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Thursday, June 11, 2009
House Natural Resources Committee considers Akaka Bill
By Selected News Articles @ 12:23 PM :: 11938 Views :: Energy, Environment, National News, Ethics

HR: Akaka Bill Hearing: Video and Written Testimony by Invited Witnesses in the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources on June 11, 2009

HR: Abercrombie, House Natural Resources Committee Hear Testimony on Akaka Bill

Federalist Society:

SB/AP: Akaka bill gets hearing in House committee

Once established, the new government would negotiate with the state and the federal government over which assets the new government would own. Currently, the state administers 1.2 million acres of former monarchy land, and some of that land could revert (SIC!) to the new Native Hawaiian government.

“It’s essentially an enabling act” that would allow Native Hawaiians OHA cronies the chance to manage land and assets as they see fit, Abercrombie said. “When the land wasn’t worth anything and there was no money, nobody cared.  (When was that?  1848?  Overthrow the Mahele Neil?) Now that the land is worth a considerable amount of money, now all of a sudden, everybody is OHA cronies are interested.”


Advertiser (No bias here, eh?)  Hawaii delegation rebuts racial claims aired on Akaka Bill

"It is clear that many ethnic Hawaiians OHA cronies will not regard the new government as deriving its powers solely from federal delegation," said Gail Heroit, a Republican appointee on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. "Rather, they will argue that it derives its power from their own inherent sovereignty and is thus not subject to any of the limitations on power found in the U.S. Constitution."

Rep Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, drove the financial point of the debate home in Thursday's hearing when he said opponents proponents of the Akaka bill have their eyes fixed more on some of the nation's most prized Pacific real estate than on any legal issues.

"This has nothing to do with the Constitution," said Abercrombie, who is running for governor and who sponsored the Akaka legislation in the House. "It has to do with the land."

Perhaps the stupidest line of all--underlining the key fallacy behind the pseudo-historical case fr the Akaka Bill--came from Mazie Hirono:  "The Native Hawaiian people are an indigenous people — this is not race-based legislation."  (So apparently all 'indigenous' people are therefore tribal--even when they form a national state--Mazie?)


Ranking Member Hastings’ Statement on the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. –House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Doc Hastings delivered the following statement today during the Full Committee hearing on H.R. 2314, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009. Click here to watch.


“Mr. Chairman, thank you for scheduling this hearing on H.R. 2314, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009 sponsored by our good friend from Hawaii, Mr. Abercrombie.

If effort and persistence were all that were necessary to enact a bill, this would have become law the first year Mr. Abercrombie sponsored it.  Because of my high regard for him and his bipartisanship in pursuing enactment of this bill, it is with a sense of regret that I find myself in the opposition.

Mr. Chairman, the House debated identical legislation in the 110th Congress in Committee and on the Floor, subsequent to which the full House passed it.  At the time, I was a Member of the Rules Committee and managed the Rule for the consideration of this bill for the Republicans.

As in the last Congress, I am opposed to enacting this bill for the same reasons I described on the Floor then.  No new circumstantial or legal evidence has come to light to change my opinion.

If anything, the latest 9-0 Supreme Court ruling in Hawaii v. Office of Hawaiian Affairs, decided March 31, 2009, casts a larger shadow than before on the doubtful proposition that Congress constitutionally can and should extend recognition to a governing entity for Native Hawaiians.

It bears noting that the Bush Administration threatened to veto the bill.  Though President Obama is not bound by this, the previous Administration’s position largely rested on constitutional concerns raised by the Department of Justice, constitutional concerns with granting recognition to an entity that is effectively based on race.

Unfortunately, because no one from the Departments of Justice and Interior and the White House are here today, we really have no idea how President Obama came to the conclusion that this bill does not cross a constitutional boundary line separating recognition of an Indian tribe from recognition of a race-based government prohibited under the 14th Amendment.

In 2006, the Department of Justice sent letters to the Senate expressing deep concern that this legislation would ‘divide people by their race’ and that the Supreme Court and lower Federal Courts have been invalidating certain state laws providing race-based qualifications for certain state programs.

It would be helpful to have someone from the Justice Department present today to expand on these concerns.  Their absence only makes one wonder if the White House does not want the Justice Department’s prior legal analysis to trump the President’s political support for Native Hawaiian recognition.”


