Kauanui: Pro-Independence Talking Points on the ‘Akaka Bill’


The Akaka Bill legislation, first introduced in the U.S. Congress in 2000 and now before Congress in two different bills (H.R. 2314 and S. 1011), proposes that the U.S. Government recognize a “Native Hawaiian governing entity” that is to be certified by the U.S. Department of the Interior in conformity with U.S. federal law and practice regarding Native American tribal nations. Why support a federally driven bill that serves both the state’s interests and wraps things up for the federal government that aims strangle our national claims under international law (i.e. the right to restore an independent nation)?

This bill must be rejected for the following reasons:

  • Our claims to independence under international law stem from the fact that our loss of self-determination at no time amounted to a legal termination of political sovereignty, which was not lost via conquest, cession or adjudication.
  • The historical harm the United States first committed in Hawai‘i in 1893 brought down, not a “Native Hawaiian governing entity” but the government of the independent State of Hawai‘i composed of Kanaka Maoli as well as non-Kanaka Maoli subjects. Consequently, the Kanaka Maoli people and other Hawaiian Kingdom heirs have, since that time, accumulated fundamental political and other claims against the United States under international law that the United States must recognize.
  • The bill attempts to sabotage the rightful return of our people to our status prior to 1893-98 by imposing on us a colonial U.S. “wardship” that is anchored in the U.S. judicial doctrine of the plenary power of Congress over Native American nations.
  • The U.S. apology of 1993 recognizes that “the indigenous Hawaiian people never directly relinquished their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people or over their national lands to the United States, either through their monarchy or through a plebiscite or referendum.” Passage of the bill would mark the first time in history that we could be accused of acquiescing to the illegal U.S.-backed overthrow in 1893.
  • Proponents of the bill insist it will not foreclose our claims under international law, and not acknowledge how the United States asserts its plenary power to keep indigenous sovereigns both domestic and dependent. Moreover, these proponents depend on the Indigenous Peoples Model within the United Nations, whereas independence supporters opposed to the bill rely on the model of either De-Ocupation or Decolonization.
  • This is a FEDERALLY DRIVEN BILL that did NOT spring from our people. Locally, it has been DRIVEN BY OHA – A STATE AGENCY. Although there are Kanaka Maoli running OHA, it is still a STATE AGENCY working on behalf of the STATE’S INTERESTS. The trustees do not even have the mandate of the Kanaka Maoli people since they are ELECTED BY ALL STATE RESIDENTS (since 2000 when the ruling in Rice v. Cayetano found Hawaiian-only voting for OHA trustees unconstitutional).
  • Hawa