Opinion: Tribal Jurisdiction for Native Hawaiians
"The Akaka Bill, authorizing creation of a Hawaiian tribal entity, is being rewritten prior to submission to a vote in the House and Senate. The rewrite has not been in the news, but a January 16, 2009 Advertiser editorial warns the Akaka tribe against overconfidence. Three key sentences in the editorial make it possible for a highly informed reader to understand what Senator Dan Akaka’s (D-HI) staffers are changing:

"Because of previous opposition from the Bush administration and Capitol Hill Republicans, the bill had been constrained. For example, Native Hawaiians were to be treated the same under criminal and taxation laws as anyone else. And land claims by Native Hawaiians were to be confined to the negotiations between the state and Native Hawaiian representatives."

Barack Obama’s repeated pledge to sign the Akaka Bill was the key condition of Hawaii Democrats’ early-money support for his Presidential campaign. The House has easily passed the Akaka Bill twice with little debate. But if the language imposed by the Bush Justice Department in 2005 is written out of what will become the 2009 version of the Akaka Bill, the changes could impact the dynamics of Senate debate."

Get the Story:
Andrew Walden: Akaka Bill Rewrite: Tribal Jurisdiction for Hawaii? (The Hawaii Reporter 1/16)

Another Opinion:
Open Kenneth R. Conklin: Letter to Hawaii Lawmakers: Just Say No. Stop the Giveaway (The Hawaii Reporter 1/16)

Related Stories:
Native Hawaiian supporters hopeful under Obama (12/09)