Friday, September 09, 2005

Hawaiian Natives File Emergency Appeal On Burial Items

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin today reports that a native Hawaiian group has filed an emergency appeal to the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals after a federal district court judge in Hawaii ordered the group to return burial items so that 14 federally recognized native Hawaiian claimants could be consulted on what to do with the items. The group, Hui Malama I Na Kupuna 'O Hawaii Nei, reburied the items in 2000 to honor the wishes of kupuna (ancestors). In an affidavit supporting their appeal, a founder of the group said: "Specifically, it would be an extreme hewa (wrong) for me or any other Hui Malama member, if ordered, to take part in any effort to enter the Kawaihae burial cave, with two to three known caves, to remove the 83 moepu, as they belong to the kupuna buried therein," and that would harm "the integrity of the afterlife of these kupuna." It "amounts to stealing from the dead, an action that threatens severe spiritual consequences for anyone involved." Hui Malama has also said it does not want to return the items because it would be handing them over to the Bishop Museum that "acted as a fence for the original grave robbers."