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It is becoming more clear what lengths Hawaii’s Congressional delegation is willing to go to in order to push for Native Hawaiian Reorganization.  In a recent Star-Advertiser article entitled “Other ways explored for Native Hawaiian Recognition” (link requires registration/subscription), Hawaii Senators Schatz and Hirono, along with Reps. Hanabusa and Gabbard all state their support for an effort to seek a way around Congress’ lack of support for the Akaka Bill.  Native Hawaiian recognition has long been controversial, as it would constitute the first time that tribal recognition was race-based (a fact that was influential in the US Commission on Civil Rights recommendation against it), making such an action highly vulnerable to constitutional challenge.  Still, Hawaii’s delegation stated their determination to find a loophole by which to avoid Congressional approval, suggesting that they are hoping to spur independent action from the President. Meanwhile, Grassroot Institute has been actively seeking to inform Congressional members and policy makers of the attempts to bypass Congress and establish a government-sponsored, race-based Hawaiian nation.  Dr. Akina’s statement on the issue, now carried in a major national news source, along with the response from the House Committee on Natural Resources, demonstrates that word is getting out that such an entity would be unconstitutional.  You can read an excerpt of the Washington Times piece below or go here to read the full article.

Obama urged to use executive order to recognize Native Hawaiians

By Valerie Richardson HONOLULU — Democrats are urging President Obama to bypass Capitol Hill once again and accomplish by executive order whatCongress refused to do for 13 years: grant formal federal tribal recognition to Native Hawaiians. The effort lost its most visible champion in January when Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, Hawaii Democrat, retired without having won passage for his namesake legislation, the so-called Akaka bill. The measure has not been introduced in the current Congress. Even so, the timing may never be better for action: Mr. Obama, who grew up in Hawaii, has indicated his support for the Akaka bill. He also has shown a willingness to use his executive authority to bypassCongress on a host of issues including health care, welfare reform, immigration and climate change. “The president is being asked to consider a number of potential executive actions,” Sen. Brian Schatz, Hawaii Democrat, told the (Honolulu) Star-Advertiser last week. “That could take many forms, including something by the Department of Interior, or at the secretary level or something at the presidential level.” Supporters, including the all-Democrat Hawaiian delegation, say the recognition is needed to ensure that Native Hawaiians continue to receive special services in health care, job training and education. Opponents argue that the measure sanctions race-based discrimination and would set a precedent for establishing divisive, racially separate societies. Some even fear the designation could open the island to gambling operations along the lines of Indian tribe concessions run on the mainland. “Hawaiians have never been defined by race or by blood. They’ve always been inclusive,” said Keli’i Akina, president of the free-market Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, which opposes the Akaka bill. “The establishment of a race-based entity is not Hawaiian.” First introduced in 2000, the Akaka bill was approved by the House three times, most recently in 2010, but the measure never passed the Senate. Among its chief critics during the latest vote was Rep. Doc Hastings, Washington Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources. Committee spokeswoman Jill Strait said in an email that the executive branch has no authority to establish a Native Hawaiian tribe. “Aside from the fact that extending federal recognition to Native Hawaiians as a kind of Indian tribe would be an unconstitutional race-based action, Congress is deemed by the Supreme Court to have exclusive and plenary power to deal with Indian affairs,” said Ms. Strait. “It would therefore be an abuse of power for the executive branch to attempt to extend federal recognition to a Native Hawaiian governing entity.” Continue reading…