Hawaiian Graves Disturbed
apologizes for damage
to Hawaiian graves
Hawaiian burial site disturbed
by contested Big Isle
By Rod Thompson
KAILUA-KONA >> A high-ranking official of Japan Airlines has apologized to four Kona Hawaiians concerned about damage to Hawaiian graves at a Kona development involving JAL.
JAL is a partner with Arizona developer Lyle Anderson in the 1,540-acre Hokulia project. Oceanside 1250, the company doing the development for JAL and Anderson, has already acknowledged that graves were damaged during construction and has apologized.
An organization called Protect Keopuka Ohana has been among various voices opposed to the development. Yesterday, Ohana members Lorna Laua'e Takizawa, Violet Leihulu Mamac, Harriet Dooley, and Kamuela Himalaya met with JAL's hotels and resorts division manager Yuji Tsukahara in Tokyo.
Tsukahara apologized to the four, an Ohana statement said. The apology was confirmed by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., which has assisted the Ohana, and by Rick Humphreys, general manager of Hokulia.
The four were to make additional statements during a news conference today.
Besides an apology, the Ohana also sought a promise that JAL would withdraw from the project. A statement issued by JAL suggested that would not happen.
"We are very concerned about some of the issues at Hokulia, but we have every confidence in Hokulia's management to deal with the issues. We know they are extremely sensitive to the concerns of the community in all respects," the statement said.
"Hokulia will eventually provide the local community with the benefits of improved local road infrastructure which will greatly ease congestion in the area and also with access to the coastline, where a public park will be located," the statement said.
One of the conditions of the permits for Hokulia was that the developer must build a new road connecting North and South Kona to reduce traffic on the existing Mamalahoa Highway.
The Ohana statement said Tsukahara "would be considering sending a special investigator to Kona."
Neither the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. nor Hokulia's Humphreys was able to confirm that.
The Ohana's Takizawa said JAL officials appeared not to know the whole story, believing that the development had widespread support.
In fact, the project has been the subject of controversy and court disputes since as early as 1993.
The Ohana and others have been in Kona Circuit Court in recent weeks seeking an injunction to stop damage to graves. While the case was being heard, additional graves were damaged, leading Judge Ronald Ibarra to issue a ten-day restraining order against such damage.
Before that order expired last week, the Ohana alleged still further violations. Ibarra was to continue hearing the case today.
Bishop Museum doesn’t
qualify as a claimant
By Edward Halealoha Ayau
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) authorizes American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians to claim ancestral human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and cultural patrimony that were illegally acquired and placed in federally funded museums and federal agencies.
The legislative history of NAGPRA makes it clear that this bill was intended to rectify past wrongs committed against America's first peoples. Congress did not intend museums to claim their own items as Bishop Museum is attempting to do with the passage of its Interim and Proposed Final Guidance (interim guidance).
If Bishop Museum Director William Brown and the Board of Directors adopt the proposed interim guidance, Hawaiian culture will be harmed, congressional intent dishonored and the law turned on its head.
We strongly oppose the interim guidance policy and have prepared petitions with hundreds of signatures of community members who also are opposed. We call upon the museum's board to immediately repeal the interim guidance policy based upon clear community opposition for the following reasons:
>> First, the policy defeats the intent of Congress in enacting NAGPRA, which sought to redress harms to native people caused when their ancestors' remains, burial objects and other cultural items were unlawfully taken from them and put in museums. On Oct. 26, 1990, U.S. Sen.Daniel Inouye, co-chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs, stated the following with regard to proposed NAGPRA legislation, "When human remains are displayed in museums or historical societies, it is never the bones of white soldiers or the first European settlers that came to this continent that are lying in glass cases. It is Indian remains. The message that this sends to the rest of the world is that Indians are culturally and physically different from and inferior to non-Indians. This is racism ... The bill (NAGPRA) is not about the validity of museums or the value of scientific inquiry. Rather, it is about human rights."
Inouye continued, "Returning control of these human remains and funerary objects to lineal descendants, Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations will help to remedy years of unequal treatment. Acknowledging the communal property systems traditionally used by some Indian tribes not only returns those objects of cultural patrimony to their rightful owners, but reinforces the complex social webs in which they serve. Neither idea is very new, both reflecting the guarantee of equal protection under the law imagined by America's founding fathers and codified in the Constitution of the United States."
