What Are the Mauna Kea Protests?

"There is a particularly special connection between the Native Hawaiian people and this site." Brut spoke to an activist about protesting the construction of a giant telescope on Mauna Kea — a mountain considered sacred to many Native Hawaiians.

For native Hawaiians, social and environmental activism go hand in hand

Activists are protesting the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea — the highest peak in Hawaii and a sacred site to Native Hawaiians. After a series of court rulings, Hawaii's governor announced authorized construction of the telescope in July 2019. To activists, it’s not about a telescope: it’s about reclaiming their identity and agency.

“They have torn down religious sites just in the last couple of weeks, they've arrested people in their wheelchairs. Things are very tense right now and there's a lot of concern that law enforcement will become aggressive again. Mauna Kea has been mismanaged by the state for 50 years. It's on what are called Crown lands that were effectively taken from the Hawaiian Kingdom and then placed in trust with the state of Hawaii for the Native Hawaiian people. So, there is a particularly special connection between the native Hawaiian people and this site. it's not a new situation in that the issues of injustice and land rights are a common theme over the last one hundred and twenty-six years. We didn't believe in creating permanent damage to natural resources. So, I think that's really the dialogue for us is how do we innovate even in these modern times without causing permanent environmental or cultural damage. And that's where we feel like TMT has not taken those ethics into consideration," Kehaulani Watson tells Brut.

The activist movement evolved in Hawaii after a 1977 lawsuit to stop the U.S. Navy from using Kahoolawe Island as a weapons testing facility. For native Hawaiians, social and environmental activism go hand in hand. Watson says the Mauna Kea protests are benefiting from global conversations about the rights of indigenous people. High profile celebrities such as Jason Momoa and Dwayne Johnson have stood in solidarity with the protestors. Watson says that technology isn't the enemy, and that it has a role to play in the fight.


08/07/2019 11:57 AM
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  • Benjamin B.
    08/07/2019 12:19

    Brut merci à vous tout le temps, bonne journée à tous 👏👏👏

  • Brut
    08/07/2019 13:22

    Jason Momoa was there with his fellow Native Hawaiians to protest the construction of a giant telescope on Mauna Kea.

  • James E.
    08/08/2019 21:14

    Who cares

  • Dan B.
    08/08/2019 23:03

    Couldnt care less.

  • Hanif I.
    08/09/2019 13:00

    This is why we have problems around the world. Governments don't care about religion and crush u regardless . Thier religon is capitalism and control. Look at Chinas Muslim locked up on feeling. Who's speaking for them, we all have to respect everyone's religon as we all will be tested. Only time the governments become religious in thier faith is invite hatred and cause a religious war. How ironic and sad, hope for the best but don't see this stopping.

  • Joseph H.
    08/10/2019 12:39

    I like telescopes better than religion.

  • Samuel T.
    08/10/2019 17:17

    Build that telescope. Its a rock. Nothing sacred about a rock. Science is more important than stone age beliefs of a myth

  • Carl E.
    08/11/2019 02:42

    If you poo poo their beliefs and their sacred site. I guess it would not bother you if we dug up your cemeteries so we can build more strip malls and strip joints.

  • Herman T.
    08/12/2019 19:16

    Here in the CNMI the native people doesn't no any better than to accept the military build up and the bombing of our island for many ? How they claim prosperity in destruction of the land and the cultural heritage connected to the people..

  • Luis A.
    08/13/2019 11:20

    Superstition over science.? Cultures go and come, it is in constant evolution. the damn thing. Stop romanticizing cultures.

  • Jose A.
    08/13/2019 12:35

    A U.S. state that's still treated like a colony.

  • Roberto R.
    08/13/2019 15:47

    Keep fighting, the US government doesn't care about people.

  • Jake J.
    08/13/2019 16:39

    The disgusting American government going at it again. They don’t care about the islands they colonized and forced to serve in their wars. Why even have them? Puerto Rico is not even a state, it’s an ILEGAL colony. The American government preaches freedom but takes it away from anyone who isn’t American born or lives in the states. Don’t care about Hawaii and their culture? LET THEM GO! Don’t care about Puerto Rico and their people? LET THEM GO!

  • Kristopher J.
    08/13/2019 19:45

    We need that telescope. This is what that place was here for all along. If you religious people can look at that telescope as an eye into the universe, I think that's a lot more important and awesome. How awesome would it be to behold an eye of life? On your very mountain? Just look at it that way. We've made the calculations and that mountaintop will help all of mankind be able to pierce the depths of the universe? Let the mountain top live out its destiny!

  • Kristopher J.
    08/13/2019 20:00

  • Jessrick R.
    08/14/2019 00:14

    people who say to build it dont know what it is like to have your things forcefully taken away. all the haoles are living on stolen land. but then again, why should they care if it isnt being taken from them, amirite?

  • Juan C.
    08/14/2019 00:45

    A eso se dedica el imperio

  • Mark W.
    08/14/2019 00:54

    But, but, but, science!! Isnt that what the leftist cry??? What is more scientific than a telescope constructed on a mountain, away from light pollution??? You want your cake and eat it too!!!! Sorry sweetie, can't happen!!

  • Carmen K.
    08/14/2019 02:44

    Keep protesting, never give up!

  • Angel I.
    08/14/2019 10:56

    There is no such thing as sacred land. Primitive superstitions.