Apr 142011
 
00308874

From time to time, we like to look at the state of law, policy, and economics regarding the many federally-recognized Indian tribes.  What does this have to do with Hawaii?  Simple–one of the functions of this project is to explore the full story behind the implications of and motivations for the Akaka Bill.  Mostly, we look at granting and policy related to Native Hawaiians.  But, the relentless push for federal recognition of a Native Hawaiian “tribe” means that the political and economic implications of tribal policy is of vital importance to anyone who wants to fully consider what an Akaka Bill-based “tribe” will mean for Hawaii.

One of the ironies of this is that–as incomplete a picture that we may have of spending related to Native Hawaiians (and this project is a pioneer in that field), less is known about the details of federal spending regarding the more than 500 tribes listed in the Federal Register as Indian Entities Recognized and Eligible To Receive Services From the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs. Fortunately, through the work of some dedicated researchers, we are able to offer this initial list–an audit of federal Indian policy dollars.  Of course, there’s a lot more work to do, and we can always use some more help.  So check it out and contact us at 4hawaiiansonly@gmail.com if you’re interested in helping add to the research.

Click Here to Download the Audit of Federal Indian Policy Dollars.

Apr 102011
 
vote

It’s baaaack!

Call it the Frankenstein of bad legislation.  The Akaka Bill is back in the Senate.  And while some pundits don’t give it much of a future in the House of Representatives, the Senate gave it a hearing this past Thursday.  In truth, there is far too much riding on this bill for opponents to ever feel secure about defeating it.  At least, not unless there is a change in the culture that has created this issue.  Part of this is the misapprehension that Native Hawaiians are, as a group, severely disadvantaged . . . a myth that some have done nothing to refute, even though you might imagine that it might be nice to see a little good news now and again.  And so–in order to better inform the discussion–consider the latest US census information about Native Hawaiians:

Census Bureau Reports Revenue for Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-Owned Businesses Increased 52 Percent from 2002 to 2007

The number of Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses increased 31.1 percent between 2002 and 2007, to 37,957 businesses, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. These businesses generated $6.5 billion in receipts in 2007, a 51.6 percent increase from 2002. In contrast, the total number of U.S. businesses increased 17.9 percent between 2002 and 2007; total business receipts rose 32.9 percent.

These new data come from the Survey of Business Owners: Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-Owned Businesses: 2007.

http://www.census.gov/econ/sbo/

The survey provides detailed information every five years for Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses, including the number of firms, sales and receipts, number of paid employees and annual payroll.

Data are presented by geographic area (nation, state, county, city and metro area), industry and size of business. Preliminary national and state data were released in July 2010.

“This important look at the economic activity of Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses is the only comprehensive and regularly collected data on this group,” said Tom Mesenbourg, deputy director of the Census Bureau. “These data confirm that businesses owned by Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders continue to grow both in number and in sales at rates that are faster than national rates for all businesses.”

People of Native Hawaiian origin owned 55.6 percent of all Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses in 2007. Guamanian- or Chamorro-owned businesses accounted for 9.6 percent, Samoan-owned businesses for 8.0 percent, and businesses owned by people of Other Pacific Islander descent, for 24.6 percent.

States with the highest number of Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses were Hawaii, with 11,383 (30.0 percent of all Native Hawaiian- and Pacific Islander-owned businesses nationwide), and California, with 9,255 (24.4 percent).

Among counties, Honolulu had the largest number of Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses, with 6,721; followed by Los Angeles, with 2,804; Maui, with 2,111; and Hawaii, with 1,722.

Among metropolitan areas, Honolulu had the largest number of Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses, with 6,721 (17.7 percent of all Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses nationwide), followed by Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, with 3,675 (9.7 percent).

Other highlights:

* Of the 37,957 Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses in 2007, 4,172 had paid employees. These businesses employed 38,750 people, an increase of 32.2 percent, and their payrolls totaled $1.3 billion, an increase of 54.1 percent from 2002. Employer business receipts totaled $5.4 billion, an increase of 54.4 percent. Average receipts of these firms were $1.3 million.

* The number of Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses with no paid employees totaled 33,785, an increase of 33.8 percent. These nonemployers’ business receipts totaled $1.1 billion. Average receipts of these firms were $31,991.

