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Iwi reburial bill riles Native Hawaiians

By Sam Eifling

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 01:34 p.m. HST, Jan 31, 2014

Dug-up bones and unidentified remains of Native Hawaiians may be reburied on an uninhabited island if a proposed law passes.

Hawaii's Senate is considering a bill that would designate the island of Kahoolawe as the resting place for unknown or "inadvertently discovered" Hawaiian bones when those remains can't be reburied nearby.

The state's Department of Land and Natural Resources, which includes the Historic Preservation Division, supports the bill. Meanwhile several Native Hawaiians have voiced opposition, saying that transplanting bones from their island of their burial is culturally inappropriate.

The department's chairman, William Aila Jr., has submitted testimony in support of the bill. He was not immediately available for comment Friday, a department spokeswoman said.

The transfer of bones desecrated by a disinterment would upset the spiritual harmony of Kahoolawe, considered a sacred island, said Davianna McGregor, a spokeswoman for Protect Kahoolawe Ohana, a heritage organization for the island.

"You won't want to bring that kind of mana (spiritual energy) to the island," she said. "It's already borne enough abuse."

The organization's testimony to the Senate urged amendments that would compel the state to move human remains as little as possible.

"Under no circumstances should the iwi kupuna (ancestors' bones) be taken to another island, especially Kanaloa Kahoolawe," the letter reads.

McGregor said Kahoolawe would be a suitable site for remains returned to Hawaii from abroad, if their island of origin was unknown. The small island off the west coast of Maui is being held in trust by the state for a future Native Hawaiian sovereign entity.

Other critics of the bill tell lawmakers that they don't believe the state is qualified to make decisions about such burials without thorough consultation with Native Hawaiian groups. They also express concern about the difficulty of protecting and maintaining burial sites on Kahoolawe.

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Maneki_Neko wrote:
This idea is probably because the Train to Nowhere will dig up tons of iwi kupuna as it digs through Kaka'ako. Also the developers need someplace to dump their diggings since the space under the garage up ramps at WalMart are full.

So I guess we ship the ancestors to Kahoolawe so the train and condos can go on.

on January 31,2014 | 12:53PM
postmanx wrote:
Wholly god! I guess it's a start, get rid of the dead Hawaiians first. I can't imagine the bad mana a policy like this would bring on to all of Hawaii. Non starter. A person's final resting place is pretty personal no matter how long ago, you can't just dig bones and move them to a desecrated island.
on January 31,2014 | 06:35PM
lwandcah wrote:
Unbelievable. Does the state really think that Hawaiian families, activists and supporters would think this was pono? Auwe!
on January 31,2014 | 02:16PM
islandsun wrote:
The Sate don't care. They got the important Hawaiians in key positions to sell out anyway.
on January 31,2014 | 05:07PM
nippy68 wrote:
yup...sell out is what it is and dont forget their six figure paycheck plus bonuses.
on January 31,2014 | 07:14PM
OldEnoughToRemember wrote:
on January 31,2014 | 02:31PM
kainalu wrote:
If the Iwi could talk, where would they rather be? I'm not saying, I'm just wondering. If it were my bones, then ... .
on January 31,2014 | 02:40PM
Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
"The small island off the west coast of Maui is being held in trust by the state for a future Native Hawaiian sovereign entity." This is news to me. I've often said tongue-in-cheek that they should do this, but wow, it may very well happen eventually.
on January 31,2014 | 03:05PM
HOSSANA wrote:
How can anyone even think of such an IGNORANT idea??
on January 31,2014 | 03:33PM
Mythman wrote:
Why not bury iwi in Nebraska? While we are at it, let's move homelands to Montana, or, Iowa.
on January 31,2014 | 04:46PM
WKAMA wrote:
How does anyone know whose bones belong to whom? Asian, Filipino workers, maybe?
on January 31,2014 | 05:11PM
Opelu wrote:
You have for to be kidding !!! - Who came up with this ?
on January 31,2014 | 06:34PM
st1d wrote:
time to outlaw corpse burials. i don't want my rotting bones to get in the way of anyone living in the future building a home or providing food for their family.
on January 31,2014 | 08:20PM
squidbro wrote:
Stop wasting time, resources, and money. IMHO, the spirit is eternal. The left-over bones are not. Move on.
on February 1,2014 | 12:30AM
HanabataDays wrote:
Bachi! It will dog the footsteps of any legislator so foolish as to vote for this proposal. There is a certain symmetry, I suppose, between the destruction perpetrated on Kahoolawe, the rush to get na iwi off the construction site so work can resume, and the notion of Kahoolawe as a conveniently remote, out-of-sight-out-of-mind, mass grave for the uprooted iwi. Anyone who votes for this can expect to hear the tramp of ghostly, ancient feet through his bedroom, night after long sleepless night.
on February 1,2014 | 02:01AM
haoleboy68 wrote:
Why can't the state and federal government honor the wishes of the native Hawaiians and let their unearthed remains be buried on the same island. I don't understand. Who do they think they are?
on February 1,2014 | 03:06AM
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