Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
WASHINGTON Indian country lost a champion of Native causes Monday evening when Senator Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away. A longtime member of the US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, a committee he chaired several intervals during the past three decades, Senator Inouye was 88.
We will forever measure any other politician if
they are as nearly good as Senator Daniel Inouye.
He was hospitalized since early last week due to difficulty breathing. Over the weekend, he was reported to be in stable condition while at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
According to his Senate staff, his last words were "Aloha."
“Tomorrow will be the first day since Hawaii became a state in 1959 that Dan Inouye will not be representing us,”
said Senator Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, the current and outgoing chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs.
“He really worked to shape Hawaii and this great country,”
said Senator Akaka from the Senate floor late Monday.
“You'll be missed in Washington as much as you'll be missed in Hawaii. Rest in peace.”
“The second-longest serving Senator in the history of the chamber, Danny represented the people of Hawaii in Congress from the moment they joined the Union,”
said President Obama in a statement on Senator Inouye's death.
“In Washington, he worked to strengthen our military, forge bipartisan consensus, and hold those of us in government accountable to the people we were elected to serve. But it was his incredible bravery during World War II - including one heroic effort that cost him his arm but earned him the Medal of Honor - that made Danny not just a colleague and a mentor, but someone revered by all of us lucky enough to know him,”
continued the president.
People throughout Indian country, who worked with Senator Inouye expressed their grief and sadness of his passing.
“The loss of Senator Inouye is not only a great loss for the country, but it is even a greater loss for the Indigenous people of this country. There hasn't been a greater friend and advocate of Indian people in the US Senate for at least 60 years,”
commented Ron Andrade, executive director of the Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission and former executive director of the National Congress of American Indians.
“Senator Inouye had a special view of the Indian people which guided him through his Senate career. I remember an off-handed speech where he said he was born in Hawaii, a possession of the US, in 1924 the same year Indians became citizens. He fought in WW2 at the same time that many Japanese Americans had been confined to military reservations. Every Indian who sent their children to pre-school in the last 60 years, who had sought Indian social services, and who wanted to protect the sovereign rights of Indian people owe much of their accomplishments to Senator Inouye. It is a fitting honor that we will forever measure any other politician if they are as nearly good as Senator Daniel Inouye,”
During his chairing of the Committee on Indian Affairs in the 100th Congress, there were several landmark pieces of legislation that passed the Senate, including the reauthorizations of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, the Indian Education Act, the Native American Languages Act, and the Native American Programs Act, and the enactment of the Indian Finance Act, the Indian Land Consolidation Act, the American Indian Trust Fund Management Reform Act, the National Museum of the American Indian Act, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act, the Native Hawaiian Education Act, the Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement Act, and scores of Indian water rights and land claims settlement laws.
posted December 18, 2012 7:40 am est