The Akaka Bill: Poorly Understood, Misrepresented Legislation in Congress

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BY FRANK SCOTT – There is obviously need to address native Hawaiian issues as has been true for Native Alaskans and American Indians. But the Akaka Bill is misleading in this respect. It is undoubtedly one of the most misrepresented and poorly understood bills submitted to Congress on Hawaiian issues. The Bill portends to right the wrongs done to indigenous Hawaiians by the United States and proposes a separate government entity to address current needs, including the right to negotiate for large areas of land from the State of Hawaii.

Justification for the Akaka Bill to counter assumed adverse actions against the former Hawaiian Kingdom by the United States has no basis. The assumption that the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893 was instigated by the United States is based on speculation. The 808 page Morgan Report submitted the the US Senate in 1894 refutes all reports indicating US involvement, including the Blount Report requested by President Cleveland. Since there is no conclusive information indicating US involvement in the overthrow of 117 years ago, this issue might best be put to rest.

The need for creating a separate government entity for Native Hawaiians is ill conceived in many respects.  The Bill indicates that anyone with a trace of Hawaiian ancestry, regardless of place of birth or residence, is eligible for membership in the proposed government. It is reported that 90 percent of the membership in this classification has less than 10 percent indigenous Hawaiian ancestry and only a small segment is predominantly native Hawaiian. This is in sharp contrast to the Hawaiian Homes Act which requires 50 percent native origin and thus addresses the needs of people who are predominantly Hawaiian.

The Akaka Bill provides no information as to the type of government for the new entity or how responsibilities for legal, educational, and infrastructure would be shared between the State of Hawaii and the indigenous government. This is a particularly serious problem considering the fact that the vast majority of so called indigenous Hawaiians are intermarried with other ethnic groups and completely integrated into the society at large. Only a tiny segment of native Hawaiians, such as on the island of Niihau, live in separate native villages like the natives of Alaska and the US mainland.

Sponsors of the Akaka Bill in presenting it to Congress have largely emphasized its justification and needs rather than aspects and implications. Thus, except of the few people who might study the bill in detail,  the extent of knowledge of the proposal as a basis for approval is questionable.  And those responsible for submitting the bill have been reluctant to submit it for review in Hawaii prior to submitting it to Congress.

Frank Scott is a resident of Kailua, Hawaii

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  1. Here’s the full text of the new version of the Akaka bill, whose bill number is S.3945
    http://tinyurl.com/23ov9m2

    The newly introduced bill is allegedly the compromise version of the bill which was agreed to by Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle. Great caution must be exercised regarding whether this new bill is truly intended to be passed, or whether it is merely a decoy to draw attention while the more dangerous HR.2314 is actually offered for cloture on the floor or inserted as a rider or by reference in another bill. That sort of stealth decoy maneuver is what actually happened in 2005-2006. See
    http://www.angelfire.com/big09a/AkakaManeuversSeptDec2010.html

    In September the Church of the Crossroads hosted three consecutive Sundays of lecture/discussions on the Akaka bill, moderated by Dr. Chuck Burrows of the Kailua Hawaiian Civic Club. Those three events were taped by ‘Olelo TV and are now being broadcast on Channel 53 (NATV) at various times.

    The easiest way to see them all is on Friday November 19, Channel 53, from 12:30 to 4:00 PM. So set your video recorders.

    1. Ken Conklin, opposing Akaka bill because of support for unity and equality, 66 minutes. (12:30 to 1:37; then unrelated fillers until 2:00)

    2. Esther Kiaaina, supporting the Akaka bill, officially representing OHA. (2:00 to 3:00)

    3. Kekuni Blaisdell and Dexter Kaiama, opposing the Akaka bill from the perspective of supporting Hawaiian independence. (3:00 to 4:00)

    There are other scattered times for rebroadcasts of the three events on Wednesday and Thursday; and perhaps there will be additional showings after Friday. Check the Olelo TV listings on the ‘Olelo website.

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