Statement in Support of the Kia`i of Mauna Kea from the UCLA American Indian Studies Center

Chokma/ Aloha Kākou,

The UCLA American Indian Studies Center is a community of students, faculty, and stakeholders advocating for Indigenous and American Indian people throughout the U.S. and beyond. We acknowledge that the proposed construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea on the Island of Hawai'i violates what is considered the piko, or spiritual center, of Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians).

This 18-story telescope will not only desecrate a sacred place of the gods for Kānaka Maoli, it will also disturb a significant and delicate ecological system, which is a principal source of water on Hawai`i Island. Over the course of several years, environmental and cultural impact statements relating to the area, and to smaller proposed developments on Mauna Kea, have warned of substantial adverse impacts on cultural resources. The State of Hawai`i is currently moving forward with this project and displacing and arresting kia`i (guardians) of Mauna Kea, many of whom are kupuna (elders). The pursuit of knowledge is a major goal that the AISC prioritizes. However, these activities do not exist in a vacuum; all actions have costs and benefits. For too long, Indigenous peoples and other minoritized groups have been asked to bear the burden of land acquisition and economic development. We support the efforts of Native Hawaiians in expressing their opposition to the construction of TMT.

In acknowledgement of the pending degradation of Hawaiian culture, the unique natural environment of mauna, the continued diminishment of Native land rights—even those guaranteed through State of Hawai`i's constitutional affirmations "to protect all rights, customarily and traditionally exercised for subsistence, cultural and religious purposes...of Native Hawaiians"—the American Indian Studies Center asserts its support for the Kia`i of Mauna Kea, and urges the State of Hawai'i to desist from arresting peaceful protestors and end efforts to pursue construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Shannon Speed (Chickasaw)
Director, UCLA American Indian Studies Center