due share of funds (along with other low-income people), and end the divisiveness that race-based policies always engender.

Cliff Slater is a regular columnist for The Advertiser. A footnoted version of this article is available at

The Weekly Standard, June 5, 2006

Aloha Means Goodbye
Will the Senate vote for Hawaiian separatism?

by Duncan Currie

FOR NEARLY AS LONG as Hawaii has been a state, its most famous pop culture icon has been the organ-playing singer Don Ho. Born in Honolulu in 1930, Ho claims Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, and German ancestry. Few figures better epitomize the Aloha State's proud history of ethnic intermingling and racial comity. Its senior senator, Democrat Daniel Inouye, has hailed Hawaii as "one of the greatest examples of a multiethnic society living in relative peace."

Inouye made that remark in 1994, on the 35th anniversary of Hawaiian statehood. It is no small irony that, in June 2006, he is cosponsoring a bill that would fracture Hawaii along ethnic lines and create a de facto apartheid system of racial privileges.

That bill is the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, the outgrowth of legislation first introduced by Hawaii senator Daniel Akaka in July 2000. It would essentially grant Native Hawaiians the same sovereign "tribal" status that American Indians and Native Alaskans enjoy, and permit them to form a race-based governing entity. After much wrangling, Akaka has been promised a cloture vote on his measure sometime this week.

Don't expect a filibuster. The Akaka bill has five Republican cosponsors. The entire Democratic caucus appears to be in favor. Hawaii governor Linda Lingle, a Republican, is behind it, as are Hawaii's state legislature and its two congressmen, Democrats Neil Abercrombie and Ed Case. (Abercrombie has sponsored a companion bill in the House.) Should it come up for a floor vote, it would presumably need only one Senate Republican to join the five GOP cosponsors to ensure passage. And Lingle has told the New York Times that at least six Republicans are on board.

One can only hope they have not actually read the legislation. For the Akaka bill would promote a baleful hodgepodge of specious history, racial separatism, and legal codes reminiscent of Jim Crow.

START WITH THE REVISIONIST HISTORY. The Akaka bill largely stems from the 1993 Apology Resolution, in which Congress expressed its "deep regret" for the January 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, an event that led to U.S. annexation of Hawaii five years later. The Apology accused U.S. minister to Hawaii John L. Stevens of conspiring with American military forces and "non-Hawaiian" insurgents to topple the monarchy. It further hinted that the interests of American sugar planters were central to the conspiracy.

These claims are dubious, at best. According to the Morgan report, an 800-page document issued by Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Tyler Morgan of Alabama in February 1894, the U.S. troops who landed in Honolulu during the (nearly bloodless) coup were peacekeepers, seeking to ensure the safety of American citizens and defend their property. The revolt was mostly a domestic struggle, brought on by Queen Liliuokalani's bid for quasi-despotic powers.

If you discount the Morgan findings as biased--Hawaii was a grossly politicized issue even in the 1890s--consider the work of the late Ralph S. Kuykendall, widely deemed a preeminent historian of the Hawaiian islands. In The Hawaiian Kingdom, Kuykendall acknowledges that Stevens, a fervent annexationist, sent mixed messages during the uprising. He did indeed ask Captain Wiltse, the commander of the USS Boston, docked in Honolulu Harbor, to send the Marines ashore.

But Wiltse had already issued the order himself, in accordance with standard naval and diplomatic protocols. Moreover, his instructions were that U.S. troops should "remain neutral in any conflict" and exercise "strict impartiality . . . in preserving order and protecting property"--which they did. As for the sugar planters, they "were conservatively inclined" and came to oppose the monarchy only reluctantly.

Whatever the peripheral extent of U.S. aid to the rebels, the 1893 revolution was remarkably peaceful--not a single person died. By contrast, the Hawaiian Kingdom itself was forged in 1810 after decades of savage warfare led by the future King Kamehameha I.

WHICH BRINGS US to the Akaka bill's next piece of dodgy history: the racial dynamics of that kingdom. For membership purposes, the legislation defines "Native Hawaiian" as anyone whose lineage traces back to the "the aboriginal, indigenous, native people" who "occupied and exercised sovereignty in the Hawaiian archipelago" before 1893, or whose relatives were eligible for the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act in 1921 (which required at least one-half blood relation to the Polynesians living in Hawaii before 1778, when Captain Cook arrived).

The Akaka bill thus implies that, prior to 1893, Hawaiian politics was a racially exclusive affair limited solely to Native Hawaiians. This is patently untrue. Under the monarchy, both the executive and legislative branches of government were multiracial. The Hawaiian Kingdom boasted Caucasians (or "haoles"), Chinese, Japanese, and other non-natives.

Since the Akaka bill stipulates no precise blood quantum, the new tribe would apparently get to decide the racial worthiness of its prospective members. There are an estimated 400,000 people scattered throughout Hawaii and the broader United States who identify as either partly or wholly Native Hawaiian. (Though that number would likely swell if the Akaka bill became law.) Unlike Indian tribes, they are not geographically segregated--quite the opposite. They make up about 20 percent of the Hawaiian population, but are sprinkled across the archipelago. Widespread intermarriage has further attenuated the strength and cohesion of Native Hawaiian culture.

This raises serious constitutional questions. Everyone agrees that Congress can recognize existing Indian tribes. But can it create a new "tribe" at the behest of a particular ethnic lobby? Probably not; and if so, only in the rarest of circumstances. Surely there are Hispanic separatists in the American Southwest who would love to get their own sovereign "nation" as reparations for the Mexican War. The Akaka bill would encourage them to press their case.

It would also designate a privileged caste of Hawaiians who could feasibly be subject to a different legal regime than their next-door neighbors--all on the basis of race. The racially chosen Hawaiians might enjoy special tax and welfare benefits. They might be able to petition state and federal officials over land and natural-resource spats, which would no doubt trigger an avalanche of lawsuits. And their new government would presumably be exempt from important bits of the U.S. constitution, as Indian tribes are.

Given two recent court precedents, the Akaka bill would almost certainly invite a constitutional challenge. Last summer, the Ninth Circuit Court struck down a pro-native racial preference policy at an elite Hawaiian private school. In 2000, just months before Akaka introduced his legislation, the Supreme Court ruled against race-based statutes governing the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. (Voting rights in OHA elections had been restricted to Native Hawaiians who fulfilled a blood quota--which, the Court said in Rice v. Cayetano, violated the Fifteenth Amendment.)

ARE SUPPORTERS OF the Akaka bill aware of these facts? Do they know that recent polling by the anti-Akaka Grassroot Institute of Hawaii found that 67 percent of Hawaiians oppose the legislation? Or that, according to the same poll, some 70 percent of Hawaiians desire a statewide referendum before the matter goes to Congress?

