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Mokapu and Heleloa


Ku`au and He`eia

Introduction

For many Native Hawaiians, the question of which is the largest Hawaiian burial site disturbance leads to a quick response, "Honokahua." However, the largest pre-contact Native Hawaiian burial removal occurred on the island of O`ahu at Mokapu and Heleloa which comprises portions of the ahupua`a of He`eia and Kane`ohe. Following the intentional removal of ancestral remains by the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum and the University of Hawai`i Department of Anthropology, and following the inadvertent discovery of additional ancestors over the years, the skeletal remains and burial objects of approximately 1,600 ancestral Native Hawaiians were disturbed and removed from Mokapu and Heleloa and are currently stored at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum.

The purpose of this vignette is to share the story of the largest eviction of Native Hawaiian ancestors in the modern era by discussing the events that took place, i.e. disinterment, recovery, dates each event took place, history of land tenure from the time of the Mahele, identification of those individuals and entities responsible for removal and recovery, and the motivations, applicable laws, cultural implications, lack of notice, consultation and consent from living Native Hawaiians:
"If there is anything Native Hawaiians will come to know it's eviction. They evict us when we're alive, they evict us when we're dead. We are never safe. Our responsibility is to protect our sense of place." - Punahele Lerma

 

Land Tenure in the Peninsula: He`eia and Kane`ohe Ahupua`a

Following the Mahele, Mokapu Peninsula was kept as Crown Lands. Ko`olaupoko District Chief Abner Pki was awarded over 3,000 acres in He`eia ahupua`a (LCA 10613) and Queen Kalama, wife of Kamehameha III was awarded over 9,000 acres in Kne`ohe ahupua`a (LCA 4452). Both awards were given for nearly the entire ahupua`a. Lands situated in the ahupua`a of He`eia awarded to Pki reverted to the Crown following his death in 1856.
 
Paki's portion of ili Mokapu was sold at auction to William and John Sumner and included 464 acres. John Sumner became sole owner upon his brother's death, and left the lands in trust to Robert Wyllie Davis, his nephew. The area was later divided into house lots in 1932 and sold off. In 1940, by Federal Executive Order through the U.S. Navy, all 331 parcels on the 464 acres were condemned and a Declaration of Takings enacted.1 This action occurred ten months following completion of the University of Hawai`i excavations at He`eia.
 
Lands situated in the ahupua`a of Kane`ohe that once belonged to Queen Kalama were purchased by Judge C.C. Harris in 1871 including ili Heleloa. The lands were later inherited by his daughter, Nannie R. Rice. In the late 1800s, some parcels were leased to J.P. Mendoca for cattle ranching. In 1907, James B. Castle bought stock in the ranch which had become known as Kane`ohe Ranch, and by 1917, his son Harold K. Castle had purchased the property from Mrs. Rice. Since 1918, the military controlled portions of ili Kuwa`a`ohe, situated in Kne`ohe ahupua`a, where a camp was established. During World War I the camp was not used. However, in 1939, Camp Kuwa`a`ohe was reactivated. In 1940, access to Mokapu was restricted because the United States was going to build a major naval base and negotiations were ongoing. In 1952, the entire peninsula became part of the Kane`ohe Marine Corps Station and under federal ownership.
 
Removal and Recovery of Native Hawaiians by the Bishop Museum, the University of Hawai`i, the U.S. Navy, the State of Hawai`i, and Private Citizens:

