Representatives of 10 state and national organizations that advocate for property rights and low and fair taxation are warning members of Congress and others with influence over national policy of dire consequences if the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2007 becomes law. The act’s chief sponsor is Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii). The following letter outlines the many problems these organizations see in the legislation.
May 2, 2007
Dear National Policymaker:
We are writing to call your attention to a deeply important and controversial bill pending once again before Congress. It is the Akaka bill (S. 310/H.R. 505, Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2007). It would create a separate sovereign government of, by and for one race (native Hawaiians); break up and give away much of the land owned by the State of Hawaii; and possibly set a precedent for similar separatist actions by other ethnic groups in the mainland United States.
The bill’s supporters say it would just give native Hawaiians the same legal status as native Americans, who have their own sovereign tribal governments with their own legislatures, laws, courts, taxation powers, and government officers. They want to use Indian legal precedents, but not necessarily results.
Opponents point out that U.S. courts have ruled that native Americans cannot qualify for tribal recognition merely because they share a common ancestry. They must also have a long-standing autonomous governing entity and reside in a separate, distinct community, neither of which requirements are met by native Hawaiians. Native Hawaiians have for over 150 years lived in racially mixed communities and have indeed intermarried to such an extent that Hawaii is widely known as one of the most racially integrated places in the entire world.
Supporters of the bill maintain that the grant of sovereignty, along with lands and other assets currently owned by the State of Hawaii, would simply redress wrongs committed by non-native Hawaiians before the Hawaiian islands were annexed to the United States in 1898.
Opponents point out that those with less than one percent Hawaiian blood will qualify as “Native Hawaiians” and qualify for the benefits of citizenship in the new sovereign Hawaiian nation. In addition, the provisions of the bill open a Pandora’s box of potential problems because details are to be negotiated with no limits specified.
At present there is much uncertainty as to how much popular support exists in Hawaii for the sovereignty movement. Supporters point to polls that purport to show overwhelming popular support. Opponents point to other polls that show overwhelming opposition to the bill, and point out that there is at present no plan to give the citizens of Hawaii, who voted 94% in favor of statehood in 1959, an opportunity to vote on this issue.
We are finding that the more people are educated about this proposed bill, the more questions they ask about specific, real results should the bill pass. Most of those questions are unanswerable.
Because this is such a controversial and confusing issue, we are asking you to inform yourself very carefully about these issues and possibly propose constructive amendments, before you vote on the Akaka bill.
At the least, the bill should be amended to require a plebiscite of Hawaii voters before any separate nation could be approved at the national level.
Richard O. Rowland, President
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
Sam Slom, President
Small Business Hawaii
Grover Norquist, President
Americans for Tax Reform
Elaine Willman, President
Citizens Equal Rights Alliance
Ron Williamson, President
Great Plains Public Policy Institute
Chris Derry, President
Gregory Blankenship, President
Illinois Policy Institute
John McClaughry, President
Ethan Allen Institute
Matt Kibbe, President
Lewis Andrews, Executive Director
Yankee Institute for Public Policy
For more information …
“Politics Rules in Debate over Hawaiian Ethnicity Bill,” by Don Newman, Budget & Tax News, July 2006, http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=19286
“Bill Would Divide Hawaii by Race, Dole Out Entitlements,” by Steve Stanek, Budget & Tax News, October 2005, http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=17829