Reactions to the Akaka Bill's Failure to Pass
The defeat of the cloture vote on the Akaka Bill ended the years-long struggle by Senators Akaka and Inouye to win federal recognition of Native Hawaiians by the United Staes government, even though the U.S. has acknowledged and formally apologized for the 1893 illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. Here are some responses to that defeat:
Office of Hawaiian Affairs
Akaka Bill Cloture Vote Fails in Senate, Efforts Will Continue
Washington , D.C. – The Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs watched in silence and with deep disappointment as the U.S. Senate voted not to advance the Akaka Bill.
Haunani Apoliona, chairperson of the OHA Board of Trustees, called the vote a setback for all of Hawai`i. “It took more than 100 years for Congress to apologize for the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, and promise a process of reconciliation. This Senate failed to deliver on that promise. Too many Senators listened to the rhetoric of fear and ignorance,” Apoliona said.
She continued, “But Native Hawaiians will not be deterred. We will continue our own process to restore our political heritage and revitalize our cultural tradition that defines our way of life in Hawai`i.”
OHA Administrator Clyde Nāmu`o said Native Hawaiians are already registering to vote on a governance process. He said, “Kau Inoa, the sign up of Native Hawaiians who want to participate in the creation of a governing entity, will not accelerate. This will allow us to have a formal structure that can then seek political status to establish and maintain programs to benefit Native Hawaiians.”
Chair Apoliona thanked the more than 60 organizations and thousands of individuals, including the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and all four County Mayors, for their support over the past six years. She said, “We knew this would be a long struggle, and having the support of each group was a source of inspiration and hope for all of us.”
Administrator Nāmu`o said the trustees will meet with other Native Hawaiian organizations to determine next steps in the process to gain federal recognition.
“This is a setback but the effort to achieve federal recognition must continue,” said Nāmu`o. “The additional time will give an opportunity to continue our effort to organize the Hawaiian community. `Onipa`a (be steadfast),” Nāmu`o concluded.
Click here to read a letter to the editor from OHA Trustee Haunani Apoliona
From Hui Pū
Hui Pū, a coalition of Native Hawaiian groups who have worked for more than 4 decades for self-determination, gathered at `Iolani Palace at 9am ( Hawai`i time) on June 7th to protest the Akaka Bill. After the vote for cloture failed, this appeared on their website: Mahalo to all those who took direct action, including the Hui Pū actions at OHA, and at Iolani Palace. And mahalo also to those who lobbied the politicians in Washington , D.C., with personal visits, emails, and faxes. Congratulations! I mua ke aloha `āina.
Last year, members of Hui Pū held a vigil at the office of OHA to protest OHA’s promotion of the Akaka Bill. At the end of the 24-hour vigil, a spokeperson read a statement that ended with: There are many other paths available to our community besides the treacherous avenue of US Indian Law, and we look forward to working together with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and other groups to bring those opportunities to fruition. Now is the time to wipe the slate clean of this dubious experiment with federal recognition, and to build a better future for our people, together.
Ua mau ke ea o ka aina I ka pono.
From the Northwest...
Are We So Hūpō?
By Dr. Kamuela Ka`Ahanui
The Akaka bill was destined to fail. I won’t go into a rant about how the bill, from its beginnings, excluded grassroots Native Hawaiians from part of the decision-making process; or how it details that we must give-up our rights to our lands and sovereignty in order to attain federal recognition; or that we needed to wait 20 years before staking any claims against the US government to explain its moral, cultural and political transgressions; or that Republican Governor Linda Lingle, while a well-meaning friend of Hawaiians, was not a real friend of “Dub-yah”; or that the poll results from the Grassroots Institute of Hawai`i report that 67% of Hawai`i’s residents were against the bill (a truer poll would place it on the voting ballot).
But I will rave about Haunani Kay Trask, when she explained that “Hawaiians need to understand . . . the Akaka bill as a termination, rather than resolution, of the question of native existence and recognition” (Honolulu Advertiser, 2 May 2006).
And, I will talk about the wisdom of our timing—which asked us to trust a government that lies daily to its people. Are we so hūpō (naïve)? How can a Democratic, Native Hawaiian senator ethically place our hopes for a realistic reconciliation and reclamation of our self-governance with a Congress and President that are so morally bankrupt, that they can’t check and balance their own abuses of privilege and power?
Furthermore, in my view, the Akaka bill was never about the ludicrous idea that “something is better than nothing;” or its ridiculous alternative that “secession and independence” are better than dependence on Uncle Sam; or that “the Hawaiians can’t get their act together.” The Akaka bill, simply put, lacked the political power – or Hawaiian punch -- to deliver. On the nation’s and world’s stages, Native Hawaiians need to face the fact that we aren’t a political player. Not yet--
Even if the Akaka bill was destined to be Bush-whacked, Native Hawaiians must return to a moral call for social justice and find self-determination on our own terms! At the dawn of the US 9th Circuit Court’s en banc meeting on 20 June 2006 in San Francisco, which will rule on DOE v. Kamehameha, the call to moral arms and justice is even more alarming. I join in to sound the alarm along with my KS ’67 classmate, Dr. Haunani Kay Trask, by asking all Native Hawaiians and Hawaiians at-heart, “What’s to be done?” “What will transform us?” As Haunani counsels:
Many may disagree with me, because I see the Akaka bill’s demise as a blessing. We’ve been given a second chance to recreate our own sovereignty and self-determination, as we see ourselves, not as others see us. There are models of self-rule that do not belie our beloved Hawaiian values given to us by our kūpuna. Many of them are founded on wise democratic principles, which compliment and do not subvert American perspectives.
As we hana hou, let’s not continue to participate and become complicit with any more federal lies about becoming the change we wish to be by leaving it up to US politicians alone. Collectively, and with patience and our own wisdom, we can find our political power and promise for our keiki. Our hopes can be found in one another, so let’s destroy the myth that “Hawaiians can’t get their act together” and reaffirm that we are not hūpō ! Let us all remind everyone, that once, we were warriors! As we approach another election this fall, we have a choice to become the change we wish to be! E alu like mai kākou!
Dr. Ka` Ahanui is a professor of education at Antioch University Seattle. Originally from Honolulu, he is a 1967 Kamehameha Schools graduate. When not living in Capitol Hill, he is on the beach in Hilo, where he makes his home in the islands. Kamuela welcomes your comments and points of view at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Moody" - Moodette Keli'iho'omalu-Ka'apana
Copyright © 2004-2009 by Northwest Hawai`i Times