Mainland USA > Hawaii, USA #worldinterview #20

Mainland USA > Hawaii, USA

Interviewee: Regina Hilo

What is the United States strategy to look after and cope with a large number of archaeological sites and respond to the demands of international protocols regarding the conservation of world heritage sites?

Strategies to inventory, manage, and maintain any number of archaeological sites in the United States is largely dependent on the jurisdiction of federal and state agencies, as well as private landowners, and their resources (funding, trained personnel, equipment). These strategies vary from location to location, specifically from state to state, and are directly dependent on the agency exercising authority or having jurisdiction over land parcels.

With most, if not all, agencies struggling to secure financial resources and/or retain professional staff to develop meaningful proposals addressing an agency’s core mission, I feel that community partnerships are increasingly necessary as both a management and maintenance strategy.

Responding to the demands of international protocols in the conservation of world heritage sites is not at the forefront of our Hawaii SHPD mission, as we are constantly working towards compliance with our state’s Revised Statutes and Administrative Rules.

How does the United States build capacity for minority groups to get involved in archaeology and museums?

Advanced degree programs in museum studies are available in the United States and internationally. The University of Hawaii at Manoa has always had a traditional M.A. in Anthropology, and has added the M.A. in Applied Archaeology. The University of Hawaii at Hilo has a M.A. in Heritage Management. Both programs are two years in duration.

Building capacity for minority groups to get involved in archaeology and museum studies varies from state to state, from tribal group to tribal group, and from organization to organization. Ultimately, programs will target specific goals an organization or tribe wants to strengthen. There are competitive federal grants for Native American and Native Hawaiian non-profits. Competitive scholarships for Native American and Native Hawaiian students at all levels of post-high school education are awarded annually through professional organizations like the Society for American Archaeology. I have been very fortunate to receive two scholarships from the SAA’s which enabled me to embark on my graduate school education while also working full-time at the Hawaii SHPD. Without those scholarships, the financial burden of school would have been far too daunting for me to consider graduate school at all.

How are traditional cultural practices, such as foodways, dance, language, etc., addressed through local, state, or federal laws and regulations?

Federal laws (NAGPRA, NHPA) require consultation with Native Hawaiian Organizations (NHOs). State laws also necessitate consultation under certain conditions. The Constitution of the state of Hawaii, in article 12.7, provides the following language:

“The State reaffirms and shall protect all rights, customarily and traditionally exercised for subsistence, cultural and religious purposes and possessed by ahupua`a tenants who are descendants of native Hawaiians who inhabited the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1778, subject to the right of the State to regulate such rights.” (

Hawaiian language revitalization and Hawaiian language immersion education has significantly increased the number of Hawaiian language speakers across the state. Though there are differences in linguistic systems and more than one ‘standard’, the Hawaii State Department of Education contributes to Hawaiian language revitalization by providing for K-12 Hawaiian language education. These kulakaiapuni “deliver instruction exclusively through the medium of Hawaiian language until grade 5, whereupon English is formally introduced.” (

Also, please see `Aha Punana Leo’s chronology of Hawaiian language usage, Hawaiian history, and events leading to the decline and eventual revitalization of Hawaiian language at their website, below:

 Hula, mele, and oli are often composed to commemorate specific events, places, or individuals. These may be considered artforms by some, but to most Native Hawaiians, hula, mele, and oli are traditional cultural practices. We compose mele to remember historical events, to protest acts of injustice to the Kingdom, to unite the masses, to honor our ali`i, and to tell stories of our deities.

With regard to human skeletal remains, Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter 6E and Hawaii Administrative Rules 13-300 govern my day-to-day decisions at the SHPD. I’ve often said the statutes and rules protecting human skeletal remains in Hawaii are the strongest in the United States, perhaps even internationally. For more information, please visit our SHPD website:

To learn more about the History and Culture branch, please visit our page:

As Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations have gained more political and financial power, what changes have you seen in the practice of cultural resources management, particularly in regards to consultation?

NHOs are more familiar with NHPA Section 106 consultation, its purpose and NHOs expectations of consultation. There are also more and more Native Hawaiians with professional qualifications in traditionally western fields like archaeology, environmental engineering, landscape architecture. And, there are skilled cultural liaisons, most of whom are Native Hawaiian, serving as intermediaries between the project proponents and community. These liaisons convene and facilitate meetings on behalf of the project proponents, and present their project proponent’s updates at meetings mandated by the state.

About Regina:

Regina Keʻalapuaonālaniwikimekeānuenu e Hilo (Kamehameha Schools graduate, BA, UHM) is currently an Applied Archaeology MA student in UHM Anthropology.  Born and raised in Kapāhulu, she is a Native Hawaiian archaeologist, Hawaiian language researcher and speaker, and the current President of the Society for Hawaiian Archaeology (SHA). Regina works as a Burial Sites Specialist in the History and Culture Branch of the State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) to mitigate potential effects to human skeletal remains under SHPD jurisdiction. Regina is one of two newly appointed Student Representatives for People of Color on the Society for American Archaeology’s Government Affairs Committee, an advisory board to the SAA’s Board of Directors which advises the SAA on policy positions and governmental affairs. Regina is humbled and honored to be a recipient of the 2017 Native American Graduate Scholarship in Archaeology.

She is an an avid supporter of Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math (STEAM) in public education, including computer programming, coding, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and wearable technology incorporating both function and fashion.

Questions from Kevin Bartoy on the US mainland.

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