With ironic timing, just as OHA CEO Kamanaʻopono Crabbe was beginning his press conference on the rift with the Trustees, the Hawaiʻi Reconciliation Commission, including OHA Trustee Peter Apo was on campus at Kamehameha discussing how to integrate the concept in curriculum. Headed by Kahu Dr. Kaleo Patterson, the Reconciliation Commission has sought to both raise awareness of the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom as well as reach mutual understanding and allow for the release of bitterness on both “sides” in order to move forward. It was agreed that the process of reconciliation is context-specific, and some areas for possible work at Kamehameha were touched upon. But as was done in South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, there is a role for catharsis through reenactment, through art and other media. This reenactment technique is also used in Cuba.

Rev. Dr. Kaleo Patterson


It is nearly forgotten that the Clinton years were called by some the “Age of Apology.” As Melissa Nobles notes in her book The Politics of Official Apologies, “governments are not in the habit of apologizing for their own injustices, let alone those perpetrated by former governments in distant and not-so-distant pasts. Yet they sometimes do … the desired outcomes are clear, if not always achieved.” Apologies are, however, a major (usually first) step toward reconciliation.

The reconciliation process in Hawaiʻi is centered on churches through The Interfaith Alliance Hawaiʻi, which includes representatives of a broad range of faiths. The impetus for reconciliation was behind the two apologies in 1993, that of the United Church of Christ (UCC) on January 17, and the joint resolution of Congress, Public Law 103-150 in November. The effectiveness of such apologies is often questioned (by my students in particular), but I always respond that as a Hawaiian history teacher, the apology is tremendously useful; I can now state unequivocally that the overthrow was illegal. Five years before the apology, when I took Hawaiian history, it would have been controversial in the extreme to teach an illegal overthrow. By the time I graduated from college it was a settled historical issue. In that vein, the Reconciliation Commission has forwarded a bill (supported by OHA with amendments) to mark January 17th as Hoʻokūʻikahi Day (Reconciliation Day), named after the commemorations that occur at Puʻukoholā heiau, of the unification of Hawaiʻi Island.

Members of Interfaith Alliance Hawaiʻi

There has rarely been a better moment for reconciliation in the Hawaiian community than now. In my view, it is not merely about “moving on,” i.e., accepting the status quo, but about a true recognition of historical injustices. This must precede any attempt to get past differences. The differences over the direction of nation building, or re-building are real and, it seems, mutually exclusive. So reconciliation will not be an easy matter. Because a sense that certain actions, such as holding the aha for organic documents, is seen to preclude other avenues, perhaps if the sides can at least agree on what is at stake with each path, that can be a starting point. Such a starting point is badly needed in what is essentially a nation at war with itself.


Filed under Uncategorized

6 responses to “Reconciliation

  1. Reconciliation can only happen with the two parties involved with the dispute and they are the kingdom of Hawaii and the U.S.A


  2. john mcfadden

    I’m not remembering if I told you re. Dr. Blight, the professor of international relations, formerly at Harvard and then Brown. In any case, he bears representing. He developed a reconciliation process he calls, Critical Oral History. The heart and soul of his process is what he and other “idealist” international relations experts term, “realistic empathy.” It’s a more complex practice than it might at first seem. Because he scrupulously avoided judging world leaders and only wanted to crawl inside their perspectives, he was able to engage Castro, North Vietnamese leaders, Gromyko, Krushev’s son, Rusk, and many other world leaders in extensive conversation and enable some significant change. That’s why I’ve incorporated him into my screenplay, Ukulele Changes. In it, he moderates a conference of reconciliation involving pro-and ardently anti-sovereignty leaders. Interested?


  3. steven

    Its very hard to achieve reconciliation without a sincere process of Justice.


  4. Noa Napoleon

    So while we await the US and or the International community to do the right thing we are drawing lines in the sand between ourselves. Some of those differences are very old ones while a few are new. These divisions range from confusion over Christianity to the difference between de occupation and decolonization, all of which are yet to be reconciled between ourselves. Who are we? Thats a question we need to “reconcile.”


  5. Maria

    The whole issue seems highly “intellectualized.” When can the people return to their land, return to their kuleana without retribution?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s