July 26, 2019
The Council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) supports the Kiaʻi/Defenders of Mauna Kea in their historic and ongoing opposition to the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Mauna Kea, also known as Mauna a Wākea, in Hawaiʻi. The NAISA membership consists of scholars and leaders from around the world who are dedicated to the production and advancement of Indigenous epistemologies, practices, and knowledge developed through ethical and community-based research.
Mauna Kea, a spiritual and ecological center for the Kānaka Maoli, is proposed as the site for the construction of the TMT due to its height and the potential views it would provide for astronomers. The TMT project is sponsored by the University of Hawaiʻi, as well as the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Caltech, the University of California, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences and Canada, and the states of China, India, and Canada. Defenders of Mauna Kea have objected to the construction of the TMT since it was first proposed, citing harmful effects to the ecology and desecration of the sacred Mauna a Wakea that figures as a central kupuna (ancestor) in Kanaka Maoli genealogies. While some have tried to present this conflict as a conflict between science and culture, we note that, at the time of this writing, more than 800 astronomers from around the world have signed an open letter objecting to the methods by which the TMT process has gone forward, and demanding an end to the arrest of Kiaʻi protectors. Science is a human pursuit, and must not be used to legitimize poor citizenship in humanity.
The NAISA Council stands with the defenders of Mauna Kea against the desecration of the mountain and violence against Kānaka Maoli. The State of Hawaiʻi is violating its own principles “to protect all rights, customarily and traditionally exercised for subsistence, cultural and religious purposes…of Native Hawaiians” as stated in its constitution.
As an organization dedicated to Indigenous knowledge and ethics, the Council objects to the violence and disavowal of Kānaka Maoli epistemologies, practices, and relationships with Mauna Kea that undergird support for the TMT project. The Council further objects to the criminalization of peaceful protesters, who have been arrested and removed from the mountain since construction was allowed to go forward by the State of Hawaiʻi beginning on July 17.
The NAISA Council urges its membership to take individual actions to learn more about the proposed TMT and participate in solidarity actions:
To donate to direct action organizing on Mauna Kea:
To donate to the bail fund for those arrested on Mauna Kea:
10 Questions about Mauna Kea whose answers might surprise you:
On social media, follow the official accounts of the Puʻuhonua o Puʻu Huluhulu (sanctuary and base camp of the protectors on Mauna Kea):