A federal judge released Hui Malama leader Edward Halealoha Ayau from prison today but ordered him to home confinement as the native Hawaiian groups involved in a dispute over 83 artifacts try to negotiate a settlement.
Ayau has been in prison since Dec. 27 for refusing to tell U.S. District Court Judge David Ezra the location of artifacts that his group, Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawaii Nei, had reburied in a Big Island cave. Bishop Museum officials contend that they loaned the artifacts to the group but expected them to be returned. Fourteen Hawaiian groups have staked a claim to the artifacts.
In court this morning, Ezra released Ayau to home confinement and set a target deadline of Feb. 24 for all the groups, including Hui Malama, to negotiate a settlement by using a Hawaiian form of conflict resolution.
Ayau was released so he can participate in the process.
The court also chose two mediators for the negotiations. They are Nainoa Thompson, the renowned native Hawaiian navigator and Kamehameha Schools trustee, and Earl Kawaa, the site coordinator for a Kamehameha Schools outreach program in Waimanalo.
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