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Protesters Defend Sacred Mountain From Construction of Telescope

Hawaiian protesters and supporters are defending Mauna Kea mountain from the construction of a proposed Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) that will desecrate one of the most sacred places in the Hawaiian Islands. This proposed telescope would require the destruction of over five acres of some of the most sacred land.

Protestor Isa Center told BBC “Our ancestors believed that there were numerous gods and goddesses and Mauna Kea was their temple. They feel strongly that this will disrupt their temple.”  Community based organization, KAHEA, shares that the summit of Mauna Kea represents many things to the people of Hawai’i. They believe it is home of Na Akua (the Divine Deities), Na `Aumakua (the Divine Ancestors).  They go on to share that “Mauna Kea in every respect represents the zenith of the Hawaiian people’s ancestral ties to Creation itself.”

According to the BBC, the $1.4 bn TMT project was proposed by the University of Hawaii and has reportedly received funding from the US, Canada, Japan, India and China.  Protesters have been camped out on the top of the mountain creating human blockades and numerous people have been arrested.  Tens of thousands of supporters are taking part in demonstrations around the world and according to Hawaii247, they are displaying a “diamond shape hand-signal (that) represents the idea of ‘pike,’ a term used to refer to the umbilical cord or center of one’s being.” The phrase, “ka piko kaulana o ka aina” has been used for generations to describe the sacred power of Mauna Kea.  Community based organizations share that many families still take their piko, the afterbirth, the piko of their children to that mountain. This is a sacred space.

In a ill fated decision in the 1960s, Hawai’i agreed to share two of the highest and most sacred mountaintops with a small community of astronomers one of which being at Mauna Kea. According to KAHEA, today, Mauna Kea has become the target of increasingly “aggressive industrial development proposals from some of the world’s wealthiest nations, corporations, and institutions.” The cultural landscape and habitat are being irreplaceably lost.  It’s not just astronomers that are desecrating the sacred mountains, KAHEA states that the U.S. Army has “proposed to expand operations at Pohakuloa Training Area to include risky high-altitude training on the sacred slopes of Mauna Kea.”

Currently in addition to the human blockade and petitions the protesters have been creating of poetry, dance, visual art and protest songs expressing deep love for the land. The protesters are creators on land that is itself in a sacred state of constant creation. Creation isn’t a mild act, it is powerful, passionate act of resistance and a reminder of the vast reservoir of energy available to anyone who needs it. Pulsating pure energy of creation is there for those of us who face violence. In the words of Clarissa Rojas, “the opposite of violence is not non violence it is creation.”

If you are interested in sending support to the protestors and protectors of Mauna Kea please visit www.gofundme.com/sacredmaunake….

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Sham-e-Ali is a Philadelphia-based writer and poet born in Hyderabad, India.

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Sham-e-Ali is a Philadelphia-based writer and poet born in Hyderabad, India.