The five GOP cosponsors include Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Norm Coleman of Minnesota, and Gordon Smith of Oregon. The one Republican who may tip the scales is John McCain of Arizona, who initially opposed the bill but has dropped hints that he might vote for it under certain conditions. "Here in Washington," McCain told the Honolulu Advertiser last June, "it's hard for us to go against the view of the governor, the legislature--Republican and Democrat--the senators, and the congressmen."

Should Akaka win over McCain, that could clinch Senate approval for Native Hawaiian sovereignty. The House would have to approve its own bill, but it passed nearly identical legislation six years ago. As for the White House, Justice Department officials have raised both legal and pragmatic concerns, such as the prospect of tribal casinos and potential interference with U.S. military bases. But few expect George W. Bush to make the Akaka bill his first presidential veto.

That is unfortunate. The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act remains a noxious affront to E pluribus unum, and to anyone who gives a fig about colorblind justice and equal protection. As the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights concluded last month, it deserves an emphatic rejection--if not from the Senate or the House, than from President Bush.

Duncan Currie is a reporter at The Weekly Standard.

Wall Street Journal, Monday, June 5, 2006

Pluribus Sine Unum
Will the Senate impose race-based government on Hawaii?


America's motto is "E pluribus unum," Latin for "Out of many, one." Some U.S. senators seem to be reading it backward. This week the Senate will consider legislation that would create an independent, race-based government for Native Hawaiians. If the bill becomes law, it would create a racial spoils system that would hand special privileges to up to one-fifth of the state's population--including many with only a trace of Hawaiian blood. It could inspire mainland groups such as Hispanic separatists to seek similar spoils, should they ever gain enough political leverage.

The notion is the obsession of Sen. Daniel Akaka, an 81-year-old Democrat whose 16-year Senate record has been so undistinguished that Time magazine listed him in April as one of the five worst senators calling him "living proof that experience does not necessarily yield expertise." Mr. Akaka, whose term ends this year, faces a tough challenge in the September Democratic primary from Rep. Ed Case, and is thus desperate to show he is still legislatively relevant.

The Akaka bill was born out of an angry reaction to the 2000 case of Rice v. Cayetano, in which the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 7-2 vote, declared unconstitutional a system under which non-Native Hawaiians were barred from voting for or serving as trustees of the state's Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Fearful of losing control of the rich patronage pot that the office, with its $3 billion trust fund, has become, its supporters decided to up the ante and try to skirt the 15th Amendment's mandate for equal voting rights by requiring that the federal government recognize Native Hawaiians in the same manner it recognizes separate governments for American Indians and Alaskan Eskimos.

The U.S. Civil Rights Commission issued a report earlier this year that destroyed the notion that the Indian tribe analogy is appropriate. Native Hawaiians, who freely voted in large numbers to join the U.S. as a state in 1959, have never asked to be recognized as an Indian tribe. They not only lack their own system of laws but are dispersed throughout Hawaii and have a high rate of intermarriage with other groups. "The Akaka bill would authorize a government entity to treat people differently based on their race and ethnicity," said Gerald Reynolds, the commission's chairman. "This runs counter to the basic American value that the government should not prefer one race over another."

In Hawaii, debate over the ramifications of the Akaka bill has been stifled, as almost all of its elected officials have signed on to it for fear of being branded insensitive or racist. But none of them want to test the measure by consulting the state's voters directly on the Akaka bill. A Grassroots Institute poll last week showed some two-thirds of Hawaiians oppose the bill, including a near-majority of Native Hawaiians.

That raises the question of who exactly is a Native Hawaiian today. Hawaii is a tremendous "melting pot" success story, with a variety of ethnic groups living in relative harmony. High rates of intermarriage mean that less than 1% of the people are pureblood Native and speak Hawaiian as their primary language. Only a tenth are more than 50% Hawaiian blood. Of the nine Native Hawaiian trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, only two have Hawaiian surnames.

The difficulty of finding purebloods means that it takes as little as 1/256th Hawaiian blood--that is, a single Hawaiian great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparent--to be counted as a "Native Hawaiian" today. Over 40% of those so classified don't even live in Hawaii. Yet Mr. Akaka insists that "Native Hawaiians have continued to maintain their separate identity as a single distinct native community." As Cliff Slater, a columnist for the Honolulu Advertiser, puts it: "That is a real stretch. Since the 1970s there has been a revitalized interest in Hawaiian culture, but it has been by all racial groups."

The potential dangers of approving the Akaka bill--which has already won House passage in a previous Congress--are immense. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee warns that establishing "a new sovereign nation within the United States based solely on race . . . could turn the United States into the United Nations." Linda Chavez, a former executive director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, warns that other groups could use the precedent of a new Native Hawaiian government to lodge their own demands. She notes that a group of Hispanic separatists in Arizona once tried to get legislation passed that would have barred anyone whose ancestors were not living in Arizona at the time of the 1848 Mexican War from living in most areas of the state.

Supporters of the Akaka bill refuse even to disavow the idea of secession from the United States. Last July, Rowena Akana, a trustee of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, told National Public Radio that "if the majority of Hawaiian people want secession, then that's the way we'll go." That same month, NPR asked Sen. Akaka about the possibility of secession, and he said, "That is something I leave for my grandchildren to decide."

Despite all this, the Akaka bill is at least an even bet to win a Senate majority this week. Democrats, who long ago bought into racial spoils politics, are largely on board. The Bush administration has chosen to remain neutral. Linda Lingle, who in 2002 became Hawaii's first Republican governor in 40 years, is convinced the bill is will help her party win over Hawaiian voters. She has been remarkably successful in convincing some GOP senators, such as Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Norm Coleman of Minnesota, that the bill is benign. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a quasi-state agency, has spent lavishly on a snow job for senators, including its hiring of the top lobbying firm of Patton Boggs.

But the Akaka bill is not just another special-interest boondoggle. It too important not to have senators give it the most exacting scrutiny. Creating a race-based government in Hawaii would create a dangerous precedent that could lead to ethnic balkanization on the mainland too.

----------------, Jun 5, 2006

Did anyone ask the Hawaiians?

By Mary Katharine Ham

If I told you there would be a bill coming to the floor of the United States Senate this week that would create a sovereign government based on race, would you believe me? You can be forgiven for being skeptical. It sounds ridiculous.

If I told you that when it comes to the floor—most likely on Thursday of this week—that it's not at all unlikely that it will pass, would you believe me then?

It's time to start believing. The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act comes to the floor this week. Among its goals, according to a report from the United States Commission on Civil Rights:

--Recognize a right of the Native Hawaiian people to reorganize the Native Hawaiian governing entity to provide for their common welfare and to adopt appropriate organic governing documents.

