The so-called Akaka Bill, which would establish Native Hawaiians as a federally recognized native tribe under U.S. law and powers, has been strongly opposed by the Hawaiian Sovereignty movement. The bill would place Native Hawaiians under the Department of Interior and effectively extinguish claims to land and independence. The bill would also exempt the U.S. military from any claims that could be brought by Native Hawaiians, say for the illegal taking of Hawaiian national lands. Republicans and racist anti-Native Hawaiian groups also oppose the bill, but for different reasons.
While progressive activists oppose the anti-gay politics of the author of the following article, he provides a good summation of recent events that may have set back the Akaka Bill.
AKAKA BILL FALTERS
by Leon Siu
February 5, 2010
The Akaka Bill is in big trouble. Earlier this week, Republican Senator Jim DeMint placed a ‘hold’ on the bill, which in essence freezes the bill from moving forward. This is the newest setback in a series of catastrophic hits over the past six weeks that took the bill from certainty of passage by Christmas, to certainty of passage by February, to being dead in the water.
How did this happen? Let’s go back about eight weeks…the Akaka Bill was literally days away, closer than it’s ever been, to passing…
AKAKA BILL – SNEAK ATTACK PROTEST
Monday, December 14, 2009, independence protesters assembled at the corner of Beretania and Punchbowl to protest an attempt by Hawaii’s US senators Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye to sneak the Akaka bill into one of the large US federal appropriations bills while congress and the nation were distracted by the epic battle over the huge healthcare reform bills.
Senator Inouye in Washington, D.C. hurriedly issued a strong denial, but it was way over the top, like that of someone caught with his hand in the cookie jar. No one believed his denial as everyone knows sneaky back-door deals is his specialty, his modus operandi.
STATE WITHDRAWS SUPPORT
Our SNEAK ATTACK protest triggered inquiries by Governor Lingle, and uncovered a scheme (brokered by Robin Danner) between Akaka and the White House to amend the Akaka bill in two days. State Attorney General, Mark Bennett, sent a scathing letter to Akaka and the members of the house and senate committees, strongly objecting to the unexpected changes and withdrawing the state’s support of the bill. He also suggested that public hearings be held in Hawaii before Congress takes further action on the bill. This constituted a major blow to the Akaka bill, as the State of Hawaii is the most vital player in the scheme of things.
OBAMA ASKS QUESTIONS
The demand for ‘congressional-hearings-in-Hawaii’ grew to a clamor coming from many diverse quarters. Even President Obama caught the hint from protestors at the entrance to his vacation compound while in Hawaii over the holidays. Of course it was hard to miss the huge banners and signs for ‘congressional hearings in Hawaii.’ Sources tell us that upon returning to DC, the White House asked questions about why there had not been hearings in Hawaii.
OHA CAUGHT OFF GUARD
Apparently the Office of Hawaiian Affairs was also caught off guard by the amendments. OHA was strangely silent about the crisis for quite some time. Eventually OHA responded with yet another dog-and-pony TV forum. Their purpose? To squelch the growing demands for congressional hearings in Hawaii and assure everyone that everything was still on track. The OHA show was unbelievably shameful and pathetic.
[Ironically, the day of OHA’s televised forum hyping the Akaka Bill, Senator Akaka was on Maui holding a “public hearing” for Maui veterans for a proposed vet complex (as they deservedly should get). This insult by Senator Akaka (the vets get a hearing, Hawaiians don’t) has not been lost on the people of Hawaii.
CONGRESSIONAL SUPORTERS CAUGHT OFF GUARD
Co-sponsors of the bill like Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski, were also kept in the dark about the amendments. Murkowski has hedged her support.
INOUYE’S DAMAGE CONTROL FALLS FLAT
Trying to regain composure, Inouye arrogantly tells the press that the governor’s balk was just a matter of miscommunication and that he would get it straightened out over the holidays, and the bill will pass by mid February.
OHA and STATE TEAM UP
On January 20, the State AG and OHA submitted a list of 30(!) changes they would like to see made to the Akaka Bill, in essence crippling any chances of it being passed any time soon, certainly not “by mid-February.”
SHIFTS IN SENATE KILLS BILL
The surprise upset by Scott Brown in Massachusetts left Democrats in the US Senate one short of the 60 needed for a super majority to dislodge a ‘hold’ or stop a ‘filibuster.’ Sure enough, Senator Jim DeMint placed a hold on the Akaka bill. For all intents and purposes, the bill is dead.
INOUYE/DANNER PLOT EXPOSED
One of the bonuses of the last six weeks is that the long, unholy alliance between Inouye and the Danner sisters has been exposed. The last-minute amendments (that caused the eventual collapse of the bill) would have contracted CNHA (the Danner’s non-profit corporation) to be the interim administrator of the Native Hawaiian tribe, until such time that negotiations were ever completed for the creation of a Native Hawaiian Governing Entity.
In a supreme display of poor judgment, Robin Danner has been sent out into the Hawaiian community to put out the wildfires of growing opposition to the Akaka bill. But Hawaiians are ma’a to what’s going on and Robin’s presence is like pouring gasoline on the flames. The more she tries to extinguish the fires, the larger the conflagration gets.