Spin Zone: The Akaka Bill
Haunani Apoliona, chairperson, board of trustees, office of hawaiian affairs:
Is the Akaka Bill good for Hawaii?
A: The Hawaiian Federal Recognition Bill is good for Hawaii and good for business. It makes good business sense to support a measure that formally affirms Hawaiians’ special political status as aboriginal indigenous natives, and provides a process for official U.S. recognition of a future Native Hawaiian representative body. This body will be determined by the Hawaiian community. It will not involve secession, land grabs, or gambling, as critics blindly assert.
The legislation provides a key shield against the legal firestorm that began over a decade ago in Rice v. Cayetano. The litigators have been busy attacking the Hawaiian community, and forcing the diversion of valuable resources to defend ourselves.The goal to combine the assets in the Hawaiian community and strengthen Hawaiian economic contributions and abilities to resolve current problems ultimately helps all state taxpayers, and keeps alive the Hawaiian culture that is so vital to our island life style which attracts visitors to Hawai’i.
Seventy million dollars a year in federal funds flow into Hawaii through various congressional acts for programs in health, education, affordable housing and employment. Litigators are trying to strike the programs down by inaccurately calling them race-based and unconstitutional. These are programs, which, if not federally funded, will significantly divert state resources.
These critics ignore that America’s native people are recognized as groups that are not defined by reference to race or ethnicity, but by the fact that their ancestors exercised sovereignty over the lands and areas that subsequently became part of the United States. The Constitution grants Congress the authority to prescribe a path toward reorganizing and recognizing Native Hawaiians. The bill does not create an impermissible racial classification, but affirms our political indigenous status.
The bottom line … it makes good business sense to support the Hawaiian Federal Recognition Bill.
Kenneth Conklin, PH.D., researcher and civil rights activist:
A: The Akaka Bill seeks to protect the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, 160 federally funded programs and their captive institutions and Kamehameha Schools’ admissions policy – all race-based – therefore immoral; probably illegal.
An Akaka tribal government empowered to negotiate money, land and jurisdictional authority, demands ever more from a smaller, weaker state of Hawaii. A hereditary nobility gets benefits paid by second-class citizens forever, guaranteeing racial conflict and economic uncertainty. Picture Fiji, perhaps Zimbabwe.The bill would entrench and accelerate a long-term power grab by Hawaii’s cabal of race-based institutions. Read a 302-page analysis, “Hawaiian Apartheid – Racial Separatism and Ethnic Nationalism in the Aloha State.” To protect the “benefits” of institutional racism, this poison-pill bill has a disastrous side-effect – authorizing the breakup of Hawaii.
Kamehameha lands, plus ceded lands, comprise half of Hawaii, widely scattered. Highly taxed and regulated businesses remaining under the ever-shrinking state government would compete against nearby tribal businesses ungoverned by zoning, labor, regulatory and taxation laws. The state tax base would decline drastically.
Small businesses would suffer when Indian tribes start or expand.
Akaka supporters claim these consequences cannot be predicted, because they’re negotiable. Translation: It’s like driving over a cliff while blindfolded – we cannot foresee exactly what will happen.
Neither tribal members nor Hawaii’s people can vote on sweetheart settlements negotiated between the Legislature and tribal council. Tribe members continue voting for governor and legislators. No other state has 20 percent of its people joining a tribe spending megabucks on political advertising and campaign contributions unregulated due to tribal sovereignty.
Picture former OHA Chair Clayton Hee, representing the Akaka government, negotiating against state Sen. Clayton Hee, representing the state. Shoots! That’s how things work already!