--Establish a commission to certify that the adult members of the Native Hawaiian community proposed for inclusion on the roll meet the definition of Native Hawaiian as "an individual who is one of the indigenous, native people of Hawaii."

--Authorize the United States to enter into negotiations with the governing entity to lead to an agreesment addressing specified matters including the transfer of lands, natural resources, and other assets."

After a briefing in January, the commission issued a report that portrayed the Akaka bill as "discriminatory and divisive."

This bill has been skulking around the Senate for six years now. Unfortunately, when Hawaiian senators Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye go looking for supporters for something called the "Native Hawaiian Reorganization Act," they find a lot of support from obliging fellow senators who assume the bill is a "Hawaiian issue," and that the Hawaiian delegation can be trusted to speak for Native Hawaiians.

But one of the many problems with the bill is that no one has asked the Native Hawaiians themselves about this "Hawaiian issue."

I spoke with Kilikina Kekumano and Leon Siu of the Koani Foundation--both Native Hawaiian activists opposed to the Akaka bill. They are opposed largely because the legislation seeks to deal with a Hawaiian issue without ever consulting the people of Hawaii about it.

Kekumano, who was adopted as a young girl by a mainland American family and now flies between her family's land in Virginia and Hawaii while working on this issue, says the Akaka bill will create racial division in Hawaii where there has been none.

"I guess I got mad reading the newspapers…telling everyone that this is what the Hawaiians want," she said.

It is not what they want, she contends. And, polls seem to back her up. A poll conducted by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in March of 2005 showed that 74 percent of Hawaiians were against the Akaka bill and federal recognition.

A conservative think-tank in Hawaii, the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, commissioned a survey in 2005, which showed that 67 percent of Hawaii residents were against the Akaka bill, and 48 percent of Native Hawaiians surveyed agree.

The Institute's most recent survey shows that 70 percent of Hawaiian residents want to vote on the Akaka bill before it's considered on a national level, and 67 percent of residents continue to oppose the Akaka bill.

That's all Siu wants—a say. He pointed out that no hearings have been held in Hawaii on the current or any previous version of the Akaka bill, despite the immense impact it may have on the state.

"We're not opposed to the government helping us do something," he said, "but together as a community, we should figure out what's best."

Kekumano is concerned that the racial preferences and race-based government will create "at least strong animosity between the people who have always lived together…We don't have specific barriers between race. This would create an incredible apartheid really," she said.

Supporters of the bill claim that the Akaka bill will just grant to Native Hawaiians the same recognition given to other Native American tribes. Unlike other Native American tribes, however, Native Hawaiians were never a racially and culturally separate sovereign entity.

When King Kamehameha became ruler of all the Hawaiian islands in 1810, the Kingdom of Hawaii welcomed the contributions and participation of non-natives. Even supporters of the Akaka bill admit that the Kingdom of Hawaii was a minority ethnically Hawaiian. The Akaka bill would create a racially separate entity that has never before been separate.

I grew up in the South. I've seen my share of racial tension. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that you don't create racial separatism where there is relative racial harmony. I can't imagine anything more counterproductive.

The Akaka bill would be a disaster for all the people of Hawaii, according to Kekumano and Siu. It would divide them in ways they've never been divided, turn neighbor against neighbor. The majority of Hawaiians know this, and many Native Hawaiians agree.

"We can avoid a bad situation by simply letting Hawaiians have a say," Siu said.

This "Hawaiian issue" will become a national issue this week. The Akaka bill's attempt to create a race-based government is antithetical to American values. If the Senate knows that the people of Hawaii—even native Hawaiians—believe that, then maybe we can indeed avoid a bad situation.

Mary Katharine Ham is the former Senior Writer and Associate Editor for

Project 21, national center, press release, June 5, 2006

Black Activists Say Proposal to Create Separate, Race-Based, Hawaiian Government Conflicts with America's "Melting Pot" Traditions

For Release: June 5, 2006
Contact: David Almasi at 202/543-4110 x11

Members of the black leadership network Project 21 are expressing concern that legislation now under consideration in the U.S. Senate conflicts with America's "melting pot" philosophy.

Senators are expected to vote as early as this week on "The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act" (S. 147). This bill would create a native Hawaiian government with sovereign immunity akin to that enjoyed by Indian tribes. This proposed government, however, is likely to be determined on racial terms, restricting eligible voters exclusively to those of Hawaiian ancestry. Experts say this limits the voting pool to approximately 400,000 Americans nationwide - roughly 160,000 of whom do not reside on the Hawaiian Islands.

Critics say the proposal would create a virtual caste system on the Hawaiian Islands and, perhaps allow those affiliated with this race-based government to ignore various laws and safety regulations.

A similar plan for Hawaiian racial governance was found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Rice v. Cayetano. A decisive 7 to 2 decision in 2000 overturned a "Hawaiian only" provision for voting for the trustees of the state's Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), a quasi-governmental native Hawaiian lobbying organization. The OHA is now a chief proponent of S. 147.

"Allowing a race-based native Hawaiian government would create an Orwellian situation where equality and privilege is based on race and ethnicity," said Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie. "To think of such a thing in this day and age is abhorrent. To actually attempt to codify such a notion in America, after the abolition of such racial hierarchy as slavery here and apartheid abroad, is contemptible. This plan proves that racism and bigotry can still find a foothold in our society."

While this race-based government finds support among the Hawaiian political class and their paid advocates, a May 2006 poll commissioned by the Grassroots Institute of Hawaii found almost 67 percent of the population of Hawaii opposes S. 147, and over 80 percent generally oppose race-based preferences. Almost 70 percent of Hawaiian residents would also prefer to see a statewide referendum on the subject matter of S. 147 rather than having it decided solely at the federal level.

Furthermore, a majority of commissioners of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights recently approved a report critical of S. 147. Commission chairman Gerald Reynolds said the bill "would authorize a government entity to treat people differently based on their race and ethnicity."

"This proposal is evidence of the complete disregard elected officials, on all levels, appear to have for the will of the people they are sworn to represent," said Project 21's Massie. "Nearly 70 percent of all Hawaiians oppose the legislation, yet they seem to be ignored. Those who have taken an oath to act in the best interest of the people now appear poised to thumb their noses, turn their backs and do what will benefit them and their colleagues."

For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or, or visit Project 21's website at New Visions Commentaries can be found at

Hawaii Reporter, June 5, 2006

The Akaka Bill: Indigenous or Indivisible?