Brown and the Bishop Museum board miss the point entirely that NAGPRA is human rights legislation for Native Hawaiians. Instead, the interim guidance policy denies the human rights goals of NAGPRA, contorting it into a shield to block us from caring for our kupuna (ancestors) and their possessions. Inouye recently weighed in on this matter in a newspaper interview. "It (the museum) is not a Hawaiian organization, it's a museum. The incorporation of the (Bishop) museum makes it clear that it's not a Native Hawaiian organization ... and I think the law is clear," Inouye said.
>> Second, the interim guidance policy places Bishop Museum in a conflict of interest as it could both claim cultural items from its own collections and maintain the authority under NAGPRA to determine the disposition of such items. How could Bishop Museum maintain objectivity in reviewing NAGPRA claims when one of the claimants is itself? The interim guidance policy fails to protect the rights of other claimants from this inherent conflict.
>> Third, the policy obstructs the repatriation of unassociated funerary objects, which are items that came from burials but are no longer associated with human remains. This is because the interim guidance policy declares that Bishop Museum is the lawful owner of all such objects in its collections. Brown ignores the fact that Hawaiian families placed these objects with their loved ones and that approval was not given to remove them. By assuming ownership, Brown is revoking our ancestors' decisions and usurping our kuleana to our kupuna. In addition, the policy obstructs the repatriation of sacred objects needed for cultural renewal by inaccurately asserting that the museum does not possess any such "sacred objects" -- items needed by a Hawaiian religious leader to continue or renew traditional religious ceremonies, as defined in NAGPRA. How can Brown conclude that the museum holds no sacred objects when such objects are defined by the ceremonial needs of Hawaiian religious practitioners? Once again, the museum ignores NAGPRA's intent.
For clearer insight into what NAGPRA was intended to accomplish with regard to human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and cultural patrimony we look to the following excerpt from "In the Smaller Scope of Conscience: The Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Act Twelve Years After," published in the UCLA Journal of Environmental Law and Policy. The article states, "The long process ... began in 1986, as Congress sought to reconcile four major areas of federal law. As civil rights legislation, Congress wished to acknowledge that throughout U.S. history, Native American human remains and funerary objects suffered from disparate treatment as compared with the human remains and funerary objects of other groups.
"Congress also wanted to recognize that the loss of sacred objects by Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations to unscrupulous collectors negatively impacted Native American religious practices. In making this Indian law, Congress founded its efforts on an explicit constitutional recognition of tribal sovereignty and the government-to-government relationship between the United States and Indian tribes.
"Regarding property law, Congress wanted to clarify the unique status of the dead as well as highlight the failure of American law to adequately recognize traditional concepts of communal property in use by some Indian tribes.
"Lastly, in terms of administrative law, Congress would direct the Department of Interior to implement Congress' mandate, including the promulgation of regulations to ensure due process, awarding of grants and assessment of civil penalties."
>> Fourth, interim guidance enables Bishop Museum to claim cultural items under NAGPRA counter the claims of bona fide Native Hawaiian organizations. Since NAGPRA allows a museum to hold onto claimed items until resolution is reached among claimants regarding disposition of the claimed items, Bishop Museum as a claimant could forestall repatriation by disagreeing with other claimants. The policy similarly allows the Bishop Museum to block repatriation of Hawaiian cultural items from other museums and federal agencies by claiming objects as a Native Hawaiian organization and disagreeing with other claimants about their return.
Finally, the interim guidance policy is an attempt to thwart Native Hawaiians who would assert their kuleana to care for items that NAGPRA rightfully places within their purview. Rather than being a mechanism for healing historic wounds as NAGPRA was designed, this policy opens new ones. We are incensed that Brown's paternalistic and colonial penchant could impede our ability to fulfill our kuleana to care for our kupuna and their possessions and to continue cultural practices that meet our kuleana as descendants -- roles that Congress supported us taking via NAGPRA.
