By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The chairman of the Senate Committee of Indian Affairs related last week that he will retire at the end of his term. Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), a Native Hawaiian who previously served 13 years in the House of Representatives, made the announcement on Wednesday, March 2. He will have served a total of 22 years in the Senate following his retirement.
“I feel that the end of this Congress is the right time for me to step aside,” he said. “It has been a great honor and privilege to serve the people of Hawaii.”
“I have always strived to serve the people with much love and aloha, never forgetting my humble beginnings, and it is my hope that they, took will continue this tradition,” Sen. Akaka commented. “We must never forget that we, as political leaders, work for the people of Hawaii and not the special interests.”
President Obama commented on Sen. Akaka’s pending retirement, “Danny Akaka answered the call to serve right after high school by joining the Army Corps of Engineering during World War II. When he returned to Honolulu, he continued to serve the people of Hawaii as an educator before embarking on more than three decades of distinguished service in both houses of Congress. Danny spent his career fighting for our troops, veterans and their families and for the rights of Native Hawaiians.”
For many years, Sen. Akaka has worked on the Native Hawaiian Reorganization Act which has passed the House several times, but continues to stall in the Senate.
The National Congress of American Indians honored him at its Winter Session with the Congressional Leadership Award. “Senator Akaka is the only indigenous member of the Senate, and has served as a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs since 1991 and demonstrated long-standing interest in supporting tribal self determination and honoring federal trust and treaty responsibilities to Indian Tribes,” read NCAI’s award nomination.
Sen. Akaka addressed NCAI at the Winter Session on Tuesday, March 1. “I am proud to join you in my capacity as the new chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs,” he told the crowd. “It will be an honor to continue the important work of this Committee. I look forward to working with you all to ensure that the United States fulfills its trust obligations to our nation’s first peoples.”
He told tribal leaders that their thoughts and opinions are foremost in his mind and that he will be seeking their input through roundtables and listening sessions.
“I know that our native communities sometimes feel that their voices are not heard in Congress,” he said, “But, I will fight to make sure that your voice is heard and that your concerns are addressed.”
For more information on the Senator, visit https://akaka.senate.gov/.