Saturday, July 24, 1999

U.S. names two
to help reconcile
Hawaiian status,
land issues

The liaisons are to help build
equity and responsibility

By Pat Omandam


The federal government has named representatives to work with Hawaiians as part of a reconciliation effort called for under the 1993 resolution that apologized to Hawaiians for the overthrow of the kingdom.

U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D, Hawaii), who authored the resolution, said this week that U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno designated Office of Tribal Justice Director Mark Van Norman as a liaison to the native Hawaiian community.

Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt named Interior Assistant Secretary John Berry as the liaison for the Interior Department.

These men will address political status and ceded-land issues regarding Hawaii's native people, he said.

Akaka said the two will help build a foundation of equity and moral responsibility among the parties which he hopes will eventually resolve long-standing Hawaiian issues.

"Ultimately, the only way to remedy the lack of self-determination rights for native Hawaiians is through congressional action," Akaka said.

"However, Congress cannot do this alone. Consultation between federal agencies and native Hawaiians is a necessity."

As one of five indigenous groups under U.S. jurisdiction -- the others are American Indians, Alaskan natives, American Samoans and Chamorros of Guam and the Northern Marianas -- native Hawaiians are the only group denied the right to self-determination under current law, Akaka said.

American Indians and Alaskan natives can gain federal recognition through the Interior Department's Bureau of Indian Affairs as well as through treaties, presidential executive orders, statutes and case law. Under international law, American Samoans and Chamorros have sovereignty rights to pursue full independence from, seek free association with or integrate with the United States, Akaka explained.

The Nov. 23, 1993, resolution, commonly referred to as President Clinton's apology resolution, acknowledges, recognizes and apologizes to Hawaiians on behalf of the people of the United States for the participation of American citizens in the overthrow of the kingdom of Hawaii on Jan. 17, 1893. That action deprived Hawaiians the right of self-determination, it said.

The resolution also urges the president to acknowledge the ramifications of the overthrow and to support reconciliation efforts between the United States and native Hawaiians.

Some Hawaiian activists believe passage of the resolution is legal basis for sovereignty from the United States.

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