Group's assertion of cave-in dismissed
Hui Malama buried disputed artifacts in the Big Isle cave
A FEDERAL appeals court has dismissed a group's claim that a cave housing Hawaiian artifacts could collapse if someone tried to enter it.
Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawaii Nei is appealing an order by Chief U.S. District Judge David Ezra instructing the group to return to Bishop Museum 83 artifacts the group buried in a Big Island cave.
In its opening brief to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in September, Hui Malama had warned that "newly discovered evidence" showed the cave could collapse if people attempted to unearth the artifacts.
But the appeals court wrote that it won't consider evidence that wasn't originally filed in district court.
"It was something that was not presented to the court at the time of the hearing," said Sherry Broder, a lawyer representing the group Na Lei Alii Kawananakoa.
Na Lei Alii and the Royal Hawaiian Academy of Traditional Arts want the artifacts given back to the museum. They say 13 Hawaiian groups have the right to decide on the objects' fate through the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, a 1990 federal law that governs the repatriation of human remains and artifacts.
Ezra has said that if he had been presented with the new evidence, he would have asked for an engineering review of the site to check if the claim were true.
The museum loaned the artifacts -- including a human-hair wig, containers with human teeth and carved wooden statuettes of family gods -- to Hui Malama in 2000.
Hui Malama, which repatriates human remains and artifacts, said it buried the items in the cave because they were not meant for public display. It also claims to have sealed the cave's entrance with concrete and metal bars.
The San Francisco-based appeals court has ordered an expedited appeal, which could speed up a final decision on the case to December instead of a year or longer.
On the Net:
» Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawaii Nei: http://huimalama.tripod.com