LETTER | Re: Dispelling misconceptions about the Thirty Meter Telescope

Letters Opinions

Dear Editor,

The following is in reply to a letter by Morgan Mowatt.

As a native Hawaiian and Big Island resident, I would like to dispel misconceptions expressed by this student.

First, there is no displacement of anyone from their homelands. The summit of Mauna Kea, at over 13 000 feet, has never been a residential community. There is not enough oxygen or water at the summit for regular habitation.

“Sacredness” is highly subjective. Some native Hawaiians who believe this were unable to prove “continuous and customary” practice prior to 1893, the state mandated threshold. Numerous courts, including the Supreme Court of Hawai’i, have concurred.

There’s no human experimentation at all. Religious animism by some leads to claims of direct descent from the mountain. This belief is their privilege, but is disputed by other Hawaiian practitioners.

There is no single, unified native Hawaiian viewpoint. The vast majority of native Hawaiians do NOT practice the old Kapu religion, abolished by the Hawaiian monarchy almost 200 years ago.

Developing ideas based on ALL relevant data is important. Supporting Indigenous peoples is a fine sentiment, but requires some nuanced research, without which, Hawaiians like myself and the silent majority end up being unfairly disregarded.

Michael Kealoha Stevens

Community member