Indian Country Champion Senator Daniel Akaka Passes On

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April 9, 2018

Washington, D.C. – April 09, 2018 – It is with a heavy heart that NIGA adds its voice to the many Indian Country who are mourning the passing of a beloved defender of Tribal Sovereignty, Senator Daniel K. Akaka. Senator Akaka passed away on Friday, April 06, 2018. Serving as Hawaii’s Senator from 1990 to his retirement in 2013, he was the first US Senator of Native Hawaiian ancestry. 

Born in 1924, Senator Akaka served in the military in the Pacific Theatre as a member of the US Army Corps of Engineers during World War II. He later received his bachelors and master’s degrees from the University of Hawaii and would continue to serve Hawaii’s people as an educator. He was first elected to the US House of Representatives in 1976 and was later appointed to the US Senate in 1990 to succeed Senator Sparky Matsunaga who had passed away while in office. 

In the Senate, Senator Akaka would serve on the Armed Services; Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; Veterans’ Affairs; and the Indian Affairs Committees. He would chair Indian Affairs and was known as an active “go-to” champion for Native American issues to include the General Welfare Act, Indian Health Care Act, and Tribal Government contracting.  Mr. Akaka worked tirelessly in his final term to overturn the Supreme Court’s Carcieri decision, which unfortunately has not yet come to fruition.   

Chairman Ernie Stevens stated: “Senator Akaka was a great friend of mine and was beloved by Indian Country. His years of service along with Senator Inouye provided a bulwark of support for Tribal Nations. Senator Akaka was a true warrior and patriot for this Country, and a determined advocatefor Tribal Nations. During this time of celebration of his life, NIGA stands with the Senator’s family as he walks into the spirit world.  We will miss you, Senator Akaka.”