Trouble in Paradise: Akaka Bill's Passage Would Threaten Many Hawaiian Institutions

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As we enter 2010, we can at least be thankful that another year has passed without the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act becoming law. Rumors of it being attached to defense appropriations turned out to be unsubstantiated and, though the Akaka Bill has cleared the committee stage, it still awaits a suitable legislative vehicle on the Senate floor.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid certainly does not want to expend political capital on what most of his colleagues see as a parochial Hawaiian issue. But the Akaka Bill is not some outlandish earmark providing for the construction of bridges and tunnels among the Hawaiian islands. Instead, it would fundamentally redesign on racial lines a state that has otherwise been a model of openness to all peoples.


Hawaii’s congressional delegation trumpets proudly that the reason for the bill is to protect native Hawaiian entitlements. Cases in point are: admissions policies at the Kamehameha Schools; Department of Hawaiian Home Lands leases to applicants with a native Hawaiian blood quantum of 50% or more; the University of Hawaii’s special financial assistance to native Hawaiians; and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which finances a long list of exclusive programs.

Whether you like any of these entitlements or not, the Akaka Bill