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OHA trustees, CEO promise to work together

    Emerging from the doors of the board room of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs after an all-day session with CEO Kamana'opono Crabbe, middle, were, from left, OHA trustees Dan Ahuna, Peter Apo and Chair Colette Y. Machado.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs CEO Kamana’opono Crabbe and the OHA trustees emerged from an all-day session of Hawaiian reconciliation and forgiveness Monday with what they called "one voice" traveling on "one path."

Crabbe still has his job and OHA will continue its nation-building efforts — although there might be a new timeline for Kana’iolowalu, the Native Hawaiian Roll Call project that OHA has pledged to support with $3.9 million.

The trustees spent more than 6 hours behind closed doors Monday, during which Crabbe and the trustees shed tears, wept and deliberated about recent events, Crabbe said. 

"We recognized the gravity of the future of our people," Crabbe said afterward. "We have to think about the broader good of our people."

Crabbe said he and the trustees want to make sure more people will participate in the nation-building process so the effort may see a delay.

Crabbe and the trustees have been tangled in an awkward public spat over the letter he sent on May 5 to Secretary of State John Kerry. 

In the letter, Crabbe noted the U.S. government had acknowledged that the U.S.-backed overthrow of the Hawaii Kingdom in 1893 was illegal. The letter also questioned whether OHA might be violating international law as it pursues the creation of a Native Hawaiian governing entity if the kingdom continued to exist. 

The trustees quickly followed up with a letter to Kerry rescinding Crabbe’s correspondence. But Crabbe has won public support, including a petition signed by more than 2,500 people. The petition said Crabbe’s questions represent the perspectives of many people in "their search for justice regarding the United States supported illegal overthrow." 

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