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Native Hawaiians Continue Protest a Week After Telescope Construction Was Set to Start on Sacred Land

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/07/22/native-hawaiians-continue-protest-week-after-telescope-construction-was-set-start

I don’t think at this time - The Anthropocene, we need a fourteenth telescope on Mauna Kea.

At what threshold do we say enough is enough?

I have listened to a Hawaiian woman, with a physics degree, who actually worked at one of the telescopes for a decade. For her, it is more important to treasure what were the ‘sacred lands’ of her people more than the Bigger Eye of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Interestingly, there is in the July-August American Scientist magazine an article which is so relevant to this topic I will post it below.

Perhaps there is a way to satisfy both the protest group and the scientific community - I would think there is.

But if there is not - then I do think the time is here - Enough is Enough.
(and I am a big astronomy fan)

A Hawaiian Renaissance That Could Save the World BY SAM 'OHU GON, KAWIKA WINTER

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The Hawaiian islands were stolen from the people of Hawaii by duplicitious White businessmen and their missionary friends. The USA can not even claim the “Doctrine of Discovery” when they annexed these islands via a Coup and forcing the Hawaiian Rulers to sign it over at the point of a gun.

As Trump suggested those Colonists should go back to the shithole Country they came from.


“the 13,796-foot mountain is considered home to Native Hawaiian deities”

Harry Kim-- “I see a group of people finally coming together to feel proud of being who you are, because you are the most beautiful, warmest, givingest people on God’s Earth.”



Once again yet more invisible, never seen, sky thingies. Maybe they could set up a special telescope to look for the mountain-residing gods. I really hate making anything “sacred.” “Sacred” mostly just means a total no-go zone for thought and reason and questions.
And Harry Kim? Clearly not Star Trek Voyager’s Lt. Harry Kim character. Irony here.
Still, if the people, as a whole, in an area, really don’t want you for whatever stupid reason, just go elsewhere. Though, from this story, we have no idea how many people this amounts to (though we are given change.org petition numbers of nearly 150,000 and one the ground far less - everything online seems to thrive on generating lynch-mob mentality). Just something to get riled up about. And that alone is jumped on as a story to push the views of these protesters.
In various past times a sky observatory might well have been a part of religions, looking to the “heavens” and observing the “heavenly bodies” and other gods or whatever to guide planting, etc.
Why astronomical telescopes would be an insult to anyone is a puzzle. It is not as though they are destroying swaths of forest and polluting air and water and land or bringing in massive developers with hotels, condos and golf courses.
When I see such telescopes they always seem pristine, meditative and, irony here, almost worshipful, certainly of the universe as a whole. Much as I have always respected cultural values my respect stops with either cultural practices that are vicious and harmful or with superstitions (face palm for me too). Give me a better reason, one centered in moral conduct. Prove actual harm. Mostly I just keep a distance from this worship (warship?) nonsense.

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I much prefer the Native peoples of Hawaii deciding what they deem “sacred” over the “Reason” of white men from Europe who see everything as utilitarian. What got us into the environmental mess we are in is far too many of those “Age of reason” guys and not enough of the sacred.


We are all native people –

We are all people of color –

Their battle is our battle –

There are Native people everywhere around the world standing for their mountaintops, for their waters, for their land bases, their oceans and their life ways. We are no different than them."
—Pua Case, Indigenous organizer

We need a time machine to uninvent the dollar bill and capitalism –
Or – just do it ourselves.

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Many Christians consider fertilized human eggs to be sacred, and Muslims and Hindus and Amish believe oppressive restrictions on women to be “sacred”. Should we pass laws to respect their sacred things?

But because they are indigenous, we, a nation where religion and state are strictly separated, are supposed to give them deference?

This telescope will have 10 times the power of the Hubble Space Telescope or any other telescope on earth. I cannot think of anything as sacred as the search for the origin of the universe. And this mountain is the best site of earth for it. This telescope will sanctify this mountain.

There is nothing capitalist about this telescope. Science is the essence of socialism.

Also, we only know about the impending environmental messes because of science.

Yunzer –

There’s Science – and then there’s “Science.”

Taking of land from the native people has long been done using the
tools of capitalism/conquest - and science.

Same for any other oppression which has taken place.

