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Native Hawaiian leader Charles Maxwell dies at Maui Memorial

By Gary T. Kubota

LAST UPDATED: 4:05 a.m. HST, Mar 16, 2012

A Native Hawaiian leader who played a key role in preventing the continued exhumation of hundreds of Native Hawaiian burials at Honokahua, Maui, died Thursday afternoon.

Charles Maxwell of Pukalani, Maui, died at Maui Memorial Medical Center after a prolonged illness. He was 74.

Maxwell was a police officer for 15 years, working the beat on Maui and Molokai before retiring, and working as a Hawaiian cultural expert with his wife Nina to operate the Pukalani Hula Halau.

He was a leader of a group called Aboriginal Lands Of Hawaiian Ancestry, a group in the early 1970s that supported sovereignty for Native Hawaiians.

He also was among Hawaiians who supported the Native Hawaiian occupation of Kahoolawe in the mid-1970s, claiming religious rights to visit the island and opposing the military bombing and manuevers on the island.

The protest eventually led to the return and partial cleanup of Kahoolawe.

Maxwell was a member of the Hawaii advisory group to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, when he criticized the “desecration” and opposed the exhumation of native Hawaiian burials at Honokahua to develop the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua.

About 900 skeletal remains were exhumed before the work stopped.

Eventually, the resort agreed to stop the digging and relocated the hotel further mauka to stop the digging.

“Daddy was a fighter. He wasn’t afraid of speaking what he felt and saying what was right,” said his daughter Sheri Maxwell.

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