By Elaine D. Willman

U.S. Senators Akaka and Inouye of Hawaii would enslave American taxpayers to perpetually fund another separate, race-based government that we do not elect. Federal Indian policy already requires the redirection of American tax dollars to some 561 federally recognized tribal governments. Some 274 additional Indian "tribes" are seeking such entitlement, along with a congressionally sanctioned gambling monopoly. Taxpayers are permanently indentured to annually fund these private, race-based governments.

With S. 3064, "The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act," Congress may soon move the future of the United States in a direction that further reduces the rights of all citizens to a bondage and subservience to special race-based governments. American citizens, including naturalized citizens and hopeful immigrants, will become the permanent, "debtor" citizens whose federal taxes will be forever garnished for the support of separate governments, based upon "a single drop of blood." This is Plessey v. Ferguson (1896) incarnate, only it is not about separate-but-equal. It is about separate and superior.

If Congress passes the patently unconstitutional Akaka Bill (Senate Bill 3064), the message to American citizens is that some citizens, based on race alone, are federally preferred and superior to other citizens. There is not an iota of language within the United States Constitution that condones or sanctions such inequality. The whole cloth of the U.S. Constitution requires and guarantees a "Republican form of government." No exceptions. None.

Hawaii's Governor, its U.S. senators, the Hawaiian legislature and major news publications in Hawaii, have consistently stonewalled every effort of Hawaiian citizens to hold a plebiscite (vote) on the concept of the Akaka Bill, before Congress acts upon it. Apparently, decisions of elected officials that we do elect are no longer the business "of the people, for the people, by the people."

As Congress caves to growing international and domestic Indigenous movements, each of the 50 stars on the flag is correspondingly dimmed. The American taxpayer is further enslaved to deliver his/her hard-earned tax dollars to be redirected for the needs and desires of private, separate race-based governments that we do not elect.

The Akaka Bill opens an even more ominous legislative and legal door: It could set the precedent for the next indigenous population, the Aztlan and La Raza movements, to challenge the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo for the return of 525,000 square miles of "Mexican Indigenous homelands" surrendered by the Treaty.

Rubellite Johnson is a Native Hawaiian scholar, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Hawaiian and Indo-Pacific Languages at the University of Hawai'i and "Living Treasure of Hawaii" for her work in translating early Hawaiian-language documents. Ms. Johnson puts things into simple, elegant clarity: "We are all indigenous people of the Earth, and should not be separated by race."

Is our Nation's foundational compass shifting from the cornerstone of unity to appeasement of powerful indigenous movements? Have we so succumbed to the entitlement mentality that ensuring equality is extinct?

Have our country's leaders assumed the sackcloth and ashes of shame foisted upon our national psyche by over-hyped indigenous movements finding victory in victimhood?

No. We do not have another country. We either have one United States, one government, one people, or an unraveling welfare caste system breaking down by blood quantum into a debtor-creditor society.

The Akaka Bill is wrong on every level. Tell Congress to make this nightmare go away.

Elaine D. Willman, the National Chair for the Citizens Equal Rights Alliance (CERA), can be reached via email at mailto: or log on to

Renew America, June 5, 2006

Dismantling of the United States: Happening right before our eyes

Wes Vernon

As Congress returns this week, two very dangerous threats to this nation are on the table. Taken together, they facilitate a pattern: an attempt — however uncoordinated — to dismantle and bring down the United States. The Senate amnesty illegal immigration bill and the Native Hawaiian bill, if passed, could lead to the undoing of the U.S.

Illegal immigration has been well-publicized. What is not as well known is a campaign — encouraged by the government of Mexico (see last week's column, Invasion: Are We Still a Nation?) — to carve out a racist nation in the western United States. The idea is to build up the Mexican immigrant population (legal and illegal) to a majority in those states and then take control of them, expel the non-Mexicans, and let the "ethnic cleansing" begin.

UPI and the Washington Times report that Mexican President Vicente Fox's government is "conducting a well-financed campaign to shape [U.S.] public opinion in favor of more Mexicans coming into the United States."

Laws in Mexico against non-Mexican citizens meddling in Mexico's internal political affairs are not matched by any enforced laws here in America against non-American citizens meddling in U.S. affairs. The Mexican government is "working through a coalition of U.S.-based immigrant rights groups, Mexican-American organizations and grassroots Hispanic groups to lobby U.S. lawmakers and civic leaders for amnesty for the estimated 12 million illegals in the United States."

Just thought you would like to know who's targeting the people you send to Washington in case you have any "nativist" notions that they're here to work for you, not for Vicente Fox.

Native Hawaiian bill: Unlike the immigration bill, this effort to pull apart and dismantle the United States has been operating largely under the radar. Now it is advancing to the forefront.

The Native Hawaiian bill would create a different kind of race-based government on our soil. The measure typifies the "solution" in search of a problem. In the process, the "solution" actually creates a problem where none had existed.

It would create a separate nation of "Native Hawaiians," not just those living in Hawaii, but those living anywhere across the United States. All that is required for one to qualify for membership in the separate nation is one drop of "Native Hawaiian" blood.

Its backers do not deny that this balkanization of America could ultimately lead to secession. It is an attempted end-run around the Constitution and the Supreme Court. In 2000 in Rice vs. Cayetano, the justices ruled unconstitutional a law that said only Native Hawaiians could vote for the trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Billions of dollars were at stake, to say nothing of political clout, so defenders of racial preferences met in secret and came up with other ways to get around the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution. Never let it be said they would be constrained by mere nuisances such as "the equal protection of the laws" or that the right to vote "shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

The Akaka bill (so named for its author, Hawaii Democrat Daniel Akaka) seeks to shoehorn Native Hawaiians, wherever located, into the federal Indian law system. The resulting government would be called a tribe.

That represents a serious distortion of the constitutional and historical standards of recognizing Indian tribes. The courts have ruled that only those people who have long operated as an Indian tribe, live as a separate and distinct community (geographically and culturally), and have a pre-existing political structure can be recognized as a tribe. Native Hawaiians do not meet any of these criteria.

A leading opponent of the bill — Tennessee Republican Senator Lamar Alexander — not known as an intractable hothead — says the Akaka bill "is so offensive because instead of saying that from many one, it says we are going to create a new sovereign nation of American citizens within the United States of America. And what will the admission be? Blood! Exactly what has been ruled throughout our history in the Constitution it should not be."

A report prepared under the direction of Senator Jon L. Kyle (R-Ariz.) notes that when Hawaii became a state in 1959, there was a broad consensus in Congress and in the nation that Native Hawaiians would not be treated as a separate racial group, and that they would not be transformed into an "Indian tribe."

