§6E-43.6  Inadvertent discovery of burial sites.  (a)  In the event human skeletal remains are inadvertently discovered, any activity in the immediate area that could damage the remains or the potential historic site shall cease until the requirements of subsections (b) to (d) have been met.

     (b)  The discovery shall be reported as soon as possible to the department, the appropriate medical examiner or coroner, and the appropriate police department.  As soon as practicable, the department shall notify the appropriate council and the office of Hawaiian affairs.

     (c)  After notification of the discovery of multiple skeletons, the following shall be done within two working days, if on Oahu, and three working days, if in other council jurisdictions:

     (1)  A representative of the medical examiner or coroner's office and a qualified archaeologist shall examine the remains to determine jurisdiction.  If the remains are the responsibility of the medical examiner or coroner, the department's involvement shall end.  If the remains are historic or prehistoric burials, then the remainder of this section shall apply;

     (2)  The department shall gather sufficient information, including oral tradition, to document the nature of the burial context and determine appropriate treatment of the remains.  Members of the appropriate council shall be allowed to oversee the on-site examination and, if warranted, removal; and

     (3)  If removal of the remains is warranted, based on criteria developed by the department, in consultation with the councils, office of Hawaiian affairs, representatives of development and large property owner interests, and appropriate Hawaiian organizations, such as Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai‘i Nei, through rules adopted pursuant to chapter 91, the removal of the remains shall be overseen by a qualified archaeologist and a mitigation plan shall be prepared by the department or with the concurrence of the department.

     (d)  In cases involving the discovery of a single skeleton, the requirements of subsection (c) shall be fulfilled in one working day if on Oahu, and two working days if in other council jurisdictions.

     (e)  The mitigation plan developed by or with the concurrence of the department pursuant to subsection (c)(3) shall be carried out in accordance with the following:

     (1)  In discoveries related to development where land alteration project activities exist, the landowner, permittee, or developer shall be responsible for the execution of the mitigation plan including relocation of remains.  Justifiable delays resulting from the discovery of burials shall not count against any contractor's completion date agreement;

     (2)  Project activities shall resume once necessary archaeological excavations provided in the mitigation plan have been completed;

     (3)  In nonproject contexts, the department shall be responsible for the execution of the mitigation plan and the relocation of remains; and

     (4)  The department shall verify the successful execution of the mitigation plan.

     (f)  In cases where remains are archaeologically removed, the department shall determine the place of relocation, after consultation with the appropriate council, affected property owners, representatives of the relevant ethnic group, and any identified lineal descendants, as appropriate.  Relocation shall conform with requirements imposed by the department of health, and may be accompanied by traditional ceremonies, as determined by the lineal descendants, or, if no lineal descendants are identified, the appropriate council or representatives of the relevant ethnic group that the department deems appropriate.  Specific or special reinterment requests from lineal or cultural descendants may be accommodated provided that the additional expenses incurred are paid by the affected descendants.

     (g)  If human skeletal remains are discovered in the course of land development or land alteration activities to which section 6E-42 applies, and for which the required approval was not obtained, all activity in the immediate area that could damage the remains or the potential historic site shall cease, and treatment of the remains shall be allowed only in compliance with section 6E-43. [L 1990, c 306, pt of §3; am L 2003, c 104, §5]


Law Journals and Reviews


  Ensuring Our Future by Protecting Our Past:  An Indigenous Reconciliation Approach to Improving Native Hawaiian Burial Protection.  33 UH L. Rev. 321 (2010).