As someone who interacts daily with low-income families receiving public assistance on Oahu's Leeward Coast, I can personally attest to the disproportionate socio-economic hardships experienced by the Native Hawaiian community. Measurements of poverty, homelessness, incarceration, obesity, infant mortality and other indicators of well-being reveal that Native Hawaiians are at a clear disadvantage in relation to other ethnic groups comprising Hawaii's multicultural landscape. But this isn't about pity, class warfare or bleeding heart sentimentalism. It's about acknowledging a systemic social injustice and creating a framework for reconciliation. It's about respecting the history, culture and dignity of an indigenous people group who inhabited these islands long before America's manifest destiny came ashore.
Since I disagree with all three options above, I support the Akaka Bill. It is not a silver bullet solution to the complex disputes over ceded lands and entitlement programs, but Native Hawaiians are far better off with federal political recognition than without it. Until they are validated on par with other indigenous people groups, attempts to improve conditions for Native Hawaiians (through Kamehameha Schools for example) will always be threatened by lawsuits and accusations of "race-based" discrimination. The way forward through these convoluted realities is not an endless barrage of litigation, but the establishment of a legal framework allowing Native Hawaiians to form their own nation within a nation (while still under the authority of federal and state laws) so that a new dialogue can begin.
Enacting the Akaka Bill is not the final goal, but the starting point.