Skull offered on eBay back on Maui
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
A 200-year-old skull of a Native Hawaiian woman, put up for auction on eBay last year, is back on Maui this week, according to state officials and members of an organization which oversees the care of Native Hawaiian remains.
Melanie Chinen, who heads the state Historic Preservation Division, said her office will work with the Maui Island Burial Council on the reburial of the remains and record the location of the burial site "to ensure its protection in perpetuity." The matter is expected to be taken up by the council at its next meeting on Nov. 17.
Chinen and Edward Halealoha Ayau, executive director for Hui Malama I Na Kupuna 'O Hawai'i Nei, flew to New Mexico this week to accept custody of the skull from federal authorities.
"The lesson from the eBay case is: Do not steal Hawaiian ancestral remains and get greedy and offer them up for sale, because you might get caught," Ayau said. "It's extremely disrespectful and, more importantly, it's unlawful."
Jerry David Hasson of Huntington Beach, Calif., was sentenced by a federal judge earlier this year to 600 hours of community service and 13 months of home detention for attempting to sell the skull, iwi po'o in Hawaiian, for $12,500 on eBay in 2004.
He was also ordered to pay a $15,000 criminal fine, and $9,945.30 in restitution to cover the cost of the investigation and return of the remains. In addition, Hasson was ordered to publish apologies for his actions, which were a violation of the federal Archaeological Resources Protection Act.
Hasson told federal investigators that he found an entire skeleton under sand at an archaeological site in 1969 while employed as a lifeguard at the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel, according to an affidavit filed by federal agent John Fryar. Hasson took the skull and left the rest of the skeleton, the affidavit said.
Ayau was among those who saw Hasson's eBay listing and asked him to remove it. When Hasson continued to offer the skull for sale, Ayau reported him to authorities.
Fryar, an investigator for the Department of the Interior, worked undercover to acquire the skull from Hasson.
Chinen praised both men for their roles in the recovery.
Hui Malama is holding a news conference to discuss the matter today.
Reach Gordon Y.K. Pang at email@example.com.