Last week, numerous celebrities including actors Jason Momoa and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson joined Native Hawaiin protesters around the Mauna Kea mountain on Hawaii’s Big Island.
Native activists in the region have been fighting against the construction of a giant telescope on the mountain for many years. Over the past several decades, astronomers and universities have been constructing large observatories on sacred native land.
13 observatories have already been constructed in spaces that are sacred to the native culture, and native activists believe that the newest project, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Observatory, could be their final stand.
As the celebrities joined the protest last week, bringing international attention to the issue, Hawaii Governor David Ige rescinded a state of emergency order issued to disperse the protesters and issued a two-year extension on the construction.
Because #TMT construction is not imminent, I am withdrawing the emergency proclamation effective immediately. I remain committed to moving forward with this project in a peaceful way and will continue efforts to engage the community. https://t.co/5VVcEXMrGC #MaunaKea
— Governor David Ige (@GovHawaii) July 31, 2019
Jason Momoa, who is also of Hawaiian descent, has been extremely supportive of the native protesters and has been using his platform to raise awareness about the issue for over a year. Momoa joined the protesters to show support, along with pop star Bruno Mars, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and others.
“I love my heritage, both sides, Hawaiian and Iowan. With all due respect to the pursuit of scientific knowledge, we must always protect what is sacred to our people,” Momoa said in an Instagram post last week.
Hawaii's own Jason Momoa visited TMT opponents at the base of Mauna Kea today. He presented an offering to the kupuna and watched a hula performance. READ MORE: https://buff.ly/2LUT0F4#HINews #HNN
Gepostet von Hawaii News Now am Mittwoch, 31. Juli 2019
Johnson made a similar post on Instagram, saying that, “A greater leadership has to step in. There needs to be leadership with empathy. The whole idea about this [protest] is not about stopping progress. It’s not about stopping science. It’s about respecting a culture and respecting people and doing things the right way.”
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At the heart of any matter, is where the truth lies. Truth is, these people – our people – are the backbone and spirit of Hawaii and our culture. They are willing to die here to protect this very sacred land we stand on. This is not about stopping the progress of science. I’ll always be an advocate for science advancement, but not at the expense of human beings who are hurting. When we lead with empathy, we make progress thru humanity. I remain optimistic our leaders will do right by the people. Because in the end, that’s really the only thing that matters – people. #MaunaKea
On the other side of the protest lines, astronomers are at odds about how to handle the situation.
On July 17, astronomy graduate students published an open letter asking for the state to withdraw law enforcement officers from Mauna Kea, in support of the protests.
The letter stated that:
“We want to echo the work of Indigenous scholars and communities in pointing out how US-based histories of conquest have been exploitative and destructive to Indigenous ways of knowing (science) and being (cosmology) in the continental US and in the Hawaiian context. These histories progressed in lock-step with the development of western “sciences” of personhood: of who and/or what is human, and therefore who must be subhuman, and thus must be subject to control via mechanisms of policing, incarceration, and military violence.”
Despite the extension, Governor David Ige is promising to “move forward with the project in a peaceful way.”