TABLE OF DISINTERMENTS FROM THE MOKAPU PENINSULA 1915 - PRESENT
Excavator
Stokes
Handy
Bryan & Thrum
Harvey
MacGregor
Emory & BM
Bowles & Emory
Bowen & BM
Wagner
Provost Marshall
Base DPW
Emory
Fiddler
Snow
Marines
Raddatz
P. Ward
M. Yoshida
Daigle
Bowen, R
Kalo
Chapman
KMCAS
Snow, C.
Dye, Cleghorn
Jarrell
KMCAS
Neller, E
Olson, D
Masse/Hommon
Neller, E
Neller, E
?
Force Main Tr
Landfill Proj
Mahoe, S
Ogden Env
Ogden Env
Dates
1915
1921
1932
1932
1934
1938
1938-40
1957
1952
1952
1953
1953
1956
1957
1957
1959
1960
1964
1964
1965
1965
1967
1969
1964-65
1975
1972
1972
1981
1982
1980s
c1884
1985
1987
1988
1989
1993
1993
1992
#
2
1?
84
1
**
119
965
163
2
6
3
1
8
11
6
1
2
1
2
3
6
9
1
?
108
2
2
1
1
?
1
2
1
2
c1
1
1
1
Entity
BM
BM?
BM
Priv Do
Priv Do
BM
BM & UH
BM
Priv Do
Marines
Marines
BM
Marines
BM
Marines
Prov Marsh
Resident?
Resident?
Marine
BM
Teacher
BM
Marines
BM
C&CH
Marines
Marines
SHPO
Marines
Navy
SHPO
SHPO
KMCAS
KMCAS
KMCAS
Priv Do
Navy
Navy
Site #
Heleloa
Mokapu
Heleloa
Heleloa
Mokapu
B
H, C, N
C, N
Mokapu
Mokapu
Mokapu
Mokapu
Nu'upia
Mokapu
Mokapu
Mokapu
Mokapu
Ulupa'u
Mokapu
Mokapu
Mokapu
Heleloa
Heleloa
?
50-0a-G5-6
Mokapu
Heleloa
Mokapu
Mokapu
Mokapu
?
?
?
?
?
Mokapu
Ulupa'u
Mokapu
Accession/Osteo
1915
1921.059*
1932.113
1932.089
1932.035
1938.084
1940.048
1957.182
1952.022
1952.078
1953.119
1953.132
1956.143
1957.181
1957.117
1959.082
1960.044
1964.016
1964.290
1965.376
1965.377
1967.199
1969.031
1086.039
7
1972.127
1972.188
1981.664
TL1991.045
TL1992.200
Osteo 3434
Osteo 3435/3436
Osteo 3430
Osteo 3431/3432
Osteo 3433
1993.115.001
TL 1993.059
Osteo 3443
* discarded due to poor condition
** no remains identified as acc 1934.035 found during inventory

From 1925 to 1940, jurisdiction over burials recovered from He`eia and Heleloa belonged to the Territorial Government, not the United States. The Territorial law on reburial was applicable and governed both Bishop Museum exploratory excavations and the large scale excavations by the University of Hawaii.
 
The Territorial Government may have some responsibility for the 1938 excavations, since its agent, the Director of the Sanitation Department, permitted excavation of human skeletal remains from He`eia on the condition that (1) proper containers are used, (2) individual remains are distinguished and separately treated, (3) all containers and boxes must be labeled temporary acquisitions or in temporary custody, and (4) ultimate disposition, if ever, must be reburial.
 
The actions of Professor Bowles is clearly on behalf of the University of Hawaii`i who authorizes him to direct field work and laboratory study of the skeletal remains from the He`eia exploratory excavations. However, it is clear that the permit from the Sanitation Department was conditioned on the Bishop Museum, not the University of Hawai`i, guaranteeing compliance with the territorial law to rebury.
 
Therefore, we believe that both the Bishop Museum and the University of Hawai`i share responsibility with regard to the 1938 large scale excavations and should assist with completion of the repatriation and reburial of the ancestral skeletal remains they ordered removed and studied. Both institutions should be reminded that at the time this action originally occurred, an important legal requirement for excavation was that the remains be reburied and that the time has come to fulfill that legal mandate. Bishop Museum of course is solely responsible for excavations of the 119 individuals during the exploratory excavations led by Dr. Emory in the spring of 1938.
 
The University of Hawai`i and Bishop Museum should provide funding necessary to acquire all reburial materials including kapa, lauhala and aha for the 965 ancestral Native Hawaiians that Dr. Bowles and Dr. Emory were responsible for excavating.

Cultural Implications

How can the Hawaiian nation heal itself from the wounds of Western contact when such actions have included inflictions that served to undermine the very foundation of it's families?
 
The United States Navy contracted the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum to conduct its NAGPRA inventory for Mokapu and Heleloa. As part of the contractual work, Bishop Museum subcontractor Dr. Sara Collins examined many of the Mokapu and Heleloa ancestors. Hui Malama strongly objected to the study of these ancestral remains and filed a lawsuit in federal district court in an attempt to prevent the osteological information from being released, thereby exacerbating the offense already caused to the ancestors by these unnecessary actions. Certain individuals, however, made sure they would receive copies of the report prior to the federal district court ruling by requesting copies under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) following intial institution of the suit. These individuals include:
 
Dr. Tom Dye, 813 16th Avenue, Honolulu, Hawai`i 96816
Dr. Sara Collins, 2231 Noah Street, Honolulu, Hawai`i 96816
Toni Han, P. O. Box 52, Ka`a`awa, Hawai`i 96730
Elaine H.R. Jourdane, 1920 Kakela Drive, Honolulu, Hawai`i 96822
Vince Sava, 403F Cocos Place, Honolulu, Hawai`i 96818.
Dr. James Anthony, Hawai`i La`ieikawai Assoc., P. O. Box 720, Ka`a`awa, 96730.
 