* The number of Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses with receipts of $1.0 million or more was 884 in 2007.

* The number of Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses with 100 or more employees increased from 28 to 37 (32.1 percent).

* Construction and retail trade accounted for 44.1 percent of all Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned business receipts.

The Survey of Business Owners defines Native Hawaiian- and Other Pacific Islander-owned businesses as firms in which Native Hawaiians, Guamanians, Chamorros, Samoans, and Other Pacific Islanders own 51 percent or more of the equity, interest or stock of the business. Additional data from the survey highlighting other minority- and veteran-owned businesses will be issued over the next few months. Subsequently, separate data sets will be issued highlighting additional characteristics of all businesses and their owners.

-X-

The Survey of Business Owners is conducted every five years as part of the economic census. The 2007 survey collected data from a sample of more than 2.3 million businesses. Data collected in a sample survey are subject to sampling variability, as well as nonsampling errors. Sources of nonsampling errors include errors of response, nonreporting and coverage. More details concerning the SBO survey design, methodology and data limitations can be found at <http://www.census.gov/econ/sbo/methodology.html>.

Apr 032011
 
Give Me a Break Stossel

One of the complaints I hear from time to time about our catalog of Native Hawaiian grants is that I must be wrong about the amount of money and number of grants involved since Native Hawaiians still have so many troubles (economic or otherwise).  Well, yes and no.

Far be it from me to pass judgment on how much trouble anyone has, regardless of his or her ethnicity.  Times are tough out there for (mostly) everyone, including Native Hawaiians.  Though quite a few of them (the ones who benefited from the multi-million dollar federal contracting preferences leap to mind) who appear to be doing pretty well.  But all that is beside the point.  The question is how so much money can be put to use for so little (in the opinion of the complainer) result.  And to that, I can only say . . . what else do you expect from government-based efforts to help?  I bring up American Indian tribal affairs from time to time on this blog–not just because there can be some interesting parallels, but also because the drive for the Akaka Bill’s passage tells us that these examples are signs of things to come.  So I think it might be worthwhile to look at Barry Farber’s recent column about John Stossel’s recent piece of investigative journalism (I’ve left a bit of a historical cliffhanger, so you’ll have to go the full article to finish the story):

Now here comes John Stossel, fellow WND columnist, over the weekend of March 26 with one of the best pieces in television history: “Freeloaders,” a Fox News special delivering stomp-down proof that Indian tribes that are not recognized as tribes by the government and get no federal handouts are more successful than those on the federal dole. Stossel visited the Lumbee tribe of North Carolina, whose members get nothing from the government. They’re generally successful in business. Many live in luxury mansions. In contrast, the Indians embraced by the feds live in what look like tar-paper shacks.

In boxing, John Stossel’s interview with Elizabeth Homer, who used to be the government nanny of the recognized tribes, would have been canceled as a mismatch or halted on a TKO early in Round 1. She was pitifully unable to defend government stewardship over Native Americans as anything but the failure of socialism.

I’ll never quit thanking Stossel for giving me Part 4 of my standard answer to the question, “How can you flat-out say that capitalism is better for the masses than socialism?” Up to now I’ve had three examples: free and prosperous Finland, which began its national life simultaneously with its dysfunctional Communist Russian neighbor; West Berlin, delivering mortal embarrassment to Communist East Berlin every day of the latter’s existence; and Hong Kong, when it was British and free right next to Communist China. Now I add: the Lumbees, up against all the tribes spoon-fed by Washington.

So, pleasure-wise, what’s in this for me? Unless Stossel over-Googled, I’ll bet you he didn’t know something real nice about the Lumbees, whose independent prosperity he covered so splendidly. It’s something I’ve known for years.

In January 1958, the Ku Klux Klan in Robeson County, N.C., staged a rally to put the allegedly uppity Lumbee Indians back in their “proper” racial place. The Lumbees are totally integrated Americans, but they bought some feathers and face-paint and, just as the Klansmen were about to torch the giant cross, able-bodied male Lumbees costumed like the “Indians” of our childhood stormed into the Klan clearing from all directions, war-whooping and putting the white-clad racists to rout.

