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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, August 14, 2005 Posted on: Sunday, August 14, 2005 Posted on: Sunday, August 14, 2005

Foes share opposition, little else

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaiian activist Bumpy Kanahele says the Akaka bill has considerable opposition among Native Hawaiian groups, but their reasoning differs from groups such as the Grassroot Institute.

advertiser library photo | March 6, 2005


Like the people involved with the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, those seeking an independent Hawaiian nation fiercely oppose the Akaka bill and believe a majority of the public is against it, too.

And like those with the institute, independent nation advocates don't like the idea of the U.S. Department of the Interior having a big say in how the Native Hawaiian entity allowed for in the Akaka bill is finally formed.

Both groups say the bill is unfair and has not been fully debated.

But don't mistake independent nation advocates for the Grassroot Institute and its message of equality for all with no race-based exceptions.

Just ask Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele, leader of the Independent and Sovereign Nation State of Hawai'i (Nation of Hawai'i), which opposes the Akaka bill because it does not go far enough in what it offers to Hawaiians.

"They're totally in denial of our rights as Hawaiians," Kanahele said, noting that the institute and a related group, Aloha for All, believe no wrong was committed by the United States when the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown in 1893.

Kanahele said he and others in the sovereignty movement are frustrated that they are sometimes lumped with the institute simply because both groups oppose the Akaka bill. "They're insulting and denying the history, and they're still trying to rewrite it," he said.

Ikaika Hussey, a member of the Hui Pu, an umbrella group for independent nation organizations opposed to the Akaka bill, acknowledged how some people may be confused.

"I guess you could say the same words are being used, but we're saying different things," he said. "If you look at what the Grassroot Institute is proposing, they're talking about doing away with any difference or diversity in society. What they really want is everyone to become consumers, part of the American consumer mainstream where there's no longer any identity or political differences."

He added: "What we're talking about is forced assimilation of the kanaka maoli (Native Hawaiian) into the American mainstream and an attempt to deflect from the injustices of the past 112 years."

At a recent news conference held by the Hui Pu, several others tried to distance their views from those of the Grassroot Institute.

"We're not the grassroots, we're the grass," said Keli'i "Skippy" Ioane of King's Landing Village.

Kanahele, nonetheless, said he believes the combination of forces opposing the bill contributed to the delay in getting it on the Senate floor for a vote last month.

"It was probably more them than us," he said, noting the financial resources available to the institute.