Khon channel 2

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Family concern for ancestral remains at development site

December 16, 2005

The neighboring Alvarez family, who provided this video, says  it's painful for them to watch as site clearing takes place alongside a lava tube containing Iwi, or ancestral bones. 

Last February , young Keoni Kealoha Alvarez showed KHON2 news the cave

that he and his brothers discovered  17 years ago, finding ancient human remains 300 feet into the  lava tube. The Alvarez had family notified the state, state specialist documented the site, and the Alvarez family believed the parcel 

was flagged for protection. But along the way  the state apparently lost track of the records. And now a builder sees this as a good site for housing.   

Keoni Alvarez said, "the propery is worth $51, 000. What we're saying is the Iwi is worth more than that, it's priceless. 

The Alvarez family, from the Kau'i Ohana, considers itself to be cultural  descendants of those whose remains are in a lava tube. The family  has gone to the Hawaii Island Burial Council, but says it lost many years lead time in making sure the bones remain where they are. 

"17 years ago, if wed knew it wasn't flagged, if we knew it was possible to build on a burial site s we would have protected it a long time ago. But right now we're on a time schedule because this person wants to develop "

He also says a state official has mentioned an undisclosed legal opinion in this case which she says does "not" support the Alvarez' family case for protection of the bones. 

The state official, Melanie Chinen, could not be reached for comment.