EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE MAUNA KEA PROTESTS IN HAWAII

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MTV NEWS STAFF  08/06/2019, 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 In 2015, kiaʻi, protectors of the mountain, prevented that work from starting and Hawaiʻi’s Supreme Court repealed the telescope’s permit.

But the battle didn’t end there. On October 30, 2018, a ruling was handed down by the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court allowing Hawaiʻi’s Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) to issue a highly-contested conservation district use permit, allowing the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) to move forward with construction this year. On July 10, Governor David Ige announced that construction on Mauna Kea would begin on the week of July 15.

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 TMT International Observatory abandon construction of the TMT, which is slated to stand 18 stories tall with two stories gouged underground and has been designed as one of the largest telescopes ever built-in existence. That it is situated on environmentally sensitive, sacred, Indigenous land seems almost like an afterthought to its creators.

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 ceded lands, which are crown lands from the Hawaiian monarchy that were stolen and given to the U.S. government when Hawaiʻi was illegally overthrown in 1893 and annexed into the U.S. in 1898. Years later, when Hawaiʻi became a state in 1959, the federal government gave those crown lands to the newly established State of Hawaiʻi via the Statehood Act, with the condition that they must be held in trust specifically for the benefit of the Native Hawaiian people.

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