Mar 242011
 
Seal Of The State Of Hawaii

Over on Hawaii Reporter (which I swear doesn’t do anything to get all these mentions here except produce a broader and more fearless variety of opinions than the vast majority of other Hawaii news sources), Ken Conklin has an interesting take on the most recent effort of the Hawaii Legislature to rewrite history.  The article is worth reading in its entirety (not least of all for the impassioned discussion of the ultimate effect of these endless muddled legislative exercises in pandering), but here are the highlights:

House Concurrent Resolution 107 (HCR107) in the Hawaii legislature would establish “a joint legislative investigating committee to investigate the status of two executive agreements entered into in 1893 between United States President Grover Cleveland and Queen Liliuokalani of the Hawaiian Kingdom, called the Liliuokalani assignment and the agreement of restoration.”

The investigating committee would be empowered to “Issue subpoenas requiring the attendance and testimony of the witnesses and subpoenas duces tecum requiring the production of books, documents, records, papers, or other evidence in any matter pending before the joint investigating committee; … Administer oaths and affirmations to witnesses at hearings of the joint investigating committee; Report or certify instances of contempt as provided in section 21—14, Hawaii Revised Statutes …”

….

The purpose of such an investigation is not merely to do academic research on an obscure historical question from 118 years ago. The purposes are to claim that the U.S. had an obligation to restore Liliuokalani to the throne; and to claim that the obligation of the President of the United States continues to this day to restore the Kingdom of Hawaii to its former status as an independent nation.

Throughout my nineteen years in Hawaii I have seen the legislature repeatedly pass bills and resolutions encouraging some sort of race-based Hawaiian political entity, or sovereign independence. Year after year: Let’s pay for an election of delegates to a Native Hawaiian convention, and years of their travel expenses for meetings, so they can choose the tribal concept or write a constitution for an independent nation; let’s pass a resolution in 2002 asking the United Nations to investigate the legitimacy of Hawaii’s admission to statehood in 1959; let’s support the Akaka bill in Congress; let’s proclaim April 30 of every year a permanent holiday called “Hawaiian Restoration Day”; let’s create a state-recognized tribe with a state-only version of the Akaka bill; let’s transfer $200 Million in land or money to OHA; etc. etc. ad nauseum.

Why? All these legislative actions have accomplished is to stir up racial animosity, feelings of entitlement, etc. Hopes are raised for some people who want land and money from the rest of us, and then those hopes come crashing down. Over and over again. Remember the Aloha Airlines plane that had a huge hole ripped out of its side in mid-flight, due to metal fatigue caused by too many takeoffs and landings? That’s what resolutions like this are doing to all Hawaii’s people, and to ethnic Hawaiians in particular.

NB: Be sure to read the whole article to see the main points of Mr. Conklin’s testimony against the Resolution.

Mar 202011
 
00305770

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has just announced the award of $329,000 in “Community-Based Economic Development” grants to nine programs that will help make Native Hawaiians “economically successful and self-sufficient.”  You know, when you read enough grant-type literature, that kind of phrasing really starts to drive you crazy.  It seems like there are two kinds of “economic development” grants.  The first are trendy experimental things, like programs that believe that the way to reaching economic independence is by creating green businesses based on sustainable local agriculture and traditional customs.  Or something on that line.  Frankly, considering all the grants that seem to involve “sustainable agriculture,” “green something or other,” or “community kitchens,” one begins to wonder whether there are all that many Native Hawaiians who even want to work on these things. Goodness know I wouldn’t.  I would be very depressed if I was struggling to get back on my feet and my big charitable break was being sent to work on a sustainable taro farm.  I can’t help but feel that there’s not a lot of room for another taro millionaire.

The other kind of “economic development” project are what used to be considered simple charity back before grant writing became a profession.  Things like helping the recently incarcerated get back on their feet or helping people finish their education.  Now that they have to compete for funding with programs that present funding a poi factory as a major act of empowerment, the programs that simply help people get back on their feet have to recast themselves as “community-based economic development.”  The whole thing makes you long for the relative simplicity of legalese.   In any case, here are the latest batch of OHA grants:

Ali‘i Pauahi Hawaiian Civic Club – $50,000 to support the establishment of a tissue culture clean room laboratory at Ka Mahi‘ai ‘Ihi O Wailea on Hawai‘i Island to increase maile production.

