by Andrew Walden
Neil Abercrombie apparently can't leave Congress without taking one last swipe at forcing Native Hawaiians to become second class tribal citizens under the domination of an Akaka Tribe controlled by OHA cronies.
On Wednesday December 16 Abercrombie's House Natural Resources subcommittee will vote on HR 2314, the "Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009" better known as the Akaka Bill. The committee will meet at 10AM EST (5AM HST) in room 1324 Longworth.
The following day at 2:15PM EST (9:15AM HST) the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, meeting in Dirksen room 628, is scheduled to vote on the companion bill--S1011. The vote had been originally scheduled for December 9 but has been rescheduled to the 17th.
According to House minority staff, "(House) Committee Republicans have received word that an agreement on this bill has been reached, however we have still not been provided a copy of this agreement."
With Democrats in control of both Houses and President Obama pledged to sign the Akaka Bill if it reaches his desk, 2010 should have been a great opportunity for the OHA gang to win the bill's passage. But House and Senate hearings this summer exposed a deep fracture.
On one side, the so-called "sovereignty" activists, a disgusting gaggle of ex-cons, child abusers, mortgage scammers, drug pushers, and other miscellaneous convicted criminals--plus a few professors and lawyers--whose dreams of riches and glory now hinge on the "cultural" PASH-based greenmail shake down schemes aimed at developers, landowners and even single family homeowners.
On the other side, the OHA gang, which subsidizes many of the sovereignty activists and their legal organ the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, but seeks control of billions of dollars worth of Hawaii real estate via formation of the Akaka Tribe.
Forcing them to choose between the two paths: the Obama Administration and Senator Inouye backed by Governor Lingle.
The Native Hawaiian Bar Association (NHBA) earlier this summer argued:
“The bill’s provisions on claims and federal sovereign immunity appear to be overly broad and may prohibit lawsuits by individual Native Hawaiians for claims that could be pursued by any other member of the general population.”
With the Senate about to reconvene, has any progress been made to resolve the impasse? A sharply-worded September 6 Star-Bulletin commentary by Kihei Soli Niheu and J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Ph.D. suggests not. The two long-time sovereignty leaders take issue with an August 24 commentary by Jon M Van Dyke, author of "Who owns the Crown lands of Hawaii?" They bitterly complain that Van Dyke:
"promotes an Akaka Bill that will shut down all U.S. court doors to Kanaka Maoli claims: 'It is the general effect of section 8 (c)(2)(B) [of the Bill] that any claims that may already have accrued and might be brought against the United States ... be rendered nonjusticiable in suits brought by plaintiffs other than the Federal Government.'"
They are not the only ones attacking Section 8(c). In her August 6 Senate Indian Affairs Committee testimony Robin Danner of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) demanded 8(c) be replaced with language stating:
“Nothing in this Act is intended to serve as a settlement of any claims against the United States or the State of Hawaii.”
This creates a direct challenge to Inouye and to Obama's DoJ represented figuratively and literally at the August 6 Senate Indian Affairs committee hearing, by Sam Hirsch, a former Dan Inouye staffer appointed by Obama to the US Department of Justice. Hirsch emphasized:
“…the legislation contains provisions that specifically state that Congress does not intend to create any new legal claims against the United States. The Department supports these provisions and believes they should remain in the bill. In particular, the Department supports section 8(c) in S. 1011, which provides that nothing in the bill creates a cause of action against or waives the sovereign immunity of the United States.”
The full US House has twice voted its approval of the Akaka Bill, but something stopped the House Committee on Natural Resources dead in its tracks when it was scheduled to "mark up" the Akaka Bill to the full House July 9. The July 8 Advertiser explained:
"The vote postponement follows some written criticisms of the bill by prominent members of the Native Hawaiian legal community. In a four-page analysis of the legislation sent to the Natural Resources Committee, the Native Hawaiian Bar Association voiced concern that some provisions would grant the federal government too much immunity against potential claims by Native Hawaiians, especially for land."
And this is only one of several issues under dispute.
Since September, there has been little Hawaii media coverage of these very important hearings and votes.
RELATED: OHA driving Hawaiians out of Hawaii , Akaka Bill Reading List , It's September--Do you know where your Akaka Bill is?
Click here to read a copy of Ranking Minority Member Hastings’ opening statement from the June 11th House Committee hearing.