HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.C.R. NO.

131

THIRTY-FIRST LEGISLATURE, 2021

H.D. 2

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

HOUSE CONCURRENT

RESOLUTION

 

 

REQUESTING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A BURIAL SITES WORKING GROUP TO REVIEW AND RECOMMEND IMPROVEMENTS TO THE BURIAL SITES PROGRAM WITHIN THE STATE HISTORIC PRESERVATION DIVISION.

 

 

 


WHEREAS, the Legislature acknowledges the State's duty to native Hawaiians is firmly established in the state constitution in article XII; and

 

WHEREAS, the Legislature and the State also recognize their unique trust relationship with Native Hawaiians; and

 

WHEREAS, the Department of Land and Natural Resources' mission is to "[e]nhance, protect, conserve and manage Hawaii's unique and limited natural, cultural and historic resources held in public trust for current and future generations of the people of Hawaii nei, and its visitors, in partnership with others from the public and private sectors"; and

 

WHEREAS, within the Department of Land and Natural Resources is the State Historic Preservation Division, which strives to preserve and protect Hawaii's historic identity; and

 

WHEREAS, the Island Burial Councils within the State Historic Preservation Division's History and Culture Branch have the duty of protecting and managing traditional Native Hawaiian burial sites over fifty years old that are most commonly found unmarked according to ancient cultural protocols; and

 

WHEREAS, Island Burial Council members are reviewed and vetted by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, who submits a list of names and qualifications of potential council members to the Governor, who nominates these individuals to sit on the councils, subject to confirmation by the Senate; and

WHEREAS, council members take upon themselves the sworn duties and obligations to care for iwi kūpuna (ancestral bones) and moepū (funerary possessions); and

 

WHEREAS, the Island Burial Councils are charged with, among other things, overseeing and determining whether previously identified Native Hawaiian burial sites will be preserved in place or relocated; and

 

WHEREAS, when there are inadvertent discoveries of iwi kūpuna, these burial sites are under the jurisdiction of the State Historic Preservation Division; and

 

WHEREAS, the State Historic Preservation Division has been the subject of numerous audits and was put on probation with the National Parks Service, but has recently been moved from a high‑risk to a medium-risk recipient of federal funds; and

 

WHEREAS, many within the Native Hawaiian community, especially lineal descendants, have also expressed frustration at the lack of action by the State Historic Preservation Division; and

 

WHEREAS, despite calls for assistance from Island Burial Council members, the councils continue to be inadequately staffed and under trained; and

 

WHEREAS, members also claim that there has been a failure to enforce burial site violations while not developing an adequate inventory of Native Hawaiian burial sites; and

 

WHEREAS, there is a significant divide between Native Hawaiians and the State Historic Preservation Division, a branch of government meant to provide guidance on significant cultural and historical issues; and

 

WHEREAS, section 10-1(b), Hawaii Revised Statutes, states that "[i]t shall be the duty and responsibility of all state departments and instrumentalities of state government providing services and programs which affect native Hawaiians and Hawaiians to actively work toward the goals of this chapter and to cooperate with and assist wherever possible the office of Hawaiian affairs"; and

 

WHEREAS, section 10-3, Hawaii Revised Statutes, states that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs shall work toward the betterment of native Hawaiians and Hawaiians by "[a]ssessing the policies and practices of other agencies impacting on native Hawaiians and Hawaiians, and conducting advocacy efforts for native Hawaiians and Hawaiians"; now, therefore,

 

BE IT RESOLVED by the House of Representatives of the Thirty-first Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2021, the Senate concurring, that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is requested to convene and conduct the facilitation of a working group to review and recommend improvements to the workings of the Island Burial Councils, found within the State Historic Preservation Division, and how to implement them; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the working group is requested to determine ways to strengthen protections and improve resources for Native Hawaiian burials; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the working group include the following members:

 

(1) The Chief of the History and Culture Branch of the State Historic Preservation Division or the Chief's designee;

 

(2) The Chief of the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement of the State Historic Preservation Division or the Chief's designee;

 

(3) The Chief Executive Officer of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs or the Chief Executive Officer's designee;

 

(4) One individual from each Island Burial Council, to be selected by a majority vote of its respective members;

 

(5) One staff member from the Department of the Attorney General, to be selected by the Attorney General;

 

(6) The Dean of the William S. Richardson School of Law or the Dean's designee;

 

(7) One Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner, to be selected by Huliauapaa; and

 

(8) One island burial lineal descendant, to be selected by Huliauapaa; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the working group is requested to examine ways to improve the implementation of the Island Burial Councils' duties and responsibilities and to better understand and determine their relationship to the State Historic Preservation Division and its management; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the working group is requested to review existing statutes and administrative rules pertaining to the Island Burial Councils and ways to develop their implementation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the working group is requested to provide recommendations on the development of a statewide survey and inventory that documents historic properties where burial sites exist or may exist, including properties owned by the State or the counties; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the working group is requested to submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the Legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the Regular Session of 2022; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted the Governor; President of the Senate; Speaker of the House of Representatives; Attorney General; Chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources; Chief Executive Officer of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs; Administrator of the State Historic Preservation Division of the Department of Land and Natural Resources; and the Chairperson of the Hawaii Island Burial Council, Kauai and Niihau Islands Burial Council, Maui and Lanai Islands Burial Council, Oahu Island Burial Council, and Molokai Island Burial Council.

 

 

 

 

 

Report Title:

Hawaiian Affairs; Burials; Island Burial Councils; DLNR; SHPD