2006-05-12 Akaka Fact Check
(Speech text taken from Akaka's website.)
Back to Correcting Akaka
|Point: Akaka lists the Co-Sponsors of S.147, asserting bi-partisan support for his bill.|
|Counterpoint: The Akaka bill would put Hawaii on the chopping block. Those co-sponsors should be asking if their states will be next. If anyone with a a drop of blood indigenous to Hawaii can participate in carving out of the State of Hawaii their own new separate sovereign government, not subject to all the constitution & laws of the State of Hawaii and the United States, why shouldn’t anyone with a smidgen of ancestry indigenous to their state have the same right?|
|Point: Akaka says the bill will be good for the State of Hawaii and all its people, natives and non-natives.|
|Counterpoint: Hawaiians now make up about 20% of Hawaii’s population. OHA says the new Native Hawaiian government should get, not only billions for reparations, but outright ownership of 45% of the State’s public lands, including the Hawaiian home lands, Kahoolawe, federal military bases, golf courses and national parks. Native Hawaiians would still retain their full rights as state citizens to share the benefits of the remaining public lands.
In addition, the new government will surely seek dominion and control of submerged lands, reefs, territorial waters, the peaks of Mauna Kea and Haleakala, the NorthWestern Hawaiian islands. Kamehameha Schools will likely want its 370,000 acres to be under the jurisdiction of the new government.
The likely result? The State of Hawaii will end up as a shrunken-down, decimated version of what Congress promised in 1959. 80% of the State citizens will be in servitude to the new Congressionally-sponsored hereditary elite.
Akaka's remarks with corrections
Mr. President, I rise again to talk about legislation of critical importance to me and the people of Hawaii, S. 147, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act. As my colleagues are aware, we have been trying to schedule this bill for a debate and vote on the Senate floor. Unfortunately, the bill has been blocked by a handful of my colleagues who fail to understand the importance of this issue to the people of Hawaii.
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Correction: The bill has been blocked by those who do understand the importance and impact of this bill, and the threat it poses towards the civil rights of those in Hawaii. (See Senator Alexander's comments here: "Akaka Bill Should Be Opposed by U.S. Senate")
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Mr. President, S. 147 is a bipartisan bill. It is supported by members on both sides of the aisle. I want to thank my colleagues who have cosponsored this legislation: Senators Cantwell, Coleman, Dodd, Dorgan, Graham, Inouye, Murkowski, Smith and Stevens. Your support for the people of Hawaii has not gone unnoticed.
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Comment: Their support for the Akaka bill goes against the wishes of the people of Hawaii.
Most of these cosponsors do not necessarily support the concept of the Akaka bill, and may not understand its devastating consequences. They have traded votes with the Hawaii delegation on other issues. For example the two Alaska Senators, who are Republicans, agreed to support the Akaka bill in return for Akaka and Inouye voting in favor of oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve.
Mr. President, I want to talk about what we did to draft this legislation. I want to explain the broad and inclusive process that we used. My colleagues should know that in drafting this legislation we consulted a broad array of individuals, both native and non-native.
In 1999, Hawaii's Congressional delegation formed the Task Force on Native Hawaiian Issues. The Task Force was composed of myself, the senior Senator from Hawaii, and our colleagues in the House of Representatives, Representative Neil Abercrombie and Patsy Mink. It was determined that I would serve as the head of the Task Force.
Mr. President, my colleagues need to understand that the issue of political status for Native Hawaiians is not a new issue. It has been a hot topic for many, many years and in fact has been a topic of contention since Hawaii became a state in 1959. Given its history, I wanted to tap into the experience of the many individuals who have addressed this issue and who would be impacted by federal recognition for Native Hawaiians. I decided to establish five working groups: the Native Hawaiian Community working group, the State officials working group, the Federal officials working group, the Native American and Constitutional Scholars working group, and the Congressional members and caucuses working group. Overall, more than 100 individuals were involved in meeting and advising Hawaii's Congressional delegation on what should and shouldn't be included in this legislation.
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Comment: Those involved were chosen because they support the concept of the bill. Their work was done in secret. Because of the complete lack of diversity amongst the viewpoints of those chosen for these working groups, and the lack of public transparency, it is no wonder that they managed to craft legislation that was unconstitutional on its face, would be bad public policy, and is based on a false interpretation of Hawaiian history. See Thurston Twigg-Smith's book, Hawaiian Sovereignty:Do the facts matter? for more details on the historical lies promulgated by the ethnic separatists in Hawaii.
