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Loa: Akaka Bill threatens tribal sovereignty

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I am a tribal chief, the only one in Hawaii, and I am already recognized by the United States. I am not a ''neocon,'' but I have encouraged those who are to oppose the Akaka Bill.

On Feb. 16, Indian Country Today published ''Overcoming neocon campaign against Akaka Bill key for tribal rights'' [Vol. 26, Iss. 37], wherein Alan Parker wrote, ''As I recently pointed out in remarks to the more than 200 tribal delegates attending [January's] Tribal Leaders Forum in San Diego, the highly orchestrated political campaign attacking the Native Hawaiian bill is clearly aimed at U.S. tribes. The Akaka Bill is a proxy for an attack by the neoconservative movement on the right of tribal sovereignty and it is clear that their line of attack would be the same if a tribal sovereignty issue were up for a vote in the Congress.''

I am writing to debunk this hoax. This is really about a contest between ancestry and blood. The U.S. Supreme Court already ruled that in Hawaii, ancestry is a proxy for race.

Those who need an Akaka Bill are descendants primarily of Japanese, Chinese and Filipino immigrants to Hawaii who have one drop of the blood of my people. They make a living by working for the colonial royalist missionary trusts that now own my people's land and by working for the state of Hawaii as ''state Indians.''

Up until 1999, when the U.S. high court removed their unconstitutional foundation in state law, they hated the idea of being categorized as ''tribal'' because they consider it an inferior category to being of ''royal'' lineage. They use the term ''50 percenters'' to refer to us, trying to make blood seem derogatory.

Now, the Asian-Americans who support the bill want a special law just for them, which would actually subordinate the tribal people to the ''royal'' state. It would have the effect of producing a template for replacement of tribal sovereignty by substituting ancestry for blood and replacing tribal governments with departments within a state's government to receive and then hand out federal assistance to ''descendants'' selected from among the public.

Their misguided belief is that this is the new wave of watered-down ''sovereignty,'' and they are leading the way as the means to overcome the blood quantum rules that stymie them with one drop of blood ancestry via the Akaka Bill.

Rather than graciously back down, now that the United States ruled their scheme is not Indian policy, they instead seek to convert all other states to the same upside-down scheme they tried to set up using Hawaii state law. It would make more sense for them to seek federal assistance as Asian-American minorities instead of trying to corrupt tribal law.

I have written in these pages earlier pieces, describing in detail the misrepresentations and distortions that abound in the propaganda being published by spending taxpayer money on lobbyists trying to garner support for this bizarre distortion of tribal law.

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The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, mentioned but not identified as a state government outfit in Mr. Parker's story, is trying to float what is without a doubt the most dangerous twist on tribal sovereignty. It is even more bizarre than the Alaska Scheme.

Imagine in your own states, a state Office of Oneida Affairs, or a state Office of Choctaw Affairs. And imagine that all the citizens of your state elect the ''trustees'' of this office. And imagine that this ''office'' is the recipient of all federal assistance intended for you. And imagine that this ''office'' is staffed by political party insiders who give you some small percentage of this federal assistance in the form of grants, while squirreling away the rest invested as a ''trust'' for future generations.

Well, if you can imagine all this, you know precisely what the state of Hawaii's OHA is up to, since it was this very scheme that the U.S. Supreme Court found unconstitutional.

There is a secret amendment in the Akaka Bill: ''The Indian Non Intercourse Act and the Indian Title and Indian Land Doctrine of the United States never has, does not now and never will apply in Hawaii.''

Imagine if your state had such an exemption, and you will comprehend that this is the hidden agenda designed to preserve the titles to aboriginal land now held by either the state or another of our colonial missionary royalist land trusts by converting their failed hybrid state law/kingdom law scheme into one ''protected'' by a weirdly distorted new version of tribal law. In other words, we are being used - something we know a lot about already.

The United States established homelands exclusively for my people, reserved from public lands in the territory of Hawaii before the state of Hawaii existed to express the Indian land policy of the United States.

In 1790, Congress passed the first Indian Non-Intercourse Act. It reserves the right to acquire Indian lands for the United States to the exclusion of individuals, states, kings and queens. (Act of July 22, 1790, 1 Stat. 137.) It embodied a foundation of the new nation's Indian land doctrine, which was recently restated by the U.S. Supreme Court:

Oneida Indian Nation v. County of Oneida, 414 U.S. 661, 667 (1974) states:

''It very early became accepted doctrine in this Court that although fee title to lands occupied by Indians when the colonists arrived became vested in the sovereign - first, the discovering European nation and, later, the original states and the United States - a right of occupancy in the Indian tribes was nevertheless recognized. That right, sometimes called Indian Title and good against all but the sovereign, could be terminated only by sovereign act. Once the United States was organized and the Constitution adopted, these tribal rights to Indian lands became the exclusive province of the federal law. Indian title, recognized to be only a right of occupancy, was extinguishable only by the United States.''

Maui Loa is chief of the Hou Band of Native Hawaiian Indians of the Blood, Oahu, Hawaii.