Thursday, November 11, 1999

OHA’s Trask
explains calling
Inouye a ‘one-
armed bandit’

She says the U.S. senator acts
'in outright opposition
to our people'

By Pat Omandam


Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee Mililani Trask says she never intended to offend anyone with a disability or anyone of Japanese ancestry when she referred to U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye as a "one-armed bandit" during an OHA meeting last month.

But she insists Inouye should not upstage upcoming meetings between Hawaiians and federal officials over reconciliation talks. Those stem from a 1993 resolution that apologized for involvement of U.S. citizens in the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy.

"I make no apologies for being a proud Hawaiian," said Trask, an attorney and Hawaiian activist. "But I have watched with a tremendous amount of frustration as those who are not as supportive of Hawaiian rights stonewalled, dragged their feet or simply act in outright opposition to our people and our unstoppable destiny."

At an Oct. 13 OHA government affairs and sovereignty committee, Trask complained about meetings Inouye plans to hold in Hawaii on behalf of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee to discuss the Native Hawaiian Education Act.

Those meetings are scheduled between Nov. 30 and Dec. 2, and occur just before officials from the U.S. Justice and Interior departments begin talks with Hawaiians, between Dec. 4 and 13, on a reconciliation process spelled out in the 1993 resolution.

Trask said her frustration at the timing of both meetings led her to make those remarks about Inouye. The nickname, she said, was originally given to him years ago while he served in World War II. Inouye served with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and lost his right arm on April 21, 1945, while leading an assault on German machine guns in Italy.

"If the shoe fits, he's got to live with it," Trask said yesterday.

In a brief statement issued yesterday, Inouye said he was saddened by Trask's remarks. Inouye said he has spent most of his life doing everything possible to improve the lives and conditions of native Hawaiians. And his work assisting American Indian tribes over the years has earned him much respect from native leaders.

Meanwhile, OHA Chairwoman Rowena Akana blamed the minority of trustees for stirring trouble and divisiveness by alerting the media to Trask's comments.

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