WorkNet Inc. – $50,000 to provide training and job opportunities to 60 participants in WorkNet C.A.F.E. (WorkNet Culinary Arts for Entrepreneurs), a hands-on course in the Food Service and Maintenance industries for jobs and/or continuing education at the high school and community college levels. At least 36 of the participants will be Hawaiians who are emerging from correctional facilities or the Federal Detention Center.

Mana Maoli – $49,705 to support the CD component of the Puolo Mana Maoli Project. The CD production process will include 10 culture-based charter schools that have agreed to contribute one track each to this CD component. This project will work with youth on improving their skills in creating, performing and recording music as well as the business and marketing aspects of the project.

SCORE Hawai‘i – $40,000 to provide training and technical assistance (counseling, advising and mentoring as well as conducting workshops) to improve the success of Hawaiian entrepreneurs.

Kula no na Po‘e Hawai‘i – $39,520 to support the homestead yard service/maintenance training program that prepares youth to operate a yard-service business serving Papakölea, Kewalo and Kaläwahine Streamside.

Alternative Structures International (dba ‘Ohana Ola ‘O Kahumana) – $25,000 to support the teaching of aquaponics to families with persons with disabilities and homeless families with children. The teaching aims to help them become self-sufficient and sustainable, as well as promote a healthier lifestyle and provide training and technical assistance for additional income and business opportunity.

Women in Need – $25,000 to support the WIN Bridge to Success program, which provides transitional housing for women with children. The program will help Native Hawaiian participants to gain the skills and personal development tools needed to become self-sufficient and productive members of the community.

Family Promise of Hawai‘i – $25,000 to support its work to help at least 20 Native Hawaiian families with housing and employment services. Through the services of Family Promise of Hawai‘i, more than 80 percent of participants transitioned from homelessness to housing, usually in three to four months.

Corvette Center Ministries (dba Zion ‘Ïpuka) – $24,616 to improve the lives of Native Hawaiians by providing nutritious food, transitional housing, drug rehabilitation, and educational and vocational programs.

Mar 152011
 
00175559

If you know your way around this site, you know that there are two ways of perusing the many, many grants we’ve recorded.  Many.  Many, many, many.  It’s overwhelming actually.  And overwhelming is kind of the point.  No matter where you stand on the issue of Native Hawaiian sovereignty or the Akaka Bill, if you’ve checked out the grants here, you cannot fairly say that Native Hawaiians receive no support or help.  There may be any number of cultural or socio-economic issues at play in the question of how Native Hawaiians fare in society.  But if you’re looking for a reason to support the Akaka Bill, the claim that Native Hawaiians get no government resources is laughable in light of the evidence here.

Anyway, for those who just want an overview, there’s the quick list that can be viewed here.  And for those who want to dig a little deeper, there’s the wiki/database of grants that can be viewed here.  (And as a reminder: if you have any information or feedback to share on any grant, be sure to email us at 4hawaiiansonly@gmail.com so that we can add that information to the wiki.  Frequent or especially helpful researchers are given their own log-ins to update at will.)

Recently, we added some information to our quick grant list that was previously only available in the wiki–you can now see at a glance which grants come from federal agencies and which from state departments.  It’s no surprise to see that the federal portion of the grants on the list so far is slightly higher–a total of approximately $265,666,125 spent since fiscal year 2007.  As for approximate state spending, it comes to a more modest (but still considerable) $56,201,112 for the same period of time.  That’s more than the annual budget for a few different state departments.  For a state that struggles with budget and deficit problems, that’s almost real money.

Mar 062011
 
daniel-akaka

Senator Akaka has announced that he will not be running for reelection at the end of his current term.  For his years of service to the Islands, we thank him and bid him a fond farewell.