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The Native Hawaiian Community working group's role was to advise us as to the views of the Native Hawaiian community. The membership of the working group was balanced to include a broad variety of individuals from different islands, professions and backgrounds.
The state officials working group was composed of State legislators as well as the heads of state agencies who would be directly impacted by a Native Hawaiian governing entity participating in a government-to-government relationship with the United States. This group advised us on the impact of such a policy on state programs and agencies.
The federal officials working group was composed of federal officials from agencies currently administering services and programs impacting Native Hawaiians. The role of this working group was to advise us of how best to extend the federal policy of self-governance and self-determination to Hawaii's indigenous peoples.
The Native American and constitutional scholars working group was composed of a number of tribal leaders and key constitutional scholars in Indian law. We benefitted from the advice provided by tribal leaders who were willing to share lessons learned and from constitutional scholars well-versed in federal Indian law.
The Congressional members and caucus group was composed of our colleagues who sought to help us at the member level to move this legislation.
We held several public meetings in Hawaii with the members of the Native Hawaiian community working group and the state working group. Individuals who were not members of the working group, and many who opposed our efforts, were allowed to attend and participate in the meetings. Overall, we had over 100 individuals provide initial input to the drafting of the legislation.
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Comment: Why weren't the voices of those in opposition to the race-based legislation and false history listened to? Who were they? Where is the transcript of the views they stated in opposition? Why wasn't it until the USCCR report castigating the Akaka bill that these voices of opposition were heard? Despite the unified front presented by politicians in Hawaii brought into line by the special interest lobbyists and power-brokers, there is still great opposition to the Akaka bill in Hawaii, by members of every race.
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The bill was first considered by the 106th Congress. Five days of hearings were held in Hawaii in August 2000.
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Comment: According to an eyewitness reporter who attended all five days, testimony was opposed to the bill by a margin of 9-1; but the Hawaii delegation reported to their colleagues in the Senate that public opinion was in favor. See http://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/ReesAkaka090600.html
While the bill passed the House, the Senate failed to take action. The bill was subsequently considered by the 107th and 108th Congresses. In each Congress, the bill has been favorably reported by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and its companion measure has been favorably reported by the House Committee on Resources.
Despite the many modifications to the legislation over the past seven years, I have ensured that the process authorized in this bill has always retained the appropriate balance between the structure necessary to comply with federal law and the flexibility necessary to ensure that Native Hawaiians can make the critical decisions necessary to form their governing entity.
I want all of my colleagues to know that when the Senate considers this bill, I will offer a substitute amendment. The substitute amendment has been widely distribute since September 2005 and is the result of successful negotiations between the Executive Branch officials and our Congressional delegation and Governor. I thank the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs for helping to facilitate the negotiations process.
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Correction: It is false that the alleged substitute amendment is the result of successful negotiations. A few days after Senator Akaka's press release announcing a negotiated agreement, the Department of Justice issued a statement that the new proposal does not satisfy their objections as mentioned in this September 22, 2005 editorial (only 8 days after Akaka claimed "I am pleased that our negotiations with the White House and Executive Branch officials were successful.").
The administration appreciates the work of the Hawai'i delegation to address some of the concerns raised by the Justice Department but there are substantial, unresolved constitutional concerns regarding whether Congress may treat Native Hawaiians as it does the Indian tribes, and whether Congress may establish and recognize a Native Hawaiian governing entity," said John Nowacki, a Justice Department spokesman. "As the Supreme Court has stated, whether Native Hawaiians are eligible for tribal status is 'a matter of some dispute' and 'of considerable moment and difficulty.'
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The substitute amendment satisfactorily addresses the concerns raised in a letter from the Department of Justice to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. The letter addressed four concerns with the legislation: liability of the United States, civil and criminal jurisdiction, military readiness, and gaming. The legislative language in the substitute amendment has been cleared by the Executive Branch and addresses the practical concerns expressed in the July 13, 2005 letter. I look forward to the debate on the substitute amendment.
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Comment: The so-called substitute amendment was posted on Senator Akaka's official website in September 2005, but has never been officially introduced in the Senate during the 8 months since then. Why?
