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Standing with Pouhana O Na Wahine (Pillars of Women) in Solidarity with the Mauna Kea Supporters Against the TMT

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project, a $1.4 billion astronomical observatory, had a planned construction launch date of July 15. The 18-story telescope project was scheduled to be built atop Mauna Kea, which is among the most sacred sites in Hawaiian cosmology.

To Indigenous Native Hawaiians who called Hawaii home before Hawaii became the last state of the U.S., the tallest mountain in Hawaii, Mauna Kea, represents a sacred site. It is considered the realm of the Earth’s creator and the birthplace of the Hawaiian people. Pro-business groups interested in boosting Hawaii’s tech industry want the summit to house what would be the largest telescope in the Northern Hemisphere.

The TMT project has faced stiff opposition from Native Hawaiians and allies due to its planned construction site. It is viewed as a decision that disrespects Native Hawaiian sovereignty, desecrates a sacred site, and highlights who decides what happens on ancestral indigenous lands.

The fight to protect Mauna Kea is 10 years running, with the Hawaii Supreme Court ruling in 2018 that construction for TMT can proceed. Despite the Court’s decision, the struggle is not over. Since the first scheduled day for construction, July 15, Mauna Kea protectors have shown up every day to save their most sacred land. The protests have drawn thousands. Mauna Kea protectors (ku kiaʻi mauna) are taking a stand to be caretakers of this sacred site and their land.

Native Hawaiian Kupuna (elders) and other activists have been arrested for peacefully protesting. They are currently blocking the mountain’s access road and have indefinitely halted the TMT project. They have stopped Native Hawaiians from accessing the Mauna where they go for religious purposes, cultural practices as well as gathering. Protectors say their current struggle is yet another chapter in a long history of genocide and the denial of recognizing Native Hawaiian nationhood and Indigenous rights by the federal and state governments.

On January 17,1893, Queen Lili’uokalani was overthrown by businessmen and sugar plantation owners supported by the United States. State and federal title to Native Hawaiian lands remain under dispute. The United States Congress passed an Apology Resolution in 1993 for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii which resulted in the suppression of the inherent sovereignty of the Native Hawaiian people. The recognition of Native Hawaiian sovereignty remains a continuing struggle.

“The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center stands in solidarity with our Pouhana O Na Wahine sisters and the Mauna Kea protectors,” said Lucy Simpson, Executive Director, NIWRC. “We encourage our movement and allies for the safety of Native women to support the protection of this sacred site.”