Letter to the Editor: Get TMT off of Mauna Kea

Chaslyn Kuieʻe, Editorial Submission

The issue on Mauna Kea is one that invokes a person to see past a Western perspective. The argument on this issue is one that may be seen as culture opposing science, but you’ll realize that the matter is much more than that if you were willing to dig deeper into the true history of Hawai’i. Time and time again, the true Hawaiian history exposes injustices inflicted by foreigners, businessmen, and the United States. These are the same people oppressing other indigenous cultures that try to get in their way of taking land and making money off of it.

Although people who support the TMT claim that it is a chance for exploration and knowledge, how can we know for sure that this is the main reason why they are so bent on building this telescope on sacred land? We are willing to spend 1.4 billion dollars on a structure that can see 13 million light years away from us. What good will come to the overall human race with knowledge like that? People are homeless, hungry, sick, and dying in countless places across the world. Like many other major developments in Hawaiʻi, they are made for the purpose of generating money and profits. The Thirty Meter Telescope, “…follows in the same economic path of every major development in Hawaiʻi: lots of money…” (Wong-Wilson) Who does this benefit except for the businessmen in Hawaiʻi? Developments like these not only degrades the land, but they also seem to degrade the Hawaiian people as their beliefs and values are being belittled.

Our people on the Mauna are called protectors and not protestors for a reason. From a Hawaiian perspective, Mauna Kea is a sacred place similar to the sacredness that Westerners place on churches. Mauna Kea is also called  Ka Mauna a Wākea meaning, the mountain of Wākea. “ ʻMauna Kea is considered to be kupuna, the first born, and is held in high esteem.ʻ ” (Hitt)  If youʻre not familiar with Hawaiian religion, they believed that Wākea was sky father from which all of us descended, which is why there is such a strong opposition to the TMT. If a telescope were to be built on a Westernerʻs church, it would be destroying the house of the Lord. Outrage would spread and the telescope would be built elsewhere. This is the same for Mauna Kea. This is the house of one of our main gods and should not be destroyed. Once you destroy a mountain, there is no way to rebuild a new one.

One of the larger arguments about why the TMT should be built is rooted in the fear that if one protest can overcome the “authority” of the law, whatʻs going to stop people from disobeying other laws through a means of protest? In response to this I ask: What authority does the law have here in Hawaiʻi anyway? One may assume that, “Undermining the integrity of our judicial system undermines our democracy.” (Menor-McNamara) The amount of hypocrisy in this statement is unbearable.  In 1893, Queen Liliʻuokalani was forced to abdicate by the hands of businessmen. This betrayal was not only wrong, but unlawful. This fact has been overlooked by Americans countless times, but is still remembered by the people of Hawaiʻi.  If the people who create laws for us donʻt follow it themselves, what authority is there? When you enter a personʻs home, you donʻt tell them to leave, you are meant to respect their space as their own and know your place as a guest. The same cannot be said for the Americans as they are constantly entering peopleʻs homelands and forcing them out.

In conclusion, TMT should not be built under any circumstances. Despite all the injustices made to them, Hawaiians are still steadfast in their ways of aloha. The United States has had too many instances of stealing land from the less powerful and getting away with it. The United States has had too many instances of making profits off of indigenous culture and lands. The United States has had too many instances of only following the laws that seem to benefit them in the end. The United States needs to stop the hypocrisy and start mending their injustices. Kū Kiaʻi Mauna!