Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

October 8, 2014

Funder of Hawaiian telescope is same for Native rights violator in Calif

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Photo of protest at Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation offices on October 7 in solidarity with protests to stop the building of a giant telescope at Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Photo courtesy of Santa Cruz Indigenous Solidarity.

MLPA Initiative Funder pledged $250 million for Mauna Kea telescope 

Protesters rally in Palo Alto against desecration of sacred mountain 

by Dan Bacher 
Censored News
What do a plan to build a huge telescope on a sacred mountain, Mauna Kea, in Hawaii and a privately funded process to create alleged "marine protected areas in California have to do with one another?

Answer: both received major funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the foundation that was established by Intel founder Gordon Moore and his wife Betty.

The Moore Foundation is the largest private funder of the Thirty Meter Telescope TMT, a project that will desecrate this sacred mountain. The foundation also funded the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, a controversial process that created a network of alleged "marine protected areas" in California, including "State Marine Reserves" that continue to violate traditional tribal gathering and fishing rights.

The Moore Foundation provided an early investment of $50 million towards designing the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) in 2003. In 2007 they pledged an additional $200 million toward completion of the design phase and partial cost of early construction near the summit of the Maunakea volcano in Hawaii. (

Mauna Kea is sacred to the Hawaiian people, who maintain a deep connection and spiritual tradition there that goes back millennia. Native Hawaiian activist and singer Hawane Rios says the Thirty Meter telescope will be 18 stories tall and cover 6 acres of the top of Mauna Kea.

“The TMT is an atrocity the size of Aloha Stadium,” said Kamahana Kealoha, a Hawaiian cultural practitioner and organizer of those who held a successful protest on October 7 at Mauna Kea. “It is like building a sky-scraper on top of the mountain, a place that is being violated in many ways culturally, environmentally and spiritually.” 
The blocking of the access to the summit by protesters disrupted a planned groundbreaking ceremony, forcing officials to delay the groundbreaking to another time. (
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation not only funds the Mauna Kea telescope, but dumped $18,086,716, through the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, into the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to create questionable "marine protected areas" in California.

In California, activists gathered at a protest in solidarity with native Hawaiians and their allies starting at 9:00 a.m. at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Headquarters in Palo Alto. The local organizers encouraged people to bring signs, instruments, songs and dances to the gathering. (

Waimea kumu hula and cultural educator Pua Case, who has participated in many ceremonies and events in California in solidarity with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe's battle against the federal plan to raise Shasta Dam by 18-1/2 feet, led the protest on the Big Island of Hawaii.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "Case’s former student Kauʻi Peralto, a kumu hula in Antioch and Hawaiian cultural educator at Stanford University, organized today’s protest 'with respect and aloha' at the Moore Foundation, drawing support from members of Santa Cruz Indigenous Solidarity, the (WInnemem) Wintu Tribe of Northern California and those had seen the event advertised on Facebook." (

“As much as I’m standing for the mauna (mountain) and all the people, today is personal for me,” Peralto told the Chronicle. “We take our piko to sacred places, so I’m standing for all my family and friends who have piko on that mountain. And when the groundbreaking starts, we don’t know how many will be dug up, because we bury them in secret.”

Defending Mauna Kea against the telescope

Before the protest at Mauna Kea, Kamahana Kealoha said, “We are in solidarity with individuals fighting against this project in U.S. courts, and those taking our struggle for de-occupation to the international courts. Others of us must protest this ground-breaking ceremony and intervene in hopes of stopping a desecration.”

Clarence “Ku” Ching, longtime activist, cultural practitioner, and a member of the Mauna Kea Hui, a group of Hawaiians bringing legal challenges to the TMT project in state court, said, “We will be gathering at Pu’u Huluhulu, at the bottom of the Mauna Kea Access Road, and we will be doing prayers and ceremony for the mountain.”

When asked if he will participate in protests, he said, “We’re on the same side as those who will protest, but my commitment to Mauna Kea is in this way. We are a diverse people…everyone has to do what they know is pono.”

The telescope also poses a number of environmental problems, ranging from aquifer pollution to imperiling endangered species. The principal fresh water aquifer for Hawaii Island is on Mauna Kea, yet there have been mercury spills on the summit and toxins such as Ethylene Glycol and Diesel are used there. Chemicals used to clean telescope mirrors also drain into the septic system, along with half a million gallons a year of human sewage that goes into septic tanks, cesspools and leach fields.

“All of this poisonous activity at the source of our fresh water aquifer is unconscionable, and it threatens the life of the island,” stated Kealoha. “But that’s only part of the story of this mountain’s environmental fragility. It’s also home to endangered species, such as the palila bird, which is endangered in part because of the damage to its critical habitat, which includes the mamane tree.”

Legal expert: "Show us the title!"

