POSTED: 1:48 p.m. HST, May 9, 2014
LAST UPDATED: 6:53 p.m. HST, May 9, 2014
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees Friday rescinded a letter written by OHA chief executive officer Kamana'opono Crabbe and sent to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting an opinion on whether the Hawaiian Kingdom still exists as an independent sovereign state under international law.
Trustee chairwoman Colette Machado said trustees were surprised and taken aback when they read the letter this morning. She said it was written without their knowledge and the content of the letter does not reflect the position of OHA or the trustees.
"We were totally caught off-guard," she said.
In his May 5 letter, Crabbe said he was requesting a formal legal opinion from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel on the matter because recent diplomatic proceedings suggested OHA and its trustees may be open to criminal liability in the pursuit of a Native Hawaiian governing entity. He said he would request approval from the trustees that they refrain from such activity until an opinion is issued.
OHA is financially supporting the independent Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, which is preparing and maintaining a roll of qualified Native Hawaiians to work toward the reorganization of a native government.
OHA released a copy of Crabbe's letter to Kerry Friday morning and by late afternoon the trustees said they had rescinded it.