Visited by people since July 27th, 1996.

  • Background
  • Federal and State Laws
  • Beliefs And Practices
  • Goals
  • Completed Repatriations from National and International Institutions
  • Essay: Rooted in Native Soil
  • Essay: Advice on Working with Museums
  • Other NAGPRA Related Organizations

  • Mokapu and Heleloa
    kii photo 
    Ki'i La`au

    Missing Iwi

    Na Wai E Malama A Ho'omalu I Na Iwi

    Na Makou

    Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai`i Nei (Group Caring For the Ancestors of Hawai`i) is a Native Hawaiian Organization dedicated to the proper treatment of ancestral Native Hawaiians. Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai`i Nei was born December 1988 from the kaumaha (heaviness) and aokanaka (enlightenment) caused by the archaeological disinterment of over 1,100 ancestral Native Hawaiians from Honokahua, Maui. The ancestral remains were removed over the protests of the Native Hawaiian community in order to build the Ritz Carlton Hotel. The desecration was stopped following a 24-hour vigil at the State Capital. Governor John Waihe`e, a Native Hawaiian, approved of a settlement that returned the ancestral remains to their one hanau (birth sands), set aside the reburial site in perpetuity, and moved the hotel inland and away from the ancestral resting place. Ironically, Native Hawaiians fighting the approval of the Ritz Carlton Hotel project advocated for the hotel to be moved away from the ancestral burial site to begin with. Today, stone memorials and plaques mark the location of the reinterment site, a chilly reminder of the pain, anguish, and shame that could have been avoided if State and County officials and the private landowner/developer had only listened to those who demanded the the hotel not be built, or at least moved away from the Honokahua families.
    In one sense Honokahua represents balance, for from this tragedy came enlightment: the realization by living Native Hawaiians that we were ultimately responsible for the care and protection of our ancestors and that cultural protocols needed to be relearned and laws effectively changed to create the empowerment necessary to carry out this important and time honored responsibility to malama (take care) and kupale (protect) our ancestors.
    Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai`i Nei members have trained under the direction of Edward and Pualani Kanahele of Hilo in traditional protocols relating to care of na iwi kupuna (ancestral remains). These commitments were undertaken as a form of aloha and respect for our own families, our ancestors, our parents, and our children:
    Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai`i Nei has been taught by the Kanahele family about the importance of pule (prayer) necessary to ho`olohe (listen) to the calling of our ancestors. Through pule we request the assistance of ke akua and our ancestors to provide us the tools necessary to conduct our work:

    E homai ka ike, e homai ka ikaika, e homai ka akamai, e homai ka maopopo pono, e homai ka `ike papalua, e homai ka mana

    Grant us knowledge, grant us strength, grant us intelligence, grant us righteous understanding, grant us visions and avenues of communication, grant us mana.

    Moreover, we have been taught that the relationship between our ancestors and ourselves is one of interdependence- as the living, we have a kuleana (responsibility) to care for our kupuna (ancestors). In turn, our ancestors respond by protecting us on the spiritual side. Hence, one side cannot completely exist without the other.

    Beliefs And Practices:
    Federal and State Laws:

    Repatriation and burial site protection required changes in federal and state laws. Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai`i Nei is honored to have participated in successful efforts to enact the National Museum of the American Indian Act (P.L. 101-185, November, 1989, "NMAIA") and the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act ("NAGPRA") (P.L. 101-601, November 16, 1990). Although Native Hawaiians are not formally recognized as Native Americans, for purposes of NMAIA and NAGPRA, Native Hawaiians enjoy Native American status. Moreover, Native Hawaiian organizations enjoy legal authorities comparable to Indian tribes. Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai`i Nei and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs are specifically named as Native Hawaiian organizations eligible to conduct repatriation of cultural items and to participate in consultation relating to the treatment of inadvertently discovered Native Hawaiian remains and other cultural items on Federal and Hawaiian Home lands.

    NAGPRA gave Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai`i Nei legal standing to bring the ancestors home back to their `ohana and to protect the sanctity of traditional burial sites. This meant contacting museums nation wide to inquire whether the institution housed Native Hawaiian skeletal remains or funerary objects and if so, begin the process of repatriation and reinterment.

    Moreover, the passage of Act 306 in 1990 has provided a higher degree of protection for Native Hawaiian burial and reburial sites in the State of Hawai`i through the creation of island burial councils comprised of a majority of Native Hawaiians, as well as representatives of large landowners and developers. The councils have the legal authority to determine whether to preserve in place or relocate previously identified Native Hawaiian burial sites situate on state, county, and private land. In addition, the councils have the authority to render recommendations regarding any burial related matter, including the treatment of inadvertently discovered Native Hawaiian skeletal remains.

    Completed Repatriations from National and International Institutions:

    Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai`i Nei has repatriated and reinterred ancestral Native Hawaiian remains and funerary objects from the following institutions:



    Museums with pending repatriation claims:

     Yale Peabody Museum Harvard Peabody Museum