www.localism.com featured article 8/18/2007
It is a known fact that all our Hawaiian Islands have many burial grounds and sites that have still not been "discovered". Another fact is that much of our land is zoned as Preservation and/or Conservation land. There are a few things about ancient Hawaiian Burial Sites that you all need to know if you are thinking about buying vacant land here in Hawaii because it's not as easy as you think.
For one. Make sure and check into zoning laws. Hawaii (Oahu) Zoning, Special Use and Building Permits Next make sure and check into Preservation of Hawaiian Culture, Land and History and NOW you can check out the following information on our State Burial Laws regarding historical burial sites.
Chapter 6E of the Hawaii Revised Statutes amended Act 265 to make sure that provisions were in place upon the discovery of Hawaiian historic burial sites. This was mainly due to the public outcry of the moving of over 1,000 Native Hawaiian remains at the Honokahua graveyard on Maui to another location! In 1990 the remains were returned to their original resting place after the Hawaii State Legislature passed a bill signed by then Governor Waihee.
The State Burial Laws were adopted from this time:
- 1990: Act 306 is passed into law and states that there is now a process to protect the resting places of Hawaii's dead
- Chapter 6E HRS changed the way burial sites would be handled. Island Burial Councils on ALL islands were established (State Historic Preservation Division) to establish and put into effect some burial laws as well as where they would relocate Hawaiian burial sites or just PRESERVE the site.
- The Burial Council on each island has to approve the proposed burial treatments.
- OHA (Office of Hawaiian Affairs) is definitely part of the process as well as the Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawaii Nei (Native Hawaiian Organization involved deeply in the cultural/spiritual care of remains, burial goods, burial sites)
- State Burial Law determines procedures for for Hawaiian burials, inventory of unmarked Hawaiian burial sites and also implements penalties for burial law violations
- September 28,1996: "Rules of Practice and Procedure Relating to Burial Sites and Human Remains" act is now part of the HAR Chapter 13-300 and were amended to give extra protection to Native Hawaiian burial sites.
DLNR (Department of Land and Natural Resources) has a new Historic and Review Process: Proper steps to take for suspected properties of "historic site". These following steps are to be taken!
1) Identification and Inventory: State Historic Preservation Department (SHPD) to be contacted to find out the status on archaeological work on the site. Order an archeological inventory or survey if needed. The developer needs to really look at archealogical studies not only of the land their developing on but surrounding the property as well. If the SHPD determines nothing is going on...only then will they issue a preliminary "no effect" letter.
2) Evaluation of site: If the site is proven to be historic an evaluation must be made.
3) Impact Assessment: Assessment made of the impact the development would have on the site.
4) General Mitigation Plan: A proposed list of what should be done for the site (preservation/archealogical study) and has three components:
- buffer zones set up so workers don't bulldoze or run over the site
- Protection measures such as briefing workers during construction and archeaologist on site during the land moving
- Long term preservation measures (i.e. placing signs although it may not prove beneficial to attract attention because of vandalism
5) Detailed Mitigation Plan: Scope of work to carry out #4
6) Verification of Completion of #5
Only when the process is complete will the SHPD be in agreement that all steps have been taken to ensure the Burial Laws have been abided by.
One good example of the process is when Walmart broke ground in June 2004 for construction on our island of Oahu on Keeaumoku Street for their upcoming store. Construction ceases and they await direction from the State Historic Preservaton Division who is called immediately at the same time as the Honolulu Police Department. An archeaologist comes in (paid by the developer) to evaluate the site. (the state also has their requirements for experience of archealogists!) Then the specialists in Hawaiian culture are called in to handle the remains and/or artifacts. 42 sets of human remains were found. After a process, Walmart resumed the construction and it opened in October of 2004.
These rules ensure that the preservation of land for historical sites that are discovered are protected and that developers are no longer allowed to take our Hawaiian lands forgranted.
Developers are forced to respect the lands for what they were and what they are as well as PRESERVE the HISTORY of Ancient Hawaii.
For more information, please contact the Department of Land and Natural Resources Historic Preservation Division, 33 South King Street, 6th Floor, Honolulu, Hawai'i 96813; 587-0047, or 1-800-468-4644 for neighbor-island callers.