Reflect on how not only “Christianity” but science was used to defeat the native
people here –

The “white” man’s knowledge that they had no immunity to the diseases they brought
with them – that they were “gentle” people who would offer little resistance and only
help – more susceptible to alcohol/spirits – and certainly had no knowledge of written
law – or what a “signature” could mean on a document.
White “Science” ruled as the white man took over and told native women NOT to
breast feed their children … “because their milk was blue” and “no good.”

That they had no “arms” like the white man had developed - rifles, ammunition.
Nor would they expect white man’s rules of war which would include burning of crop
fields and destruction of Buffalo herds.

And they had knowledge of the “star people” which the white man wanted suppressed.

Often fear was based in the knowledge of the African’s intelligence, more powerful
bodies – 15% larger than the white man.

The “Science” of Conquest and Empire Building is real –
that’s why new Churches are built on old Temples –
and often even older World Religions based in Nature –

In this case in Hawaii, you see that "Science" is burying native religion based in Nature.

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So you presume to dictate to the Native Hawaiians what should be important to them? There also sites across the Western USA and Canada that the First Nations peoples see as sacred such as a Lake up in Northeast BC a mining company wanted to use to dump tailings in. The Mining Compnay only saw the utilitarian claiming “we have lots of lakes and can afford to use destroy a few”. People such as yourself chimed in scoffing at the notion of the sacred claiming they were just standing in the way of “jobs and progress”.

I know which side I am on and it not yours.


The ‘sacred tops’ of the mountains in the Hawaiian’s Moku System appears to me a head of the watershed protection system - totally in line with foremost modern ecological thought.

I was five times to Hawaii - absorbing their culture, or what was left of it.

The kahuna were their high priests - of science, of medicine, of navigation, etc…

But apparently the Hawaiians were most respectful of the multi-disciplinary kahuna, over their top specialists, realizing, as I do, that a holistic understanding is just as important as a narrower specialists perspective.

Their system was hierarchical, not unlike the medieval system where Magna Carta was enacted in Brittania. Both systems protected their landscapes from the depredations that have occurred in our system, which pretends to be democratic but is in fact just as hierarchical, but with this difference - there is no thought in our system for the ‘next seven generations’, and our corporate masters are mentally disturbed, and unconnected to the real world, of which they know virtually nothing.

We assume the rich are smart - they are not - only ruthless and cunningly self-interested - Theodore Roosevelt’s ‘glorified pawnbrokers’, and that includes all of them that I can see, from Gates to Buffet to Musk to Bezos and to the unspeakable effrontery that is the lending industry.

I\m off canoeing with the family - so I’ll stop here, i.e., to be continued.


Yunzer –

Think you have an over-confidence in “science” –
While our scientists were correct about Global Warming their predictions were for
some far distant future – hundreds of years from now …
that is, until the glaciers began to melt right under their feet.

Everyone is free to put their own value on a fertilized egg –
the problem comes when someone wants to force their religious beliefs on someone else.

We see the great stress put on “freedom of religion” when it concerns Christianity –

In fact ALL Americans are supporting religious/Charter schools now –
No complaints by you against that?

And you don’t think that we owe native people anything – you remember these people,
right? They’re the people whose land everywhere was stolen from them by white/
“Christians.” We’ve had deference and special privilege for whites for far long enough.
That needs to be over.

This telescope will have 10 times the power of the Hubble Space Telescope or any other telescope on earth. I cannot think of anything as sacred as the search for the origin of the universe. And this mountain is the best site of earth for it. This telescope will sanctify this mountain.

Do you recall that the Hubble telescope was screwed up – ?

We have UFO sightings every day – Witnesses to these flying objects tell us they are
other-earthly – not something we can do. See: Disclosure Project

Crop Circles all the time which are pictographs which all of our governments and intelligence
agencies are of course studying – and where in the UK citizens are now barred from entering
the fields.

First question invaders asked of the natives here – what their experiences were with the
“Star People” – and they were extensive.

You seem, Yunzer, to want to ignore all of the LIVE, ACTUAL sightings for a look through
a telescope which will finally come to you decades from now as a report in a newspaper.

But a small part of the land stolen outright from the Hawaiian people that they are asking
be accorded respect as “sacred” to them is objectionable to you.

