The Akaka Bill — which affords Native Hawaiians the same type of recognition afforded American Indians and Alaska Natives — neither further balkanizes the United States nor sets up a race-based separate government in Hawaii. It provides a simple measure of justice and fairness to Native Hawaiians.
The special status of Native Hawaiians as an indigenous people of the United States has been recognized by the Congress for almost 100 years. The organic document admitting Hawaii to the Union textually recognizes that status, as do scores of Acts of Congress. The Akaka Bill simply formalizes the relationship, and will help to protect the many current programs that benefit Native Hawaiians.
This type of recognition has helped preserve the language, identity, and culture of other indigenous peoples of America, and it will help do the same for Native Hawaiians. The Akaka Bill has the support of Republicans and Democrats in Hawaii; indeed, a 2005 Resolution supporting the bill passed the Hawaii Legislature with only one no vote.
Native Hawaiians have fought and died for this country in wars dating back almost 100 years. They fight today for this country in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Akaka Bill will not change the patriotism or valor of Native Hawaiians or Hawaii’s other citizens. It will not set up a foreign nation in Hawaii. It will, however, put Hawaii on an equal footing with its 49 sister states, and it will end the second class status of Hawaii’s indigenous people — Native Hawaiians. It is fair and just — nothing more, and nothing less.
To the fair-minded people that we Americans pride ourselves on being, the Senate