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February 2006

Hawai`i News

U.S. District Judge Orders Hawaiians To Use
Ho`oponopono In Dispute

By Rochelle delaCruz

A U.S. District judge in Honolulu is telling Native Hawaiians that instead of the courts, to use ho`oponopono to resolve a dispute over objects taken from burial caves a century ago. Ho`oponopono means “to make things right” and is a traditional form of conflict resolution where all parties must stay with the process until a decision is reached.

This followed a contentious hearing in which Edward Halealoha Ayau, Executive Director for Hui Mālama I Na Kūpuna O Hawai`i Nei was sentenced by Judge David Ezra to an unspecified amount of time in jail for refusing to divulge information. Twenty-one days later, Judge Ezra decided that the Native Hawaiian tradition of mediation was preferable to a court order and released Ayau to participate. The decision was applauded by all groups involved in the recovery and repatriation of items that the Bishop Museum turned over to Hui Mālama in 2000.

In old Hawai`i, the dead and their moepū (funerary objects) were buried in caves whose locations were kept secret especially if the deceased was of high rank. (See Mo`olelo February 2006 for the significance of `iwi.) In 1905, Western grave robbers David Forbes, William Wagner and Frederich Haenisch looted caves at Kawaihae on the island of Hawai`i and sold moepū to the Bishop Museum.

In 1988, Hui O Mālama I Na Kūpuna O Hawai`i Nei was formed when more than 1,100 sets of `iwi (human bones) were found at the construction site of the Ritz Carlton Kapalua on Maui, forcing the hotel to move inland while Hawaiians reburied the remains. Since then, the group has recovered nearly 5,900 sets of `iwi and reburied them in or near their original burial sites.

Hui Mālama’s current embroilment involves moepū and not `iwi, but believes they are one and the same. Since it began its mission, Hui Mālama has also reburied hundreds of funerary objects, many from museums around the world. The present conflict began in 2000, when the Bishop Museum turned over 83 native Hawaiian items to Hui Mālama. The Museum says the 83 items were on loan for a year; Hui Mālama says the invoice referred to “loan pending completion of repatriation.” (In 1990, a federal law, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act or NAGPRA was passed, setting up a process for returning remains, burial objects and other cultural objects to indigenous groups.)

In August 2005, two other groups Na Lei Alii Kawananakoa, formed recently by heiress Abigail Kawananakoa, (a descendent of King Kalākaua,) and The Royal Hawaiian Academy of Traditional Arts filed suit against the Bishop Museum and Hui Mālama, demanding the return of the cultural objects so that other Hawaiian groups can have input in the decision regarding the moepū. Judge David Ezra ordered the objects returned to the museum by September 23, 2005. Hui Mālama appealed and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the court order, but by December 12th, affirmed Ezra’s September injunction. At a hearing on December 27th, Ezra asked Hui Mālama leader Ayau to identify the locations of the Kawaihae caves where he reburied the 83 items so that they may be retrieved. When Ayau refused, Ezra found him guilty of civil contempt of court and ordered him to jail for “an indeterminate amount of time.” A few minutes later, Ezra also found Kīhei Nahale`ā in contempt as he rose and chanted in defiance. (Nahale`ā was in Seattle in November, accompanying Kaumaka`iwa “Lopaka” Kanaka`ole who opened for the Brothers Cazimero in concert at Benaroya Hall.)

On January 5, 2006, Jon Osorio, associate professor and director of the Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa, wrote a letter to the editor of the Honolulu Advertiser which concludes, “As for Judge Ezra, is it possible that he might see that our burial practices and beliefs are places where his court and his opinions do not belong?”

On January 6th, Ezra announced that he would not file the lawsuit and suggested that the Native Hawaiian groups resolve their differences with a traditional Hawaiian form of dispute resolution on which they can all agree.

On January 17th, Ayau, without being ordered to divulge the location of the reburied moepū, was released from prison in order to participate. The parties involved were asked to identify mediators, but when they were unable to come to consensus, they submitted suggestions and left it up to the court, which then chose Nainoa Thompson, navigator and Kamehameha Schools trustee, and Earl Kawaa, Family Education specialist for a Kamehameha Schools Hi`ilani outreach program in Waimānalo, O`ahu. Targeted deadline to reach agreement is February 24, 2006.

According to U.S. Magistrate Kevin Chang who is helping Ezra, this use of a Hawaiian mediation process could set a precedent for other cases.


