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Missing Iwi

This link illustrates examples where federal agencies and federally funded institutions have misplaced, conveyed or simply lost ancestral Native Hawaiian skeletal remains. Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai`i Nei remains hopeful that the ancestral remains will be recovered, repatriated and reinterred.

Bishop Museum:

In admitting that it is unable to locate a kapa bundle burial identified as 2005 removed from the island of Kaho`olawe by John Stokes and later opened with the contents including ancestral remains and burial related objects effectively separated, the Bishop Museum wrote Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai`i Nei stating,

"We have unfortunately discovered discrepancies in our catalogs regarding bundle burials and associated funerary objects from other sites on Kaho'olawe. We are still searching for the essential identifications and their verification in the Museum records, and will provide you with this information at the soonest possible time."

In a separate matter, Bishop Museum notified Edward Ayau of the State Historic Preservation Division with respect to its collection of Native Hawaiian remains from the island of Molokai that,

"I managed to resolve the problem that I spoke to you about. Regrettably, one skull listed under 1907.10 (James Munro) is not here."

The ancestral Molokai remains were repatriated and reinterred in April 1991. However, the identified iwi po`o has still not been accounted for, as it was given to the Cranmore Ethnographic Museum by the Bishop Museum in 1910.


Mokapu and Heleloa, O`ahu

Following completion of the NAGPRA inventory of ancestral Native Hawaiian remains and funerary objects from Mokapu and Heleloa, O`ahu, the U.S. Navy's contract consultant, the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum acknowledged that 22 accessions of ancestral remains are missing. Most of the remains were collected by the Bishop Museum prior to the construction of the Kane`ohe Marine Corp Base: (see Mokapu and Heleloa)

"The physical remains of 22 accessions listed in the OC [osteology catalog] were missing outright (see Table 4). Nearly all of the missing cases derived from the large, pre-war B. H. and W Series."


University of Pennsylvania Museum:

Following completion of it's statutorily mandated inventory of human remains and associated funerary objects, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology notified Hui Malama that it could not account for five sets of remains. Later, the Museum found three and included them with the ancestral remains to be repatriated. However, two ancestral Native Hawaiian remains are still unaccounted for,

"With respect to the five possible native Hawaiian remains previously unaccounted for, those identified as L-606-1769, L-606-1774, and L-606-1860 have recently been accounted for."


Barber's Point Naval Air Station, Kalaeloa, O`ahu:

Following the inadvertent discovery of a single set of ancestral Native Hawaiian remains on this federal enclave, the Navy recovered the remains of a young child. However, prior to repatriation and reinterment, the Navy lost the remains after placing them in an evidence room on base:

"This is sent to advise you that the investigation concerning the handling and disposition of the Nimitz Beach Park remains has been completed. We regret to inform you that the Nimitz Beach Park human remains have not been located."

Hui Malama's perspective regarding the missing ancestral remains at Nimitz Beach:

"We remain ever hopeful that this is a case of misplacement, and that the ancestral remains will be located and ultimately repatriated pursuant to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. We therefore pose the following revised questions in order to better understand what took place and respectfully request your staff's complete cooperation in responding to these important queries."

To date, no response has been received from the Navy.


Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology:

Upon repatriation of 168 ancestral Native Hawaiian remains from Harvard University, Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai`i Nei was notified and formally acknowledged that one iwi po`o is still missing,

"I, THE UNDERSIGNED, representative of Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai`i Nei, do hereby acknowledge receipt of the human remains listed above. In addition, I will accept, upon identification, the following human remains, listed in the Peabody Museum's records but unlocated at this time:

80-25-70/23517 cranial remains Hawaii."


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