Archive for May, 2010

Indian Atrocity Coming?

Parade Magazine on 5/30/10 contained a brief discussion of the appointment of Kimberly Teehee as the first White House senior policy advisor for Native American Affairs. Teehee says; “Job creation is a huge priority: unemployment rates on some reservations are as high as 80%”. To my knowledge and I expect, yours, there are no special unemployment problems at all with mainstream Americans who have Indian ancestry but have opted out of their “Indian Nation”. Why would that be so?

“ Indian Country has great needs, but our future is far from bleak—more than $3 billion was directed to Indian tribes through the Recovery Act, and the 2011 budget provides a 5% increase over 2010”, says Teehee. But these tribal Indians will get access to that money only through abiding by the whims of their tribal chiefs. None of them have the option of governing their own lives unless they leave the “safety” of the reservation.

If problems like unemployment and extreme obesity disappeared from these Indian reservations— and they certainly should with $3 billion plus 5%—would Kimberly Teehee have a job? Could it be that Teehee’s continued prosperity and power are connected to the persistence of Indian tribes’ unemployment, extreme obesity and other severe social problems?

The Akaka bill, pending in the U.S. Senate, makes, by law, native Hawaiians an Indian tribe. Would that push our friends, neighbors and family members of native Hawaiian ancestry into the Indian atrocity model described above? We should hope not. No one knows for sure.

Do you want to risk it?

Where Akaka Could Lead Hawaii: The Unintended Consequences for Children and Family Law

Though there has been a great deal of talk about the pros and cons of the Akaka Bill regarding the future of Hawaii, it is surprising to see how little of that debate takes into account the established precedents that govern those Native American tribes already recognized by the federal government. While there has been some debate over the extent to which the Bill creates a “tribe” in the same sense for Native Hawaiians as it has for Cherokees or Seminoles, it is certain that all existing precedent (and indeed the Constitutional provision that—probably—allows Congress to act in the case of the Akaka Bill) come from the laws governing Indian tribes. In other words, if we want to peer into the future of a post-Akaka Hawaii, we ought to take a look at what’s happening with tribal law.

And when you consider just how haywire things can go, it’s hard to find a better example than the Indian Child Welfare Act. The Act was passed in 1978 in response to real and serious concerns about the alarmingly high number of Indian children who were being removed from their homes (and their tribes) to be placed in non-Indian homes—threatening tribal stability and even survival. In response, Congress gave tribes an extremely strong voice in child custody proceedings involving an Indian child, including exclusive jurisdiction over cases where the child resides on the reservation or is a ward of the tribe.

Doesn’t seem so bad, does it? Enter the law of unintended consequences.

While the Act certainly served its function in protecting the survival of the tribes and their culture, the obvious potential for abuse of the Act’s provisions have also created a heartbreaking collection of cases where the welfare of children and families takes a back seat to political intrusion and people exploiting the system for their own purposes. It’s all there: children returned to a home where the State had evidence of sexual abuse—and over the objections of the children’s own natural parents—by a tribal court exercising its exclusive jurisdiction over the case. Children taken away from a non-Native parent by the family that can use the Act to settle old scores. And the list goes on and on.

And now consider what the Indian Child Welfare Act could mean for a Native Hawaiian tribe—especially in a state where people are proud to call themselves “hapa.” If the Act is determined to apply to the new Native Hawaiian government (and there’s no evidence that it won’t), family law in Hawaii may take a very ugly turn, with the Native Hawaiian government (or that side of the family) having the power to set the rules and run the show in child custody cases—even to the point of being able to come in long after custody has been settled and remove a Hawaiian child from a “non-Hawaiian” home. The pain that this could cause to a community and culture that has such a proud tradition of ohana is profound.

Our islands are different. Our culture is different. There’s a reason that the opponents of the Akaka Bill point to our history to show that Hawaii has always been an inclusive society, not a tribe. What a shame it will be if this Bill tears apart our long tradition of unity by creating a new tribe.