However (and you knew this was coming, didn’t you?), the fact that Senator Akaka is a nice old guy who’s retiring doesn’t really change anything about the legislation that bears his name.  Senator Akaka’s retirement should have no bearing on the future of the Akaka Bill.  Since his announcement, it has not become a better idea, less divisive, or more constitutional.  It is still bad for Hawaii.  And yet, believe it or not, you will hear (and already have if you read the Maui News) the argument that we should push for passage of the Bill as a final salute/gesture of respect to the retiring Senator.  When you think about it, it’s hard to come up with a more absurd reason to support legislation.  One wonders if that argument could possibly change anyone’s mind.  (“Sure, I thought it was a flawed and bad law, but since he’s retiring, heck, let’s do him a solid and pass it anyway.”)

In fact, here at 4HawaiiansOnly, we’ll make the counter-argument.  Senator Akaka has provided many years of service to Hawaii, which we respect even if we didn’t agree with his political positions on some issues.  But let’s not sully his legacy with a knee-jerk passage of a law that will become a hornet’s nest of litigation, constitutionality questions, and economic and racial strife for Hawaiians.  He deserves better than that.

And on a slightly different note . . . am I the only one wondering what we’re going to call the Native Hawaiian Reorganization Act once Senator Akaka has retired?  (Because there’s way too much money and political power at stake for the bill to retire along with the Senator.)  Maybe we could have a naming contest for it.  I suggest either “The Slow Deterioration of Hawaii Act” or maybe just “Bob.”

Feb 262011
 
capitol

By Carl Horowitz

This column was originally published in Townhall.

If ever a federal agency were a candidate for termination, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) would make for a good choice. The BIA combines patronage and ethnic separatism into a single package, wasting sizable tax dollars in the process. Yet few in Congress have the stomach for a fight with supporters of the bureau, now with a roughly $2.7 billion annual budget. That’s not the only Indian agency in need of serious downsizing.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs actually goes back nearly two centuries. Secretary of War John Calhoun virtually single-handedly created the BIA in 1824 to oversee treaty negotiations, conduct trade, establish budgets, and operate schools. In 1849, Congress moved the bureau from the War Department to the new Interior Department, where it since has been housed. In recent decades, the agency has become a conduit through which tribal leaders and their allies can accrue money and influence. It’s a variation on what public choice economists call “regulatory capture,” in which firms – especially large ones – effectively dictate policies and practices to the regulator, so as to maximize competitive advantage.

The current system is a by-product of periodic warfare beginning in the early-17th century and lasting through most of the 19th century. There are now 565 federally-recognized Indian (including Alaskan) tribes in this land of ours, representing nearly two million persons. Indian territories comprise some 55 million surface acres. Crucially, a tribe operates under a federal grant of sovereign status. Taken as a whole, Indian tribes are a loose confederacy of mini-nations, each with its own elected tribal government overseeing courts, schools, job training, health care, infrastructure development, and on due occasion, casinos.

Within their respective reservations, tribal leaders enjoy enormous power. Too often, they and employees use this power as a cover for corruption. Recent cases abound. At the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in northeastern Montana, for example, six office employees – two federal and four tribal – pleaded guilty last year to embezzling roughly $400,000 from a tribal credit program. In Oklahoma, Dawena Pappan, former secretary-treasurer for the Tonkawa tribe, pleaded guilty in federal court that year to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in casino proceeds with help from other Tonkawa officers.

Want more? Emily Anne Sauppity, secretary-treasurer of the Apache of Oklahoma, was found guilty by a federal jury of embezzling $46,068 in oil and gas royalty taxes, though her actual thefts amounted to nearly $108,000. Evelyn James, former president of the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe in Arizona pleaded guilty to theft and money-laundering of nearly $300,000 in Justice Department community policing funds. And about a dozen persons, including two former tribal officials, pleaded guilty or were found guilty in Oklahoma City federal court to embezzling about $750,000 from the Lucky Star Casinos, operated by the Cheyenne and Arapaho of Oklahoma.

It isn’t just Bureau of Indian Affairs funds that have made their way into the pockets of crooks. In mid-2008, for example, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report revealing that the Indian Health Service (IHS), part of the Department of Health and Human Services, during fiscal years 2004-07 “lost” about 5,000 pieces of medical equipment with an acquisition value of $15.8 million. In a follow-up evaluation audit released in June 2009, the GAO noted: “IHS continues to lose property at an alarming rate, reporting lost or stolen property with an acquisition value of about $3.5 million in a little over a year…” Missing items included a $170,000 ultrasound unit, a $100,795 mammography X-ray machine, and various dental chairs and diagnostic monitors.

