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Ige signs bill allowing traditional Native Hawaiian burials

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CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
Gov. David Ige said at a news conference Tuesday that he will protect the rights of the builders of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea but wants to change the management of the summit to give more consideration to culture and natural resources. “In many ways, we have failed the mountain,” he said.

Hawaii is changing a law so that those who practice traditional Hawaiian clean burials won’t be accused of abusing a corpse. 

Gov. David Ige signed a bill ensuring that the burial practice is legal on Tuesday. Now the funeral industry is figuring out how to accommodate requests for the traditional burials.

A common thread among ancient Hawaiian burial traditions was to cleanse a corpse by fire and to wrap the bones, which are held sacred, in a natural cloth. Then the remains could be buried in a basket, taking up far less space than a modern casket.

Mahealani Cypher is an advocate for the bill. She says Hawaiians who want to practice the burial tradition will probably utilize crematories instead of the outdoor ovens people used in ancient times. 

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