Malia Blom Hill is a Research Fellow of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, where one of her major projects is centered on Please visit and consider helping by adding your research, commentary, or support. Malia may be contacted by email at

Tied to Apartheid

By Dick Rowland

As now written, if the Akaka bill passed in the US Senate this state would be, by law, divided into two human

Hawaiians= Those with some or all Hawaiian blood unless they opted out.

Non-Hawaiians=Those without such blood unless they opted in by refusing to join the group above.

The “Hawaiians” would form a separate tribal nation which would have “rights” that the non-Hawaiians would not. But a “right” is useless unless it is enforced, which requires an equivalent obligation to assure compliance. Primarily, the US nation and the non-Hawaiians, otherwise known as the State of Hawaii, would be so obligated. Why? Because the Hawaiians are designated a special tribe, in perpetuity, unless the plenary power, the US Congress, says otherwise.

Some Hawaiians will surely say no to join an “Akaka Tribe” since they can readily see that mainland tribal members are largely treated like serfs. If they do that they will be non Hawaiian Hawaiians with no special privileges. In fact, they will remain totally assimilated in society as regular, everyday non-Hawaiian citizens of the State of Hawaii. Confused? Read on.

Speaking of American Indian Tribes; there are about 564 of them. They contain only 20% of all the Indians in the USA. In other words, 80% have left the reservations to become regular folks. But wait a minute: When the Queen lost her throne in 1893, most of Hawaii’s people were not native Hawaiians. Many, if not most, of the legislature and the Queens Cabinet were non-native Hawaiians. Many of those subjects fought for their Queen. Below is a quote from Michael Lilly, former Attorney General of the State of Hawaii, who has no native blood:

“ My great-grandfather was killed by the revolutionaries defending the Monarchy which was non-racist. Neither he nor the Queen would have countenanced a Hawaiian that did not recognize all nationalities as full citizens”

So how can it be that Michael Lilly is not to be a part of the tribe? Well first, there was never any Hawaii tribe but if there had been, he would surely have been among the first in line. Second, the bill before the Senate is exclusive, not inclusive. It is a law that plainly excludes all races but one in a most discriminatory way (a person that is 51% Polish, 30% Chinese, 10% Japanese and 9% native Hawaiian is native Hawaiian, not Polish). Plainly, Mr Lilly lacks the right kind of ancestors to satisfy our federal government’s desire.

They can’t be serious, you say? Of course they can. The only ones who have read the bill are those who oppose it. If some how we could get a few more Senators to read the proposed bill and think carefully about the consequences as well as their oath of office, there would be no way to get it passed. But they don’t. They instead listen to Senator Inouye when he tells them to vote for it.

So, there you have it; all that is necessary for sanity to prevail is for a few more Senators to gain some knowledge and practice integrity.

Instead we find them tied to apartheid.

Conflict of interest over Akaka bill means no ethnic Hawaiians should serve as high officials of state or county government.

Should a judge preside over a lawsuit where his family stands to gain megabucks? Should a governor, mayor, or senator decide to route a new highway to a family-owned shopping center, or award construction contracts to his family’s business?

The Akaka bill recognizes ethnic Hawaiians as a tribe. State and county officials then negotiate how much of our land, money, and jurisdictional authority to give that tribe. Government officials who are ethnic Hawaiian have a huge conflict of interest deciding how much of our stuff to give to their own blood brotherhood.

Executives, legislators, and judges must recuse themselves and not participate in decisions where they have conflict of interest. Normally recusal is rare. But if the Akaka bill passes, most government decision-making will focus on how much to give the tribe. Someone should not hold a job where ethics rules demand recusal from most of his work.

If the Akaka bill passes, no ethnic Hawaiian should hold high office in the executive, legislative, or judicial branches of state or county government. Officials serve multiple years. No ethnic Hawaiian should be elected or appointed to high office so long as an Akaka bill might pass.

See a detailed webpage on this topic at