TO: Mr. Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr., Chairman - Maui County Burial Council and, Cave Task Force Member
FROM: Kekula Bray Crawford
PHONE: 808 235-3482
DATE: October 24, 2001
RE: Cave Legislation Preserving Native Hawaiian Cultural Heritage
Meeting: October 25, 2001 - 7-10 p.m.
Waikapu Community Center

Dear Uncle Charlie,

As you know I am unable to attend this important meeting in person due to living on O'ahu. If you would, please read this letter into the record at the meeting referred to above, as a testimony in my absence. I very deeply appreciate your year after year diligence in the protection of our cultural heritage.

Aloha Nui,
Kekula

Aloha,

My name is Kekula Bray-Crawford. I am currently a resident of O'ahu and a past resident of Kaeleku at Hana. I have brought testimony to the Maui Burial Council in the past regarding the Kaeleku Caves that Mr. Chuck Thorne operates his tour business out of.

The reason I testified in the past and am again presenting another testimony is that for years I have heard hushed stories of human burials and artifacts in that same cave at Kaeleku. My last testimony to the Burial Council was when Dana Hall was the chair. I had received from a local resident of Hana, pictures of human burials from that same cave that Mr. Thorne operates out of. This cave was the access to the burials and artifacts. Dana Hall informed me that I was not to keep the pictures and was to hand them over to the Burial Council. I request the Maui County Burial Council to make known the whereabouts of these pictures and the reason for their absence in this case.

I became ill and was forced to move to O'ahu for medical treatment almost two years ago. I am now recovering and find that Mr. Thorne sits on the Cave Task Force at Maui. Well and good? No, Mr. Thorne may have found cattle bones but that does not negate the fact that the cave he runs his business through was access to human burials in the past.

Kaeleku plays a primary role in Hawai'i's ancient history. People have populated Kaeleku for hundreds of years. To think that the caves and lava tubes of the area were not used for burials or the rearing of kapu practices is ridiculous. Hawaiian historian Samuel M. Kamakau (1815 - 1876) clearly establishes the fact that Kaeleku is to be considered as an historically significant area of Hawai'i. I don't believe that new usage and abuse of an area removes its' cultural significance to our people. The mana and the 'aina is still there to be activated if you will or if one wills. We still look at Waikiki and recall the lo'i (taro gardens) and loko (fish ponds) even those of us who have not seen it in this lifetime. Oral tradition is a powerful knowledge base of our people.

This new legislation will hopefully protect caves and lava tubes from further commercial and other desecrations. Vandalism is something no one can have control over except by legal enforcement, however commercial usage of caves and lava tubes such as Mr. Chuck Thorne of the Cave Task Force has accomplished and continues to perpetuate, can be controlled if proper legislation is in place to allow new policy to be founded.

He seems to have developed kind language and a transparency that allows him to continue his business, so let him be used as an example of what should not be allowed to happen.

As far as the proposed draft legislation to protect caves goes, I truly hope that a main topic for debate might be ownership of CULTURAL HERITAGE. Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians) have a collective right to the ownership of their heritage or what has been inherited from their ancestors, this includes mo'olelo (oral traditions). Knowledge by oral tradition is well established throughout the world where indigenous peoples are concerned. Knowledge of burials, artifacts, stories, and all forms of life as they know them must be preserved. We are too close to the extinction of too many species and in fact the Kanaka Maoli (pure blooded) race itself to allow more time to pass without enforceable limits and protections. This legislation could be viewed as a guideline for policy which would include some enforcement to be founded by each County of Hawai'i Nei. It should have mandates that would involve Counties establishing standards for their island(s) cultural heritage.

Other matters at hand would be focused on: (a) definitions of what constitutes cultural heritage; (b) administrative discretionary powers; (c) Kanaka Maoli participation in the decision-making process; (d) varied types of access to cultural areas; and, (e) guidelines for the setting up of cultural heritage agreements.

These are discussions a Cave Task Force and preservation boards, committees etc. might enter into when discussing new legislation in regards to the protection of caves and sacred sites. Make it pa'a (tight) for preserving what little we have left of our cultural heritage, for the future.

Signed with Aloha always
Kekula


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