May 2011 KA WAI OLA COLUMN
Senator Akaka responsible for the landmark Apology Resolution and establishing the “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander” category in the U.S. Census
`Ano`ai kakou… I am so very grateful that Senator Daniel Akaka has chosen to chair the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. The Senator’s announcement of retirement when his term expires in 2012 came as a shock to me. However, his reason for choosing to lead the Indian Affairs Committee for his final two years in the Senate is obvious.
Senator Akaka’s dedication to all the people of Hawaii has been without question. As a Native Hawaiian, he knows how important it is for our people to achieve native sovereignty. This right, under the U.S. Constitution, exists for hundreds of Native American tribes and Alaska Natives. Hawaiian Natives remain the only group yet to be acknowledged and recognized by the U.S. Native Hawaiians must have the same rights under the law and Constitution that Alaska Natives and Native Americans have.
To insure our sovereign rights, the U.S. must recognize us as the only Native people of Hawaii. Our culture lives on in our language, history, dance, music, and historical sites.
The 2011 Akaka bill, S.675, can be downloaded through the Library of Congress website at: http://thomas.loc.gov. The language within the bill is virtually identical to S. 1011 as it was passed out of the Indian Affairs Committee back in December 2009. A “markup” of S.675 was scheduled for April 7th.
Loretta Tuell Named Chief Council, Indian Affairs Committee
On March 24th the trustees met with Loretta Tuell who was appointed by Senator Akaka to be the next Staff Director/Chief Council for the Indian Affairs Committee. Ms. Tuell has previously served on the committee as Counsel to former Chairman Senator Daniel Inouye. She grew up on the Nez Perce reservation and she is a former partner at Anderson Tuell LLP, an American Indian-owned law firm in Washington, D.C.
I have known Loretta for 12 years now and I am confident that her wealth of knowledge and experience in
Indian law and her familiarity with issues facing Native Hawaiians will give us the extra push we need to get the Akaka bill passed this time.
Ms. Tuell comes with impeccable credentials including:
- Graduate of Washington State University;
- Law degree from UCLA;
- Senior Executive Program at Harvard University;
- Extensive experience with the Department of the Interior, the Office of American Indian
Trust, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs;
- An appointee to the Federal Task Force for Native Hawaiians; and
- The 2009 American Bar Association’s Margaret Brent Award, a prestigious award for
State Recognition Update
By the end of March, both competing State Recognition for Native Hawaiian bills — Senate Bill 1 (Senator Solomon) and SB 1520 (Senator Hee) — were passed out of the House Hawaiian Affairs and Judiciary Committees. The bills have until an April 8th deadline to be approved by the House Finance Committee.
I urge everyone interested in helping to pass these bills to please send letters of support or e-mails to House Speaker Calvin Say, Finance Committee Chair Rep. Marcus Oshiro and Hawaiian Affairs Committee Chair Rep. Faye Hanohano.
Aloha Ke Akua.