Khon channel 2
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.