If the Akaka Bill ever had its moment, it was when the Democrats controlled Congress and a Hawaii-born President sat in the White House. That moment has passed — and the Native Hawaiian Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act is no closer to passage than it was a decade ago. Now, with the announcement that Akaka will step aside in 2012, it may be dead and buried.
Does that mean the idea of giving Native Hawaiians official recognition — and a seat at the table — is dead, too? Not necessarily. Two bills currently moving through the state legislature would establish a Native Hawaiian commission “to prepare, maintain and certify a roll of qualified Native Hawaiian constituents,” with the ultimate aim of forming a governing body that could negotiate with the state over issues like ceded lands.
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs offered tentative support for the bills, provided they don’t “diminish efforts to pursue and obtain federal recognition.”
Meanwhile, as with the Akaka bill, some opposition is coming from within the Native Hawaiian community. “The U.S. is an interloper, a usurper, a kidnapper, an occupier, a pirate,” wrote Leon Siu in testimony to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “The proper remedy to the crime of piracy is to set the captured free; not to further subject them to deeper captivity under a ridiculous ‘indigenous’ governing entity.”
If that’s your stance, there isn’t much more to say.