Federalist Society Asks “Is the Akaka Bill Back?”

Federalist Society Asks “Is the Akaka Bill Back?”

One of the important roles that the Grassroot Institute plays in opposing the creation of a Native Hawaiian tribe is in promoting discussion and interest in the issue–especially on the mainland, where issues that are important to Hawaii can sometimes be overlooked. As a result, awareness of the problems inherent in the current nation-building efforts is on the rise. This podcast from the Federalist Society is from a teleforum that the public policy organization held on Dec. 17th.  In it, Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow and Manager of the Civil Justice Reform Initiative at the Heritage Foundation, discusses the recent effort from the Department of the Interior to involve itself in the creation of a Native Hawaii government. The informational briefing includes an explanation of why the DOI’s contemplated action violates the Constitution and is a good primer on the issue for anyone who needs a powerful and concise explanation of the problems with federal efforts to recognize a Native Hawaiian tribe.  ...
Unexpected Common Ground: The Sovereignty Movement

Unexpected Common Ground: The Sovereignty Movement

If you keep up with E Hana Kakou, the Grassroot Institute’s regular program on ThinkTech Hawaii, you may have seen the recent interview with Leon Siu, a well-known Native Hawaiian Sovereignty activist.  As a general primer on the Sovereignty Movement and what it stands for, this video is a good introduction to the topic. The issue is, after all, a complex one that is somewhat beset with myth and misinformation, and Mr. Siu does a great job of clearing that away. What is truly intriguing, however, is a discussion that comes up towards the end of the program (embedded below). It directly addresses a question that might have occurred to you on reading the very first sentence of this article: Why is the Grassroot Institute sharing time with the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement? After all, our opposition to the various state nation-building efforts (e.g. the Akaka Bill, the Native Hawaiian Roll, etc.) is one of the Institute’s core principles. The strange and unexpected answer? We actually share some important common goals with the Sovereignty activists. First, a clarification. There are really two different categories that can be used to describe current efforts to advocate for Native Hawaiian sovereignty. First, there are the efforts by the state and federal government to create a semi-autonomous Native Hawaiian nation. This category includes the Akaka Bill, the Native Hawaiian Roll, possible action from the Department of the Interior, and any similar government action to create a tribal entity for Native Hawaiians. This is what the Grassroot Institute has been advocating against since its inception. In recent months, we have begun to refer to it as...
MidWeek Column Features Grassroot Calabash Discussion

MidWeek Column Features Grassroot Calabash Discussion

In a recent issue of MidWeek, columnist Jerry Coffee discusses why, “Native Hawaiians Are Not A Tribe.” Mr. Coffee is a long-time opponent of the Akaka Bill, and his explanation of why the creation of a Native Hawaiian government would be the, “death of aloha,” is worth reading in full. In the course of the article, he references a recent Calabash held by the Grassroot Institute, in which OHA Trustee Oswald Stender and former Attorney General Michael Lilly explored the nation-building process in light of the history of Hawaii and the current needs of the Hawaiian people: In a recent panel discussion sponsored by Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, Oswald Stender, a sitting OHA commissioner — perhaps the only one who puts the true betterment of the Hawaiian people ahead of personal gain or power — believes social statistics (incarceration, obesity, diabetes, education, welfare roles) make a compelling enough statement for the extraordinary needs of the Hawaiian people. But he insists the answers cannot be found in a competing governing entity. He deplores the waste of money into such an effort (Akaka Bill) over the years — money that could have been used to make immediate and long overdue improvements in the Hawaiian community. He also pointed out that all Hawaiians have benefited through income from ceded lands and the Hawaiian Homes program. On the same panel with Stender, former state Attorney General Mike Lilly, of a longtime kama’aina family, pointed out that, historically, Hawaiian blood was never a requirement for Hawaiian citizenship under King Kamehameha or Queen Lili’uokalani, and is now just a “made up” requirement by OHA to...
Efforts to divide Hawaiians from non-Hawaiians

Efforts to divide Hawaiians from non-Hawaiians

This article was first published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Redefining Native Hawaiians as a tribe would disrespect history and benefit only a few As a proud ethnic Hawaiian and loyal United States citizen, I am troubled by efforts to divide Hawaiians from non-Hawaiians by creating a sovereign race-based tribe or nation. It is easy for many to support the idea of sovereignty for ethnic Hawaiians, if we are considered comparable to an Indian tribe. The problem with this thinking is that Hawaiians never were and are not today a tribe. As four members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights wrote in a Sept. 16, 2013, letter to President Barack Obama, “whatever the perceived or actual wrongs that were done to native Hawaiian rulers in the late 19th century, there was not then a distinct ‘tribe’ of native Hawaiians living separately from the rest of society, and there certainly has not been any in the 120 years since.” Citizenship in the Hawaiian Kingdom was not based upon race. If the Hawaiian Kingdom were somehow reinstated, there would be no racial tribe to give anything back to, as the Hawaiian citizenry consisted of Polynesians, Caucasians, Asians and others who lived in a constitutional monarchy. The lives of ethnic Hawaiians then and today have been beautifully intertwined with people of all races. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the executive branch of the federal government are using the construct of a native tribe to attempt an end-run around the Supreme Court and Congress. In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled in Rice v. Cayetano that Native Hawaiian is an ethnicity (like, for...
Department of Interior Secretly Planning Native Hawaiian Recognition Since 2012

Department of Interior Secretly Planning Native Hawaiian Recognition Since 2012

Grassroot Institute investigation raises questions about DOI timing and OHA’s strategy HONOLULU, Hawaii—May 27, 2014—Further investigation of the Department of the Interior’s plan to recognize a Native Hawaiian governing entity via administrative rule has revealed that the agency has been secretly working toward such an action since at least 2012. The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii broke the story of the DOI’s advance notice of proposed rule-making (ANPR) regarding a, “government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community,” on May 23, 2013. Further investigation now reveals that the US Department of the Interior has been engaged in this regulatory review since 2012.  Three previously undiscovered announcements were titled “Procedures for Reorganizing the Native Hawaiian Community as an Indian Tribe.”  The three DOI “Rule Making” announcements were posted on the federal reginfo.gov website in 2012, Spring 2013 and Fall, 2013–where they remain online alongside the latest announcement which is linked under “Spring, 2014.” LINK: http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?pubId=201403&RIN=1090-AB05 It is now clear that the US Department of the Interior has been quietly reviewing “Procedures for Reorganizing the Native Hawaiian Community as an Indian Tribe” since 2012.  “Procedures for Reestablishing a Government-to-Government Relationship With the Native Hawaiian Community” is merely a continuation of the same process under a new title.  The 2012 announcement is marked, “First time published in the Unified Agenda.” The latter three announcements are all marked, “Previously published in the Unified Agenda.” The timing of the DOI’s action raises questions about the long-term strategy of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. OHA has found itself under scrutiny of late for its actions regarding the Native Hawaiian Roll and election as well as a letter from its CEO to Secretary of State John Kerry questioning the sovereignty of the state and...