Traditional and Customary Practices

Standing with Practitioners for Native Hawaiian culture

Native Hawaiian culture is embodied in rich and diverse traditional and customary practices, and those traditional and customary practices are protected in the Hawaiʻi State Constitution. Yet, the ability to engage in and perpetuate traditional and cultural practices are often challenged and frustrated by private and government actions.

NHLC stands with practitioners in their legal battles to have their traditional and customary practice rights upheld. As examples, this has included cases to:

  • secure the rights of Native Hawaiians to practice the indigenous religion, though serving their sentences in prisons on the mainland.
  • challenge the failure of hospitals to recognize the cultural significance of placentas in Native Hawaiian traditional and customary practice. Classified as toxic waste, placentas were destroyed by hospitals. This policy and practice was odious to the Native Hawaiian tradition of burying the placenta in a place of significance.
  • secure reasonable access to Hawaiian language immersion school options for Native Hawaiian students in the public school system.

If you have a legal issue and would like to see if we can help you, please call our office at (808) 521-2302 or contact us using our Contact Form.


Kirsha Durante

Litigation Director

Ashley Obrey, Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation Senior Staff Attorney

Ashley Obrey

Senior Staff Attorney


News + Insights

  • Published On: June 10, 2024

    By Ashley K. Obrey, Senior Staff Attorney The “Ka Paʻakai” analysis is a legal framework that government agencies must follow when considering proposals that may impact the exercise of Native Hawaiian traditional and ...

  • Published On: April 11, 2024

    Every spring, the week-long Merrie Monarch Festival celebrates King David Kalākaua and his legacy of reinstating the public practice of hula after it had been outlawed in the 1830s. In honor of this ...

  • Published On: February 27, 2024

    Native Hawaiian midwives and others sue state to block law that prevents them from serving communities in traditional ways. Today, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation filed a ...