Akaka Bill deserves support


POSTED: Friday, April 24, 2009

We were disappointed to read Tuesday's commentary piece (”;Open letter to U.S. President Barack Obama: 'No' to Akaka Bill”;) signed by several opponents of the Akaka Bill. We support the Akaka Bill and believe Hawaiian destiny must be shaped by Hawaiian hands as we focus on moving forward.

It is our firm belief that the majority of Hawaiians do not want to be independent from the U.S. We support the Akaka Bill to perpetuate language, cultural practices, sustain Hawai'i, protect existing programs and rebuild a beloved nation — to honor our ancestors and for current and future generations. Hawaiians deserve no less than what is already in place for American Indians and Alaska natives.

Yes, the 1893 Overthrow was illegal and that is why Congress passed the 1993 Apology Resolution. Like so many others, they want to make this situation pono (right). The bill can help us bring about that positive change. It facilitates self-determination by reaffirming the special legal and political relationship the U.S. has with native Hawaiians. It simply establishes a process for federal recognition, leaving it up to native Hawaiians to decide whether and how to proceed — consistent with the U.S. Constitution. It is the beginning of formal relations with the U.S. and gets us a step closer to reconciliation and resolution.

The Akaka Bill is not being rammed through Congress. Over nine years and several iterations, it has been thoroughly vetted and discussed. Many individuals had input at the 2000 hearings and throughout the years. This remains an issue that virtually all native Hawaiians are aware of, while maintaining high visibility amongst Hawai'i's non-native residents.

In 2005, over 2,000 people and organizations publicly expressed their support in a full-page newspaper ad. We know, and are assured, that widespread and overwhelming support still exists among thoughtful people of all racial and political varieties, as the proper course of long-awaited justice.

Finally, the current version of the Akaka Bill is not confusing. While there are four bills, they act as companions, meaning an almost-identical bill is introduced in the Senate and House. There are effectively two versions: one from January and one from March.

We urge President Obama to support the Akaka Bill and sign it as soon as it reaches his desk — for native Hawaiians and for justice.

Me ka ha'aha'a (with humility),

Robert J. Moore (Kamehameha Schools '53) and Paulette P. Moore (KS '52)
Pearl City