”’This is an excerpt from an editorial in The Economist on the Akaka Bill, published Sept. 2, 2005. The Akaka Bill will be up for a cloture vote in the U.S. Senate on Sept. 6, 2005”’
… A casual observer might think that a century under the American yoke has
not been all bad for native Hawaiians. Their median household income is
$52,000, making them slightly better off than white Americans and much
richer than any group of Polynesians outside the United States. And they
also live in Hawaii.
Statehood was not imposed on native Hawaiians by force. In 1959, they
voted for it by a two-to-one margin. Since then, native and non-native
have rubbed along well enough to marry each other with casual abandon.
Back in 1984, only 4 percent of native Hawaiians were classified by the Office
of Hawaiian Affairs as pure native Hawaiian, and color-blind love must
have reduced that figure since then.
Sen. Daniel Akaka’s gripe, however, is that native Hawaiians have been denied the degree of self-determination that has made Native American reservations
such happy places. His bill, which is supported by Hawaii’s Republican
governor and its other Democratic senator, would allow the creation of a
separate “governing entity” for native Hawaiians … .
That could have interesting consequences. Unlike Native American tribes,
which have been separate political entities since before the American
constitution was framed, native Hawaiians live intermingled with those
whose ancestors arrived more recently. So, under the new system, could
you have two shops side by side, one of them paying taxes, and one
exempt because its owner has a drop of native blood? Asked that question
by a caller to a Hawaiian radio station, Robert Klein, a lawyer for the
Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which is promoting the Akaka bill, replied:
“I don’t know. We would need to see how that will play out in the
Would this sort of thing foster harmony between native and non-native
Hawaiians, as the bill’s sponsors suggest? “The opposite is more
likely,” says Rubellite Kawena Kinney Johnson, a local academic and
prominent native opponent of the bill