Last week, Senator Daniel Inouye was a keynote speaker at the annual conference of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA).
He began his speech with a classic Inouye-esque statement, an understated and oblique put down of recent protests of the statehood commemorations:
The shaping of public policy can occur in many different ways. It can be done gently and by consensus. It can come as a result of negotiation and compromise. It can occur violently, amid hostile protest. As it relates to setting the course for a more hopeful policy for the benefit of Native people, of Native Hawaiians, it is important that we know our history.
He seems to imply that those who choose the path of protest don’t know their history and that he will give them the correct history. The problem is that it is he who confuses the history. He states in the speech:
Native Hawaiians are Native Americans.
Hawai’i is not a part of America. It is an archipelago more than 2000 miles away. Native Hawaiians are indigenous people to the Hawaiian islands and the independent nation state that they created, the Hawaiian Kingdom.
He then erroneously equates the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom to the termination of Native nations by the U.S. government:
And, like the Native tribes whose federally recognized status was terminated, Hawaii’s monarchy was also terminated and the Native Hawaiian government illegally overthrown. As such, the Native Hawaiian people never voluntarily gave up or extinguished their sovereignty. The Hawaiian protests on Statehood day dampened the commemoration of our 50th anniversary. There was a sadness, as it bruised our conscience. It made clear to me that reconciliation is long overdue.
The sovereignty of an independent nation state cannot be terminated in the same way the U.S. government can terminate its recognition of domestic dependent native nations. The U.S. had no legal basis to assume sovereignty over the Hawaiian islands without a proper treaty of annexation between two legitimate sovereign governments.
What I found revealing was the examples he chose to highlight of Native Hawaiian successes. The first two were the Native Hawaiian heads of two military projects:
I was on Maui last Friday for a few events. The first was to celebrate the designation of the Maui Supercomputer as an official resource center of the Department of Defense because of their outstanding performance. What began as an earmark is today a budgeted Pentagon asset. The man in charge – a Native Hawaiian. Gene Bal.
The next Maui event was also to celebrate an earmark – the Joint Information Technology Center – becoming an official $20 million dollar program of the Department of Defense. The President & CEO – a Native Hawaiian. Vaughn Vasconcellos.
So military contracts is one of the selling points for federal recognition. The Maui Supercomputer, which is run by the University of Hawai’i, is a boondoggle that supports the dangerously provocative missile defense programs that are tested over the Pacific. 95% of its work is military related. The Joint Information Technology Center is a military owned system that is managed by Akimeka, a Native Hawaiian owned military technology company. Akimeka is one of the leading companies that have cashed in on special contracting set asides for Native owned companies. Under the normal 8A set asides for minority and women owned companies, the contract amounts are capped and the procurement process is competitive. Under the ‘special’ 8A for Native American, Native Alaskan, and Native Hawaiian owned companies, the contracts are sole source awards (i.e. noncompetitive) and unlimited in amount. This has led to problems with fraud and abuse with some of the Alaska Native owned companies that turned out to be fronts for large defense contractors.
The dope of military earmarks is an powerful temptation. We’ll see who will line up for their fix.