Bishop Museum in Honolulu: Island of Oahu has some valuable elements called the Forbes collection, historically, they were some of the strongest artworks for instance the uniquely shaped canoes or surfboards, wooden carvings of instruments and games such as the kanone board game and human bones shaped for various use such as fishhooks.

Human hair and carvings from ivory such as the hale tooth were also common elements in the museum (Kawaharada, 1996). These artworks have a close connection to “Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation (NAGPRA)” act of 1990 that protects cultural heritage and believes and myths of tribes of the Native Americans, to recuperate the human remains stored in U.S. museums. The Washington palace was responsible for the law forbidding removal of artefacts from the caves an authorizing return of Forbes through the NAGPRA act.

Sacred Nature of Artefacts

Hot debate regarding the scared nature of some of these elements has emerged since 2000, when a lawyer; Ayau faced a civil litigation for returning artefacts found in 1905 to their point of origin.

Today the act protects the native tribes by giving them right to regain control of sacred elements such as funeral items or human remains collected for the museums. Mythically, the funeral objects were significant ceremonial items or were for exhibition purposes. The museums were however, concern with the cultural decisions to burry such items of great cultural value and beauty. Today the cultural setting in support of myth is rarely acceptable into current literature but viable in research. According to Scott and McClure (2004), psychological, cultural and religious meaning of myth is more important than genre.

These are the root cause of situational conflict between organizations such as museums and native tribes. It leads many questions regarding how secure museums handle the principals and myths of sacred places. The value of the artefacts elements ranges to millions of dollars according to museums, but the tribe fights against handling of the sacred artefacts and protection of consecrated elements.

Myths of Sacred Places from Different Cultures

Different cultures in the Hawaiians traditional believe that the spirit of the dead is inherent in the bones, particularly the thigh and shin.

For this reason, they emphasize that burial of the dead had little accompaniment of the art elements. The traditional societies of Oahu Island had sacred myths that enhanced distribution of some bones to relatives for residential storage or else they buried the bones secretly in remote caves. Burials for powerful persons in the traditions societies were secret to avoid overpowering their spirits. Traditionally the natives also constructed various artefacts from bones due to lack of metal. The bones were mainly in preserved in caves but today’s art-collectors have stolen and sold them to international markets.

Application of principals for the sacred places myths

One of the biggest collections of artefacts from the Bishop Museum consisted of ceremonial clothing made from feathers of bright colours mainly meant for royalty (Kawaharada, 1996).

Others include huge assortment of Polynesian artefacts. Today we recognize the bishop museum for its large collection of specimens such as over 6 million shells and 14 million insects. The feminine wooden sculptures contain some personality seldom seen in various images of gods.

One of the female statues is a trademark of the museum. It is a signature piece found on the museum’s documents such as the prospectors. The main aim of the museums is to collect, preserve, interpret and exhibit various artefacts (Scott and McClure, 2004). The native societies on the other hand have very contrasting objectives such as to conceal or repatriate the elements (Kawaharada, 1996). Today there is evident coordination between the museum and the ethnic groups. The cultural groups agree on conservation and exhibition of artefacts without controversy. Although the traditional mythical argument is that artworks of Forbes collection belong back to the cave since they are funerary in nature, modern archaeologists disagree and argue that that they are scholarly materials. If placed back to the caves, which are no-longer secret, the artefacts would attract the attention of thieves who are interested in the values of the elements.


Kawaharada, D. (1996). Ancient O’ahu: Stories from Thrum and Fornander.

Honolulu: Kalamaku Press.Print. Leonard, S. And McClure, M. (2004). Myth and knowing.

New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.Print.


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