Thursday, June 08, 2006

Akaka Bill Fails . . . But Not Entirely

Today the Senate voted against cloture on S.147, the Akaka Bill.

Some brief thoughts that make me heartened in light of it's failure.

Although I recognize that the passage of the S.147 is a recognition and acceptance of colonial power over Hawaii, which has never been 'right', there are a couple things that I see as good coming from the debate at hand and the reality that the bill will pass in the near future:

First, the idea that federal recognition of the injustice done to indigenous Hawaiians by the Unite States of America is pivotal, and if it's not something realized by all in Congress, and the public at large, at least the seed has been planted and will be thought about from here on out.

Listening to the debate on the Senate floor yesterday revealed the significant amount of ignorance and misinformation surrounding the take over of the Hawaiian kingdom so many decades ago. It should be a goal of our leaders at the state and national level to make sure that ignorance is corrected by the next time the Akaka bill comes to the floor of the Senate. The history of the take over of this kingdom must be explained if the bill is to be passed.

Second, accepting federal recognition, while not ideal on many levels, would mean a hearty influx of money for implementing a traditional method of adjudicating conflict, more Hawaiian immersion schools that would focus on culture and language, more control over Hawaiian lands, and the list could go on. The fight for sovereignty must go on, in the meantime take the money and jurisdictional latitude granted with federal recognition and invest it in native Hawaii.

Third, this was a bill that garnered 56 votes in the Senate. Fifty-six votes, both Democrats and Republicans (and one independent). That's a true test of political will on the part of Akaka and most of our Congressional delegation, as well as the merit of the bill itself. In this age where almost everything in the Capitol falls along party lines, it's novel to see a bill get support on both sides of the political spectrum. That says a lot.

From Sen. Henry Reid of Nevada:
"Sen. Dan Akaka is a man of extraordinary vision, compassion and conviction. Thanks to his efforts, leaders at the highest levels of our government now support his efforts to provide Native Hawaiians, equal standing with other indigenous peoples in the United States.

"Regretfully, the Akaka Bill can go no further in this Congress thanks to the 11th-hour intervention and fear mongering by the Bush Administration and his Department of Justice.

"However, Sen. Akaka's efforts on behalf of Hawaiians and all the people of Hawai'i will continue and I will continue to stand with him."

I'm not native Hawaiian but, I recognize the struggle for self determination and respect it greatly.


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