Equal rights to all, without reference to ethnicity,
is the proud tradition of Kamehameha III and his successors.
Therefore, I agree with the opponents of the bill who argue
that the bill will set up a separate race-based government,
in defiance of the laws of the Kingdom the bill is trying to
Hawai‘i is a great example of a melting pot and it would
be sad to divide its peoples and create racial conflicts. Moreover,
I think redefining what a Native Hawaiian is, as the Bill does,
When I met Senator Akaka in August, I asked him about the future
of “locals,” the non-native Hawaiian population of
Hawai‘i who fought along with Native Hawaiians to restore
the Hawaiian Kingdom when the Queen was overthrown. Senator Akaka
answered that the federal recognition of a Hawaiian nation would
have serious social, political, and economic consequences on
the state of Hawai‘i. He argued, however, that the bill
could benefit not only Native Hawaiians but also all of Hawai‘i’s
peoples. Instead of convincing me, his answers made me wonder
if Senator Akaka was too optimistic about the effects of his
bill, if passed.
Furthermore, I worry about the amendments that the Bush administration
is proposing to force upon the bill. Indeed, the latest amendments
proposed seek to extinguish all existing land claims. Hawai‘i
history has shown that the U. S. Congress tends to be more concerned
with its own political and economic interests than the ones of
the Hawaiian nation. Therefore, instead of helping the state
of Hawai‘i and its native people, the Akaka Bill could
end up doing the opposite.
Hawaiian history shows that justice needs to be done. It is unfair
that the Hawaiian people, whose lands were stolen from them,
represent today the most uneducated and impoverished class of
the state of Hawai‘i. I agree with the supporters of the
bill that social programs serving the Hawaiians, such as OHA
and the Kamehameha Schools need to be protected. The Akaka Bill
would protect those programs, but it would also change economically,
socially, and politically the state of Hawai‘i by setting
up a co-equal Hawaiian governing entity. Who knows what changes
it would want?
Even if I do not support the Akaka Bill, I think that the people
of Hawai‘i deserve discussion of S.147 on the U.S. Senate
floor. It will remind the U.S. Congress that something needs
to be done as it is stated in the Apology Resolution of 1993.
Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka ‘Aina I Ka Pono (The Life/Sovereignty
of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness) needs to be more
than just a statement written on the seal of the State Capitol.
Proposed Amendments to the Akaka Bill
Leave negotiations on claims made by Native Hawaiians against
the United States and the state in the hands of a federally
recognized Hawaiian governing entity. Individuals and organizations,
including the governing entity, would not have the legal basis
to file such claims in court.
Clarify that gambling would not be allowed on lands under the
jurisdiction of the Native Hawaiian government entity unless
approved by the state and federal governments.
Exempt the Department of Defense from participating in discussions
and negotiations dealing with the creation of the Native Hawaiian
governing entity, effectively ensuring military installations
and operations are not affected in any way.
Make clear that the state and federal governments would retain
existing civil and criminal jurisdiction over all lands and
people in Hawai‘i.