Friday - November 5, 1999
Foundation Leaders Meet With Bishop Museum Officials
The BRING OUR ANCESTORS HOME FOUNDATION reported today that a meeting organized by Mr. Edward "Halealoha" Ayau between foundation leaders, foundation attorneys and officials from the Bishop Museum...took place this morning at the Museum offices with positive results.
According to foundation president, Norbert Perez, "My dearest friend, Eddie "Halealoha" Ayau, the director of Project Ola Na Iwi Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai'i Nei, the state's largest and most successful indigenous movement for the repatriation of Hawaiian ancestral remains and artifacts, organized an informative conference between foundation leaders and museum officials to establish positive lines of communications between the parties."
"Notwithstanding our civil complaints, which have already been drafted and our scheduled protest and state permits which have already been organized and secured, we decided to sit down with Museum officials and clear the air and explain our positions." Perez added. "Mr. Ayau, who is also an attorney, suggested that the Bishop Museum can and may relinquish custody of the remains to a private party or descendant. It does not have to be a government because there is no law against it. We are so happy to be working side-by-side with Mr. Ayau and his dedicated group members. They have been in existence for over ten years and quite successful in repatriating Hawaiian remains and artifacts back to Hawaii from all over the world."
"I have communicated with the CNMI Historic Preservation Officer in Saipan and we have worked out a verbal memorandum of understanding to work cooperatively in the repatriation efforts." Perez stated. "Mr. Joseph Deleon Guerrero has promised to convey our concerns to the Historic Preservation Review Board, which is scheduled to meet and to adopt a repatriation policy for the CNMI on November 12. With the help and urgence of Mr. Ayau and his organization, the foundation board decided to suspend our protest and lawsuits until we receive word from the CNMI government."
"Additionally, Mr. Ayau and his organization have graciously volunteered to do a complete inventory of the remains, including all necessary preparatory work prior to their transport." Perez said. "This is very important to insure that all the remains listed in the inventory and accession sheet correspond to the physical inventory of the boxes. The remains will be transported to the airport via airfreight baggage containers and they will be loaded last to insure that when they arrive in Guahan or Saipan...they will be the first to be unloaded."
"The transporting of our ancestral remains back to our islands have been tentatively scheduled for the last week in November, 1999. We have requested through CINPAC Hawaii that the Military assist in the repatriation efforts by airlifting our ancestral remains back home, even though a number of airlines have indicated support and willingness to do so." Perez stated. "It is very important for the U.S. Military to be an intregal part of this effort to put a closure to this issue and to atone for allowing the desecration of our ancestral gravesites back in the 1920s."
"One issue that continues to trouble our foundation members is the fact that the Museum does not have any records of any studies done on the remains." Perez added. "The Museum has given us records of who did what and when and we are tracking these people down to get an accounting of their work. We have people on the list such as a group of researchers from Japan, Dr. Gary Heathcote from UOG and others...over the years."
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Deputy Communications Secretary