Other individuals which received copies of the report include: the claimants, members of the NAGPRA Review Committee, O`ahu Island Burial Council, Dr. Rober Hommon of the National Park Service, Archaeological Assistance Division, National Park Service in Washington, D.C., Belt Collins & Associates, and the legal team representing the U.S. Navy in the litigation, including Daria Zane, Theodore Meeker, Richard Eddy, and the Office of Counsel for the Commandant. Reports which were made available to the Hawai`i State Library, Kane`ohe Regional Library, and Ogden Environmental & Energy Services were subsequently recovered by the Navy.
 
It was represented to Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai`i Nei that after two years, the reports kept by the Navy would be destroyed in compliance with federal regulations. Although we have not been notified of such actions, we sincerely hope this has been done. In addition, we request those who have these reports to destroy the sections that relate to the examination of the remains to help mitigate the shame and anguish felt by these ancestors for being exposed in such an offensive manner.
 
We also request kokua in convincing the U.S. Navy and the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum to agree to destroy the photographs and negatives taken of the ancestral Mokapu and Heleloa remains.
 
Ultimately, Judge Ezra ruled against Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai`i Nei stating that the Mokapu report could be released for public consumption. However, in doing so, Judge Ezra did not base his ruling on kanawai (Hawaiian law) and values such as malama and kupale. Instead, the ruling was based on a highly questionable interpretation of NAGPRA and its legislative history, and on FOIA.
 
The question remains -- how do Native Hawaiians obtain justice for transgressions of the kanawai, such as the removal of hundreds of burials without the consent of the living families and the examination and photography of these ancestors, again without consent? The answer must be ea:
 
Imua na poki`i a inu i ka wai `awa`awa, a`ohe hope e ho`i mai ai
Forward my children and drink the bitter waters
there is no turning back.

Imperative to Reinter

Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai`i Nei believes that in order for Native Hawaiians to firmly and with focused movement (`onipa`a), realize their future, we must amongst other responsibilities, take appropriate care of the past by reestablishing and strengthening the ancestral foundation. It is through this important foundation, that our house (our future) will be built. Lhui means all of us, especially the original citizens of our great nation.
 
Together with the other claimants, Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai`i Nei has forcefully advocated for the repatriation and reinterment of these 1,600 ancestors. They have been waiting far too long to go home. E `ae ia lakou e ho`i.

Impediments to Reinterment

After a year of kukakuka for the express purpose of acquiring the authorization to repatriate and reinter 1,600 ancestral remains through the unification of all fifteen separate claims under NAGPRA into one, five claimants decided not to unify with the majority of individuals and Native Hawaiian organizations. The parties have urged the U.S. Navy to proceed to determine the rightful claimants. However, the Navy has done little to advise the parties involved as to its process and timetable for such decision making. We have waited over two years for a decision.
 
The five individuals opposing repatriation are demanding that the ancestral remains be subject to DNA analysis in order to clarify family lines, that they be granted unrestricted access to the base, surfing spots, and other conditions. These individuals include Rubellite Johnson, Sam Monet, Frank Nobriga, Carlos Mahi Manuel and Eric Po`ohina.
 
The difficulty with the position to subject the Mokapu ancestors to DNA analysis for purposes of possibly clarifying lineal descent amongst the claimants is that the process is irreversible. Should the five claimants turn out not to be family to these ancestors, the desecration would have to occur first, in order for the issue to possibly be clarified. This implication renders the demand for DNA unacceptable. Scientists may argue the process is non-intrusive, however, from the cultural perspective, to delve into the very origins of these ancestors is nothing but an intrusion of their being, and an escalation of their shame and anguish. The price to be paid by the five opponents for being wrong is much too high.
 
Attempts over a two year period to reconcile differences with these five claimants have proven unsuccessful. All were repeatedly invited to join the majority to present a single unified claim on behalf of the ancestral and living families. All five have refused. On behalf of the Mokapu and Heleloa ancestors, any kokua would be greatly appreciated.

A he leo wale no,

`ae.


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