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View Point

By James L. Kuroiwa Jr.

Friday, June 23, 2000

What about non-natives
living in Hawaii?

WHAT about non-Hawaiians residing in Hawaii, those of us whose great-grandparents or grandparents were residents of Hawaii during the monarchy? What about those who were born on the mainland or abroad and now call Hawaii home?

I guess in the heart of Rowena Akana (View Point, June 17) and her supporters, non-Hawaiians do not exist, do not count. I believe we all, native Hawaiians and non-native Hawaiians residing in Hawaii, have a special relationship with each other.

An important part of this special relationship is the democracy, prosperity and stability we have because we are all citizens of the United States.

Akana and her friends continue to use the apology resolution of 1993 to support their demands for sovereignty -- either secession or partition of Hawaii by race -- as well as money, land and power. But the apology resolution was merely a symbolic gesture by Congress on the 100th anniversary of the overthrow recognizing its historical significance.

The resolution apologized for the part played by U.S. agents and citizens. (Four members of the Committee of Safety were Americans who resided in Hawaii, one a Scotsman, one a German and seven subjects of the kingdom.) It recited that when the new president found out what had happened, he recalled the minister, disciplined the captain of the ship and called for restoration of the monarchy.

But the resolution disavowed creation of any claims against the United States. At a brief hearing, Hawaii's senators assured their colleagues that it was not a prelude to secession and "unrelated to any kind of special treatment for native Hawaiians."

The "apology resolution" was passed by Congress with no fact-finding investigation and no hearings for evidence to be presented. The senators received assurance from Sen. Dan Inouye on the Senate floor just before the vote was taken, that the resolution was merely a harmless apology.

When Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., expressed concern about the resolution and asked Inouye about its intention, Inouye said: "I once again say that the suggestion that this resolution was the first step toward declaring independence or seceding from the United States is at best a very painful distortion of our intent.

"To suggest that we are attempting to restore the kingdom, Mr. President, I find it most difficult to find words to even respond to that. No, no, this is not seceding or independence. We fought for statehood long enough and we cherish it and we want to stay there. I can assure you, I do not wish to leave this place.

"So, Mr. President, I hope that our assurance would suffice. After all, we are the authors of this resolution, and that is not our intention. As I tried to convince my colleagues, this is a simple resolution of apology. It is a simple apology."

Gorton responded, "This senator wants to sincerely thank the senior senator from Hawaii for that answer and accepts it as such. This senator believes the senator from Hawaii has said this resolution is unrelated to any kind of special treatment for native Hawaiians."

THE resolution's final sentence (the "disclaimer") clearly states: "Nothing in this joint resolution is intended to serve as a settlement of any claims against the United States."

Akana and her friends seem to think they must test the congressional waters. The Akaka bill may not be acceptable to Congress because it splits Americans apart, the native Hawaiians and the rest of us.

Akana's dream to be appointed to an office in the U.S. Department of the Interior would become a nightmare. That is the same bureaucracy that, acting under laws passed by Congress, has mismanaged Indian affairs for more than a century.

But Akana and the congressional delegation seem to want to sentence Hawaiians to permanent status as "wards" under their supervision. I'm advising my native Hawaiian nieces and nephews to say, "No, thank you."

I was proud to be Hawaiian during basic training at Ft. Ord, Calif., in July 1964. I was riding in a cattle truck towards leadership training school, when I heard a Hawaiian chant in cadence from the "All Hawaii Company" marching to the rifle range.

Leading the All Hawaii Company were large American and Hawaiian flags. All in the truck stood up and watched the All Hawaii Company march by. I felt tremendous pride in my heart in being Hawaiian.

James L. Kuroiwa Jr. is a fourth-generation
American of Japanese ancestry.

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