By Sally Apgar
U.S. District Judge David Ezra said yesterday that a native Hawaiian group violated his court order when it did not meet a Wednesday deadline to provide the specific location of 83 artifacts the group reburied in a Big Island cave.
Members of the board of directors of Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawaii Nei must appear before him on Tuesday at a 9 a.m. hearing to explain their actions.
Ezra's order said Hui Malama failed to comply because "it did not include the precise location of each and every item loaned to it by the Bishop Museum as described in the order or names and addresses of each person who has knowledge of the exact location of any of the items."
Hui Malama was founded in 1989 to rebury native Hawaiian remains and burial artifacts from museums and construction sites. Its attorney, Alan Murakami, said, "It doesn't sound like this will be a very good Christmas with this uncertainty hanging over everyone's head."
Ezra said that noncompliance with the 4 p.m. Wednesday deadline would result in substantial fines and even imprisonment.
Hui Malama's spokesman, Edward Halealoha Ayau, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Last Thursday, Hui Malama said it would not speak to the Star-Bulletin due to "past mistreatment" in the coverage of the group's activities.
Ezra's order stems from a long-standing legal dispute between Hui Malama and two other native Hawaiian groups, represented by La'akea Suganuma of the Royal Academy of Traditional Arts and Campbell Estate heiress Abigail Kawananakoa, who founded Na Lei Alii Kawananakoa.
Late yesterday, Suganuma and Kawananakoa issued a statement that said: "Judge Ezra is giving Hui Malama every opportunity to provide the required information despite its history of misleading and evasive statements to the court and Hawaiian community.
Most troubling is the revelation only last Friday that artifacts were put in more than one cave, and that, contrary to prior statements, they are not secure."
The statement said Hui Malama was "willing to hijack Hawaiian culture and history in their desperate effort to avoid accounting for the treasures that were loaned to them."
Suganuma and Kawananakoa also sharply disagree with Hui Malama's strongly held belief that the artifacts needed to be reburied in the caves from which they were taken in 1905 because they were funerary items that ancestors chose to have buried with them.
"Important cultural artifacts were stored in caves to protect them from destruction and loss. They were being preserved for future generations, not to be buried and lost forever or stolen and sold on the black market," they said.
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