We are not alone in our assessment that the Bishop Museum would run afoul of NAGPRA by adopting interim guidance. Leaders throughout Indian country, including leading NAGPRA drafter and attorney Walter Echo-Hawk of the Native American Rights Fund, and many in the museum profession also have voiced opposition to interim guidance.
Passage of the proposed interim guidance policy confirms a serious need for a change in Bishop Museum leadership. For the above reasons, we urge the museum directors to repeal the interim guidance policy, call for and accept Brown's resignation and undertake efforts to select a qualified Native Hawaiian to serve as the new director of Bishop Museum.
This article is supported by Kunani Nihipali, Pualani Kanahele, Kehau Abad, Kekuhi Kanahele-Frias, Huihui Kanahele-Mossman, 'Ahi'ena Kanahele, Kaumakaiwa Keali'ikanaka'ole, Ulumauahi Keali'ikanaka'ole, Kauila Kanahele, Luka Kanahele-Mossman, William Aila Jr., Billy Fields, Pele Hanoa, Keolalani Hanoa, Kaleikoa Ka'eo, Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa, Pu'uhonua Kanahele, Kahu Charles Maxwell, Jimmy Medeiros Sr., Jon Osorio, Konia Freitas, Mehana Hind and Ho'oipo Kalaena'auao Pa.
Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawaii Nei
U.S. Interior Dept. -NAGPRA
August 21, 1999
The Honorable Bruce Babbitt
Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C. Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20240
Re: Burial Site Desecration, Koloko Honokohau National Historic
Dear Honorable Secretary Babbitt:
On July 5, 1999, my seventy year old mother, Agnes Harp (photo
enclosed) and several family members went to visit our family
graves located at the aforementioned park. My mother recalls over
thirty graves, some of which are identifiable as particular family
members, including those of her brothers. Many of the graves are
centered around a small wooden structure over one grave, which is
not being preserved. According to Park staff, a white male
attempted to repair the structure and the Park staff ran him off.
He was doing their job! I asked for the individual¹s name and the
Park staff said that he died and it didn¹t matter.
My mother called me on the telephone, crying and deeply disturbed
over this desecration of our family burials. She had taken her
grandchildren to pay respect to and reconnect the family to our
ancestors, only to find the area in disarray. An area nearby
appears to be used as a storage baseyard and there is a large man
made berm of lava rock. The berm makes access to the burials
extremely difficult and now blocks the once direct view from the
Queen Ka¹ahumanu Highway. This may invite further desecration of
the burials, which are now unobserved by traffic. The Park Service
has failed to preserve or even tidy up the burials area, to show
respect to those buried there and their families.
My family members were very upset to observe that many of the
burials appear to have been disturbed and looted. Most of the
burials consist of traditional drystack rock coverings, most of
which had small pebbles and shells, known as ili¹ili covering the
tops. Most of the burials no longer have the ili¹ili covering,
while others have had portions of the ili¹ili removed. Wood which
appears to be coffin fragments and corrugated tin, which was
utilized in the burials are strewn about the area and protruding
from some of the burials. There also appears to be human remains
visible in some of the opened graves.
During a July 15, 1999 meeting between Koloko/Honokohau Park staff
and my family, the Park Service denied any activity in the Park
since they acquired the land in 1990. In searching for information,
I¹ve found many pieces of evidence contrary to their claim. I have
made several attempts to gather information, i.e., Archaeological
Surveys, Park Inventories and Historical information on the area
from the Park Service. The Park Service, particularly Bryan Harry, seems more
than reluctant to release any information. I have serious doubts
whether the provisions of the Native American Graves Protection and
Repatriation (NAGPRA) Act of 1990, relating to the Inadvertant
Discovery of Remains and Notice were and will be followed by the
On July 17, 1999, while walking through an area that has been
graded for a proposed parking lot, adjacent to our family burials,
I discovered what appeared to be Human Remains scattered across and
smeared into the lava rock. Park Ranger, Cynthia Galieto drove near
us to inquire what we were doing and I pointed out the exposed
bones to her. Without bothering to get out of her vehicle, Ranger
Galieto said that under Federal law, they would contact their
Archaeologist and it would be taken care of. I understand that it
took approximately three weeks before the bones were inspected,
which were eventually identified as the remains of more than one
human being. In the Hawaiian culture, it brings great spiritual
harm to the individual and his or her family to leave the bones
exposed to the sun. Delayed actions by the Park Service shows
disrespect towards the remains and the family.
