Arizonans protest on "A" mountain in solidarity with Mauna Kea protesters

Protests of the proposed Thirty-Meter Telescope in Hawaii have gained national attention and local support

Hawaiians from across Arizona gathered at the base of "A" mountain in Tempe on Saturday to protest the construction of the fourteenth and largest telescope on a sacred mountain in Hawaii known as Mauna Kea

The proposed $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope, which is said to be several times more powerful than the Hubble telescope, has been met with protest from native Hawaiians for further desecrating their sacred land and the culture it represents. 

The protests took place in solidarity with those protesting at the stie and to unite the native Hawaiians in the Valley. Protesters talked about the importance of Mauna Kea and hiked to the top of "A" mountain hoisting the Hawaiian state flag and native Hawaiian flag.

Arizona resident Sharla Sopoaga-Kaiawe broke down about her recent trip back from Hawaii.

"You don't need to be Hawaiian to know that this is wrong," Sopoaga-Kaiawe said. "The Mauna is our piko (the moment where life began), and if you felt that in your core, if you were crying watching these videos in Kona, you know."

Protesters have been blocking the access road to Mauna Kea since construction was scheduled to begin July 15. This has resulted in multiple arrests, including 33 arrests on July 17, and Hawaii's governor issuing an emergency proclamation.

"A lot of the mountains that we have back home, all those things are almost like our churches, this is where our kapuna (elders) go," Vonett Tam, one of the protesters, said. "It would be like tearing down a church, or Jerusalem, or tearing down Rome for the Italians." 

Some protesters compared the situation to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests by the Sioux Indian tribe to protect their land from the oil pipeline that is currently being built through it. 

One protester Pohai Crisafi-Scharfman said that construction of the telescope is just further oppression of Native Peoples, including anger with the number of telescopes currently there that are not operational. 

"It's an overthrow of our country all over again," Crisafi-Scharfman said. "It feels like an oppression all over again. It feels like I have a tiny glimpse of what our queen went through, to have military and armed forces facing our palace."

Correction: Mauna was misspelled in a previous version of this story. 


Reach the reporter at cbudnies@asu.edu and follow @Chase_HunterB on Twitter.

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.


Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.