by Tim Reynolds / Two Row Times
Hawaii’s sacred Mauna Kea is threatened by a proposed 30 meter, 18 story telescope.
At the Anishnabek Educational Institute on Muncey Delaware Territory I met up with a Hawiian woman named Waimakalani Iona. She described a scenario all too familiar to Onkwehon:we people: the encroachment of her lands, a disregard for environmental issues and an ethnocentric and dismissive attitude towards her cultural beliefs.
The most sacred place in all of Hawaii is a mountain named Mauna Kea. It is the peoples Kupuna meaning something that is alive and fully interconnected to their lives. A place where you must approach the Ahu (Sacred Altar) to make an offering to Wakea (Skyfather) to show respect and ask permission before approaching Mauna Kea. It is considered to be the birthplace of Hawaii and where the first rainstorm(Wakea) and first sunlight came to be.
High atop of the mountain is Lake Wai’au where each family has a particular place for their childrens Piko (umbilical chord that falls off the childs belly button) to be placed in the lake. Piko is also the name of the summit Mauna Kea which connects all to their creation and ancestors. There is also ancient burial grounds on Mauna Kea. It is a rare place where Papahanaumoku (The mother goddess who gave birth to the islands), Mo’oinanea (the water spirit), and Wakea (The skyfather) meet as one.
In 1961 Mauna Kea was declared a protected place for its watersheds, ecological significance, culturally sacred value. Lake Wai’au is the only glacially formed lake in the mid-pacific.
What is pending now is a clear destruction of all of the above. Canada, France, and the University of Hawaii are planning a $1.3 Billion, 10 year construction project of an 18 floor, 30 meter telescope on 5 acres of land on Mauna Kea. Now the Ku Ching, Kalani Flores and 4 other families have pettioned the Board of Land and Natural Resources to the fullest extent and all bureaucratic steps have been taken to stop this potential desecration and genocidal act. Waimakalani Iona said “Its like an orange talking to an apple about who we are and what we believe in. The TMT (thirty meter telescope group) group didn’t even ask our permission to do build this telescope.” The TMT claim it will not interfere in cultural practices; but other telescopes throughout Hawaii have interfered either from noise or physical placement.
Since 2010 Lake Wai’au has been disappearing drastically. It was 10 feet deep now it is 1 foot deep. Waimakalani Iona said the lake is saddened at what is going on and the lack of respect for what is proposed at the summit, which is named Ho’ohokukalani (where the children descend and return to the stars). Many concessions have been made throughout Hawaii with other telescopes but she, Mauna Kea, is saying no to this one.