USAG-HI cares for Hawaii's 'iwi kupuna'
March 29, 2011
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Knowledge is key when it comes to caring for "iwi kupuna," or ancestral bones.
This message was made clear during a workshop on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, or NAGPRA, March 15.
The free workshop was held at the Halau o Haumea at the Kamaka-kuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, where more than 40 community members interested in the laws and processes of NAGPRA and how it pertains to Native Hawaiians attended the event.
Jan Bernstein, NAGPRA consultant, facilitated this workshop, which covered law basics, term definitions, the types of items covered under NAGPRA, who has standing to make claims, who must comply and other standards. Discussions also focused on NAGPRA required processes, such as making a claim, determining claimants, consulting and repatriation.
"It's important for us to understand the laws that protect our most valued treasure - our kupuna," said Melissa Lyman, program coordinator, Native Hawaiian Liaison Office, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii. "Knowledge empowers and guides us to be able to sit at the table and be a part of the discussion on how our iwi will be treated. This is our 'kuleana' (our responsibility)."
Bernstein also shared national NAGPRA program databases information that attendees could use as references. Participants are now able to find NAGPRA inventory and summary databases, as well as notices when discoveries occur.
"This workshop was outstanding," said one workshop attendee. "I have a better understanding of NAGPRA, and if I don't know something, I know where to go to get the information. (Bernstein) was very receptive to questions, which was a gift to (those of) us who needed explanations."
The workshop was sponsored by the USAG-HI Native Hawaiian Liaison Office; the U.S. Department of Interior, Office of Native Hawaiian Relations; Bernstein & Associates, which is a NAGPRA consultant; and the Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies.
"We thank all those that took part and made this workshop possible for our community members," said Annelle Amaral, Native Hawaiian liaison, USAG-HI. "We hope that this workshop (gets) more Native Hawaiian community leaders involved in the management, preservation and stewardship of our cultural heritage."
The Native Hawaiian Liaison Office was created to build relationships between the Native Hawaiian community and the USAG-HI commander, Soldiers and families.