Mauna Kea is designated as part of the Crown and Government lands of the Hawaiian Kingdom, according to legal experts.

Professor Williamson Chang, from the University of Hawaii’s Richardson School of Law, said, “The United States bases its claim to the Crown and Government land of the Hawaiian Kingdom on the 1898 Joint Resolution of Congress, but that resolution has no power to convey the lands of Hawaii to the U.S. It’s as if I wrote a deed saying you give your house to me and I accepted it. Nobody gave the land to the U.S., they just seized it.”

“Show us the title,” said Kealoha. “If the so-called ‘Treaty of Annexation’ exists, that would be proof that Hawaiian Kingdom citizens gave up sovereignty and agreed to be part of the United States 121 years ago. But we know that no such document exists. The so-called ‘state’ does not have jurisdiction over Mauna Kea or any other land in Hawaii that it illegally leases out to multi-national interests.”

“I agree with how George Helm felt about Kahoolawe,” said Kealoha. “He wrote in his journal: ‘My veins are carrying the blood of a people who understood the sacredness of land and water. Their culture is my culture. No matter how remote the past is it does not make my culture extinct. Now I cannot continue to see the arrogance of the white man who maintains his science and rationality at the expense of my cultural instincts. They will not prostitute my soul.’”

“We are calling on everyone, Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike, to stand with us, to protect Mauna Kea the way George and others protected Kahoolawe. I ask myself every day, what would George Helm do? Because we need to find the courage he had and stop the destruction of Mauna Kea," he emphasized.

Moore Foundation spent over $18 million on MLPA Initiative

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation contributed $18,086,716, through the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, to the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative in California from 2004 to 2012. The foundation gave the first grant of $2,714,946 to fund the MLPA process in 2004. The foundation then contributed $3,305,628 for Phase 2 of the MLPA Initiative Phase in May 2007, $7,066,142 for Phase 3 in July 2008, and $5,000,000 for Phase 4 in February 2012. (

In one of the biggest conflicts of interest in California environmental history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), chaired the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force that created so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California.

These alleged "Yosemites of the Sea" fail to the protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.

In spite of claims by MLPA Initiative advocates that the Initiative "protects" tribal rights, the State Marine Reserves created under the process in fact attempt to ban members of the Yurok Tribe and other North Coast Tribes from fishing and gathering in their traditional gathering areas.

“Whether it is their intention or not, what the Marine Life Protection Act does to tribes is it systematically decimates our ability to be who we are,” said Frankie Joe Myers, Coastal Justice Coalition organizer and Yurok Tribe member, on the day of a peaceful direct action takeover by over 300 members of 50 Indian Nations and their allies at a MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force meeting in Fort Bragg in July 2010. “That is the definition of cultural genocide.” (

More recently, in the 2014 election edition of the Yurok Today newsletter (, Yurok Tribe Vice Chairperson Susan Masten said:

"The State of California is beginning to implement the so-called Marine Life Protection Act. From the very start, the Tribe has not supported this initiative because it does not recognize the Tribe’s inherent hunting and gathering rights. Also, the Act lacked the sophistication required to properly steward the diverse ecosystems on the Yurok coastline.

Since time immemorial, the Yurok Tribe has practiced a highly effective method of marine resource management, which has ensured an abundance of sea life to sustain our people. The Creator gave us the right to properly harvest marine resources in the coastal areas within Yurok Ancestral Territory. With this right, comes a great duty to protect and conserve these resources. To that end, we are developing our own marine life management program, based on our traditional knowledge of ocean ecosystems as well as western science." 

MLPA Initiative officials also failed to appoint any Tribal scientists to the MLPA "Science Advisory Team" for the North Coast. At the same time the Co-Chair of the "Science Advisory Team," Ron LeValley, was sentenced this May by a federal judge to 10 months in federal prison for conspiracy to embezzle $900,000 from the Yurok Tribe. (
The same Ron LeValley and his cohorts on the "Science Advisory Team" rejected any studies by Yurok Tribe scientists that challenged the terminally flawed and incomplete "science" that the MLPA Initiative was based upon.

For more information on the Moore Foundation's funding of the MLPA Initiative, go to:

To read about the MLPA Initiative's Inconvenient Truths, go to:

Multi-national funding for the 1.4 billion dollar project is being provided by:
-The Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation of Palo Alto, California
-National Institutes of Natural Sciences in Japan
-The National Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences
-The California Institute of Technology
-The University of California
-The Indian Institute for Astrophysics
-Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA)
-University of Hawaii
List of TMT financial sponsors:

Links to stories that convey the opposition to the TMT:
Laws being broken on the Mauna:
The native perspective and cultural/religious breaches of law:
A good resource for multiple perspectives and information sources is on the Sacred Mauna Kea Facebook page here:

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