As someone who lived in Hawaii for over a decade, working with both the Native Hawaiian and astronomy communities, as someone who specializes in cultural astronomy (including teaching a credit class to Windward Community College students in Hawaii), as someone who has deep respect for Hawaiian culture but is not Hawaiian herself, as someone who is inspired and sustained by the night sky, as someone who has a strong understanding of the sacred as it is expressed in many different ways, as someone who has been to the top of Mauna Kea to visit the observatories and to experience a spiritual sense of place, as someone who works at UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Lab in the midst of the culture of science, I have been watching closely the protests against the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea.
Over the past several weeks, I have been hearing and reading many conversations about TMT from a wide variety of viewpoints. It is a highly complex issue that has cultural, historical, political, economic, social, spiritual, legal, public policy, local, national and international factors.
Several of my colleagues within the space sciences field have asked me to share out the resource list that I prepared for my students at Windward Community College. I’ve tried to include many different perspectives in this resource list. Many of the resources on this list are based on the recommendations of people from within various different communities that are affected by the proposed construction of TMT, including protesters (both Native Hawaiian and non-native), astronomers and astronomy educators (from within Hawaii and on the Mainland), Native Hawaiian navigators, cultural practitioners, etc. I’ve tried to keep my own personal opinions out of the list and simply present the material with neutrality so that each person can make up his or her own mind about the pono* way forward with regards to TMT and Mauna Kea.
*Pono is a Hawaiian word that is sometimes translated as “righteousness.” It carries the meaning of being in perfect alignment and balance with all things in life. The Hawaii State motto is Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono, meaning “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness”.
Note: I will be adding to this list of resources periodically. Last edited: May 1, 2015
General Background Info
The Fight to Build the Earth’s Most Powerful Optical Telescope
Article published on April 29, 2015 in Wired that briefly summarizes the controversy about construction of TMT on Mauna Kea.
Historical View on Mauna Kea: From the Vantage Points of Hawaiian Culture and Astronomical Research Article written by Windward Community College physics professor Dr. Joseph Ciotti, published in The Hawaiian Journal of History in 2011. This article provides background related to the development of astronomy on Mauna Kea and related conflicts, and explores the role of informal education in resolving these issues.
Info from TMT & UH
The official Thirty Meter Telescope website description about TMT.
A five-minute video produced by the Thirty Meter Telescope that provides an overview of the science and why “TMT will be the most powerful telescope in the history of the world.”
Maunakea and TMT
A website put together by TMT to address concerns related to cultural context, environmental impact, community impacts, finances, compliance, community outreach and science. Includes downloadable copies of environmental impact statements, the Comprehensive Management Plan and other documentation.
Stewardship by UH to Protect Maunakea for Future Generations
Information by the University of Hawaii about the Mauna Kea Management Plan.
Perspectives on TMT & Mauna Kea
Sacred Mountain Mauna Kea
A 7-minute video in which Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner Pua Case explains the spiritual significance of Mauna Kea and her opposition to TMT.
Mauna Kea Temple Under Siege
This 50-minute video paints a portrait of a mountain that has become a symbol of the Hawaiian struggle for physical, cultural and political survival. The program explores conflicting forces as they play themselves out in a contemporary island society where cultures collide daily.
The Search for Knowledge on the Summit of Mauna Kea is a Sacred Mission
Editorial written by Native Hawaiian navigator Chad Kalepa Baybayan in West Hawaii Today newspaper in April 2013 supporting the construction of TMT on Mauna Kea.
Why Blockade TMT on Mauna Kea
In this video, which aired on April 1,2015 on Big Island Video News, two protesters explain their reasons for blocking the Thirty Meter Telescope’s construction (8:06 minutes).
Mauna Kea and the Occupied Hawaiian Kingdom
This 14-minute video, which aired on April 6, 2015 on Big Island Video News, discuses the TMT protests from the perspective of the occupied Hawaiian Kingdom which challenges the legitimacy of the State of Hawaii.
Thirty Meter Telescope Could Boost Hawaii Island’s Economy
This 2013 article in Hawaii Business provides (generally pro-TMT) information about the economic impact of TMT.
A Native Hawaiian Astrophysicst’s Mana’o on the Thirty Meter Telescope
(Note: If this link doesn’t work, do a Google search on “Paul Coleman TMT Mana”)
Paul Coleman of the Institute Astronomy at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa shares his perspective in support of TMT.
Dangerous Intersection of Social Policy and the “Sacred”
Article in Honolulu Civil Beat by Ian Lind that considers some of the anti-TMT arguments within the larger context of religious freedom and public policy in the United States.
Mauna Kea is a Special Place in Humanity’s Quest for Knowledge
Editorial written by a University of Hawaii scientist who supports the construction of TMT and asks “Hawaiian protestors and their sympathizers not to play into the anti-intellectual movement that is currently sweeping our country”.
We Live in the Future, Come Join Us
Blog post about “how any time Hawaiians—or any other native people, for that matter—come out in force to push for more respect for our culture and language or to protect our places from this kind of destruction, we are dismissed as relics of the past, unable to hack it in the modern world with our antiquated traditions and practices.”
Should the Thirty Meter Telescope Be Built?
One-hour PBS Hawaii panel discussion with Paul Coleman (Astrophysicist, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii-Manoa), Richard Ha (Hawaii Island Farmer and Businessman), Jon Osorio (Board President, KAHEA, a Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance) and Kealoha Pisciotta (President, Mauna Kea Anaina Hou). Aired April 30, 2015.