By Jaysen Patao
By Kēhau Lyons
Nearly ten years ago, a multibillion-dollar international collaboration led by the University of California and the California Institute of Technology planned to build the largest telescope in the Northern hemisphere on the summit of Mauna Kea, a sacred Hawaiian mountain. It is the tallest mountain in the world when measured from the ocean floor; higher than even Mount Everest. In 2015, kiaʻi, protectors of the mountain, prevented that work from starting and Hawaiʻi’s Supreme Court
But the battle didn’t end there. On October 30, 2018,
As a result of Governor Ige’s announcement, a major gathering of kiaʻi have gathered on sacred and once-pristine Mauna Kea and demanded that the
Since the beginning of our history, Kānaka Maoli, the indigenous people of Hawaiʻi, have traveled up the smooth, graceful slopes of Mauna Kea to honor our sacred and most cherished Mauna a Wākea, the piko (umbilical cord) and location of our origin story. The mountain is within an environmentally sensitive and fragile conservation district and is a part of
By Jaysen Patao
Yet even with the
Hawaiians are not anti-science, we are anti-desecration. “We are against the building of anything 18 stories over our watershed, water aquifers, on our sacred mountain. It could have been anything; it just happens to be a telescope,” Hawaiian kiaʻi and organizer Pua Case
The TMT is a $1.4 billion endeavor and has become a symbol of modern-day colonialism. The University of Hawaiʻi,
Why are Native Hawaiians continually ignored, cast aside, and devalued? Why should we stand aside when other people commodify and monetize our language, culture, traditions, and land? Why can’t non-Hawaiians understand us when we say Mauna Kea is sacred to Native Hawaiians? Why do we have to prove why the mountain is sacred and how it is sacred to us?
Ultimately, our language and culture exist for us and by us, and it’s up to us to ensure its preservation. Mauna Kea is where our aliʻi (royalty) are buried, their bones in the ground; it is where Hawaiians generation after generation, a long and surviving lineage, have gone to gather and sing, to chant, to dance hula, to pray, to be within the living presence of mauna. As native people, we know and recognize that
When word spread that Governor Ige would be announcing the construction of the TMT, organizers quickly discussed plans over encrypted messages — they planned to arrive at the intersection of Saddle Road and Mauna Kea Access Road on Friday, July 12, with only a few cars at first. Soon, the crowd would swell into the thousands. By Monday, July 15, the kiaʻi assembled peacefully from the early hours of the morning in the freezing cold with ti leaf lei draped gently between each of them. The kūpuna (elder) line, three rows deep, volunteered to be on the frontline.
DLNR and heavily-armed Hawaiʻi Island police, including officers flown in from the City and County of Honolulu, were present the first two days of the stand-off; neither police nor kiaʻi budged. On July 17, the third day consecutive day, the arrests started amid tears and heartbreak. Following
The arrests haven’t stopped others from gathering, as thousands of people began showing up at the sanctuary site, Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu, with their cars lined up along Daniel K. Inouye Highway (known as Saddle Road). Protecting the land cannot fall to Native Hawaiians alone, either. The upswell of support for kiaʻi on Mauna Kea has been a steady growing wave; Senators
Things seemed to quell on Wednesday, July 24, when the Hawaiʻi Island city council passed a moratorium for a 60-day break from construction to ease tensions. Subsequently, Governor David Ige took back his emergency proclamation but he also instructed his state agency, the BLNR to grant the TMT project a two-year extension to start construction.
But the fight isn’t over, and protesters will undoubtedly need help from allies — and there’s plenty of ways to help even if you don’t have the time or money to travel to the island and protest in person.
By Jaysen Patao
If you can, support by donating.
All kiaʻi are ultimately at risk for arrest on Mauna Kea. You can donate directly to the
Support by contacting the decision makers.
The state of Hawaiʻi is currently asking for comments supporting or opposing the Thirty Meter Telescope to be submitted
Support by using your voice.