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