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Hawaiian culture

Oneula Royal Hawaiian burial controversy and challenges

Dec 09, 2011

HAWAII - On December 12, 2011, government officials, press, Hawaiian organizations, and members of the community at large will meet at the Oneula Beach Park to witness and seek closure to major ancient Hawaiian Royal burial issues, which have been raised by Michael K. Lee, a Hawaiian cultural practitioner, since November 2002. On June 27, 2011, Mr. Lee issued the following statement:

"The 'iwi' is the true mother of King Kamehameha III, 'Kauikeaouli.'

"Her name is 'Queen Kaomileika'ahumanu Kamahanakapu Leimakalii.' She died at Oneula 'Honouliuli,' Ewa on October 31, 1796 and was buried there at the Waipouli cave. She was discovered by a homeless man digging a fire pit on January 5, 2001. She was removed by the archeologist without approval of the Oahu Island Burial Council (OIBC) at that time, or since.

"Mr. Kai Markell, OHA Manager of Compliance, Native Rights Division, will argue that the undetermined find of the 'iwi' can now be considered determined because 10 years have passed since the discovery was made. Kai Markell will argue also that the disposition of the 'iwi' is up to OIBC (Oahu Island Burial Council), and not SHPD (State Historic Preservation Division - DLNR). A July 2011 meeting is scheduled to make the case.

"Queen Kaomileika'ahumanu was a wife of Kamehameha I and King Kalanikupule. The child, ;Kauikeaouli,; (King Kamehameha III) is said to have po'olua - two fathers.

"Queen Kaomileika'ahumanu is my 5th great grandmother. I am fighting for custody of her 'iwi', once I am recognized as the lineal descendant (now in process), and 'kahu' (or keeper) of the iwi and all her funerary possessions. It is my goal to have a 'Kahukahu' ceremony to bring back the kapu to her 'iwi,' and rebury my 5th great grandmother back where she was originally found and have a burial volt to seal her 'iwi' and possessions back in a place for safe keeping. As 'kahu,' I and I alone, have say over Tutu's 'iwi' in Hawaiian cultural practice, under Article 12, section 7 of the Hawaii State constitution as Hawaiian cultural practitioner. In Hawaiian tradition, the 'kahu' rules over the bones and their disposition, and not the family group. They have no say. Case in point - the burial of last Prince of Kauai. His wife, Kekauonohi, was the 'kahu,' and she did as she pleased over the objection of other family members.

"What makes me the 'kahu' over the rest of the family?

"It was I the 'iwi' called out in dreams and visions. It was I who found the exact locations of the 7 royal burial sites and had them GPS by OHA. It was I who got names of all 7 genealogies and exact dates as to when the 'royal iwi' were placed in their respective burial sites. It was I who announced this to my family as 'kahu' or keeper with no objections of family members for years now, and also while I was going through OIBC process of Hawaiian rights. It was I who worked over 2-and-a-half years researching and certifying all specific documents to meet the burden of proof and without help from my family members. It was I who brought all legal documents to OIBC on April 14, 2010 and gained unanimous vote of recognition and protection rights of the 7 family burial sites, as well as the cultural recognition of 'royal iwi kupuna.' It was I who stood up to Haseko Ewa, Inc. to gain standing, and protect my family 'iwi' in the contested case hearings of July 26/27, 2007. I have filmed 6 public TV shows to protect my family 'iwi' and gone for 2 years staright to the Ewa Neighborhood Board to gain approval for cultural monitors and protection of my royal family 'iwi.' I have attended 3 important Rail meetings to protect my family 'iwi' at 'Honouliuli,' made 6 presentations to the OHA Board of Trustees to protect my family 'iwi' in Ewa, and I attended 7 OIBC meetings to protect my family 'iwi.' I have wrtten letters to all Hawaii political and government leaders to protect my family 'iwi.'

"I went into negotiations from July 2009 to October 2010 with Haseko Ewa, Inc.'s attorneys to work out a settlement, and they walked away from me, calling me an extortionist for trying to protect my rights to protect my family 'iwi' in Ewa. It was I who worked to get articles out on these issues and to inform the public. I went to the State Legislature to testify that information about this 'most royal and significant find' and that it was being hidden in the State Parks Department so that the general public would not have access to the public documents that are supposed to be available at SHPD Library and open for the public viewing.

"I started doing all of this in November 2002, when I first heard of this 'iwikupuna' and not knowing it was my 'Tutu.' In all my contested cases against Haseko Ewa, Inc. on their drainage issues, I incorporated my 'Tutu's' story hoping that something would be done for her.

"I am sorry for all the 'I , I, I's,' but it is a fact; no one else would or did stand up to bat for 'Tutu' except Kai Markell and Samson Reiny - that is all."

Oneula Royal Hawaiian burial controversy and challenges
Michael K. Lee / Image via

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