Also, there has still been no satisfactory amendment to respond to the criticism of the U.S. Commision on Civil Rights. The criticism of the USCCR was not in regards to liability, military readiness, civil and criminal jurisdiction, or gaming. It was criticized because it was divisive and race-based. From the USCCR report:
The Commission recommends against passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005 (S. 147) as reported out of committee on May 16, 2005, or any other legislation that would discriminate on the basis of race or national origin and further subdivide the American people into discrete subgroups accorded varying degrees of privilege.
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Colleagues, you can see from the process that I have just outlined, that this legislation is based on the collective thoughts of a wide array of individuals, native and non-native, from Hawaii and across the entire nation. It is based on the contributions of individuals well-versed in the federal policies dealing with indigenous peoples - by those who understand the legal and political relationship the United States has with its indigenous peoples. It is based on federal law and is substantiated by the many judicial rulings on the political and legal relationship between the United States and its indigenous peoples. It reflects the respect that the people of Hawaii have for the preservation of the culture and traditions of Hawaii's indigenous peoples - the culture and traditions which form the basis of the spirit of Aloha - which all citizens of Hawaii are proud to demonstrate.
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Comment: The people of Hawaii have great love and respect for many elements of the ancient Hawaiian culture and traditions. We all share those cultural elements, and especially the Aloha Spirit. The Akaka bill is not needed to preserve those things. On the contrary, the Akaka bill is racially divisive by the very definition of who qualifies to participate in this new government; and it is poison to the Aloha Spirit.
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Mr. President, this bill is supported by Hawaii's Governor, Linda Lingle, the Hawaii State Legislature, Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.
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Comment: They are all heavily dependent on continued funding of racially exclusionary programs, and the votes of what they regard as a monolithic 20% swing vote.
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The National Congress of American Indians and the Alaska Federation of Natives have passed resolutions in support of this bill.
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Comment: They are dependent on Senator Inouye and Senator Akaka who, as long-time members of the Indian Affairs Committee, determine what money and power they receive.
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The bill is also supported by a number of organizations, native and non-native, including the American Bar Association, Japanese American Citizens' League, Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, and the Hawaii State Teachers Association.
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Comment: Despite the support of politicians, the Akaka bill continues to have little support amongst the public of Hawaii as shown by a survey that contacted every
household in Hawaii. 67% of those responding to the question said they oppose the Akaka bill.
Mr. President, I want to express my sincerest appreciation to our Majority and Democratic Leaders for working with me and Hawaii's senior Senator on scheduling the Senate's consideration of S. 147, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005. It is my understanding that the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to S. 147 will be filed when we return from our Memorial Day recess.
I look forward to this opportunity to finally discuss S. 147. As my colleagues have heard over the past week, this is an issue of importance to all of the people of Hawaii, and this is not a native versus non-native issue in Hawaii.
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Comment: Indeed, most Native Hawaiians oppose the Akaka bill because they do not want to create a race-based separate government that will be constantly in conflict with their non-native cousins and neighbors.
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Rather, this is about authorizing a process for the people of Hawaii to be able to address longstanding issues resulting from a tragic, poignant period in our history. This is about establishing parity for Hawaii's indigenous peoples in federal policies. This is about clarifying the existing political and legal relationship between Native Hawaiians and the United States.
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Correction: Despite the characterization of S.147 as merely extending existing federal policy, and providing "parity", it actually goes where no legislation has gone before. Although Congress DOES have plenary power over federally recognized tribes, it DOES NOT have plenary power to create tribes out of thin air; and in fact court decisions have ruled that Congress cannot give federal recognition arbitrarily or capriciously: United States v. Sandoval, 231 U.S. 28, 39-47 (1913)
If Congress were to create a new mega-tribe out of anyone with Native American ancestry (4,315,865 as per the 2000 Census), and abrogate the rules required for tribal recognition, it would come close to S.147.
Again, I express my deep appreciation to our Majority and Democratic Leaders, to the cosponsors of this legislation, and to the senator from Arizona for helping to work out this agreement. I want to express my deep appreciation to Hawaii's senior senator who has stood firm with me as we have sought to do what is right for the people of Hawaii. Passing this legislation will make it right.
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Correction: Passing the Akaka bill will divide the United States by racial lines, and make a mockery of over 200 years of growth and evolution in Hawaiian government. It will assert that people should govern themselves according to what race they are, no matter if their race has a history of racial tolerance and equality or not. Passing this legislation will make things more wrong than they ever have been.
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