Wednesday, November 17, 1999

Akaka suggests goals for
reconciliation talks

By Pat Omandam


U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka has told the Office of Hawaiian Affairs that a goal of reconciliation talks next month should be the creation of a native Hawaiian office in the U.S. Department of Interior.

Akaka also wants OHA and the federal government to set up a framework to handle longstanding issues such as ceded lands and sovereignty. And he wants to take maximum advantage of the time left under the Clinton administration to focus on actions to better the conditions of Hawaiians.

In a Nov. 8 letter to OHA, Akaka shared his three objectives for reconciliation, which he described as a means for healing between the federal government and native Hawaiians to resolve an array of issues.

A Hawaiian office in the Interior Department would assure "permanency" to these continuing talks.

Akaka, sensitive to concerns by some who believe the federal government should not decide Hawaiian sovereignty, said the reconciliation efforts were never intended to be unilaterally determined by the federal government. Rather, he likens it to an evolving process between federal officials, Hawaiians and Hawaii's congressional delegation.

"I cannot emphasize enough the point that reconciliation is a continuing and evolving process, the outcome of which will be determined by native Hawaiians," Akaka wrote.

OHA trustee Haunani Apoliona called Akaka's objectives a good beginning. She believes having at least a desk at the Interior Department will mean having some voice in Washington, D.C.

"It's important that Hawaiians speak their minds, speak what they believe in and not what someone tells them to say," Apoliona said yesterday.

John Berry, assistant secretary of policy, management and budget at the Department of Interior, and Mark Van Norman, director of the Office of Tribal Justice at the Department of Justice, will be in Hawaii from Dec. 4-13 to meet publicly with Hawaiians as part of reconciliation efforts called for in U.S. Public Law 103-150, known as the apology resolution.

The Nov. 3, 1993, resolution, passed on the 100th anniversary of the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom, apologizes to native Hawaiians on behalf of the people of the United States for the overthrow that involved agents and citizens of the United States. The resolution calls for President Clinton to support reconciliation efforts between the United States and Hawaiians.

The reconciliation talks will be held from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 10-11 at the East-West Center on the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus.

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