Lā 149: Protest Arenʻt Only About Religious Practice

“We are tired of being pushed out of our own homeland,” argues the author. “We participated in the process that the state asked us to go through, and it didn’t work. So we are trying something else.”

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By Luka Mossman
Mossman is a native Hawaiian born in Hilo who currently works as a project coordinator for Conservation International–Hawaii. He was raised by a family strongly rooted in native Hawaiian cultural practice and values that enabled them to recognize and care for natural cycles in their environment. He graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a
bachelors of science in Natural Resource and Environmental Management. Through his experience in working with the Lokoi’a o Hale-o-lono (fishpond), he has come to understand what it takes to manage a small and delicate fishery resource. Although he spent most of his life in the ocean as a fisherman, a spearfisherman, a surfer, and a fishpond steward, he also has experience in working with native Hawaiian forests and the key role they play in our island ecosystem. He is fluent in the native Hawaiian language, which enables him to research the old literature of Hawaii.

Author Jerry Smith makes a valid point (“Making Mauna Kea Sacred,” Aug. 18), but he is flawed in his assumption that the Mauna Kea protests are only about preserving religion practice.

What the protests are saying is that the state constantly takes advantage of our aloha and has continued to build things on our land even after hearing our objections to it prior to the planning. The state constantly serves special interests and not the interests of the people of Hawaii.

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Cory Lum/Civil BeatView from parking structure at thousands of Alohak Aina Unity march demonstrators holding flags along Kalakaua Avenue on their way to Kapiolani Park.  

More than 10,000 people were at the aloha aina march in Waikiki recently, and many more who weren’t there supported this effort, and not even a minute long segment on the media? What the protests are saying is that we cannot stand around anymore and let outsiders do whatever they want to our land without even bothering to take our concerns seriously.

We are tired of being pushed out of our own homeland. We have participated in the process that the state asked us to go through, and it didn’t work. So we are trying something else.

I understand that we tend to put things under the guise of our religion beliefs, and I often struggle to see the relevance in an issue that is so political. Yes, the state has to stay secular and decide things based on the interests of its people. But clearly, that is not happening.

You want the state to stay logical and political — fine, it’s their job to listen to the interests of its people and serve those interests. The people are saying do not build that telescope. Even if you think it’s crazy not to build it, the people of the “state” decide. That’s called Democracy!