2008 Presidential Election, Race and Racism
Professor Vernellia Randall
Speaking Truth to Power!

Obama Supports Aaka Bill


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News from Indian Country


Honolulu, Hawaii (AP) 1-08

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said he would sign the Akaka Bill recognizing Native Hawaiians if elected president.

Obama said in a statement he supports federal recognition for Native Hawaiians because they are an important part of the local culture. The bill would fulfill the promise of “liberty, justice and freedom” for Native Hawaiians and ensure they are not left out of the state’s progress, he said.

“The process set forth in this important legislation empowers Native Hawaiians to explore and address the long-standing issues resulting from the overthrow of the kingdom of Hawaii,” he said.

The legislation known as the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act would give Native Hawaiians the right to form a governing entity similar to those of Native Americans that could negotiate with state and federal governments over control of natural resources, lands and assets.

The legislation is often referred to as the Akaka Bill after its author, Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii.

The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives last year and awaits a vote in the Senate. President Bush has threatened to veto the bill, saying it would divide Americans along lines of race and ethnicity.

Akaka two years ago unsuccessfully tried to force an up-or-down vote on the bill in the Senate. Obama and Democratic rival Hillary Clinton supported that effort.

State Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, a spokeswoman for the Clinton campaign in Hawaii, said she thinks Clinton would also sign the bill.

Hanabusa, D-Nanakuli-Makua, pointed to former President Bill Clinton’s 1993 signing of an apology resolution that recognized the overthrow of the kingdom of Hawaii in 1893. That resolution laid out a process for recognizing a Native Hawaiian governing entity.


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