Mauna Kea is a sacred mountain to indigenous Hawaiians, and they’re currently trying to protect it from being desecrated by yet another huge observation telescope being built on it.
To give you some idea just how sacred a place Mauna Kea is, it’s revered by Native Hawaiians as the centre of their existence, a burial site for their venerated ancestors, home to some of their divine deities, and seen as a place where some humans can enter heaven. It’s also used to this day as a place for cultural and religious ceremonies – Hawaiian alters can be seen next to the white, domed observatories and telescopes already built there.
Sacredness, in this instance, isn’t something that refers to the past or operates merely as a label to signify something as religiously significant. It’s an active, ongoing, lived connection between the spiritual world, the land, and nature – it’s at the root of indigenous Hawaiian’s customs, values, identity and way of being. It’s not a mystic, floating concept, it’s a genealogical connection.
Many other Hawaiian sacred sites have been desecrated, built upon, bulldozed, dismantled or used for military target practice since a coalition of White businessmen, backed by the U.S. Marines, illegally overthrew the Hawaiian Kingdom and its government in 1893. After overthrow came commodification, and as seen in today’s continued fight, it overtakes the sacred.
Scientists, astronomers and supporters of the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) are in agreement that Mauna Kea, the highest point in Hawaii, with its dry atmosphere and clear skies offers unparalleled opportunity to observe the stars and gain insight into understanding the universe and its origins. So while some look to learn about the history of the heavens, others are actively connected to it.
There are thirteen telescopes already in use but the TMT is being given the go-ahead because it will be capable of capturing the sharpest images yet of the universe. And while I can appreciate the allure of looking upon everything the TMT could potentially reveal, I cannot reconcile that desire with the continued destructive reach of colonization that comes at an immeasurable cost to Native Hawaiians. I’m for the advancement of science, but not if it destroys an indigenous culture. There’s been enough eradication of Native lives already. There are other renowned astronomical centres around the world that could be used for TMT instead but there are no alternatives to Mauna Kea for indigenous Hawaiians. It cannot be replaced or found elsewhere.
If you want to help support the Mauna Kea protectors, along with sharing this post or the links within it, you can …
Take this short poll and/or leave a comment for the governor of Hawaii, David Y. Ige, to show your opposition to TMT
Donate funds to KAHEA who provide frontline legal support
Donate funds to Hawaii Community Bail Fund
Sign this petition to stop TMT
Follow Protect Mauna a Wākea on Instagram for continued updates
If you’ve got any other ideas on how to support Mauna Kea, leave a comment. Thanks for reading.