Carol Forsloff—-“This is blatant destruction of a religious artifact, of really a shrine — a temple. To me, not only is it insensitive — it’s a hate crime,” said Lakea Trask, one of a handful of Aloha Aina advocates who has spent the last 173 days on Mauna Kea in protest of the Thirty Meter Telescope project.
Local news stations reported Native Hawaiians mourning the shrine that was erected on Mauna Kea, a mountain held sacred in Hawaiian beliefs. It is called an ‘ahu and was built on the summit road on Mauna Kea and was bulldozed in an unauthorized act by a service organization known as MKSS or Mauna Kea Support Services. It had been erected in silent protest against the planned project for a new telescope atop the mountain in violation of what many Native Hawaiians declare is an intrusion onto land they hold sacred.
It is not just a mountain that brings Hawaiians to anger and tears. It is more than a century of land grabbing, unmet promises and a host of events that have nearly obliterated certain aspects of Hawaiian culture. And in peaceful demonstrations and pleas, the Native Hawaiians, who make up approximately 60% of the Waianae Coast and the indigenous people of the Hawaii’s chain of islands, offer pleas and protest to remind everyone Hawaiian lives matter.
All lives matter, as most people would agree. However, the long history of being controlled in many ways by outside interests mixed with government inertia has given rise to more questions about the rights of Native Hawaiians and whether or not their interests might be better served by having either a state within a state or a separate nation. Sovereignty groups espouse these types of government relationships in order to better effect dialogue with the greater United States, of which they are citizens since the year Hawaii voted for statehood.
Current events have opened up new controversies and concerns, especially over what is known as the tallest mountain in the world from its base under the ocean to its summit. That mountain is the majestic Mauna Kea. It represents Hawaiian culture and more than that is central to the spiritual beliefs of Native Hawaiians. Furthermore many of the local citizens of Hawaii who are of non-Hawaiian ethnic types support the concerns of their brothers and sisters in the Native Hawaiian community as over time many people have observed with some sorrow of their own the desecration of important symbols of island spiritual life.
Many Native Hawaiians are Christian, but like other indigenous groups they have interwoven certain spiritual beliefs that are intrinsic to their culture and have watched the latter inhibited by the intrusion of corporate interests and the interests of modern science that sometimes conflict with Hawaiian values. It has now become increasingly significant with the planned development of the new telescope atop Mauna Kea where there are already 13 telescopes leased by Hawaii for $1 annually. So the State has made no money on what science declares essential observation from what is considered an important vantage point to explore the heavens. The 13 telescopes belong to a variety of international and national organizations and groups. Most of the major astronomical discoveries are reported to have been done by having telescopes on Mauna Kea.
The Native Hawaiians counter the declaration scientists make that a new telescope will allow even more discoveries. They say 13 telescopes are enough. They may not use the phrase Hawaiian lives matter, one that is used to emphasize the value of human life, no matter the race or ethnic group; but it is one that seems appropriate as the struggle to maintain balance between science and religion continues in Hawaii.