Daniel K. Akaka, U.S. Senator

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Daniel Kahikina Akaka

Birthdate: (90)
Birthplace: Honolulu, Honolulu, HI, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Kahikina Akaka and Anuenue "Annie" Kaleianuenue Akaka
Brother of John Edward Kahoa Akaka; Phoebe Kaluahine; Abraham Kahikina Akaka; Annie Akaka and Joseph Kahikina Akaka

Managed by: Private User
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About Daniel K. Akaka, U.S. Senator


Daniel Kahikina Akaka (pronounced /əˈkɑːkə/ born September 11, 1924) is the junior United States Senator from Hawaii and a member of the Democratic Party. He is the first U.S. Senator of Native Hawaiian ancestry and is currently the only member of the Senate who has Chinese ancestry.

Born in Honolulu, he served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers during World War II. He attended the University of Hawaii, where he received his bachelor's and master's degrees. Originally a high school teacher, he went on to serve as a principal for six years. In 1969, he was hired by the Department of Education as a chief program planner. In the 1970s he served in various governmental positions. He was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1976 to represent Hawaii's Second Congressional District, and he served for 13 years. In 1990 he was appointed to the U.S. Senate to succeed the deceased Spark Matsunaga. Akaka would later be re-elected to three full terms. In March 2011 he announced that he will not run for re-election in 2012.

Early life, education, and teaching career

Akaka was born in Honolulu, the son of Annie (née Kahoa) and Kahikina Akaka. His paternal grandfather was born in China. His brother was Rev. Abraham Akaka. He entered the military immediately after high school graduation, serving from 1943 to 1947. During World War II he served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including service on Saipan and Tinian. He worked as a welder and a mechanic and spent his final months of the war as a first mate on the vessel Morning Star.

Entering college (funded by the G.I. Bill), he earned a bachelor of education in 1952 from the University of Hawaii. He later received a master of education from the same school in 1966. He worked as a high school teacher in Honolulu from 1953 until 1960, when he was then hired as a vice principal. In 1963, he became head principal.

Early political career

In 1969, he was hired by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare as a chief program planner. Akaka then continued working in government, holding positions as director of the Hawaii Office of Economic Opportunity, human resources assistant for state Governor George Ariyoshi, and director of the Progressive Neighborhoods Program.

Akaka was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1976 to represent Hawaii's Second Congressional District. He won seven consecutive elections by wide margins.

U.S. Senate


Akaka was appointed by Governor John Waihee to the U.S. Senate in April 1990 to serve temporarily after the death of Senator Spark Matsunaga, and sworn into office on May 16, 1990. In November of the same year, he was elected to complete the remaining four years of Matsunaga's unexpired term. He was re-elected in 1994 for a full six-year term and, with over 70% of the popular vote, again in 2000. Akaka is one of two current senators who have been elected to the Senate multiple times after being appointed.


Since 2000, Akaka has sponsored legislation to afford sovereignty to native Hawaiians. The Akaka Bill is presently under consideration. In 2005 Akaka acknowledged in an interview with NPR that the Akaka Bill could eventually result in outright independence:

Akaka: It (the Akaka Bill) creates a government-to-government relationship with the United States.

NPR: Democratic Senator Dan Akaka, himself a native, wants Congress to let Hawaiians re-establish their national identity. He says his bill would give them a kind of legal parity with tribal governments on the mainland, but he says this sovereignty could eventually go further, perhaps even leading to outright independence.

Akaka: That could be. As far as what's going to happen at the other end, I'm leaving it up to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren."

The Akaka Bill has been supported as a means of restoring Hawaiian self-determination lost with the 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii, and would include giving up the ability to sue for sovereignty in federal courts in exchange for recognition by the federal government (but would not block sovereignty claims made under international law.) The bill has been criticized as discriminating on the basis on ethnic origin in that only Native Hawaiians would be permitted to participate in the governing entity that the bill would establish.

In April 2006, he was selected by Time as one of America's Five Worst Senators. The article criticized him for mainly authoring minor legislation, calling him "master of the minor resolution and the bill that dies in committee".

The other Senator from Hawaii is Daniel Inouye. Despite almost three decades' difference in Senate tenure, the two Daniels were born just four days apart. Akaka is married to Mary Mildred "Millie" Chong; they have five children (four sons and a daughter), 14 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Like Inouye and 21 other Senators, Akaka voted against authorization of the use of military force against Iraq.

In February 2009, a bill was filed in the Philippine House of Representatives by Rep. Antonio Diaz seeking to confer honorary Filipino citizenship on Akaka, Senators Daniel Inouye and Ted Stevens and Representative Bob Filner, for their role in securing the passage of benefits for Filipino World War II veterans.

On March 2, 2011, Akaka announced he does not intend on running for re-election in the 2012 U.S. Senate elections.

Committee assignments

Committee on Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel
Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support
Subcommittee on SeaPower

Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development

Subcommittee on Financial Institutions
Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment

Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information and International Security

Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce and the District of Columbia (Chairman)
Ad Hoc Subcommittee on State, Local, and Private Sector Preparedness and Integration

Committee on Indian Affairs (Chairman)

Committee on Veterans' Affairs
Congressional Task Force on Native Hawaiian Issues (Chairman)

Caucus memberships

Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus
Congressional Biotechnology Caucus
Congressional Postal Caucus (Vice Chair)
International Conservation Caucus
Senate Anti-Meth Caucus
Senate Army Caucus (Co-Chair)
Senate Sweetener Caucus (Co-Chair)
Senate Oceans Caucus

Electoral history


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Daniel K. Akaka, U.S. Senator's Timeline

September 11, 1924
Honolulu, Honolulu, HI, USA