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Kawika Riley: Dan Inouye aided era of tribal self-determination

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: daniel inouye, hawaii, kawika riley, native hawaiians, senate

"The United States, and all of its indigenous peoples, lost a hero and a champion this week, with the passing of U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii). Senator Inouye’s life was filled with accomplishments, from receiving the Medal of Honor for his bravery on the battlefields of World War II, to rising to become third in line to the presidency. America will remember these achievements and others, but for Native Hawaiians and—I suspect, our American Indian and Alaska Native brothers and sisters—he will be remembered as an unparalleled ally who fought for us, while encouraging us to unite with each other.

Dan Inouye came to Congress knowing the sting of discrimination, having been labeled an “enemy alien” after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He did not grow up in Indian country, but he knew the plight of indigenous people. He was born in Hawaiʻi a few short decades after the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, raised by a Japanese-American mother who had been adopted by a Native Hawaiian family. I believe that these experiences, coupled with his intellect and his courage, primed him to take on the causes of Native people as if they were his own."

Get the Story:
Kawika Riley: Honoring Senator Inouye by Working Together (Indian Country Today 12/20)

Related Stories:
Ernie Stevens and Kevin Leecy: Paying tribute to Daniel Inouye (12/19)
Brian Paterson: Indian Country mourning loss of Daniel Inouye (12/19)
Richard Monette: Indian Country loses a warrior in Dan Inouye (12/19)
Sen. Daniel Inouye, Democrat from Hawaii, passes away at 88 (12/18)

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