Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Two Statements on Desecration of Indigenous Native Hawaiian Burial Sites

Two Statements on Desecration of Indigenous Native Hawaiian Burial Sites

September 12, 2008 Statement on Naue by Kanaka Maoli Scholars Against Desecration (First Statement)

As Kanaka Maoli professors and scholars we write to publicly condemn the state-sponsored desecration of a Native Hawaiian burial site at Wainiha, Kaua`i resulting from the construction of a new home at Naue Point by California businessman Joseph Brescia. For years Brescia has been tryingto build a home on top of our ancestral graves despite a litany of environmental, legal and community challenges to his construction. In 2007 Brescia unearthed and then covered over the bones of our ancestors when he began clearing the area. The illegal and immoral disturbance and desecration of our ancestors’ remains must stop now.

The Hawai`i revised statute 711-1107 on Desecration specifically states that no one may commit the offense of desecrating "a place of worship or burial," and the statute defines "desecrate" as "defacing, damaging, polluting, or otherwise physically mistreating in a way that the defendant knows will outrage the sensibilities of persons likely to observe or discover the defendant's action." In complete contradiction to their own law, the State Historic Preservation Division of the Department of Land and Natural Resources approved a "burial treatment plan" for Brescia that undermines both the very concept of historic preservation and the reason for the founding of the Hawai`i Burials Council: to protect burials, not "treat" them. This "burial treatment plan" enabled Brescia to secure permits to build as long as the graves remain "in place," which in this case means the burials have been capped with concrete already poured for the footings of his house. Read the rest of the first statement here....

Kānaka Maoli Scholars Against Desecration - Second Statement on Naue, March 24, 2009 (First Statement)

(for more information, questions or letters of support, please contact J. Kehaulani Kauanui, Ph.D. at jkauanui@wesleyan.edu This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

As Kānaka Maoli scholars we write to follow-up on our statement from September 13, 2008 publicly condemning the state-sponsored desecration of a Native Hawaiian burial site at Wainiha, Kaua`i resulting from the construction of a new home at Naue Point by California real estate developer Joseph Brescia. Both the state abuse of power and the desecration continue unabated and must come to a halt.

In the late 1980s, in response to a massive burial site disturbance at Honokahua, Maui, Kanaka Maoli came together to challenge the laws that allowed this type of sacrilege. As a result of this history, five Island Burial Councils were created and are administratively attached to the State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) of the Department of Land and Natural Resources to address concerns relating to Native Hawaiian burial sites. By Hawai`i state statute, the composition of each island Burial Council must consist of a majority of Kānaka Maoli. The preservation criteria established by state law favor the “preservation in place” of burial sites that contain a “concentration of skeletal remains,” or are “pre-contact” or “historic period” burial sites associated with important individuals and events.

At Naue, there are 30 known burial remains within less than half of an acre, with a high likelihood that more remains are present. Naue is a significant historical site that is frequently acknowledged in hula, oli, mele, and other Hawaiian knowledge sources. Accordingly, the Kaua`i-Ni`ihau Island Burial Council appropriately voted to preserve in place the burial site on the property claimed by Brescia. Read the rest of the second statement here....

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