First Ever “Native Leaders Forum” a Success

By Danny Kaopuiki

“You must have a vision of the island (a goal) you are seeking in your mind…or you will never get there.” These words, spoken by Hawai`i’s legendary Nainoa Thompson, navigator for Hawai`i’s sailingNainoa Thompson vessel Hōkūle`a, became the motto for the hundred and twenty plus attendees at the “Native Leaders Forum” held at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in mid-January 2006. Co-sponsored by the American Indian Resource Center and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the convention included some of the most powerful and influential leaders of American Indians, Alaskan Natives and Native Hawaiians. Leaders, young and old, experienced or emerging, were selected from each of the indigenous native groups to attend the forum, and the consensus at the end was that the convention was the most informative and inspirational they had ever attended.

The full title of the forum was Native Leadership and the Challenges Ahead “Protecting Sovereignty, Culture, Homelands and Resource Rights, and Achieving Economic Self-Sufficiency.” The intent of the forum was two-fold: one, to create an alliance and engender political and moral support between the indigenous peoples of the United States (the American Indians, the Alaskan Natives and the Native Hawaiians) and two, to identify challenges facing all the indigenous people of the United States and provide guidance on how indigenous Native Leaders can best cope with these challenges. Expert panelists spoke of the difficulties the American Indians experienced for decades before being recognized by the United States government and accorded their treaty rights. They spoke further about the concerns that some of those hard-earned rights may be reduced or even eliminated in the current political arena. Of particular interest to the Hawaiian delegation was the status of the Akaka Bill (Recognition of the Indigenous Natives of Hawai`i.) It was especially heart-warming to hear of the support from the American Indians and the Alaskan Natives for recognition of the Native Hawaiians as indigenous people.

Among the keynote American Indian and Alaskan Native speakers were Master of Ceremonies Richard Trudell, American Indian Resources Institute, Washington D.C.; Byron Mallot, Executive Director, First Alaskan Institutes; Billy Frank, Jr. (the fiery activist from Olympia, Washington whose exploits on behalf of the Native Indian fishing rights contributed to the famous Judge Boldt decision); famed Indian attorney John Echohawk from Boulder, Colorado; noted author Charles Wilkinson (Professor of Law at the University of Colorado); and Deron Marquez, chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Patton, California.

Some of the speakers representing Native Hawaiians were Senator Daniel Akaka; Nainoa Thompson; Mahealani Kamau`u (Executive Director, Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation); Kumu John Lake (Chaminade College); OHA Chair Haunani Apoliona; and Judge Walter Heen.

The three-day forum was filled with presentations, discussions and question/answer dialogs about every element involved in creating and operating a “nation within a nation” system such as the American and Alaskan Natives now have and the Native Hawaiians are planning with their Ho`olu Lahui Aloha (To Build a Beloved Nation) program as well as talents and techniques that native leaders must develop to be successful.

Ironically, Nainoa Thompson’s comment “you must have a vision of the island you are seeking in your mind…” is the virtual starting point for the outcome of this very successful forum because the Thompson family home in Niu Valley (Aina Haina) was the site for the final reception. Under a beaming Hawaiian moon on grounds reminiscent of what olden day Hawai`i must have been like (gentle breezes wafting the sweet scent of plumeria among the blended mixture of indigenous natives relaxing on the veranda that wraps around the Thompson house), here, in an old Hawaiian place, a very successful forum ended and a new beginning was created. Most importantly, from this ending emerged a unity of the indigenous peoples of the United States; an alliance of American Indians and Alaskan Natives and Native Hawaiians who are willing and able to face any challenges the future might bring.

`Onipa`a pū…steadfast, together!

Danny Kaopuiki attended the Native Leaders Forum held in Honolulu from January 9-11, 2006.


Ed Case Runs Against Daniel Akaka

By NWHIT Staff

U.S.Representative Ed Case (D-Hawaii) announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat held by Senator Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii). Akaka is the co-sponsor of Senate Bill 147, also known as the Akaka Bill, that would recognize Native Hawaiians as an indigenous people with self-governing rights similar to those of American Indian tribes.

By throwing his hat in the ring, Case surprised many, including the Hawaii Democratic Party. And even though he called both Senators Akaka and Inouye before making his announcement, he did so to inform them of his decision and not to ask permission. As he is nearly 30 years younger than Akaka (Case is 53 and Akaka is 81,) this is seen by some as not only a battle of generations, but also of cultures. Many in Hawai`i see age as a plus, not a minus.

Ed Case was born in Hilo and graduated from Hawaii Preparatory Academy, an exclusive, private school in Waimea on the Big Island. Speaking to the press, Case said, “My Democratic Party has a very, very hard time with change…[but] we need to make that transition. I’m concerned that we have two 81-year old senators.”

Even though Akaka has had hip and knee replacement surgery, he says he’s in good health and looks forward to the challenge.

Representative Case supports the Akaka Bill but it is not clear what role he will play should he win the election. In 1998 when he was a state representative, Case supported a bill to consolidate the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. The bill did not pass, but his support of it did not make him popular in the Native Hawaiian community.

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