A "solution" in search of a problem? Absolutely. Visitors to Hawaii have marveled that in this arguably most integrated of all the 50 states, people of so many races have lived in harmony — the ideal color-blind society. But of course, the racial and ethnic dividers can't have that. A society where races live together peacefully would deprive them of the luxury of playing the race card. How could they gain political power if they can't pit one group of people against another? Can't have that. The racial hostility must continue. Only then can they hope to score with their divisive talking points.

It's not as if the people of Hawaii are clamoring for this pernicious piece of mischief. A poll commissioned by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii finds the people of the state against the bill by a 2 to 1 margin. Moreover, nearly 80% of Native Hawaiians are opposed to it. What is driving the push for the measure is a grab for political and financial power, using guilt trip "political correctness" as the wedge issue. Akaka's bill has the backing of the state's Republican Governor Linda Lingle. Political pull apparently has more influence than the plain will of the people on the island state.

There is nothing in the bill that says anything about what kind of government the new Native Hawaiian "nation" would be. A democratic republic where the people rule? Don't bet on it. Perpetrators of this scheme are already ignoring the will of the people of Hawaii themselves, including the Native Hawaiians. One can see how much "respect" they really have for "representative democracy."

It looks as if the Senate — the same Senate that produced the monstrously flawed amnesty immigration bill — will hold a vote on the Akaka bill in the week ahead. That vote promises to be close. Akaka has lined up nine co-sponsors, five of them Republicans: Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.).

So the pro-Mexico racist movement for a new nation in the western states combined with the Native Hawaiian bill would seem to indicate a clear pattern: chaos and the breakup and downfall of the United States of America.

This column is not prone to accept conspiracy theories that are not accompanied by credible evidence and/or strong eyewitness testimony. No outright coordinated conspiracy can be detected in this case.

Nonetheless — if — if — someone somewhere were pushing a button to order an elaborate stealth process whose purpose was to destroy this nation, that someone could not do a better job than to put these two plans simultaneously on a fast track.

Your voice to your United States senators is our best hope. It is best to phone their offices here in Washington. That is far more effective than e-mail. And in the case of the Akaka bill, there is not enough time for snail mail.

Wes Vernon is a Washington-based writer and veteran broadcast journalist.

National Review Online, June 05, 2006

A Race-Based State
Hawaii wants a segregation that would boggle your mind.

An NRO Flashback

Editor's note: This piece by Ramesh Ponnuru appeared in the July 18, 2005, issue of National Review.

Republicans have shown precious little courage in fighting government policies that distribute benefits based on race in recent years. There have been no legislative efforts to rein in racial preferences in federal contracts, and the Bush administration gave a qualified blessing to racial preferences in college admissions when the Supreme Court was considering the issue. Now we are going to see whether Republicans can at least oppose the creation of new race-based subsidies.

Sen. Daniel Akaka, a Democrat from Hawaii, is sponsoring a bill to create a race-based government for "Native Hawaiians." It may well pass, thanks to the support it has gotten from a few Republicans, including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Norm Coleman of Minnesota.

Hawaii has an Office of Hawaiian Affairs that provides benefits to "Native Hawaiians"—that is, to descendants of the racial majority of the islands at the time they became part of the United States. Until recently, the board of the agency was restricted to Native Hawaiians, and only Native Hawaiians were allowed to vote in elections for board members. In 2000, however, the Supreme Court ruled (over the dissent of two liberals) that the racial restrictions on voting violated the Fifteenth Amendment. (That's the one that, well, prohibits racial restrictions on voting.) In the course of explaining their decision, the justices cast doubt on the constitutionality of the whole scheme of benefits for Native Hawaiians.

The Akaka bill heads off the threat of colorblind government by treating Native Hawaiians as akin to an Indian tribe. The tribes get to govern themselves. Under the bill, Native Hawaiians would be treated similarly—or so the bill's supporters claim. Native Hawaiians will get the sustained prosperity and good government that Native Americans so famously enjoy. Or the Native Hawaiians could choose to go back to monarchy, the form of government that was overthrown in 1893. The new government, whatever its form, will negotiate with Hawaii and the federal government over lands, natural resources, and civil and criminal jurisdiction. The Bill of Rights does not fully apply to Indian tribes, and even those elements of it that do theoretically apply are hard to enforce. The Native Hawaiian government would not have to comply with the Bill of Rights, either.

The new government could choose to sever ties with the United States. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs promotes the bill as a step toward letting Native Hawaiians "exercise their right to self-determination by selecting another form of government including free association or total independence."

Critics of the bill, however, say that Native Hawaiians are not analogous to Indian tribes. The federal government did not create sovereign tribes so much as recognize them. Generally, the tribes existed as tribes before the areas in which they lived got statehood. The federal government made treaties with them, or passed statehood-enabling laws that recognized them. In a few other cases, tribes have been recognized after demonstrating that they had formed a separate and distinct community exercising sovereignty over the previous century.

Native Hawaiians aren't a separate and distinct community. They aren't geographically separate. Native Hawaiians who live in Hawaii live in the same neighborhoods, and go to the same stores, churches, and schools, as the other four-fifths of Hawaiians. So federal recognition of their "tribal" status would mean that a Native Hawaiian storeowner would be effectively exempt from state sales taxes while his non-Native competitor down the street would remain subject to them. There is no marked cultural separation of Native and non-Native Hawaiians, either: Intermarriage rates are quite high in Hawaii.

Nor have Native Hawaiians exercised political sovereignty. There are no pretenders to the old Hawaiian throne. There wasn't a purely race-based government in Hawaii even before 1893. The queen had subjects who had come, or whose ancestors had come, to Hawaii from all over the world. The government included officials of many races. Nor was the sovereignty of the Native Hawaiian race recognized at the time Hawaii became a state. The rhetoric of statehood advocates at that time (the 1950s) was that of the melting pot, not of racial separatism. Yet the Akaka bill's criterion for participating in the new government is being able to document lineal descent from the indigenous people of Hawaii. (The bill does not specify how much Native Hawaiian blood must flow in a person's veins for him to qualify—one drop would apparently count.)

Jon Kyl, a Republican senator from Arizona, has led the opposition to the bill. "It is the antithesis of the American concept of E pluribus unum and could begin the balkanization of the United States based strictly on race and ethnicity." If Aztlan and other Latino separatists ever acquired some political strength in California and the Southwest, the Akaka bill would be a handy precedent for them.

But Kyl doesn't have much company. Congress has a track record of pandering on Hawaiian issues: In 1993, it officially apologized for America's alleged role in the overthrow of the monarchy. (Apparently that was illegitimate, although it was perfectly fine for that line of monarchs to take over Hawaii in the first place.) There is no Democratic opposition to the Akaka bill, and several Republicans are supporting it. Alaska's congressional delegation has long worked with Hawaii's. The senators from Hawaii voted to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a priority for Alaska lawmakers that just barely passed the Senate. Alaska's Republican senators, Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski, are co-sponsors of the Akaka bill.

