Thin clouds fanned out like sun rays over a star-struck sky when Koko and I went out walking last evening, and the moon, which only yesterday seemed new, was already edging past half-full.
By morning, or the dark time that precedes it, the celestial picture had shifted as the moon and constellations moved west and set, allowing a new pattern to form above us, and as we walked, the fragrance of angel’s trumpets gave way to the stink of something dead.
Such are the immutable laws of nature, which differ from the laws of man, which are always being altered and made anew.
Such is the case with the Akaka Bill, whose “final” text, or so the crafters hope, was released yesterday. It’s worth a read, or at least a skim, to get a sense of what the federal government is offering to the Hawaiians, whom they acknowledge they’ve treated badly and will continue to do so with this legislation, which they don’t acknowledge.
In short, it lays out a process by which the Secretary of the Interior will appoint the members of a commission that will determine who is a Hawaiian, based on criterion set forth by the bill, and figure out how to create a council, which – if it can get funding thru a state or federal grant or contract – will develop governing documents for a Native Hawaiian governing entity that the U.S. may, or may not, sit down with to negotiate:
the transfer of State of Hawaii lands and surplus Federal lands, natural resources, and other assets, and the protection of existing rights related to such lands or resources [and] grievances regarding historical wrongs.
That entity will be the only one that the U.S. will recognize or deal with, and its members will be subject to federal and state taxes and civil and criminal laws. It isn't given any land or money, and it can’t operate any gambling enterprises, either.
Such a deal.
As the National Review reported, members of the U.S. Commission Civil Rights, who are concerned about the creation of a “race-based government,” and also the process used in drafting this most recent version of the Akaka Bill, sent a letter to members of Congress that said, in part:
The bill slated for a hasty House vote was apparently negotiated behind closed doors among Hawaii’s Congressional delegation, possibly the White House, and certain state officials, although those actually involved are unclear. Indeed, more changes were reportedly made over the weekend and released less than 48 hours prior to the expected House vote. The citizens of Hawaii, Members of the Committees on Natural Resources and the Judiciary, and any other experts will not have the normal opportunity to discuss or debate the revised provisions of the bill. Nor will members of the general public.
We wish to register our profound disappointment that a bill of this great importance would be dealt with in this manner. The creation of the largest tribal entity in the history of the nation – potentially 400,000 strong – is too important a step to take this lightly.
If the feds plan to tell the Hawaiians who is a Hawaiian and the process they’ll be allowed to follow in forming a reorganized government, it seems the least they could have done was conduct hearings in Hawaii to see what the Hawaiians and others think.
So why didn’t they?
Because they knew there wouldn’t be support and they didn’t want the public embarrassment?
Because they didn’t want to give a forum to the people who would come and say we want something better, something else?