Dr. Akina on why “Hawaiians Are Not a Tribe” in the Daily Caller

With the continuing controversy over the Native Hawaiian nation-building process continuing to grab headlines, the Grassroot Institute has been on the forefront of the issue, ensuring that there is a clear and consistent voice available to explain how this divisive strategy is bad for our state and for Native Hawaiians.

Today, Grassroot President Keli’i Akina has a featured article in the Daily Caller, a national news and opinion outlet, in which he discusses the recent move from the Department of the Interior and explains why Native Hawaiians cannot be considered a tribe.

Below, you’ll find an excerpt from Dr. Akina’s article, or you can click here to read it in its entirety on the Daily Caller website.


Hawaiians Are Not a Tribe

by Keli’i Akina, Ph.D.

On the surface, Hawaii is a melting pot of all races and national origins. Beneath that surface, there is brewing an attack upon Constitutional protections against racial discrimination which could have far-reaching consequences for the rest of the nation. The Department of Interior’s advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) is the latest move in its process of paving the way for federal recognition of a race-based government of Native Hawaiians. This represents an egregious overreach of executive power.

From a sentimental point of view, Americans can easily feel sympathetic toward the idea of righting the supposed wrongs done to Hawaiians as a tribe. The problem with this thinking is that Hawaiians never were and certainly are not today a tribe. From the time the Hawaiian Kingdom was established by its first monarch King Kamehameha through the 1893 abdication of the throne by its last monarch Queen Lili’uokalani, citizenship in Hawaii was never based upon race. If the Hawaiian Kingdom were somehow to be reinstated today, there would be no racial tribe to give anything back to, as the Hawaiian citizenry consisted of Polynesians, Caucasians, Asians, and others who lived under a constitutional monarchy.

The executive branch is using the construct of a native tribe to attempt an end-run around both the Supreme Court and Congress. In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled in the landmark Rice v. Cayetano case that Native Hawaiian is an ethnicity (like, for example, Portuguese or Hispanic) and not a tribal or political category. Congress, from 2000 to 2012, rejected all attempts through the numerous versions of the Akaka Bill to redefine ethnic Hawaiians as a political tribe with a “government to government” relationship to the United States. That having failed, in 2012 the executive branch, through the Department of the Interior, began laying the groundwork for administrative rules to officially recognize a Native Hawaiian tribal government, again, something which does not exist. That effort coincided with the passage in the same year of the State of Hawaii’s Act 195 which established the Native Hawaiian Roll within the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for creating a roll of racially Hawaiian citizens (i.e., tribe members).

Continue reading at http://dailycaller.com/2014/06/04/hawaiians-are-not-a-tribe/.

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