But the Alaska connection isn't the only reason some Republicans are supporting the bill. In 2002, Hawaii elected Linda Lingle, the first Republican governor of the state for 40 years. She backs the Akaka bill. She is said to see her position as a prerequisite for increasing the party's share of the Native Hawaiian vote. And she has brought Republicans elsewhere with her. Gordon Smith of Oregon might have co-sponsored the bill in any case. But it is hard to believe that Lindsey Graham would be co-sponsoring it if not for Lingle.

Kyl has been fighting the bill for almost as long as it's been around. Last year, though, he was forced to make a partial retreat. Senator Stevens and Hawaii's Daniel Inouye attached the Native Hawaiian bill as an amendment to the bill funding the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services. Kyl couldn't very well defeat that bill, especially as a member of the Senate Republican leadership. And supporters of the Akaka bill were threatening to hold up bills important to Arizona if he tried. So Kyl and other opponents of the bill—notably Pete Domenici of New Mexico and majority leader Bill Frist—cut a deal promising a vote on the bill in 2005.

Kyl is going to try to amend the bill to make it less noxious. He may, for example, try to take out its strict racial classifications. If the bill passes, action will move to the House—where it has received even less scrutiny than it has gotten in the Senate.

Benjamin Ginsberg, a well-connected Republican lobbyist—he was counsel to the Bush campaign in 2000 and most of 2004, and he works at the powerhouse firm of Patton Boggs—is working for the bill. There is no money on the other side of the issue. Ted Olson, Bush's former solicitor general, has been so appalled by the legislation that he has done a little pro bono work against it.

In short, everyone with an interest in the bill—Lingle, the Alaskans, Ginsberg—wants it to pass. The only people who want it to fail—Kyl, Olson—do so for reasons of principle. That's the state of play right now: It's interest vs. principle. You know which way to bet.

The National Review online, June 06, 2006

A Pandora's Box of Ethnic Sovereignty
Race-based Hawaii, an island we don't want to travel to.

By Peter Kirsanow

The Senate is scheduled to begin debate this week on the worst piece of legislation ever analyzed by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (S.147), also known as the Akaka bill, is riddled with a bewildering array of legal, operational, and procedural infirmities that defy meaningful description in fewer than 10,000 words. So let's consider just one of the consequences that could flow from the act's passage: a proliferation of petitions for racial and ethnic separatism.

The act authorizes the creation of a race-based government (the Native Hawaiian Governing Entity ["NHGE"]) for the estimated 400,000 Native Hawaiians living throughout the United States. That government is empowered to negotiate with the U.S. government and the State of Hawaii regarding an astonishing range of issues, including matters related to criminal and civil jurisdiction, civil-rights protections, the delegation of powers from the U.S. to the NHGE and the transfer of land, natural resources, and other assets. These negotiations would be carried out by members of the NHGE who've been certified as Native Hawaiian under the act. The act defines a Native Hawaiian as someone who is (1) a direct lineal descendant of the indigenous peoples who resided on what is now Hawaii on or before January 1, 1893 and who occupied and exercised sovereignty over such area; or (2) one of the native people of Hawaii who was eligible in 1921 for programs authorized by the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act or is a direct lineal descendant of such individual.

Who determines who qualifies as Native Hawaiian? The act establishes a nine-member commission that will certify that individuals meet the above definition of Native Hawaiian. The members of the commission must themselves be Native Hawaiians with "expertise in the determination of ancestry and lineal descendency" (Query: Who determines whether the commissioners meet the Native Hawaiian definition? Well, maybe the secretary of the Interior. But how does that person -or his deputies—have "expertise in the determination of ancestry and lineal descendency"?)

Even aside from the obvious potential for fraud, the problems with the act's racial definition have an almost cartoonish quality. Only one person exercised sovereignty over the Hawaiian Islands in 1893: Queen Liliuokalani. A precise reading of this provision of the act would, therefore, grant Native Hawaiian status only to the queen's direct lineal descendents—presumably a relatively small cohort.

On the other hand, the provisions granting Native Hawaiian status to "lineal descendants" of individuals eligible in 1921 for programs authorized by the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act is, practically, limitless. It implicates the odious "one drop rule" contained in the racial-segregation codes of the 19th and early 20th centuries. That, combined with some of the other predicates to creation of the NHGE renders the act's constitutionality questionable under the Supreme Court's decision in Rice v. Cayetano.

The bases for recognition extended to sovereign Indian tribes are different from those contemplated by the act for Native Hawaiians. The act doesn't require a showing of historical political continuity, cultural cohesiveness, geographic contiguity, or autonomous community. Rather, race combined with an assertion of prior rule by an entity other than then U.S. are the primary prerequisites for sovereignty.

Given that the act would confer sovereignty primarily on the basis of race untethered to traditional indices of tribal status, it would be surprising if other racial/ethnic groups didn't follow the example of the act. What prevents, say Acadians, Cajuns, or Mexican Americans from doing the same?

Earlier this year the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held a hearing on the Akaka bill. One of the commission's findings was that "[t]he Office of Hawaiian Affairs currently administers a racial preference system in the form of a substantial public trust for the benefit of Native Hawaiians. The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005 appears to be an effort to preserve that system in the face of litigation anticipated over the next several years."

Congressional approval of lax standards for racial/ethnic sovereignty combined with the potential distribution of racial preferences by the newly created sovereign may prove to be a powerful incentive for other racial and ethnic groups to establish their own governments.

—Peter Kirsanow is a member of the National Labor Relations Board . He is also a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights . These comments do not necessarily reflect the positions of either organization.


The Heritage Foundation
Center for Legal and Judicial Studies
WebMemo #1114
June 6, 2006

The "Native Hawaiian" Bill: An Unconstitutional Approach in Furtherance of a Terrible Idea

by Edwin Meese III and Todd Gaziano

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to begin debate as early as June 7, 2006, on the misleadingly named "Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005" (S.147).[1] The proponents of this bill, some motivated by seemingly benign purposes and others by a desire to benefit from special preferences, argue that it redresses ancient wrongs done to early Hawaiians by various powers, including the United States. The bill purports to authorize the creation of an exclusively race-based government of "native" Hawaiians to exercise sovereignty over native Hawaiians living anywhere in the United States. This "Native Hawaiian Government" could allegedly exempt these Hawaiians from whatever aspects of the United States Constitution and state authority it thought undesirable. Not only is this a terrible idea; it is also unconstitutional.

