Museum qualifies group
to receive artifacts
There are now 14 groups
recognized as claimants
The Bishop Museum's board of directors has recognized Na Lei Alii Kawananakoa as a native Hawaiian organization with rights to claim ancient Hawaiian artifacts known as the Forbes Collection.
The action, announced Thursday, brings to 14 the number of native Hawaiian organizations recognized as culturally affiliated claimants of the objects, the museum said.
Na Lei Alii Kawananakoa's application for recognition was based on cultural affiliation and provided supporting information on kinship and geographic association with the objects, the museum said.
The organization was founded by Abigail Kawananakoa, a wealthy heiress and descendent of King Kalakaua.
The 83 artifacts were first collected in 1905 from Kawaihae Cave on the Big Island.
The items were labeled as being on loan when the museum handed them over to Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawaii Nei in 2000. They were never returned, and Hui Malama has said they have been reburied in the cave.
In other action, the museum said the board was unable to determine which of three competing claims for a cowrie shell found on Molokai was the most appropriate.
The museum acknowledged in December that it was not the rightful owner of the cowrie under the terms of the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
Hui Malama, Na Lei Alii Kawananakoa and the Royal Hawaiian Academy of Traditional Arts each based its claim on the assertion of kinship or geographic association with Molokai, the museum said.
None of the three demonstrated that any of its members are descendants of the person whose remains are thought to have been associated with the cowrie, it said.
Under the terms of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the museum said it will retain the cowrie until the three agree upon its disposition or the dispute is otherwise resolved.