- S.675 Latest Title: Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2011
Sponsor: Sen Akaka, Daniel K. [HI] (introduced 3/30/2011) Cosponsors (3)
Latest Major Action: 12/17/2012 Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 568.
Senate Reports: 112-251
- 12/17/2012: Committee on Indian Affairs. Reported by Senator Akaka with an amendment in the nature of a substitute. With written report No. 112-251. Additional views filed.
- 12/17/2012: Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 568. (Day Inouye died)
Reality: Akaka Tribe: We Can Kick Out Anybody Anytime for Any Reason
NOTE: House Republicans refused to hear the HR1250 version of the Akaka Bill, thus protecting Hawaii from its own elected officials.
"While regard for Sen. Inouye is substantial, U.S. senators will not ignore their duty to uphold the Constitution out of affection for a colleague, even a war hero. The Akaka Bill would create a government defined by race and would be unconstitutional. Many and perhaps most senators recognize this, and they want no part of it. The good news is the Akaka Bill will soon fade away, and smart policymakers will turn to strategies that will unite Hawaiians, not divide them." -- Steven Duffield, former chief counsel to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ).
ADDITIONAL VIEWS OF VICE CHAIRMAN BARRASSO
From Senate Report 112-251
Federal recognition of a Native group is of profound importance to many stakeholders--the Native group itself and its members, the United States and its citizens, local communities and the people who live in them. I understand how challenging, complex, and time-consuming the administrative recognition process is--the Committee has heard a great deal about those problems--and sympathize with groups that have gone through it or attempted to go through it.
Nevertheless, it is my view that legislative recognition--legislation that deems a group or tribe to be federally recognized--is not the right way to decide which groups should be recognized and which groups should not be recognized.
That is a determination that can be best made by the Executive Branch of the Government following the regulations that have been adopted for that purpose, to analyze and evaluate of the historic, cultural, political, and other key factors that should go into the decision of whether a Native group should be formally recognized by the United States.
Testifying about several recognition bills at a hearing before this Committee during the 110th Congress, the Director of the Office of Federal Acknowledgement at the Department of the Interior stated--
Legislation such as S. 514, S. 724, S. 1058, and H.R. 1294 [recognition bills introduced in the 110th Congress] would allow these groups to bypass this [the Federal acknowledgement] process--allowing them to avoid the scrutiny to which other groups have been subjected. The Administration supports all groups going through the Federal acknowledgment process under 25 CFR Part 83.1.
The Department's witness went on to point out that, in light of the importance and implications of recognition decisions, the Department adopted its Federal acknowledgment regulations at 25 CFR Part 83 in 1978 in recognition of `the need to end ad hoc decision making and adopt uniform regulations for Federal acknowledgment.'
I do know and appreciate how important this bill is to the Chairman and to many Native Hawaiian people in his home state. However, I feel that the policy should be the same for all Native groups--they should go through the administrative acknowledgement process to be federally recognized. Although there is a reorganization process contemplated by the bill as amended in the business meeting on September 13, 2012, it is, in effect, a legislative recognition of the Native Hawaiian entity. For that reason I cannot support the bill.
Text of Akaka’s Speech on Senate Floor (Thursday December 20, 2012)
Mr. President, I rise today as my friend, my colleague, my brother, Dan Inouye, lies in state in the Capitol Rotunda just a few yards from where I stand now.
In life he received our nation’s highest military honor, the Medal of Honor, and today he is receiving a tribute reserved for just a handful of American heroes like Abraham Lincoln.
I come to the floor today to speak about an important piece of legislation that I developed and worked on with Dan Inouye for over twelve years.
Today, in Dan’s honor, and for all the people of Hawaii, I am asking the Senate to pass the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act.
Dan and I developed our bill to create a process that could address the many issues that continue to persist as a result of the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893.
As you know, Dan Inouye was a champion for Hawaii and worked every day of his honorable life to solve problems and help our island state.
Dan also served on the Indian Affairs Committee for over 30 years and chaired it twice. He was an unwavering advocate for the United States’ government-to-government relationships with Native Nations. He constantly reminded our colleagues in the Senate about our Nation’s trust responsibilities — and our treaty obligations — to America’s first peoples.
Dan believed that through self-determination and self-governance, these communities could thrive and contribute to the greatness of the United States.
When asked how long the United States would have a trust responsibility to Native communities, he would quote the treaties between the United States and Native Nations, which promised care and support as long as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
Dan Inouye’s sheer determination to improve the lives of this country’s Indigenous peoples and make good on the promises America made to them — led him to introduce more than 100 pieces of legislation on behalf of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians.
Dan Inouye secured passage of the Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement Act, the Native Hawaiian Education Act, the Hawaiian Home Lands Recovery Act, and the Native Hawaiian Homeownership Act.
He was instrumental in helping me enact the Apology Resolution to the Native Hawaiian people for the suppression of their right of self-determination. It was enacted on the 100th anniversary of the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
In 1999, Dan and I worked together to develop the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act to give parity to Native Hawaiians.
For over 12 years we worked together to pass the bill to ensure that Native Hawaiians have the same rights as other Native peoples — and an opportunity to engage in the same government-to-government relationship with the United States already granted to over 560 Native Nations throughout the country, across the continental U.S. and in Alaska. But not yet in Hawaii.
Our bill affords Native Hawaiians the same tools to achieve self-sufficiency as other Native communities—tools that already exist under federal law—no more, no less.
Over the years, people have mischaracterized the intent and effect of our bill, so let me be plain. For me, as I know it was for Dan, this bill is about simple justice, fairness in federal policy, and being a nation that acknowledges that while we cannot undo history, we can right past wrongs and move forward. To us, this bill represented what is pono, just and right.
Our bill is supported by President Barack Obama and the U.S Departments of Justice and Interior. It has the strong support of Hawaii’s Governor and the State Legislature, and a large majority of the people of Hawaii.
Our bill has the endorsement of the American Bar Association, the National Congress of American Indians, the Alaska Federation of Natives, and groups throughout the Native Hawaiian community.
As a Senator and senior statesman, Dan Inouye advocated that Congress do its job and legislate where Native communities were concerned. Dan Inouye believed that a promise made should be a promise kept.
In the days since my dear friend Dan’s passing, there has been a tremendous outpouring of love from Hawaii and every other state in the union. And Native communities across the country are mourning the loss and paying tribute to their great champion.
Dan Inouye’s absence will be felt in this chamber and the nation for many years to come. May his legacy live on for generations of Native Americans and inspire all Americans to always strive towards justice and reconciliation.
I urge my colleagues to pass the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, in memory of Senator Daniel K. Inouye and his desire to provide parity to the Native Hawaiian people he loved so much.
And to Dan, I say: Aloha ‘oe and a hui hou, my brother.