GAMBLING ISSUES IN AKAKA BILL CLARIFIED

March 25, 2009, 2:37 PM HST · Updated March 26, 9:29 AM
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U.S. Senators Daniel K. Akaka and Daniel K. Inouye and U.S. Representatives Neil Abercrombie and Mazie K. Hirono today introduced a slightly modified version of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act that clarifies that gambling will not be permitted, in accordance with Hawaii state law.

A statement was issued by the entire Hawaii Delegation today, stating the following: “As an indigenous people that exercised governance until the U.S. overthrow, Native Hawaiians deserve the same opportunity to preserve their culture, language and traditions as indigenous people on the mainland. This change in the legislation should make the bill’s intent clear and remove any distractions from its thoughtful consideration.”

The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act was crafted to provide a process for federal recognition for Native Hawaiians, similar to the government-to-government relationship provided to American Indians and Alaska Natives.

According to the explanation, all forms of gambling are illegal in Hawaii and the Native Hawaiian Government will be subject to all state and federal laws.

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The delegation reintroduced the bill with specific language prohibiting gaming in an effort to clarify that the intent of the bill is not to legalize gambling. The gaming prohibition language was derived from legislation introduced in the 110th Congress (S. 310/H.R. 505). Other than this one provision, the bill is identical to the version introduced on February 4, 2009.

The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act specifically does three things:

  • It establishes the Office within the Department of the Interior to serve as a liaison between Native Hawaiians and the United States.
  • It establishes the Native Hawaiian Task Force to be composed of federal officials from agencies which administer Native Hawaiian programs. The Task Force to be lead by the Department of Interior and Department of Justice.
  • It provides a process of reorganization of a Native Hawaiian government for the purpose of a federally recognized government-to-government relationship with the United States.

Senator Akaka, who has been the driving force behind the bill, sees the process as important for all people of Hawaii to resolve longstanding issues resulting form the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

(Posted by Wendy OSHER © 2009)

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