2006-05-17 Linda Lingle Fact Check
Back to Correcting Akaka
The following is a letter from Linda Lingle to Senator Bill Frist, written regarding the Akaka Bill.
Linda Lingle's Letter with corrections
May 15, 2006
The Honorable Bill Frist
United States Senate
509 Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510
Aloha Senator Frist:
I am writing to again urge your support for a prompt and favorable Senate floor vote for S.147, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005. I also believe recent misguided action by the United States Commission on Civil Rights makes it even more important that the Senate take action on this measure. I have enclosed with this letter a list of what I believe to be the major flaws in the USCCR's report on the bill.
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Correction: Given the strong stance of the USCCR, it seems even more important that the Senate vote down Akaka's bill. See 2006-05-17 Mark J. Bennett Fact Check for corrections to the alleged flaws in the USCCR's report.
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As I have shared with you in the past, widespread support for this measure in Hawai`i stems from a realization that S.147 is both fair and just. The United States has three separate groups of indigenous peoples – American Indians, Native Alaskans (Aleuts and Eskimos) and Native Hawaiians. Two of these groups enjoy broad federal recognition as Native peoples. Native Hawaiians have been regarded as Native peoples for purposes of numerous federal Indian programs but do not enjoy the same sort of federal recognition as American Indians and Alaska Natives. It is a very simple matter of justice and fairness that Native Hawaiians receive the same treatment that America's other indigenous peoples enjoy. There is no basis, in law or justice, to deny them this fair treatment.
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Correction: The Akaka Bill seeks to create a tribe out of nothingness, create a racial government where none has ever existed in the history of mankind. Native Americans do not all belong to a single racial tribe - there are special laws and regulations regarding what is required for recognition, and Native Hawaiians do not meet those requirements.
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I believe the report issued by a deeply polarized Civil Rights Commission is based on a grossly flawed understanding of the history of Hawai`i and of the law itself. Describing S.147 as a race-based preference ignores the historical relationship over the past 150 years that existed between the former Kingdom of Hawai`i, the native people of our islands, and the United States, and ignores clear Supreme Court precedent—Congress's recognition of indigenous peoples is political, not racial. I also note that the one American Indian on the Commission voted "no" on the report and is expected to file a formal dissent.
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Correction: In Rice v. Cayetano, the Supreme Court made clear that using ancestry as a proxy for race in the case of Native Hawaiians was unconstitutional.
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Moreover, Native Hawaiians were governed by their own leaders and their own laws prior to Western contact. The United States recognized the Hawaiian Kingdom as a sovereign nation and entered into treaties with the Kingdom as far back as 1826. When Hawai`i was annexed, the government of the former kingdom was subordinated to the federal government. Therefore, the relationship had been and has continued to be political, not racial, in nature.
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Correction: Although prior to 1778 various Native Hawaiian groups were governed by their own leaders and laws, the unification of Hawaii occured through the actions of Kamehameha the Great, and non-Native Hawaiian advisors. From the moment the Kingdom was finally unified in 1810 until it ended in 1893, there was never any government (such as the Akaka bill proposes) that was exclusively for natives. Non-natives helped create the Kingdom, helped it prosper, and participated fully as appointed cabinet ministers, as heads of the executive departments, as voters, as appointed and elected members of the Legislature, and as judges. Kamehameha appointed John Young to be the first governor of his own home island of Hawaii. To create a government restricted to ethnic Hawaiians where none had ever existed before is racist.
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Unfortunately this relationship was neither adequately, correctly, nor fairly reflected in the analysis conducted by the Civil Rights Commission staff.
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Correction: The USCCR listened to testimony from experts on both sides, and came to the only reasonable conclusion given the facts.
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As additional background on this issue, I am enclosing a copy of the testimony I gave to the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in March of last year, as well as the testimony of our State Attorney General to the USCCR.
I also note that the original bill, and the amended version that will be offered by Senator Akaka based on negotiations last summer with the administration, will not allow Native Hawaiian gambling in Hawai`i, will not allow any denial of civil rights, will not lead to secession (the very idea is nonsense), and will not result in any other negative consequences for Hawai`i.
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Correction: See the Akaka Substitute Comparison for a detailed analysis of the differences between the current S.147 and the proposed changes. Note that none of the changes alter the primary USCCR concern, which is that the Akaka Bill enshrines racial discrimination into law.
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I know that there are many pressing national issues that confront you and the Senate each day. S.147, while not of such national importance, has enormous implications for Hawai`i, the people of my state, and to me personally.
I finish where I began. S.147 is not about race or racial preferences. It is about fairness – fairness for Native Hawaiians and for Hawai`i and her people. Therefore, I humbly ask for your vote in support of S.147 for the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005 when it comes to the Senate floor.
On Sunday May 28, 2006 Tom Macdonald published a letter-to-editor specifically noting that Governor Lingle is mistaken when she says the Akaka bill "will not lead to secession" (and she even adds for emphasis: "the very idea is nonsense.") Tom Macdonald's letter is copied below. Anyone concerned about this issue should also read a webpage providing detailed evidence that secession is indeed contemplated:
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Correction: "The Akaka Bill And Secession: The Hawaiian Government Reorganization bill (Akaka bill) is seen by its supporters as a step toward total independence for all of Hawai'i"
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Correction: Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Sunday, May 28, 2006
Governor gives false assurance on secession
Governor Lingle's May 15 letter to Republican U.S. senators claims that passage of the Akaka Bill will "not lead to secession" from the U.S. by a newly-formed sovereign Hawaiian government. She says "the very idea is nonsense."
Perhaps the governor is not aware of the following:
» Until recently, the OHA Web site stated on its Hawaiian governance page: "What form of government will be established? The ultimate form of government -- be it total independence, nation-within-a-nation or free association -- must be decided upon and ratified by the Hawaiian people.
"What's the difference between independence, nation-within-a-nation, and free association? Independence: This model would mean complete legal and territorial separation from the United States and the re-establishment of the Hawaiian nation state."
» On July 8, 2005, OHA Trustee Rowena Akana stated on National Public Radio that "if the majority of Hawaiian people want secession, then that's the way we'll go."
» Also in July 2005, Senator Akaka responded evasively on NPR to a question about the possibility of secession, saying "that is something I leave for my grandchildren to decide."
Supporters of the Akaka Bill appear to have realized that the idea of secession was a public relations disaster, so they have been keeping the issue flying under the radar. But it is clear that an attempt at secession by any new Hawaiian nation is a distinct possibility, regardless of Lingle's assurances to the contrary.