Alleged Hawaiian skull taken off eBay

A native group protests the auction of the Maui artifact

Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Friday, February 6, 2004

By Gary T. Kubota

WAILUKU -- The eBay auction of a human skull supposedly belonging to a Hawaiian warrior and found in West Maui was halted after a letter of protest from a native group.

The auctioned item was removed at about 4 a.m. Wednesday after an e-mail of complaint was sent by Eddie Ayau, the coordinator of Hui Malama I Na Kupuna Hawaii Nei, a group that has reburied native bones improperly removed in Hawaii.

Charles Maxwell Sr., a board member with the group, said the e-mail asked the seller to return the bones to Hawaii.

"We wanted to get the skull and bring it back to Lahaina," said Maxwell, also chairman of the Maui/Lanai Islands Burial Council.

The seller, who had an Irvine, Calif., hometown listed on eBay, claimed the skull was removed during the development of Whalers Village shopping center in Kaanapali in 1969 and that the warrior died during Kamehameha's bloody battle of 1790.

The seller claims to have been a teenager in 1969 and said the skull was found during a dig with friends, including the son of a famous Hollywood actor, after sneaking into the site.

Maxwell said there is a strong possibility that bones were taken from the area, but he is doubtful that the skull belongs to a Hawaiian warrior because the Kamehameha battle took place in Iao Valley.

"It (the Whalers Village site) was just a regular burial ground," he said. The group became aware of the sale after an anthropologist from Appalachian State University in North Carolina saw the item and notified the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Maxwell said.

Maxwell said the sale of human remains is a violation of the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

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