# # #

Native Hawaiian bill gets new airing

By KEVIN FREKING – 3 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — Granting Native Hawaiians the chance to form their own government, like those established by many of the nation's 562 American Indian tribes and Alaska Natives, would break new ground and eventually be ruled unconstitutional, critics of the proposal said Thursday.

Hawaii's congressional delegation has fought for much of the past decade for a bill that would allow for the reorganization of a Native Hawaiian government and federal recognition of that government. Their prospects for success have never looked better with President Barack Obama saying he supports the measure, which a House panel reviewed Thursday morning.

Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington, the ranking Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, said legal precedent "cast a larger shadow than ever before on the doubtful proposition that Congress can and should extend recognition to a governing entity for Native Hawaiians."

Also, Gail Heriot, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, said that granting ethnic Hawaiians tribal status for purposes of forming their own government would be comparable to letting Chicanos in the Southwest or Cajuns in Louisiana gain that same recognition.

Supporters of the bill, including members of the state's Congressional delegation, argued that a long line of legal cases have granted indigenous populations a special recognition and relationship with the U.S. They said that Native Hawaiians are the only indigenous group of people in the country without their own governing entity.

"We've never viewed this as a race-based issue," said Rep. Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii, stressing that lawmakers from both parties in Hawaii support the measure.

The legislation allowing for a Native Hawaiian government passed the House on two occasions, including most recently in October 2007, but it routinely has stumbled in the Senate. The Bush administration opposed the bill. Obama's support has changed the political dynamic, however, and some supporters say they believe the bill can be passed before the year's end.

The bill would not automatically establish a Native Hawaiian government. Rather, it would provide a roadmap for how Native Hawaiians could organize such a government. Once established, the new government would negotiate with the state and the federal government over which assets the new government would own. Currently, the state administers 1.2 million acres of former monarchy land, and some of that land could revert to the new Native Hawaiian government.

Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, said it would allow Native Hawaiians a chance to manage land and assets as they see fit.

"When the land wasn't worth anything and there was no money, nobody cared," Abercrombie said. "Now that the land is worth a considerable amount of money, now all of a sudden, everybody is interested."

In 2006, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights recommended against passage of comparable legislation. The commission said it opposed any bill that would "discriminate on the basis of race or national origin and further subdivide the American people into discrete subgroups accorded varying degrees of privilege."

But Michael Yaki, a member of that commission, said little work went into the recommendation and that Congress should ignore it.

He said a resolution apologizing for the U.S. government's role in the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani in 1893 also were never part of the commission's review. In the end, he said that warnings of race-based government is spread simply to instill unwarranted fear and opposition to the bill.

Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.V., and the committee's chairman, called the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1893 a dark chapter in U.S. history.

"I can assure you that the committee will continue to press forward with re-establishment of a government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiians," he said.



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The Akaka bill will have a hearing before the full Natural Resources Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday, June 11. The hearing can be watched live as a webcast, and will probably also be available as an archived video for at least several days thereafter.

The hearing will be on Thursday, June 11, at 10 AM D.C. time (i.e., 4 AM Hawaii time), in Room 1324 of the Longworth House Office Building.

Three versions of the Akaka bill have been introduced so far this year. The version scheduled for hearing is H.R. 2314, which was introduced on May 7. Full text of the bill can be seen at

A 66-page point-by-point analysis of this bill was written by attorney Paul M. Sullivan two years ago, when the bill was S.310 and H.R.505 in the 110th Congress. The current bill H.R. 2314 has identical content and format; therefore Mr. Sullivan's analysis remains valid on each point. Mr. Sullivan's analysis (including cartoons by Daryl Cagle) can be downloaded in pdf format at

At the present time the list of witnesses who will testify at the hearing has not yet been posted. However, a witness list does get posted, it can be found on the committee's webpage at

To watch the hearing live at 4 AM HST on June 11, go to the committee webpage (above), and look halfway down the left-hand column, immediately above the calendar, where there is a button to "View Live WebCasts."

In case anyone has trouble getting out of bed at 4 AM: Archived videos of hearings held last week are currently available, so it is reasonable to expect that an archived video of the Akaka bill hearing will remain on the committee website for at least a few days. However, it might take a few hours or a day after the hearing before a link gets posted.


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