The United States Supreme Court ruled decisively that this approach violates the Constitution in Rice v. Cayetano (2000). Yet the proponents of S.147 believe they can bypass this ruling simply by enacting a law that calls the descendants of so-called "aboriginal" Hawaiians an American Indian tribe. The bill would require the federal government to create a database of persons with one drop or more of "aboriginal" Hawaiian blood, organize elections for an "interim government" of this alleged "tribe," and finally recognize the sovereignty and privileges and immunities (or lack thereof) that the new government establishes for its "tribal members." Although Hawaii correctly argued in the Rice litigation that descendants of aboriginal Hawaiians are not an American Indian tribe, state officials have changed their minds—because that is the only way they can practice racial discrimination on behalf of a favored interest group. Hopefully, the United States Constitution is not so easily circumvented.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights recently conducted a public hearing and considered the constitutional and policy problems with S.147. On May 18, 2006, the commission issued its report recommending against passage of the bill "or any other legislation that would discriminate on the basis of race or national origin and further subdivide the American people into discrete subgroups accorded varying decrees of privilege." The commission's report also notes that every single public comment sent to it opposed the legislation, but for those from Hawaiian government entities, corporations, and those who are employed by them.

The approach embodied in S.147 has three fundamental defects.

First, a Hawaiian analogy to American Indian tribes does not work. Hawaiians (regardless of blood purity) are not and cannot be an American Indian tribe. The term "Indian tribes" mentioned in the Constitution has a fixed constitutional meaning that cannot be changed by a simple act of Congress. They are limited to the preexisting tribes within North America, or their offshoots, that were thought to be "dependent nations" at the time of the framing of the Constitution. Such American Indian tribes must have an independent existence and predominately separate "community" apart from the rest of American society, and their government structure must have a continuous history for at least the past century.

By these standards, Hawaiians never could qualify as an American Indian tribe. The fact that they were "aboriginal" people is of no constitutional significance. That does not make a tribe. As the Supreme Court correctly noted in Rice, Hawaii was a feudal kingdom when the first sailors and western missionaries arrived on the islands and was ruled by a powerful king in a feudal monarchy, not unlike some in Eastern Europe and the Far East at the time. America has incorporated voluntarily or by conquest many areas controlled by other monarchs, republics, or other nation-states. Monarchies, republics, and other nation-states simply are not Indian tribes. Even if aboriginal Hawaiians were once organized in tribal governments, they have had no type of "Native Hawaiian Government" for over 100 years.

Finally, there is no independent and separate community of "native" Hawaiian descendants, as tribal designation requires. Hawaii is the most integrated and blended society in America and perhaps the world. There are no "native" Hawaiians living apart from other Americans. Hawaiians, whether they have pure, part, or no "aboriginal blood," all live in the same neighborhoods, go to the same schools and churches, and participate in the same community life.

Congress simply cannot create an Indian tribe, as that term is understood in the Constitution, or "recognize" an Indian tribe that never existed. If it could somehow do so, there would be no end to racial separatist "nations" that Congress could carve out of the United States population and exempt from the United States Constitution. This cannot be.

Second, no government organized under the United States Constitution may create another government that is exempted from part of the Constitution. Yet, this is what S.147 purports to do by allowing the "native" Hawaiian government to grant preferences and exempt itself from portions of the Bill of Rights as it sees fit. The "Indian law exception" is controversial enough, but it can exist only because real Indian tribes are not created by Congress or the states but existed prior to the formation of either. Real Indian tribes predate the Constitution, even if some of them have split or reorganized for various reasons. Congress could end the treaties with existing Indian tribes (leaving the merits of such an action aside) if it chose to do so, because these "dependent nations" are still subject to some control. But Congress simply can't create new governments, new nations, or new tribes on its own, and then exempt them from portions of the Constitution. If it could, the restrictions on government in the Bill of Rights and elsewhere would be of extremely limited value.

Third, the Fourteenth Amendment does not allow such naked discrimination as the bill purports to enable. The Fourteenth Amendment was adopted precisely to prevent a state from excluding certain of its residents from the privileges and immunities of citizenship, especially on the basis of race or ethnicity. The Fourteenth Amendment begins with the proposition that: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside." The next sentence of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits any state from abridging any of the "privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States." This same section also prohibits the denial of equal protection to any person within a state's jurisdiction. Thus, all United States citizens who reside in Hawaii are equally citizens of Hawaii and are entitled to enjoy all the privilege and immunities common to other citizens, including the protection against discriminatory laws—especially racially-discriminatory laws.

Apart from the insurmountable constitutional defects with S.147, trying to create a separate "Native Hawaiian Government," is a terrible idea on policy grounds. It would be an insult to the independent Indian nations to have their centuries-old governments trivialized, and there would also be no end to the number of purely racist separatist governments that could be formed if Hawaiians were "made" a tribe. Real Indian tribes were not and are not organized along "racial" lines.

There are 562 tribes that the Bureau of Indian Affairs recognizes, and no one thinks that each represents a separate and distinct race. At the time of the framing, many tribes allowed Europeans and Americans to join and other members to leave. In short, they were not and are not "racially" exclusive. If sharing one drop of aboriginal Hawaiian blood makes a tribe, then Chicanos, Latinos, African Americans, Mexicans, and indeed members of any ethnicity could become a tribe if Congress so decrees.

Even if Congress did no more harm than create a separatist Hawaiian government, that act would help destroy the wonderful and admirable blended society that does exist in Hawaii, where intermarriage and the cultural mixing of Asians, Americans, Europeans, and others is a model for the rest of the United States. A government based on "aboriginal" bloodlines would surely damage Hawaii's melting pot culture.

There are legitimate ways to preserve ancient Hawaiian culture and to protect historic trust properties for the benefit all Hawaiians, and all Americans. For example, Congress could charter a new non-profit entity to advise the government and educate the public on Hawaiian culture and history—for the benefit of all Americans who cherish them. Alternatively, S. 147 could be dramatically altered to cure its constitutional and policy defects, such as by forbidding any entity comprised of only one race from exercising any government powers, receiving any public land or other government benefits, or exercising any treaty powers. Short of such radical amendment, we believe Members of Congress and the President are bound by the oath they took to support the Constitution not to give effect to measures that violate it.

(S. 147 is unconstitutional for more reasons than could be explained in a brief paper. Those seeking a broader and more detailed analysis of the bill's constitutional shortcomings should read Senator Jon Kyl's June 22, 2005, paper for the Republican Policy Committee.)

Edwin Meese, a former U.S. Attorney General, is Chairman, and Todd Gaziano is Director, of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation

[1] If an effort to prevent S.147 from being considered by the full Senate fails, a substitute version of the bill, S.3064, will likely take its place. This substitute, while addressing several of the policy concerns associated with S.147, has the exact same constitutional and general policy defects.


