Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, July 21, 2005 Posted on: Thursday, July 21, 2005

For some, Akaka bill falls far short

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hui Pu, an umbrella group of organizations opposed to the Akaka bill, protested yesterday at 'Iolani Palace. The chair and sign at the top of the steps symbolize "our throne in our palace being occupied again by the United States government," said Andre Perez of Hui Pu.

gregory yamamoto | The Honolulu Advertiser


Opponents of the Akaka bill yesterday placed a chair on the front porch of 'Iolani Palace with a sign on the seat marked "Department of the Interior."

"That symbolizes our throne in our palace being occupied again by the United States government," said Andre Perez, organizer of Hui Pu, an umbrella group of organizations opposed to the Akaka bill. "We do not want to be with the Department of Interior," he said, referring to the bill's language that gives a large role to the federal agency.

"This seat here is something that we are soon to reclaim," Perez said at a news conference in front of the last home to Hawaiian monarchs, itself considered by many in the independence movement a symbol of what was lost in the overthrow.

"We are planning to reclaim this seat very shortly," he said. "This palace represents our country and someday soon it will be back to us, I guarantee you that."

The group is collecting signatures on a "declaration" in opposition to the bill that it will send to members of Congress in hopes of convincing them to at least delay a vote on the legislation, if not defeat it altogether. Members said they have accumulated more than 1,000 names in five days from the public.

The bill, which has been held up from a vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate this week, would recognize Native Hawaiians as an indigenous people similar to American Indians and Alaska Natives and create a process for them, if they choose, to establish a government that could negotiate with the state of Hawai'i and the United States on issues such as housing, land use and cultural preservation.

The group is asking people who oppose the bill to put up a single ti leaf on their homes, cars or other property as a sign of protest. Perez said the ti leaf was used traditionally to symbolize a warding off, thrusting aside or parrying, to "pale" in Hawaiian. "The ti leaf will be used to show our resistance to the Akaka bill because we do not want the Akaka bill, we never asked for the Akaka bill."

Hui Pu wants Native Hawaiians to be able to vote on whether to accept the bill before it goes to Congress.

Terri Keko'olani, another Hui Pu member, said the language in the declaration is patterned after the "Ku'e Petitions" of 1897. Signed by 38,000 Hawaiian nationals, the petition opposed the proposed United States Treaty of Annexation, she said.

"The Hui Pu seeks self-determination under international law, and rejects and condemns the Akaka bill as a barrier to Hawai'i nationals' inherent right to self-determination under international law," she said.

Hui Pu members made it a point to distinguish themselves from the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii and others who oppose the bill because they believe it is race-based.

"We're not the grassroot, we the grass," said Kelii "Skippy" Ioane.

Performing artist and Lili'uokalani scholar Leo Anderson Akana said she takes offense when supporters of the bill say it will benefit all Hawaiians, even if it is not perfect.

"They are going to Washington with a cracked koa bowl, that does not represent me," Akana said. "I am not a cracked koa bowl. Our people are people who have strived for perfection, honesty, truth and aloha."