LIHU‘E — A group of Native Hawaiians has announced a four-hour protest today in Honolulu, opposing a bill they say would “try to revive and jump-start the now defunct Akaka Bill.”
Gov. Neil Abercrombie is scheduled today to sign into law Senate Bill 1520, establishing a five-member Native Hawaiian roll commission in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to prepare and maintain a roll of qualified Native Hawaiians, according to a state press release.
“Hawaiian Nationals and supporters of a Free Hawai‘i” announced Tuesday through a press release they will hold a public demonstration today in Honolulu from 12 to 1 p.m. at Lili’uokalani Statue, and from 1 to 4 p.m. in front of Washington Place to protest Abercrombie’s signing of SB 1520.
“Hawaiian Nationals and many other Hawai‘i residents adamantly opposed the Akaka Bill and successfully fought for 10 years to stop its passage in Washington (D.C.),” Committee of Hawaiian Nationals spokesperson Leon Siu said in a press release. “SB 1520 represents a desperate ‘back door’ tactic to accomplish what the Akaka Bill failed to do.”
Siu said the committee is made of a group of people who have opposed to the Akaka Bill and advocate the return of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
“The Committee of Hawaiian Nationals is part of a network of several groups that are similar to us,” he said.
The Akaka Bill was introduced in 2000 by Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai‘i. The bill passed through several versions until it was ultimately defeated in 2010. It was supposed to give Native Hawaiians federal recognition similar to Native American Indian tribes.
Siu said the Akaka Bill was designed to form a native-Hawaiian-American-tribe to ostensibly ‘protect’ Native Hawaiian entitlement programs from constitutional challenges.
“We are not a tribe, we are a sovereign, independent nation,” Kai‘opua Fyfe of the Koani Foundation said in the committee’s release. “Expect strong, vigorous opposition from Hawaiians at every step as the state attempts to implement this grotesque Akaka Bill agenda.”
Abercrombie is expected to sign SB 1520 at 2 p.m. at Washington Place, the home of Hawai‘i’s last monarch, Queen Lili‘uokalani, “from whom the Hawaiian Kingdom was unjustly and illegally taken,” Siu said in the committee’s release. Abercrombie’s bill-signing at Lili‘uokalani’s former home adds insult to injury, he said.
“Not only are state officials plotting to further oppress our people and subdivide our nation, they plan the ultimate insult — to kick it off from our Queen’s home on her own lanai,” Hawaiian National, Pomaikaiokalani Kinney said in the release.
Another Hawaiian National, Pilipo Souza, said, “Like Abercrombie’s inauguration at ‘Iolani Palace, this is an affront to those of us whose nation was stolen.”
The state and federal governments intend to use this Native American tribal designation to “underhandedly quash Hawaiian Nationals’ rightful claim to the sovereign jurisdiction and lands of the stolen Hawaiian Kingdom,” Siu said in the release.
The signing of SB 1520 is scheduled for 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Washington Place. Besides Abercrombie, other officials attending the bill signing include Sens. Malama Solomon, D-1st District, Brickwood Galuteria, D-12th District, and Clayton Hee, D-23rd District; Rep. Faye Hanohano, D-4th District; and OHA Chair Collette Machado.
Go to www.hawaii.gov to see the event’s live stream.