November 10th, 2004


Native Rites

Photo of Abigail Kawananakoa

Abigail Kawananakoa (the woman who is the queen of the Hawaiian people) is fighting for these items:

Campbell Estate heir claims rare Molokai items at museum

A group headed by Abigail Kawananakoa is taking a first step into the dispute between the Bishop Museum and another native Hawaiian organization over three sacred objects from Molokai that reside in the museum's collection.

The three items, believed to have spiritual powers for some native Hawaiians, are: a 5-inch, hook-shaped pendant carved from rock oyster; a "kii," which is an 8-inch stick figure with a human face that is carved from wood; and a cowry shell.

Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawaii Nei, a native Hawaiian group recognized by federal law for the purpose of repatriating and reburying ancestral remains and other sacred items from museums, claims these were burial objects intended to accompany an ancestor.

Hui Malama says the museum should give them the items for reburial. The museum says it needs time, in the potentially precedent-setting case, to determine legal ownership issues and to consider the rights of other potential claimants.

Na Lei Alii Kawananakoa, which made a claim in secret last month, was founded by Kawananakoa, a descendent of Hawaiian royalty and an heir to the wealthy Campbell Estate. According to recent incorporation papers, her group also includes close advisors Rubellite Johnson and Edith McKinzie.

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Cross-posted to abouthawaii, hawaiians and to nativeamerican