Giant telescope will be built on sacred Native Hawaiian peak


EXCERPT: After years of protests and legal battles, Hawaii officials announced Thursday that a massive telescope which will allow scientists to peer into the most distant reaches of our early universe will be built on a volcano that some consider sacred. The state has issued a “notice to proceed” for the Thirty Meter Telescope project, Gov. David Ige said at a news conference. In October, a state Supreme Court’s 4-1 ruling upheld the project’s permits for the $1.4 billion instrument.

“We expect that TMT construction will begin sometime this summer. We will proceed in a way that respects the people, place and culture that make Hawaii unique,” Ige said. “We are all stewards of Mauna Kea. The state has an obligation to respect and honor the unique cultural and natural resources on this special mountain.”

[...] Opponents say the telescope will desecrate sacred land atop Mauna Kea, the state’s highest peak and a place of religious importance to Native Hawaiians. Scientists say the summit is one of the best places on Earth for astronomy. Several telescopes and observatories are already on the summit.

Thursday’s announcement comes on the same day Native Hawaiian practitioners had planned to go to the summit area for a nighttime solstice ceremony and to honor an elder who recently died, said Kealoha Pisciotta, a Native Hawaiian activist who has led some of the protest efforts. “It’s on the eve of our solstice ceremonies. They know that we go up during solstice and equinox,” she said. “We were preparing to head up tonight for the solstice and to honor him.” She said police are only allowing astronomers through and blocking the road to the summit for everyone else, including Hawaiians who asked to go pray. The Department of Land and Natural resources said one person was arrested for obstruction Thursday morning. “They won’t let anyone up,” Pisciotta said. “They said no. They may block us tonight, also.”

Before dawn Thursday morning, state and county officials drove up Mauna Kea to remove four Native Hawaiian structures. Native Hawaiians have used the structures for years, Pisciotta said, and she considers the removal of the structures to be desecration and discriminatory. “What’s the argument for taking them down? It’s completely discriminatory. It’s hostile to the Native Hawaiian people,” she said. “These are places of worship and the places where we lay our offering and our prayer.”

She said their rights to religious freedom are being violated. “If someone went into a church and took down the crucifix or you know the cross, how would that be treated?” Pisciotta asked. Calls and emails to the governor and state attorney general’s office asking if the annual Native Hawaiian solstice ceremony would be permitted on Thursday night were not immediately answered.

The new telescope will allow astronomers to reach back 13 billion years to answer fundamental questions about the advent of the universe. “The world is not black and white. This is not an oil pipeline. It is a telescope to look into the very origins of life in the universe,” Ige said. “We have worked a long time to hear each other and to make a choice as a collective community. To the many who support this project, let us always hold all views as one. Let us always touch the mountain as we gaze out beyond the sky." (MORE)
If there are telescopes.already there then why the fuss? Are there some churches, mosques, synagogues sitting in places people don't. like? Can we get rid of them please just so it's a level playing.field? Make native Hawaiians feel they're not.alone. Ya I'm being sarcastic but where do you draw the line?
(Jun 21, 2019 07:23 PM)Zinjanthropos Wrote: If there are telescopes.already there then why the fuss?

"Opposition to the Mauna Kea Observatories has existed since the first telescope was built in the late 1960s." That includes ongoing protests from environmentalists, though, not just the religious natives.

Opposition to the Mauna Ka Observatories

Future telescopes will not be allowed after this one, and some older ones are slated to be dismantled. So there is victory in that respect.

Quote:Are there some churches, mosques, synagogues sitting in places people don't. like? Can we get rid of them please just so it's a level playing.field? Make native Hawaiians feel they're not.alone. Ya I'm being sarcastic but where do you draw the line?

Where applicable in terms of legal rights favoring them in that way, I expect it boils down to which party was occupying a place first (and sorting out the spectrum of historical facts to cultural myths regarding such). And again, if Green and Social Justice folk are around -- whether they carry clout of any significance, and have their own self-interests in _X_ winning.
Is there a religion or special interest group that has respectively laid claim to outer space as being sacred or forbidden? God is supposedly skyward and so are the heavens, wouldnt want to infringe. I would think the moon or other celestial bodies have crept into various cultures/religions over.the centuries so why not include them in the mix? Astrologists you'd think might take exception to our meddling in space. The universe is fair game too, isn't it? Rolleyes

Maybe we can still respect or honor some of the older extinct religions' claims. Stay off Mt Olympus and get your ass away from Stonehenge. Science has no respect for human history, what a bunch of bastards!(unless it supports your cause of course )
Good for the Hawaii state supreme court. This is very good news in my opinion.

And I'm supposed to be "anti-science" because I'm skeptical about global warming... Yet here are people trying to prevent the practice of astronomy at one of the premier astronomical observing sites on Earth.  

Astronomy has an almost spiritual aura about it anyway. Searching the heavens... Carl Sagan's reverent chant of "Billions and Billions..." The Secrets of the Universe! So considering that both groups are on top of the mountain ostensibly with similar motivations, it seems to me that it should be possible for religious practitioners and astronomers to coexist, assuming that these particular religious practitioners really want coexistence.

I don't think that they do. I perceive them less as religious practitioners than as identity-politics activists. I think that they want to assert power, they want to piss on the mountain to mark it as their exclusive territory so as to exclude everyone else.

And I'm curious whether any organized practice of the old Hawaiian religiosity continues any longer. Or has it effectively died out, with some contemporary political activists kind of reviving it in name while self-appointing themselves as its Kahunas/shamans. There's talk about native Hawaiian religious leaders, but who appointed them, what qualifies them as religious leaders, and who recognizes and follows their religious leadership?

That being said, I don't think that true religious celebrants should be excluded from the mountain, provided that they don't disrupt the astronomy. The astronomy needn't disrupt them either. The activists say that the observatories "desecrate" the mountain, but 'desecration' is all in the eye of the beholder. Real Hawaiian religious practitioners could choose instead to see the observatories as cosmic temples participating in the sacred nature of the mountain.

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