Well no. The First Nations peoples were telling us of the messes we were creating for the past 100 + years and they were not relying on Science. They could see the world changing around them. The Hopi Prophecies warned of what was going to happen 100+ years ago. The Inuit of the Far North were warning of a changing Climate long before Global warming was even a word.

When a First nations fisherman pulled those fish out of lake Athabasca and finds them covered in tumours he did not have to wait on Scientists to tell him that this was being caused by all the toxins being dumped into the river upstream at the Tarsands plants. They were warning the rest of Canada whhat was happening to the wildlife and the fish long before the Scientists "discovered it’. Scientists claiming they discover these things is not far divorced from Europeans claiming Christopjer Columbus discovered America.

Ever since a child I had always had a love of astronomy so maybe me back then would have welcomed this telescope. However as I grow older I learn more and more about the injustices done against indigenous people all for the name of “progress and civilization”. It should be up to the Hawaiian natives if they want a telescope on their land, especially sacred land. It be like if someone decided to build a hydron collider in Jerusalem.

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Under the current plan, the construction of the TMT (on a plateau about 2000 feet from the summit) would be accompanied by the removal of three existing telescopes at the summit. The total number of telescopes would go down, while the useful science that could be done would be improved.

“At what threshold do we say enough is enough?”

The TMT is proposed as being the last telescope for Mauna Kea. And eventually, the lease will expire and all of the telescopes may be removed.

“I have listened to a Hawaiian woman, with a physics degree, who actually worked at one of the telescopes for a decade. For her, it is more important to treasure what were the ‘sacred lands’ of her people more than the Bigger Eye of the Thirty Meter Telescope.”

And other native islanders want the telescope. In polls over the last few years, the current island residents want the telescope by 2 to 1 over those who don’t, and among the native islanders, it’s about evenly split. However, only around 15% of the native population would reject the telescope under any circumstances, which means a large portion of those who aren’t satisfied with the current deal are not opposed to a deal in principle. I heard one of the current protesters saying she thought the use of that site was worth more than a million per year (one of the terms of the present deal) which sounds like her interest is in negotiating a better deal. The problem is, who speaks for the native population? So long as there are a few hundred who are adamantly opposed, do they have standing to block any deal, even if it is one that the overwhelming majority of the native islanders want?

“Perhaps there is a way to satisfy both the protest group and the scientific community - I would think there is.”

The large majority of native islanders want science and their heritage to co-exist to mutual benefit. But those who are of native descent are the only ones who can legitimately decide who can speak and negotiate on their behalf, and they haven’t been able to figure out how to do that yet. The scientists with the TMT project have tried to be culturally sensitive, have worked with native experts to ensure that Area E has no burial grounds or sites of special archeological, cultural or ecological importance, and are trying to build in some redresses for the heavy-handed way prior projects were imposed. That may be why there have been more protests for this telescope than for previous ones–because there is a sense that native voices are being heard this time. It’s also why the scientists were angry that all their outreach work was being undone by the arrests and strong-arm tactics of the government. But ultimately, I don’t see how this is resolvable until there is an accepted and legitimate native body who is empowered to negotiate on behalf of all natives. And the longer the matter goes unresolved, the greater the odds the TMT project will go to site B, in the Canary Islands (not quite as good in the infra-red spectrum, but most of the work could still be done). And the Canary Islanders have made it very clear they would enthusiastically welcome the TMT project with open arms. If the Mauna Kea site falls through, that will be millions of dollars lost to the local natives, and that could delay the dismantling of some of the telescopes that are already there. It’s hard to see how that would be a win for anyone.

It is all about humanity, the broken promises to indigenous peoples all across the globe, the endless pillaging of resources in the name of Corporate profits and more. Peace

Suspira –

Agree –
and even further that all of Nature should be considered “sacred” –
not in any religious sense but nonetheless in spirit that we all feel and respect.

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It hard to try and imagine oneself as “someone else” but for me at least, and I expect there many others, that reverence for nature is innate. It has always been there. It was not something taught. It hard to understand how another can not “feel” or “sense” that same thing but apparently there more than a few that have no such reverence. All the world that they see is just utilitarian and meant to be used for ones own purpose and nothing else.

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