Townhall.com’s Tim Chapman reports:
Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) has introduced a bill called the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005, S.147. Akaka wants to extend the government’s policy of self-governance and self-determination to Native Hawaiians. He, and fellow Hawaiian Senator Inouye intend to do this by creating a race-based and racially separate government for Native Hawaiians. Under S. 147 Native Hawaiians would be under the federal Indian law system and would be designated as a “tribe.” This new race-based government would have jurisdiction over 20 percent of Hawaii’s citizens as well as 400,000 citizens nationwide.
This would be the first time in our nation’s history that we have created an extra-constitutional race-based government out of a group of American citizens. Moreover, were this bill to become law, this new race-based government would be allowed to deny its constituents the protections afforded by the 1st, 5th and 14th Constitutional Amendments because they would not apply to the new “tribal government.”
This bill will likely receive scheduled Senate floor time before the chamber leaves for its August recess. Proponents of the legislation have been forcefully advancing the bill for 6 years now and during the last appropriations cycle they were able to secure a deal with Senate Leadership to assure floor time before this August is over. This fight will be won or lost on the Senate floor and it is currently unclear where the votes are.
As I’ve written before, giving Native Hawaiians Indian tribal-like status and immunity from federal civil rights laws is historically absurd and legally treacherous. At no time in their history have Native Hawaiians organized, acted, or existed as a tribe. When the U.S. annexed Hawaii, all of its citizens – native and non-native — became Americans. Unlike legitimate Indian tribes that retained quasi-sovereign powers after ceding their lands to the U.S., no group of Native Hawaiians ever established a treaty right to self-governance and exemption from our federal Constitution. If the Akaka bill becomes law, you can bet that every other aggreived racial and ethnic group will be running to claim tribal-like “sovereignty” and cash in on their manufactured status as separate foreign governments.
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