Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Akaka Bill moving but still with very big. barbed fishhook

The Akaka Bill - a difficult one to decide upon. Yes it is crazy that Native Hawaiians are not considered an indigenous people in the US. Yes they need resources and the ability to deliver services to their people. But the fish-hook clause of giving up their ability "from pursuing claims against the United States for past wrongs in court." is a very big one. And i just about can't get past that, but here is the latest...

"WASHINGTON – With the backing of the Obama administration, the Akaka Bill has received a big boost of support that may provide enough weight to push the proposed legislation through Congress this year.

Hawaii’s congressional delegates have tried to pass some version of the Akaka Bill for almost 10 years. The bill is named after its originator, Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii. Supporters of the bill – the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act – welcomed the endorsement by the U.S. Department of Justice at a Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing Aug. 6."

The bill will give Native Hawaiians much of the same rights as other indigenous people in the US, namely the Native American Indians and Native Alaskians. At the moment Native Hawaiians are not considered indigenous under US law. That means that any program they develop that is for their people can, and has been, challenged via civil rights legislation. When the bill passes Native Hawaiians will be able have some self government.

"The latest version of the Akaka Bill would authorize a process for establishing a Native Hawaiian governing entity and would grant the equivalent of federal recognition to Native Hawaiians, allowing them to be treated on par with American Indians and Alaska Natives. However, it would not allow gaming, create reservation trust lands, give any land back to Native Hawaiians without legislative approval, or change any existing laws."

The Apology Resolution signed into law in 1993 by former President Bill Clinton on the 100th anniversary of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, acknowledged the illegality of the U.S. government’s military-backed regime change of “the sovereign Hawaii nation” in 1893 and its support for the illegally created “provisional government” in violation of treaties and international law. The insurgents were wealthy American and European financiers and colonists who owned sugar plantations.

The key statement in the apology reiterates Hawaii’s continuing independence: ‘‘The indigenous Hawaiian people never directly relinquished their claims to their inherent sovereignty as a people or over their national lands to the United States, either through their monarchy or through a plebiscite or referendum.”

And this is where it gets very sticky.

"While all those testifying were generally in favor of the Akaka Bill, no representative of Hawaii’s sovereignty movement was invited to speak. The sovereignty movement seeks full independence from the United States based on decolonization and de-occupation under international law.

Representatives of the movement have been excluded from the discourse in Congress and in the recent Supreme Court case, which ruled earlier this year that Congress’ apology for overthrowing the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893 bears no moral, political or legal weight in stopping the State of Hawaii from selling 1.2 million acres of land seized during the illegal regime change before land claims by Native Hawaiians are resolved.

David M. K. Inciong, II of Pearl City, a Native Hawaiian, said the hearing was “farcical.”

“Here we are, foreign nationals made stateless in our own country and the U.S. wants to forcibly incorporate us into their country as indigenous Native Americans; yet again through their domestic laws to be under the plenary authority of U.S. Congress.

“Instead of living a lie by creating more lies, the U.S. needs to take stock of its situation, de-occupy Hawai’i, and return our already recognized sovereign nation-state back to us who love our country as much as the U.S. Americans love theirs. We are peers to the U.S. as nation-to-nation. Why would we submit to being a lesser status of a nation within a nation which is translated into a belligerent occupation which we already live under?”

Kehaulani Kauanui, a Native Hawaiian and associate professor of American Studies at Wesleyan University, said the discussion of constitutionality was inadequate.

“What was missing, of course, is the fact that under the U.S. Constitution, the Hawaiian Kingdom was regarded as a foreign nation, an independent sovereign state. Foreign nations do not have any relationship to the U.S. Department of the Interior precisely because that department is about areas considered by the U.S. government as internal to the U.S.A, (Indian tribes, U.S. Island Territories and National Parks). Foreign nations relate to the U.S. Department of State."

What lessons can we learn from this?

Nothing is 100% good or 100% bad.

To take two steps forward you sometimes have to take a step back first.

When the controllers put in place processes to disengage their control - they are still in control.

further reading

For the bill from a Native American perspective
Against - a very interesting angle on the apology

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