Key figures for and against the Akaka bill
KEY FIGURES | FOR
KEY FIGURES | FORU.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka: The nation's first part-Hawaiian U.S. senator, he is the namesake and emotional core of the bill. Akaka said while some want him to add more details regarding the reorganization process, he has refused. "The federal policy of self-governance and self-determination is based on the concept that native peoples are best able to manage their resources for themselves."
U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye: Hawai'i's senior senator and one of the highest-ranking Democrats in the Senate is lobbying hard for the bill. Moving it out of the Senate would be as much Inouye's legacy as Akaka's. Inouye's maneuvering was crucial in securing a promise by majority Republicans to hold a vote on the bill by Aug. 7.
Gov. Linda Lingle: The Republican governor's support for the bill pits her against many of those in her party, both locally and in Washington. An essay she co-authored with state Attorney General Mark Bennett said: "The Akaka bill will not change the patriotism or valor of Native Hawaiians or Hawai'i's other residents. It will not set up a foreign nation in Hawai'i. It will, however, put Hawai'i on an equal footing with its 49 sister states, and it will end the second-class status of Hawai'i's indigenous people Native Hawaiians."
Haunani Apoliona, chairwoman of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs board of trustees: Apoliona said congressional approval this year would culminate a five-year effort to fight the potential ramifications posed by the Rice v. Cayetano case, which said that it was unconstitutional to bar non-Hawaiians from OHA elections. "This bill provides justice and fairness to Native Hawaiians, but not at the expense of others and certainly not to the detriment of Hawai'i, our beloved homeland."
Jade Danner, information and government affairs manager for the Council on Native Hawaiian Advancement: The nonprofit organization warns that at least $70 million annually in federal grants for Native Hawaiian programs are in peril without the measure. "The bill neither denies the wounding history, nor attempts to turn back time. Unlike its opponents' positions, it takes nothing from others."
Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa, former director of Hawaiian studies at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa: Unlike many who support an independent Hawaiian nation, she said she supports the bill because she believes it offers the first step toward a peaceful resolution to the conflict Native Hawaiians have with the United States. "Precluding us from gaining any land while having a government and federal recognition is unacceptable to all Hawaiians."
KEY FIGURES | AGAINSTU.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.: He is a key obstacle to the bill on Capitol Hill, and prior to this year was credited with blocking it from coming to a vote on the Senate floor. Kyl\'s main objection is his belief that the bill is unconstitutional. "By subjecting Native Hawaiians to a government that is not bound by the Constitution, the Akaka bill effectively would take away these constitutional rights from persons who currently enjoy their protection."
U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio: The chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution could prove to be the main source of opposition in the House. Chabot has tended to favor a strict reading of the Constitution and is critical of what he believes are activist judges who interpret broader rights into the law. Chabot convened a meeting of his subcommittee yesterday and heard from three anti-Akaka experts and one pro-Akaka attorney.
Jon Osorio, director of Hawaiian studies at UH: Like others in the sovereignty movement, Osorio believes it is incorrect for Native Hawaiians to be negotiating with the entity that wronged them. "The sovereignty movement has never been particularly cooperative with the federal government and the state of Hawai'i, nor should it be," Osorio said in a recent editorial. "The Americans can no more legislate a solution for our national aspirations than Britain could for Americans in the 18th century."
H. William Burgess, Aloha for All: The lead attorney in the case that challenged federal entitlements for Hawaiians only, Burgess believes the bill could give a new governing entity up to 40 percent of the state's natural assets. Further, Burgess says on his Web site, "It is reasonable to anticipate that the new Hawaiians-only government and its territory will have at least all of the sovereignty, jurisdiction, governing powers and authority of American Indian tribes and reservations."
Andre Perez, coordinator of the Hui Pu: Most of those in the loose-knit group of Native Hawaiian organizations opposed to the bill also favor an independent nation and believe the bill would hinder that movement. Perez, spokesman for the group, said Native Hawaiians have not been able to express their opinions in a formal setting since 2000. "The Akaka bill fails to address our history and legacy as a sovereign, independent people."
Richard Rowland, president, Grassroot Institute of Hawai'i: The nonprofit group has taken out a newspaper ad, conducted polls and hired a high-powered Washington law firm to educate people about what it believes is wrong with the Akaka bill. Rowland believes a majority of Hawai'i residents oppose the bill and that a referendum should be held. "We need to ask the people of Hawai'i what they think."