Opinion: Republicans divided on Native Hawaiians

"Why are Republicans so split on an unconstitutional bill that carves a group of Americans out of our society and sets them -- like an Indian tribe -- as a separate sovereign state?

Yesterday, by a vote of 261-153 the House passed Rep. Neal Abercrombie’s (D-Hi) HR-505, the “Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2007.” That bill, and Sen. Daniel Akaka’s (D-Hi) version, attempt to create a new “sovereign” state within the United States: a new Native Hawaiian “tribe” comprised of descendants of indigenous Hawaiians.

Thirty-nine Republicans voted in favor of Abercrombie’s bill.

Abercrombie’s bill, as he said yesterday, is “…all about land and money.” There are about 150 current laws conferring federal benefits on native Hawaiians. But they were put in jeopardy by a 2000 Supreme Court decision that struck down a state law restricting to native Hawaiians the right to vote for some state offices. Unsurprisingly, the court said that neither race nor ancestry was a permissible basis for discrimination except within other sovereign governments such as Indian tribes. Because some Hawaiian activists want that money and land, Abercrombie and Akaka are trying to create a new Hawaiian “tribe” where there wasn’t one before.

And that’s the problem. Under the Bureau of Indian Affairs definition of a tribe, the people who comprise it must exist as a community apart from society and have -- from historical times -- political influence over its members. Under those criteria, Hawaiians are no more a tribe than the Cleveland Indians baseball team. But this is no joke. According to one House staff report on the bill obtained by HUMAN EVENTS, this new “tribe” could be comprised of as many as 400,000 people worldwide, including about 20% of Hawaii’s population. It could have authority over people in all fifty states."

Get the Story:
Jed Babbin: Hawaii Five-0-Five (Human Events 10/25)

Roll Call:
On Passage: Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act | On Motion to Recommit with Instructions | On Agreeing to the Resolution | On Ordering the Previous Question

Statement of Administration Policy:
H.R. 505 – Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2007 (October 22, 2007)

Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act::
H.R.505 | S.310

Relevant Links:
Office of Hawaiian Affairs - http://www.oha.org
Native Hawaiian Recognition - http://www.nativehawaiians.com

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