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January 2006

Hawai`i News

Akaka Bill Not Forgotten

by Rochelle delaCruz

Just as Congress was getting ready to adjourn for the holidays, U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) announced assurances from Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn) and Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) that they will work together to place the Akaka Bill on the calendar when Congress reconvenes in January 2006.

S. 147, also known as the Akaka Bill, would recognize Native Hawaiians as an indigenous people with self-governing rights similar to those of American Indian tribes.

Senators Akaka and Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) have been trying to get the bill through for the past five years. Congressional leaders agreed to bring the bill to the Senate floor by Aug. 7, 2005, which was delayed to Sept. 6th, then further tabled after the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast.

The Senate Majority Leader sets the calendar, and Senator Akaka appears cautiously hopeful that S. 147 will move forward in 2006.

The Akaka Bill is widely debated among Hawaiians and not supported by all. But many see it as a “better than nothing” solution to the illegal overthrow.


Remembering Liberty House

By Rochelle delaCruz

Many of us remember shopping in downtown Honolulu, at what is now the Fort Street Mall. But even before the street was closed off to make it a traffic-free strolling space, everybody, especially those of us visiting from the “outer islands,” enjoyed walking around Fort Street, checking out…Kim Chow Shoes, Kress Store, McInerny, Hartfields. Ming’s (Jewelry Store) was there, and so was Liberty House – remember? Liberty House, that icon of island fashion and style, where gifts were wrapped in shiny, hot-pink boxes and ribbons fastened with the gold LH seal.

Liberty House wasn’t in Hilo when I was growing up, (which is telling you way too much about how long ago it was that I was growing up in Hilo) so anything from Liberty House always announced: Big City! When one of my friends showed up wearing something new but we could tell it wasn’t from Hilo, we’d ask, “Eh, where dat from?” And they’d casually answer, “Oh, Liberty House,” and did I only imagine that they always tossed their head when they said it?

And so it was with some sorrow when we learned that Liberty House was sold to Macy’s a few years ago. Now when I go home to Hawai`i, I’ll occasionally swing by Liberty House/Macy’s, just to see how it’s changed, which it has.

But even worse, I just read that the old Liberty House at the Fort Street Mall, is on a Honolulu city block that is currently up for sale, and redevelopment of the 1.8 acre site could include a 450-foot tower for office, retail, residential or hotel space. Auwe. Liberty House/Macy’s on Fort Street in downtown Honolulu was slowly disappearing, but now it’ll really be gone.

Aloha`oe.

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