As a person of native American descent and quite a bit of native culture I know a thing or two about that world view. Granted my family is well assimilated and mixed in as many who are descendants of some of the first Native Americans to make contact with the white man. This gives me a fine-tuned sense of when someone is using nativness for nonsense. This is not to say that Native Hawaiians, Native Americans, or other indigenous people never have a point. The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protest was one where they did, and where real practical environmental damage is a legitimate concern. UPDATE (Science Facing Ignorance.)
Some media say that to indigenous peoples sacredness is not just attached to a place. That it comes from a understanding of the world as a connected whole. Sounds like a bunch of colors of the wind talk. The problematic use of the Nobel Native Savage tropes in so much media about this aside… what could be more connected than carefully studying the stars and understanding what connects us to them. We are star stuff. Every atom other than hydrogen. Most of what you are made of what the planet is made of… came from the hearts of long dead stars. Ever metal in your body was forged by nuclear fusion. That’s sacred. There is no better place to study that than Mauna Kea. There would be no better way to honor that than through astronomy, cosmology, and astrophysics.
Argument from Nativity and Sacredness is Just Nonsense.
It is nonsense when a Native American to some part of the continent tries to claim they lived in harmony with nature as hunter gatherers in the past. Especially since there was established agriculture in North America, even in the area that is now the US for thousands of years.
It is nonsense when someone who’s ancestors have been here for three generations talks about being native to America or having “built America.” Their grandfather came here on Pan AM! The country was pretty darn built if we had airports and jets already.
It is also a special kind of nonsense when a TINY, unelected, minority of Native Hawaiians pretend to speak for all Native Hawaiians. They claim that the top of that volcano, indeed all of their tops, are sacred. The thing is, in real old fashioned traditional native Hawaiian culture lots of things were sacred and doing a lot of things was taboo.
The Kapu System
In the Kapu system, which was in full force until 1819 when the Native Hawaiian monarchy abolished it, commoners could not look a chieftan in the eye, or even have their heads held high in their presence. The punishment for doing so was death. So too was going to certain places, such as climbing to the summits of most tall mountains. Even if there was no specific part of it that was a ceremonial site… it was taboo in the Kapu system. The punishment was death.
Think this isn’t a factor. Notice how much the protestors mention mana. The Kapu system is part of the native Hawaiian belief system, abolished in 1819 by king Kamehameha II. They are claiming that the mountaintop is sacred in some part based on a set of beliefs that was abolished by their own monarchy exactly 200 years ago! NONSENSE! Utter rubbish being manipulatively used.
I wrote this without references but don’t take my word for it. As reported by Christine Hitt of Honolulu Magazeine
“In the 1999 Kumu Pono Associates’ oral history and consultation study, Pualani Kanaka‘ole Kanahele stated: ‘Mauna Kea was always kupuna to us … And there was no wanting to go to top. You know, just that they were there … was just satisfying to us. And so it was kind of a hallowed place that you know it is there, and you don’t need to go there. You don’t need to bother it. … And it was always reassuring because it was the foundation of our island. … If you want to reach mana, that [the summit] is where you go.’”
No Care For The Real Issues.
Maybe because most of the people offering comment supportive of TMT are white, they don’t feel they can call this out. Well, here I am a transgender woman of color, mostly black yes. Yet also a native person of distant Powhatan and more recent Potawatomi descent. I dare any who’d read this and be offended to tell me I speak from some manner of privilege on this.
The above opinion comes not from a place of privilege, or of disrespect for indigenous peoples.
The above opinion comes from a place of love for the true nature of indigenous peoples in the United States. People who have minority issues that are sadly common. People who suffer from great inequality, poverty, and the results of that. People with real problems that need real solutions. People who are also modern and as sophisticated as anyone. People who if they need a protest about something concern over the water supply is a real, practical, valid one.
Why does it seem like fluffy things like telescopes being built can get so much attention… while issues such as those mentioned in this video are not even on the radar?
I suppose if some real good comes from this … it would be to somehow bring more attention to the issues of Native Hawaiians on a more practical level, in general.
Protest against a scientific endeavor based on a belief system that was defunct before even the white man came, in any real force, would be like demanding that Chicago be torn down because the land where the rdivers meet the lakes was likely sacred to the various Natives who lived here (and named it after stinky onions which still grow very well here. ).
A video from Big Island news about an instrument which is waiting to be delivered for the observing season and is stranded by the protest is playing host to many ignorant comments by supposed protestors. This insturment will be in service of the Event Horizon Telscope collaboration, which worked to take the first image of a supermassive black hole in another galaxy, and which may be able to image the one at the center of our Galaxy.
While it is possible that the comments are from people who are just trying to make native Hawaiians look bad... I really hope that is the case... here they are at face value.
A collection of ignorant comments made by anti #TMTHawaii #TMT people on a video about the delay of an instrument being delivered due to protest. @GovHawaii the law was followed. They had a chance to make their case. They lost. Had they won they'd want it enforced. Do that. pic.twitter.com/da6EvldddK— Hontas Farmer (@Hontas_Farmer) August 9, 2019
Here is the video...
How much more are we going to let ignorance win over science. While I am sensitive to the genuine needs of indigenous people to improve their lives and respect their cultures. That is a sensitivity that too many hucksters within the indigenous rights movement are more than willing to abuse. Not to mention those, within that movement, who are indigenous, who are as racist as the KKK, and only less harmful due to lack of numbers.