Far bigger piles of loot, however, can be made legally. Class-action lawsuits are one route. Over the past few months, Indian plaintiffs and their attorneys managed to coax massive settlements from the federal government in two longstanding unrelated civil suits. Last October, lawyers for tens of thousands of Indians corralled a $760 million agreement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as compensation for credit discrimination against Native American farmers and ranchers. Known as Keepseagle v. Vilsack and originally filed by a Sioux couple in North Dakota in 1999 as a copycat of the Pigford (i.e., “black farmer”) lawsuit, the case did not uncover any specific acts of willful discrimination. In the other lawsuit, Congress in November created a $3.4 billion trust fund to be shared by an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 Indians, pursuant to the settlement in Cobell v. Salazar, in which the plaintiffs had alleged that the Interior Department for decades had squandered royalties due individual Indians for extracted oil, gas, timber and other natural resources from tribal lands. The details of the case suggest a well-planned and executed plaintiff shakedown.

An even bigger street-legal money maker is casino gambling. In 1988, Congress enacted and President Reagan signed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), which recognized “the right of Indian tribes in the United States to establish gambling and gaming facilities on their reservations as long as the states in which they are located have some form of legalized gambling.” This legislation effectively conferred monopoly rights upon a tribe to operate a casino on its property, subject to regulation by the National Indian Gaming Commission. These enterprises are immune from state regulation. Moreover, they are exempt from federal income taxation, though state governments may tax a portion of slot machine revenues.

Currently, some 220 recognized Native American tribes operate a combined roughly 400 Class I, II and III (casinos fit under the latter category) gaming facilities. Given the seemingly limitless capacity of Americans to place wagers, this has meant big bucks. The Foxwoods Resort Casino in southeastern Connecticut, owned by the Mashantucket Western Pequot Tribal Nation, thanks to several expansions, has become the largest hotel-casino complex in the U.S. Featuring 7,200 slot machines and 380 table games, the luxury facility takes in roughly $1.5 billion annually from combined gaming and non-gaming sources. Right down the road is the nation’s second largest casino venue, the Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino. Owned by the Mohegan tribe, this high-end getaway destination features 300,000 square feet of gaming space within three casinos. The Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California isn’t exactly small time either, containing 200,000 square feet of gaming space and 3,400 slot machines.

All told, Indian gaming in 2009 took in $26.5 billion in revenues. This represents an explosive increase from $100 million in 1988, the year of IGRA passage.

Someone out there is getting rich. And it isn’t just tribal leaders and outside investors. Tribes operate with a grant of monopoly privilege. Remaining shielded from competition requires gaining access to federal and state legislators to vote the right way. That’s where lobbyists come in. The 2006 final report of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, chaired by John McCain, R-Ariz., revealed that Jack Abramoff, though an extreme example (hence, the superficially satisfying cliché, “disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff”), was part of a larger “come and get it” political culture. A former BIA official, Wayne Smith, grandson of a Sioux chief, explained to CBS News at the time: “I had lobbyists…tell me that ‘It was our time, this is our time to make some money in the Indian game arena. We worked hard to get this president elected, and we expect to be rewarded for it.’” What matters here is that influence-buying is a product of tribal sovereignty and monopoly privilege. “Lobbyists” – love them or hate them – will always be around to service an Indian client’s political needs under this scenario.

If all this theft and influence-peddling amounted to nothing more than a few anecdotes, it would be easy to minimize their importance. Such behavior can be found in any type of organization, whether government agencies, corporations, unions, philanthropies or churches. Yet these cases, in fact, represent a fraction of widespread criminal and otherwise ethically-challenged activity. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the system of tribal governance, with an able assist from Washington, is dysfunctional.

Bureaucratic client capture offers a partial explanation for this state of affairs. The ultimate problem is the setting aside of territory and public funds to accommodate Indian “nations.” Indian identity politics, at bottom, is about irredentism – the condition of two or more ethnic, linguistic or religious groups claiming sovereignty over the same territory. Many Indians have a deep attachment to ancient lands they believe were stolen by the white man. The federal government can’t bottle up their sense of moral entitlement. But it doesn’t have to subsidize it either.

