Editorial: Left in the dark about Native Hawaiian bill
"Sen. Daniel Akaka surprised observers of the Hawaiian sovereignty bill bearing his name by injecting controversial changes that drew opposition from Gov. Linda Lingle, a longtime supporter of the bill. The congressional delegation needs to conduct hearings during the present holiday recess to clear the air and, if it can, justify the bill's changes.

Akaka appears to have left many in the dark about the changes to the bill in the days preceding action by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. Rep. Neil Abercrombie decided against presenting the changes to the House Natural Resources Committee, which approved the bill in its original form, following a blistering letter by Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett and an extraordinary rebuke of Akaka by Sen. Daniel Inouye.

In a prepared statement on the eve of the House committee action, Inouye said "events of the past 24 hours were totally unexpected." He added that he was "very surprised" that the revisions "were not shared" with Lingle. Inouye did not say whether he had been aware of the pending changes.

The Akaka Bill has been regarded in recent years as one that would give Hawaiians sovereignty similar to that of Indian tribes, while retaining federal and state jurisdiction of civil and criminal laws. The changes just passed by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee would recognize the Hawaiian governing council as "an Indian tribe," with all that comes with that status except legalized gambling. For example, many Indian laws rather than state or federal laws are enforced on their reservations."

Get the Story:
Akaka Bill needs airing (The Honolulu Advertiser 12/20)

Also Today:
Akaka bill changes 'drastic' (The Honolulu Advertiser 12/19)
John Vecchione: A Conservative Vote for Hawaiian Freedom (Frum Forum 12/19)
Only 34 Percent of Hawaiians Support Akaka Bill (Human Events 12/18)

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