Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

October 7, 2014

Native Hawaiians protest telescope on sacred mountain

Mauna Kea Protest
Tuesday, October 7, 2014  -- 7am to 2pm
Saddle Road at the entrance to the Mauna Kea Observatory Road

Native Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians will gather for a peaceful protest
against the Astronomy industry and the “State of Hawaii’s” ground-
breaking ceremony for a thirty-meter telescope (TMT) on the summit of
Mauna Kea.

CULTURAL ISSUES: Mauna Kea is sacred to the Hawaiian people, who
maintain a deep connection and spiritual tradition there that goes
back millennia.

“The TMT is an atrocity the size of Aloha Stadium,” said Kamahana
Kealoha, a Hawaiian cultural practitioner. “It’s 19 stories tall,
which is like building a sky-scraper on top of the mountain, a place
that is being violated in many ways culturally, environmentally and
spiritually.” Speaking as an organizer of those gathering to protest,
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

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.”

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES: The principle fresh water aquifer for Hawaii
Island is on Mauna Kea, yet there have been mercury spills on the
summit; toxins such as Ethylene Glycol and Diesel are used there;
chemicals used to clean telescope mirrors 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,”
said 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 ISSUES:  Mauna Kea is designated as part of the Crown and
Government lands of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Professor Williamson PC 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.”

(See attachment and links for more details)


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

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 our FB page here:

List of TMT financial sponsors: