The Society for Hawaiian Archaeology (SHA) stands in strong opposition to Governor Abercrombie’s decision to sign SB 1171 into law. Our opposition is seen in solidarity with Native Hawaiian groups, Architects, Archaeologists (local and national), as well as the general public. We are dismayed that the Governor would support such radical changes to historic preservation law that will clearly harm Hawai’i's historic and cultural heritage.
One of the achievements of the historic preservation community over the last 30 years has been our partnership with developers to protect historic sites and burials. Many of our members have worked for decades within the existing structure of Chapter 6E, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS). We have always been able to complete archaeological inventory surveys in advance and in it’s entirely for planned construction in both the public and private sectors.
The State Supreme Court ruling concerning the Rail Project helped to put it back on the right track, and in fact, is the clearest example that there is no need for any changes to historic preservation law. Archaeological firms were hired to do the work on a short time frame and completed the Archaeological Inventory Surveys (AIS) required for the entire length of the project, thoroughly, and in a timely fashion. In addition, Native Hawaiians worked successfully to deal with iwi kupuna discoveries with respect. These drastic changes that were signed into law are a slap in the face to decades of collective effort that built a historic preservation process that clearly worked.
The Society for Hawaiian Archaeology with its 150 members and 25 plus archaeological firms in Hawaiʻi, along with the National Archaeological Societies of 10,000 member is calling on the Legislature to repeal this dangerous law during next year’s legislative session. We also urge the public to stand up and speak out on this issue to the Governor during his re-election campaign this coming year. Our government and representatives need to understand clearly that protection of Hawaiʻi’s cultural heritage, historic sites, and burials matter to the people of Hawaiʻi.