Akaka by OHA

So, if you’ve been living in a cave on Mars, with your fingers in your ears, going, “La, la, la, la, la” over and over again, you’ll probably be glad to hear that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has launched an “informational” page to help people truly understand the implications of the Akaka Bill.  Of course, if you’re even slightly conscious and an inhabitant of Hawaii, you probably already have  grasp of the basics.  But I’m sure OHA’s effort will be deeply appreciated by those who just woke from a coma or those who don’t care to have their news tainted by elements of impartiality.

Of course, there’s not much new to find there–they’ve basically taken the “There, there . . . no need to worry, it won’t change anything except the very foundations of the state,” approach.  It was interesting to see that they skipped right past the fact that a roll of names of eligible Hawaiians to participate in the formation of the of the new Native Hawaiian government would be determined and published . . . without really questioning how that determination would be reached.  This was especially fascinating in light of OHA’s assurance that the Akaka Bill is not race-based.  Technically speaking, that would be proper, as the Kingdom of Hawaii was not a racial entity, but a regular old sovereign government with borders, citizens of many races, and so on.  But that’s not exactly the history of Native Hawaiian programs in the last several decades, which (understandably) tend to focus on actual Native Hawaiian lineage.

The claim that the Akaka Bill is not race-based does bring up an interesting paradox, however. Pretend for a moment that it really was going to reflect the history of the Hawaiian nation and include anyone who can trace their heritage to citizens of the Kingdom–including Native Hawaiians, Chinese, whites, and so on.  It certainly would be a most accurate representations of Hawaiian citizens at the time of annexation.  But would there be much support for an Akaka Bill that wasn’t at it’s heart, race-based?  Somehow, I doubt it.

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