I made several telephone calls to the Koloko/Honokohau Park Office,
attempting to inquire into the status of the remains during the
weeks that followed the discovery. I had no returns to my calls, so
I telephoned Bryan Harry, District Superintendent. I found him to
be patronizing and condescending towards me as a Native Hawaiian.
He said that we were ³lucky² that they were protecting the land
from hotel development. During a second telephone conversation,
Bryan Harry¹s attitude did not improve, but in fact it got much
worse. I told Bryan Harry that I felt he should make an attempt to
contact the lineal descendants of the area, regarding the discovery
of the remains. Bryan Harry¹s reply was ³ I doubt there are any². I
told him that I myself am a descendent. He said ³I doubt that². He
continued the conversation by making threats of taking legal action
against me for documenting the burials and scattered human remains,
saying that he would gather all the evidence together and bring
charges against us.
Bryan Harry also stated that they were working with the Burial
Council. Upon contact with a Burial Council member, Mr. Charles
Young, I found the claim to be false. Mr. Young said that the Park
Service had contacted a couple of Burial Council members and the
contact was limited to informal discussion. According to Mr. Young,
there has been no formal documentation of contact or discussion
with the Burial Council. Stanley Bond, a new Archaeologist with the
Park, referred me to contact Ms. Geraldine Bell, the Burial
Council¹s Vice-Chair. I discovered that Ms. Bell was not only the
Burial Council¹s Vice-Chair, she was also the Superintendent of
Pu¹u Honua Honaunau National Historic Park. This creates a direct
conflict of interest for Ms. Bell, and I asked that she recuse
herself from actions regarding the burials in the Koloko/Honokohau
National Park. This situation is troubling given your agency¹s
involvement in the development and enforcement of NAGPRA.
I believe the proposed visitor orientation center, parking lot,
restrooms and sewer treatment plant to be inappropriate for this
Historical area. Proposed plans do not seem to conform with Section
106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. Future planning
should conform to Section 106 including consultation with Native
Hawaiians, particularly the lineal descendants.
I¹m including copies of photographic documentation of the
disturbances and discovery of bones. The photos depict: 1. An
opened grave with Kukui, coconut and bone fragments exposed. 2.
Bones discovered on July 17, 1999, strewn across and smeared into
the lava rock. 3. The wooden structure over the central grave,
that has been allowed to fall into disrepair. 4. Corrugated tin
and coffin timbers lying around the area.
In conclusion, I find the Park Service, particularly Bryan Harry¹s
actions extremely inappropriate. As a Federal Superintendent, he
should be striving to adhere to NAGPRA and work with the
descendants. He should not be displaying the arrogant prejudice he
has made so clear to me. As direct lineal descendants, I feel my
family has standing to pursue legal recourse and while exploring
this option, it is our desire that the National Park Service, at a
minimum, comply with the provisions of NAGPRA and other Federal
laws, drop their wall of defense and truly grasp the understanding
of stewardship of these most sacred lands, lands which hold the
remains of our ancestors.
I respectfully request the Department of the Interior seriously
consider replacing Bryan Harry with a person who is aware of the
historical significance the areas contained within National Park
lands have to Native cultures and religions. I truly feel that it
would be in the best interest of the Department of the Interior and
the lineal descendants to work together, to build and maintain
trusting working relationships.
Respectfully, Isaac D. Harp
Enclosures: Photographic Documentation
cc: The Honorable Senator, Daniel K. Akaka
The Honorable Senator, Daniel K. Inouye
The Honorable Congresswoman, Patsy Mink
The Honorable Congressman, Neil Abercrombie
The Honorable Governor, Benjamin Cayetano
Mr. Bryan Harry, District Superintendent, National Park Service
Mr. Francis Kuailani, Park Superintendent, Kaloko/Honokohau
Mr. Timothy Johns, Chairman, State of Hawaii, Dept. of Land and
Mr. Kai Markell, Esq., Director, Burial Sites Program
Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawaii Nei
Hawaii Burial Councils:
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Trustees:
A. Frenchy Desoto