Despite our best efforts, separatism and corruption appear to have become more pronounced over the past few decades. The late Sixties and early Seventies witnessed the aggressive rise of Indian identity politics, culminating in passage by Congress of the Indian Self-Determination and Educational Assistance Act (1975) and the Indian Child Welfare Act (1978). Lawmakers further encouraged decentralization of authority in 1991 with the Tribal Self-Governance Demonstration Project Act. With larger budgets and fewer strings attached, opportunities for corruption have increased, especially as the BIA itself has come to be heavily staffed by Indian activists.

Ending the network of incestuous relationships and accompanying corruption requires that Congress do the unthinkable: Abolish the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Health Service and all other federal agencies that serve Native American interests. These agencies have outlived whatever usefulness they had. Lawmakers also ought to end the practice of formal tribal recognition. Why should Cheyenne, Choctaw, Mohawk or Sioux sovereign “nations” exist within our borders, any more than Dutch, Irish, Italian or Polish ethnic ones? It is one thing for members of a particular tribe to live in close proximity, preferring their own company. It is entirely another for Americans as a whole to be coerced into subsidizing this tribal confederacy, an arrangement that is not only costly, but also corrosive of national identity.

Back in the late 1940s, Congress set up a commission on executive branch reorganization, chaired by former President Herbert Hoover. Among its hundreds of recommendations, the Hoover Commission concluded that assimilation of Indians into the mainstream of American society must be a top priority. More than six decades later, our nation remains a long way from realizing that goal. Dismantling the Indian bureaucracy would be a major step in that direction.

Carl F. Horowitz is director of the Organized Labor Accountability Project of the National Legal and Policy Center, a Townhall.com Gold Partner organization dedicated to promoting ethics in American public life.

Feb 252011
 
Skibine

Want to know how big and unusual an endeavor a research project like the 4hawaiiansonly site is?  As of October 2010, the Federal Register listed 565 Native American tribes as Indian Entities Recognized and Eligible To Receive Services From the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs. Federal funds flows to those tribes, just as it does to Native Hawaiians, but as you can see in the video below (captured at the 2010 CERA Conference), even the Department of the Interior doesn’t know the scope of the money involved.  Watch carefully as George Skibine, Director of the Office of Indian Gaming within the Department of the Interior and Acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, confesses that the federal government doesn’t really follow the money, and clearly isn’t interested in doing so:

Feb 202011
 
iolani

The Wall Street Journal has a nice little feature piece about the effort to restore the furnishings in Iolani Palace.  As is so often the case with features, it’s heavy on the neat-o factor, and maybe not-so-rigorous on the historical fact checking.  As a general rule, I like the Journal.  And I like the whole historical restoration thing.  I once spent an entire Saturday glued to an Antiques Roadshow marathon.  So I get the whole Hawaiian-heirlooms-might-be-in-your-attic approach of the piece.  But I also can’t let them slide on historical revisionism, and unfortunately, there’s a bit of inaccuracy to the piece, primarily this paragraph:

But much of the 19th-century palace’s custom-made furniture, oil paintings and other treasures disappeared after January 1893, when a small band of businessmen overthrew the monarchy.

The people of Hawaii need to take a little more pride in and responsibility for the democratic revolt that led to the end of the monarchy.  Monarchies are lovely romantic things when you get the leisure of looking back on them, but most of us prefer the liberty and rights that flow from our representative democracy.  Anyway, thanks to Ken Conklin, whose addition to the comments section clears up this slight inaccuracy:

Contrary to the article’s description, the Hawaiian revolution of 1893 was not done merely by a group of American businessmen.  About 1500 men had met in the Armory a couple days earlier to rally for the revolution, and the largest contingent among them were Portuguese.  Half of the members of the Committee of Safety, who led the revolution, were native-born subjects of the Kingdom.

It is certainly true that there was vandalism at the Palace, which is typical of every revolution worldwide.  And later the revolutionary Provisional Government held an auction and sold off many of the treasures from the Palace — but the Palace and its contents were the property of the government both before and after the revolution, so the government had every right to sell them.  The ex-queen’s private home a couple blocks away was never vandalized, and none of her private property was stolen.