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Akaka back at Capitol after injury recovery

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    Courtesy photo Hawaii Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka, right, and his military legislative assistant, Nick Ikeda, stand on the steps leading to the U.S. Capitol's first floor.

U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka is back at work on Capitol Hill after breaking two ribs last week.

The 86-year-old Democrat from Hawaii had been recovering at home since the May 2 accident when he slipped and fell while taking a shower at his home in Virginia. He returned Monday to cast a vote for the nomination of a federal judge in Tennessee, said deputy communications director Jesse Broder Van Dyke.

Broder Van Dyke said there were no complications, although Akaka still feels some pain.

Akaka also co-hosted a conference Monday on legal empowerment for indigenous peoples. The senator was honored at the conference in a naming ceremony held by the Alaska Federation of Natives.

Akaka was given names in three different Alaska native cultures: "Jín da aadí," meaning "Helper" in Tlingit; "Akumleq," meaning "Chair" in Yupik; and "Ilaagudax," meaning "Helper" in Unangam Tunuu, the Aleut language. His office reported Akaka’s wife, Millie, was also given names during the ceremony: "K’eikaxwéin," meaning "beautiful" in Tlingit; "Atsaq," meaning "sustaining berry" in Yupik; and "Millidax," meaning "Millie" or "endearing" in Unangam Tunuu.

"I was honored to co-host this event and to receive these honorary gifts," said Akaka, chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. "They will serve as a reminder of our lives together, as native peoples, and of our long history together, Hawaii with Alaska."

Names are given to people who have made extraordinary contributions to native society. In receiving these names, Akaka and his wife become part of an extended family network, Broder Van Dyke said. Tlingit names bestow a symbolic immortality to individuals since succeeding generations will carry these names. Giving a Yupik name is a time-honored tradition and heritage of the Yupik people, and atsaq is a berry that is significant in Yupik lore and diet.

Broder Van Dyke said Akaka will return to the islands during the Memorial Day recess and will attend the National Veterans Golden Age Games. Akaka and U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye are the honorary co-chairmen of the event, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary in Hawaii.

The games, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, are expected to draw more than 700 competitors along with family and friends. More than 1,200 participants are expected to spend nearly $5.8 million.

In March, Akaka announced he will not seek another term next year.

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