I watched the Senate debate via C-SPAN2 to for a while. Senator Akaka presented his case clearly and respectfully, but I had to turn it off after a few minutes of listening to Senator Lamar Alexander building a wall of FUD over the issue. Senator, you simply can’t compare immigrants who arrived and the U.S. willfully and the indigenous peoples who had no say in their government being overthrow and land annexed against their will. Alexander harped on the term “sovereignty” so many times and in such a way as to suggest that that the bill would result in complete independence for the state from the U.S.
Personally, I have many friends, native Hawaiians, who are on opposite sides of the debate. Many think that the government-to-government relationship that would be established under the Akaka Bill would be e step backwards, not forwards, for native Hawaiians. Others feel it is the only way to protect many of the entitlements that have been afforded for many years. Some, including the Bishop Estate, predate the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893.
I was fascinated by one of Akaka’s utterances. At one point he referred to “Native Hawaiians and non-native Hawaiians”. Huh? Is he referring to Hawai‘i residents who are not of Hawaiian ancestry as “non-native Hawaiians”? I’ve never heard that term used before, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it has been used in this way.