Thursday, July 09, 2009


Naue burial desecration case hits front page, raises double standard

by Larry Geller

Above the foldThe best place to track the Naue burial desecration issue has been Joan Conrow’s blog, KauaiEclectic. She has tracked this story (as have other Kauai blogs) from the beginning. So it was good to see the story break through to the front page of the Honolulu Advertiser this morning. Complete with a picture showing the house going up over the concrete “coffins,” and a clear map of the construction site.

So I’m glad to see that this issue has broken into awareness on Oahu, big time. Don’t think it’s over if this is all the press it gets, though, stay in touch through Joan.

In preparing to link to this story, though, I discovered an interesting juxtaposition, illustrating the double standard that has been applied in Hawaii. By that I mean, if I can illustrate it, suppose someone tried to build a house over Punchbowl or another non-Native Hawaiian cemetery. Would that be tolerated? Check out this snippet from the Advertiser’s web page this morning:


So one story of extreme grave desecration gets national attention and even makes it into “breaking news” here in Hawaii. The ongoing desecration of Native Hawaiian burials gets little attention and the graves often little protection, when development is involved.

Read the Advertiser story. Read Joan’s ongoing coverage. Read the Illinois story. Sure, they are upset over there, and with good reason. We should be upset here as well.

On Oahu we have easier access to the legislature than do those living on Neighbor Islands. Now that the story has broken through here, and if we need to strengthen our laws protecting gravesites, I hope that the exposure in our daily paper will encourage Oahu folks to support new laws that will prevent future struggles like this one.


You're missing the point. A designated legal cemetery is not anywhere one fines bones. It is illegal/immoral to desecrate or build on top of legal designated cemeteries, but it is also legal and moral to move bones found in other non-designated cemetery places to be interred in designated places.

Also, it is proper, if legally sanctioned, to move whole or parts of designated cemeteries to free up the land for other uses. This has been done many times on the mainland and Europe.

You can't just say "bones make land sacred and off limits to other uses.

Bones don't make the cemetery...the predefined cemetery houses the bones.

The law of the land trumps cultural values.

And what of cultures around the world that don't have "designated legal cemetaries"? Yes,of course you can say (well, maybe not you...) that "bones make land sacred and off limits to other uses."

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