BY KENNETH R. CONKLIN, PH.D. – HB1627 is a bill in the Hawaii legislature to create a state-recognized ethnic Hawaiian tribe. In view of the failure of the Akaka bill in Congress, HB1627 contains much of the worst language from that bill but brought over from the federal to the state level. The bill’s text is 37 pages long and can be downloaded from
The hearing notice became available only Thursday morning February 3, with written testimony due by 9:45 AM Friday, for a hearing to be held at 9:45 AM Saturday February 5. How’s that for short notice! Do they really want to hear from us? The notice says decision-making will follow the hearing. But sometimes decisions are postponed. Testimony can be submitted “late” in case the committee does not make a decision immediately. See the hearing notice for details on time and place of the hearing, and how to submit testimony by way of the internet. http://tinyurl.com/4lc9eft
Here is the testimony I submitted on Thursday. Feel free to expand on any portions you like, or make your own points.
To the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs:
HB1627 is fundamentally the same as the federal Hawaiian Government Reorganization bill, also known as the Akaka bill; except that instead of having the federal government recognize the Akaka tribe, this bill would have only the State of Hawaii recognizing that tribe.
The clear purpose of the bill is to authorize the creation of an entity with governmental powers, but restricted to people who have at least one drop of Hawaiian native blood.
That racist concept is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Since all legislators have taken an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution, any legislator who votes in favor of this bill has thereby violated that oath and must resign from office.
The concept of this bill also violates the first sentence of the first Constitution of the Kingdom of Hawaii, sometimes called the “kokokahi” (one blood) sentence, which proclaimed “Ua hana mai ke Akua i na lahuikanaka a pau i ke koko hookahi, e noho like lakou ma ka honua nei me ke kuikahi, a me ka pomaikai.” In English, it can be translated into modern usage as follows: “God has made of one blood all races of people to dwell upon this Earth in unity and blessedness.” What a beautiful and eloquently expressed concept! HB1627 is an ugly and disgusting violation of that kokokahi sentence.
King Kauikeaouli Kamehameha III wrote the kokokahi sentence as the first sentence of his Declaration of Rights in 1839, which was then incorporated in its entirety to become the preamble of the Constitution of 1840. In making that proclamation the King exercised sovereignty and self-determination on behalf of his native people, and on behalf of all people of all races who were subjects and residents of his Kingdom.
Today’s Hawaiians are ethically bound to respect the wisdom of their ancestors. They are also legally and morally bound to respect the full partnership between natives and non-natives which enabled the Kingdom to be established and to thrive. All subjects of the Kingdom were fully equal under Kingdom laws, regardless of race, including voting rights and property rights. When partners work together in full equality to create and sustain a business or nation, it is morally and legally wrong for one partner to toss out or set aside or segregate other partners.
A zealous minority within the ethnic Hawaiian minority demands racial separatism. Should we allow that? Will you legislators be accomplices to such evil?
Consider the historical struggle for identity within the African-American
community. Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam, and the early Malcolm X, advocated racial separatism and portrayed the white man as a devil. Some radicals called for setting aside several southern states for a Nation of New Africa. Fortunately Martin Luther King used Gandhi’s spiritual tool of non-violence to appeal to people’s inner goodness, which led to full integration. After his pilgrimage to Mecca Malcolm X understood the universal brotherhood of people of all races, but was gunned down by the separatists when he tried to persuade them to pursue integration.
In Hawaii we see a similar struggle now unfolding. Some demagogues use racial grievances to stir up hatred, and leaders use victimhood statistics to build wealthy and powerful institutions on the backs of needy people who end up getting very little help.
The Akaka bill, and HB1627, would empower the demagogues and racial separatists. These bills are supported primarily by large, wealthy institutions; not by the actual people they claim to represent. Institutions like the $400 Million Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and the $9 Billion Kamehameha Schools, seek to entrench their political power. They want an exemption from the 14th Amendment requirement that all persons be given the equal protection of the laws regardless of race.
But Hawaiians are voting with their feet against the Akaka bill. After seven years and untold millions of dollars in state government money for advertising (and free T-shirts!), fewer than one-fourth of those eligible have signed up for the Kau Inoa racial registry likely to be used as a membership roll for the Akaka tribe. Sadly, if either the Akaka bill or HB1627 passes then the separatists will be able to create their tribe even though the majority of ethnic Hawaiians oppose the idea. And 80% of Hawaii’s people, having no native blood, will see our beautiful Hawaii carved up without even asking us.
Do the racial separatists have a right to go off in a corner and create their own private club for members only? Perhaps. But should the rest of us give them our encouragement and our resources to enable them to do that? Absolutely not.
It’s time for this legislature to stop encouraging racial separatism. It’s time to stand up in support of unity and equality. Just say no to HB1627 and all other bills motivated by the same mentality.