NOTE: use a mug of Akaka or Inouye if they’re available
input on Native Hawaiian issue
By LESTER CHANG
LIHU’E — Kaua’i will be the site of the first of five statewide
meetings the federal government plans to hold beginning next week to discuss a
stronger relationship between Native Hawaiians and the United States.
first meeting on pending congressional legislation will be held at the
Performing Arts Building at Kaua’i Community College on Aug. 28 from 8:45 a.m.
to 12:15 p.m. and 1:15 to 4:45 p.m.
All the meetings will be conducted by
the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the U.S. House of
Representatives Committee on Resources.
The legislation has been challenged
by some sovereignty groups who say the measures, if they become law, will
prevent Hawaiians from securing independence from the U.S. Critics also
complain the bill was drafted without their input.
The Lawful Hawaiian
Government exists legally and won’t recognize the bill if it becomes law, said
group spokesman Kane Pa.
Based on testimony received by the
congressional committees, the bill will be refined before its brought back to
them and then to the full Senate or full House.
The U.S. attorney general
and the Secretary of Interior also have been invited to give testimony at
The proposed legislation proposes an office of Native Hawaiian
Affairs with the Department of Interior. The bill would also designate
Department of Justice representatives to help implement programs protecting the
rights of Native Hawaiians.
The legislation also would allow Native
Hawaiians to create a native governing body that would be recognized as
sovereign by the U.S.
Hawaii’s U.S. Sens. Daniel Akaka, chairman of the
Task Force on Native Hawaiian Issues, and Daniel Inouye introduced the bill to
clarify the legal and political relationship the United States has with Native
Rep. Neil Abercrombie introduced the bill in the House of
The measure affirms the United States’ special trust
relationship with Native Hawaiians and the constitutional authority of Congress
to address the conditions of Native Hawaiians. The bill also responds to their
right to self determination and self-governance.
The bill, if it becomes
law, will open the way for a government-to-government relationship between
Native Hawaiians and the U.S., Akaka has said.
The other hearings in
Hawai’i are scheduled on Molokai Aug. 29, Honolulu Aug. 30., Hilo on the Big
Island Aug. 31 and Maui on Sept. 1. Additional information on the meetings is
available from Paul Cardus or Noelani Kalipi at (202) 224-6361.
writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or