Hawai`i Volcanoes News Release
Date: May 22, 2006
Contact: Mardie Lane, Park Ranger (808) 985-6018
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park has determined that five items in its museum collection are subject to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), are culturally affiliated with Native Hawaiians, and are unassociated funerary objects, as defined by the law.
The five items—a carved wooden game board (konane), a carved wooden female figure, a cutting tool with shark tooth attached, a water gourd with shell stopper, and a wrist ornament made of rock oyster—were donated to Hawai’i Volcanoes in 1956 by Blodwin Forbes Edmondson, the daughter of David Forbes. Forbes, with two other individuals, took these items from a lava tube near Kawaihae on the island of Hawai‘i in 1905.
NAGPRA, a Federal law passed in 1990, requires that museums and Federal agencies return certain Native American cultural items—human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony—to lineal descendants or culturally affiliated Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations. According to NAGPRA, unassociated funerary objects are items that were originally found with human remains but the human remains are not in the possession of a museum or agency.
According to Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando, “The fact that the objects were with human remains provides important information that has helped us determine the correct NAGPRA category. These are highly significant Hawaiian cultural items and the National Park Service looks forward to working with Native Hawaiian organizations and individuals to complete the process of repatriation.”
NAGPRA requires that if a determination of cultural affiliation can be made for human remains, associated or unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects or objects of cultural patrimony, then the federal agency or museum, upon request of a lineal descendent, Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization, should return the objects.
“The next step in the NAGPRA process is to consult with Native Hawaiian groups and individuals to determine who is the most appropriate claimant for repatriation.” said Orlando.
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