Major speeches against the Akaka bill were made on the floor of the U.S. Senate during several hours of debate on June 7 and 8, 2006, by Senators Alexander(four), Cornyn(two), Craig, Enzi, Kyl, McConnell, Sessions(two). A webpage gathers complete transcripts of the debate, with an index at the top.

Hawaii Reporter, June 8, 2006

Grassroot Perspective
GRIH Comment: The following is a copy of a letter sent to Sen. John McCain by one of his good friends and a fellow prisoner of war in North Vietnam during those awful days. His clarity of thought concerning the Akaka bill speaks for itself.

Help - Dangerous Legislation

By Jerry Coffee

Dear John:

This is one last appeal; PLEASE vote NO on the Akaka Bill, S147. I know you find it difficult to go against the elected representatives of Hawaii, but let me explain.

Governor Lingle (with whom I agree on most issues), Hawaii's Congressional delegation and State Legislature are all in favor of the bill because it will guarantee MILLIONS IN CONTINUED FEDERAL FUNDING for over 150 programs specifically for Native Hawaiians (race based) most of which they are eligible for anyway based upon NEED, like anyone else. The legislators view the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) like they view the Hawaii Govt. Employees Union, their patrons and source of MILLIONS IN CAMPAIGN SUPPORT. And they know, as you know, OHA -- like Indian Tribes -- will be exempt from campaign donation limits. Plus most in the legislature are lawyers and their firms will capitalize greatly from the ENDLESS LITIGATION that will inevitably follow the passage of the Bill. It's no wonder they all support the bill.

Akaka has said from the beginning his Bill had the best chance of passing by "keeping it under the radar". He was successful until about two years ago, but now it is above the radar. Last month an independent poll with straight forward questions revealed nearly 70% of Hawaii's voters are AGAINST the bill, AND that the issue should be settled by a STATEWIDE PLEBISCITE rather than being decided in Washington. In 1957 over 90% of Hawaii's citizens voted in favor of statehood (same percentage for Native Hawaiians that voted). Akaka has also admitted the Bill would have "a significant impact on ALL of Hawaii's citizens". To split the state's governing body along racial lines with different rights and privileges would be to undo the statehood vote in spite of the preferences of the state's majority. At least Hawaii's citizens should have the right to vote on a Bill of such import before Congress decides for them.

As recently confirmed by the U.S. Commission on Civil Right, Congress's own advisory body, the Akaka Bill is patently UNCONSTITUTIONAL as race based legislation. The Supreme Court ruled in "Rice vs Cayatano" OHA could not restrict it's governance according to race. The 9th U.S. Circuit recently struck down Bishop Estate's race based admissions policy for Kamehameha Schools. No amount of revisionist history about "illegal overthrow of the monarchy" or Cleveland's or Clinton's apology for said "overthrow" can change the constitutional issue. And you know Dan Inouye lied about his intent when he talked Congress into passing Clinton's apology resolution. He knew it would provide support (from the uninformed) for the Akaka Bill which was on the horizon.

The Akaka Bill will set a terribly dangerous precedent. You saw the writing on the placards during the recent mass demonstrations on immigration by mostly Mexican aliens; "White man YOU are the illegal alien. Get out of our country!" In Southern California a Mexican flag flew ABOVE the American flag over a High School. If the Akaka bill passes, Hispanic minorities throughout the Southwest will be emboldened to clamor for the same "rights". It will commence the further FRAGMENTATION OF AMERICA, the undoing of all that was won in the Civil War, the preservation of the Union. How ironic is this, when our country needs UNITY now more than anytime in our lifetime. Make no mistake, many Native Hawaiians see the Akaka Bill as the first step to complete secession; "Last Star On, First Star Off!" But Akaka only equivocates; "that is something for my grandchildren to decide."

The passage of the Akaka Bill and division of the state government will endanger every one of Hawaii's military bases and training areas at a time when national security is paramount. As you know, the old bombing/firing range on Kahoolawe is now in OHA's control, Makua Valley -- close to Schoefield Barracks and one of the 25th I.D.s primary training areas --- has been reduced to tightly controlled maneuvering with no live ammo because of restraining orders by Hawaiian cultural and environmental groups. The Army's Pohakaloa Training Area--the primary Stryker training ground -- on the Big Isle is in their sights. The Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on Kauai -- vital to the continued development of our Missile Defense System -- will not be immune. Most Hawaiian activists who could rise to the top of the new "entity's" leadership are vehemently anti U.S. military.

Native Hawaiians have nothing in common with Native Americans on the mainland U.S. or Alaska. They have never lived off to themselves in designated areas like an Indian tribe. With little exception, they are COMPLETELY INTEGRATED INTO HAWAII'S SOCIETY, and 40% of the 400,000 live on the mainland. They have achieved considerable success proportionate to their numbers, from the U.S. Senate and House, to the state governorship and all levels of government -- both elected and appointed -- as well as in all professional disciplines. Congress will be creating a "tribe" where none has ever existed, and race based benefits where they are not warranted.

Contrary to Akaka's assertion that his Bill would bring "unity and reconciliation" to Hawaii's people, just the opposite is assured. Imagine side by side neighbors for years, suddenly governed by separate entities with one neighbor now immune from state taxes, municipal zoning laws, environmental regulations, state and city law enforcement, and the established judicial system. The Native Hawaiian neighbor opens a business and charges less for a product or service because he/she pays no taxes on sales; fair competition? The Native Hawaiian government buys a parcel of land and has it declared a part of "tribal lands" by the BIA and they can use it for anything, regardless of zoning laws. Sound far fetched? This is exactly what's happening on the mainland with Indian tribes and their non tribal neighbors. And state legislatures which should define and maintain limits are bought off by the millions of dollars in tribal gambling profits. Couldn't happen in Hawaii? Hawaii's legislature is bought off by unions daily. The Akaka Bill will guarantee DIVISION, RESENTMENT, AND CONFLICT among the citizens of Hawaii.

The Akaka Bill is about power and money for the few. It is significant that OHA and the state government are spending millions of taxpayer dollars sending delegations to Washington to lobby for the passage of the Bill. And OHA is spending tens of millions on professional lobbyists and lawyers to persuade Senators to vote for the Bill. This is proportional to the resistance proponents know exists among the majority of Hawaii's citizens. If the Bill is really that good for Hawaii, why does it require such a Herculean effort to get it passed?

A group of Hawaii's citizens working against passage of the Akaka Bill calls itself, "Aloha For All!" But as one of the group points out, if the Akaka Bill passes, "it will mean the death of Aloha". And it won't stop there.


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