THE SENATE

S.R. NO.

171

THIRTY-FIRST LEGISLATURE, 2021

S.D. 1

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

SENATE RESOLUTION

 

 

REQUESTING THE OFFICE OF HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS TO ESTABLISH THE BURIAL SITES WORKING GROUP TO EXAMINE THE BURIAL SITES PROGRAM UNDER THE DEPARTMENT OF LAND AND NATURAL RESOURCES' STATE HISTORIC PRESERVATION DIVISION.

 

 


WHEREAS, the Hawaii State Constitution recognizes the value of conserving and developing the historic and cultural property within the State; and

 

WHEREAS, according to section 6E-1, Hawaii Revised Statutes, the historic and cultural heritage of the State is among its most important assets and that the rapid social and economic developments of contemporary society threaten to destroy the remaining vestiges of this heritage; and

 

WHEREAS, section 6E-1, Hawaii Revised Statutes, provides that it is in the public's interest to engage in a comprehensive program of historic preservation at all levels of government to promote the use and conservation of affected properties for the education, inspiration, pleasure, and enrichment of its citizens; and

 

WHEREAS, section 6E-1, Hawaii Revised Statutes, sets forth that the State must provide leadership in preserving, restoring, and maintaining historic and cultural property to ensure the administration of historic and cultural property in the spirit of stewardship and trusteeship for future generations, and to conduct activities, plans, and programs in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of historic and cultural property; and

 

WHEREAS, native Hawaiian traditional prehistoric and unmarked burials are especially vulnerable and often not afforded adequate protection of law, although these statutory and regulatory measures assure the dignity and freedom from unnecessary disturbance; and

 

WHEREAS, the Island Burial Councils were created by Act 306, Session Laws of Hawaii 1990 (Act 306), to augment current procedures relating to the proper care and protection of burial sites found in the State, avoid future disputes arising from the discovery of human skeletal remains, and provide additional protection for native Hawaiian burial sites of high preservation value; and

 

WHEREAS, the Department of Land and Natural Resources' State Historic Preservation Division serves to protect and preserve historic properties significant to Hawaii's history through several program areas; and

 

WHEREAS, previous audits of the State Historic Preservation Division have reported serious internal strife and a significant backlog of project reviews, resulting in the undermining of the preservation and protection of unmarked burial sites throughout the islands; and

 

WHEREAS, on January 19, 2021, the chairpersons of the burial councils for the islands of Oahu, Maui/Lanai, and Hawaii coordinated a joint protest to raise awareness of their collective duties and responsibilities to protect Hawaiian burial sites and care for iwi kūpuna (ancestral bones) and moepu (funerary possessions); and

 

WHEREAS, the chairpersons of the Island Burial Councils asserted that systemic and chronic mismanagement by the Department of Land and Natural Resources' State Historic Preservation Division has effectively undermined the ability of the Island Burial Councils to exercise their legally established authorities, rights, and responsibilities, thereby resulting in the inability to provide protection and cultural care to unmarked Hawaiian burial sites in accordance with the program enacted by Act 306; and

 

WHEREAS, the chairpersons of the Island Burial Councils cited examples of the State Historic Preservation Division's mismanagement of the Island Burial Councils and Burial Sites program, including the failure to:

 

(1) Adequately staff the Island Burial Councils and manage the terms of council members;

 

(2) Provide training to State historic preservation staff and burial council members regarding the burial law and administrative rules, Sunshine Law, and Code of Ethics;

 

(3) Require the Department of the Attorney General to ensure independent legal representation of the island burial councils;

 

(4) Implement administrative rules to develop the burial sites inventory;

 

(5) Provide proper administrative support to the Island Burial Councils, including timely actions, decisions, and recommendations regarding the preparation of agenda items, and providing the councils proper guidance on the processes involving burial matters;

 

(6) Comply with legal requirements applicable to the inadvertent discovery of human remains; and

 

(7) Undertake enforcement actions of documented statutory and regulatory violations involving burial sites;

 

now, therefore,

 

BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Thirty-first Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2021, that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is requested to form the burial sites working group to study and analyze the allegations of mismanagement by the Department of Land and Natural Resources' State Historic Preservation Division; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the burial sites working group determine a recommended course of action to address and resolve the allegations of mismanagement by the Department of Land and Natural Resources' State Historic Preservation Division; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Department of Land and Natural Resources' State Historic Preservation Division is requested to cooperate with the burial sites working group; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the burial sites working group is requested to include:

 

(1) A representative from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, who will serve as the chairperson of the Burial Sites Working Group;

 

(2) The chairpersons of each Island Burial Council;

 

(3) Administrator of the Department of Land and Natural Resources' State Historic Preservation Division;

 

(4) The History and Culture Branch Chief of the Department of Land and Natural Resources' State Historic Preservation Division;

 

(5) The Department of Land and Natural Resources' State Historic Preservation Division Burials Specialist;

 

(6) Two representatives of large landowners and developers to be appointed by the Governor;

 

(7) A representative of the Hawaiian community familiar with and experienced with the burial sites program to be appointed by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs;

 

(8) A representative from the William S. Richardson School of Law; and

 

(9) A representative of Huliauapaa/Kaliuokapaakai Collective to be selected by that organization; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the burial sites working group is requested to submit a report detailing the formal findings and recommendations for corrective action, including proposed legislation, 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 Resolution be transmitted to the Governor, Chairperson of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Chairperson of each Island Burial Council, Dean of the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law, and President of the Board of Directors of the Huliauapaa/Kaliuokapaakai Collective.

Report Title:

Island Burial Councils; State Historic Preservation Division; Burial Sites Working Group