Overflow Crowd Voices Support for Crabbe at OHA Maui Meeting
By Wendy Osher
A standing room-only crowd gathered at the J Walter Cameron Center in Wailuku on Thursday morning, as Trustees from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs heard often heated testimony relating to native Hawaiian rights to self-governance, the Kana’iolowalu registry, and all encompassing question relating to the legal status of Hawai‘i under international law.
Many of those who testified expressed support for Dr. Kamana‘opono Crabbe, OHA’s CEO whose letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry sparked a series of events including a letter from the Board of Trustees rescinding his request for answers and clarity on the legal status of Hawai‘i.
Since then, at least two trustees have withdrawn their names from that rescind letter, including Dan Ahuna and Maui Trustee Carmen Hulu Lindsey, who wrote a formal request on Monday asking that her name be removed saying, “While those questions may be troubling and difficult to address, it is precisely because they are so that I now believe Dr. Crabbe demonstrated courage and integrity in moving those concerns forward to try to get the clarity we need.”
During the Board of Trustees Meeting, Chair Collette Machado said that an executive meeting is planned on Monday in which she said, “We are going to review the breach of trust that had occurred and the letter that went to John Kerry of the US State Department.”
[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BMuWGC-lVQ /] ***Video courtesy Maui808Films. Additional video of meeting available at the following direct LINK.
She noted that since the Board of Trustees hired Dr. Crabbe, that he is an employee of the board, and that the rest of the staff within OHA fall under him. “He is the only one that we are responsible for in all of OHA,” she said.
Machado said that the intent of the meeting is not to conduct ho’oponopono, the Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness, which she said is only triggered if there is a dispute; but said two individuals are on standby to facilitate the process, should their services be needed.
“Who knows what’s going to come out of that meeting, but we need to exercise that–to begin the process to look if something wrong happened. We need to ask those questions, and that’s what Monday is about,” said Machado.
As questions surfaced over transparency and discussions over social media, Machado raised her voice saying, “We’re not there yet. That’s all I’m trying to say. Allow us to do our job. That’s all I’m asking, allow us to do our job.”
She said all matters covered in Monday’s meeting are confidential unless Crabbe chooses to air the information out in public session. “We’re protecting his confidentiality in terms of whatever we’re going to talk about. That’s to preserve him too. And do we want to increase the bleeding? I don’t think so. We want to reduce the volume and keep all of this internally to the trustees and Kamanaʻo within the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. That’s all I have to tell you folks. We’re going to do the best we can.”
“You can read whatever you want into how we had to legally describe the meeting, but allow us to do our job. That’s all I’m saying,” said Machado.
Many of those who testified asked for direct support for the actions taken by Dr. Crabbe including Maui resident and Kumu Hula Nāpua Greig who said, “I humbly ask our trustees to kāko‘o Dr. Kamana‘opono Crabbe; to tap into your ancestral knowledge of that great leadership that we count on; that leadership that is ours — that is our legacy alone, not anyone else’s; to put aside whatever personal differences you may have and see what so many of us see so clearly — that he was born to lead us.”
“He is the pouhana — the center post that holds the hale upright — and upright he truly is. Without him, the hale will surely fall,” she said.
In a written letter from Aaron Salā, a professor of ethno-musicology at UH Mānoa, he states, “In my humble opinion, if you (Dr. Crabbe) have any kuleana (responsibility) to this lāhui (race/nation/people), it was fulfilled when you stepped outside of the process. It is of no consequence to me who knew what, when — these questions could never have the impact they now have were they presented as part of the process.”
Salā’s letter continued, “It took a resistance — and not just a resistance for its own sake — it took a resistance from one who plays equally well in both worlds: one who would [don] the suit and a malo; one who is educated at the academy and reared in the lo‘i kalo; one whose mind is firmly set in the present and whose spirit is free to roam the past. Sir, my children will know your name, and so will their children, and so will their children after them. This is my honor to you.”
George Manalani Kamimiola, also testified, asking the remaining trustees to rescind their letter of rescind, and to cease and desist from any other activities of the nation-building process until the answers posed by Dr. Crabbe are received.
Jocelyn Costa was also among the supporters of Dr. Crabbe saying, “It is one thing to say I don’t know; it is another to say I no like know.”
Russell Kahookele, an elected representative for the Lawful Hawaiian Government group in 2007 and 2011 also spoke in support of Crabbe’s actions saying, “We cannot wait for America to tell us, yeah you can. They said it in the apology resolution that we have the right to be sovereign, on our own, without their interference. If we listen to them, we’re going to be Indians…. What is at stake here is our nationality.”
The Board of Trustees Meeting on Maui was the last public event before the body goes into executive session on Monday.