Editorial: Don't treat Native Hawaiians like an Indian tribe
"When Congress convened after the Democratic success in the 2008 elections, passage of Sen. Daniel Akaka's Hawaiian sovereignty bill seemed assured. A rewriting of the bill since then has cost Gov. Linda Lingle's past support and failure to adequately explain the changes threatens to sink the bill in today's sharply partisan Senate. The authors have only themselves to blame for the predicament and should take corrective action.

The radical changes in the bill came to light last December as House and Senate versions were prepared for committee action. Sen. Daniel Inouye expressed surprise that the changes had not been presented to Lingle, a longtime advocate. State Attorney General Mark Bennett called for new public hearings, as did the Star-Bulletin, but the requests were ignored.

Caught by surprise, then-Rep. Neil Abercrombie decided to stick with the original bill in presenting it to a House committee in December. However, when it reached the House floor last month, Abercrombie injected the new language, and it won House approval on roughly party lines. Abercrombie is running for governor.

The significant change in the Akaka Bill would recognize the Hawaiian governing council as equivalent to "an Indian tribe," with nearly all that comes with that status. The original bill would have directed the state and the governing council to enter into negotiations about their relationship."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Restore Akaka Bill's original language (The Honolulu Star-Bulletin 3/28)

Also Today:
Aiona announces his support for Akaka Bill (AP 3/27)

Native Hawaiian Bill:
H.R.862 | S.381

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