WHAT HAPPENS WHEN HAWAIIAN BURIALS ARE FOUND AT DEVELOPMENTS?
It depends on whether they're found before or after construction begins.
A simplified version of the process:
Before ConstructionSTEP ONE:
A developer submits a permit application for a project to a county or state agency.
The agency forwards the application to SHPD for review.
SHPD determines if there’s a potential impact to historic or cultural sites.
YES—SHPD asks the developer to hire a consultant to conduct an archaeological inventory survey, which includes identifying historic sites and burials on the property. Burials found during this phase or earlier are considered previously identified.
The consultant creates a burial treatment plan, recommending whether the burials should be preserved in place or relocated. The document includes comments from any known descendants of the property as well as the developer’s plans for protecting the burials and ensuring descendants’ access to them.
The Island Burial Council has 45 days to decide whether burials should be preserved in place or relocated. The council gives higher priority to preserving in place remains that are in a concentration, associated with important individuals or events, lie in a context of historic properties or have known lineal descendants, i.e. people who can prove they’re related to the remains.
SHPD approves all other details of the burial treatment plan.
The developer either accepts the council’s determination or appeals it within 90 days.
Burials discovered after construction has begun are considered inadvertently discovered.
An archaeologist or medical examiner determines whether the burial is over 50 years old.
[YES] SHPD orders all activity in the immediate area to cease.
If the burial is on Oahu and contains a single skeleton, SHPD has one working day to determine whether to preserve it in place or relocate it. In that time, SHPD also contacts a Burial Council member and the Office of Hawaiians and gathers information about the burial site. If there are multiple skeletons, SHPD has two working days. If this occurs on the Neighbor Islands, SHPD has three or four days.
SHPD ascertains whether the burials are in imminent harm.
SHPD uses the same criteria for preserving remains in place as the Island Burial Council. It also considered whether the burials could be damage if left in place.