Hawaiian skull auctioned on eBay returns to Maui
A 200-year-old skull of a Hawaiian woman found on Maui decades ago and later advertised for sale on eBay was returned to the island this week, according to state officials.
The skull of the native Hawaiian was brought back to Maui on Tuesday after being released by federal officials in Albuquerque, N.M. The skull was originally taken from a construction site on Lahaina in 1969 by a California teenager who then tried to sell it on the Internet.
Jerry Hasson of Huntington Beach, now in his 50s, said he had sneaked onto the beach with friends and found an entire skeleton -- but took only the skull.
Hasson had originally sought $12,500 for the skull when he posted it on the Internet sales site in February 2004, but he eventually sold it for $2,500 to an undercover agent with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Hasson pleaded guilty in May to a federal charge of interstate commerce with illegally unearthed archaeological items and was sentenced to 13 months of home detention and 600 hours in community service.
He also was ordered to pay a $15,000 criminal fine on top of almost $10,000 to cover costs of the investigation and transportation of the skull to the island.
"The hope for the future is that this type of disrespect for indigenous cultures will be curtailed and the ancestors will be able to journey in peace," said John Fryar, special agent for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Authorities were tipped off to the eBay sale by Edward Halealoha Ayau, a member of the group Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawaii Nei, who spotted the skull online and unsuccessfully tried to persuade Hasson to return it.
Ayau and Melanie Chinen, administrator for the state Historic Preservation Division, flew to Albuquerque to get the skull from the Bureau of Indian Affairs on Monday.
Uilani Pauole, attorney with the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, said she didn't know whether the skull was well preserved because she had not yet seen it.
Pauole said Hui Malama, which works to repatriate Hawaiian artifacts and human remains from around the world, hoped the state would rebury the skull "where it belongs."
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources Historic Preservation Division and the Maui Island Burial Council announced that they would coordinate the skull's reburial and record the site to ensure its protection.
The reburial will be discussed at the next Maui Island Burial Council meeting on Nov. 17.