MAUNA KEA, HAWAII ISLAND — Kanaka protectors representing several islands in the Hawaiian Islands, and a multi-ethnic group of international supporters continue to maintain their vigil at 9,000 feet above sea level to protect Mauna Kea, also known as Mauna a Wakea, on Hawaii Island.
The protectors continue to vigilantly brave the dangerous, frigid weather on the summit of Mauna Kea, awakening this morning to frozen dew covering their tents.
The warriors (or “protectors”) are protecting the mountain from the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), a desecration of one of the most sacred places in the Hawaiian Islands. The peaceful protest has been ongoing for several years, but in the past several months has gathered more momentum and support from Hawaiians and others around the world.
The 24-hour blockade began April 1, 2015. On Wednesday, despite Hawaii Governor Ige’s command to temporarily halt construction of the TMT project–termed a “timeout” by Ige–Mauna Kea’s protectors magnified their numbers exponentially with a global sign-waving and media blitz that trended on different social platforms internationally.
It is estimated that tens of thousands of supporters took part in hundreds of local and international demonstrations here in Hawaii and around the globe. Many of these world-wide protesters displayed the distinct hand signal that has become synonymous with the Hawaiian worldview of the mountain. The diamond shape hand-signal represents the idea of “piko,” a term used to refer to the umbilical cord or center of one’s being. For generations, native speakers used the Hawaiian language phrase “ka piko kaulana o ka aina” (literally “the famous summit of all the land”) [phonetic pronunciation: Kah pee-koh cow-lahna oh kah eye-nah] to describe the sacredness and wonders of the summit.
In addition to demonstrations from the west to the east coasts of the United States, protectors emerged from many other nations including Canada, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Okinawa, the Philippines, Kanaky New Caledonia, the Marshall Islands, Chuuk (Federated States of Micronesia), Tahiti, Tonga, New Zealand, Norway, England, Hungary, Bulgaria, Germany and taly, demonstrating how highly regarded Hawaii is in the eyes of the world. Hawaii is marketed as an idyllic tropic paradise and premier international tourist destination to the world, in part for its breathtaking natural beauty of its lands, seas, culture, and people.
Sacred Mauna Kea is receiving donations from American Indian tribes in Indian Country, and others, for the purpose of supporting all efforts to protect Mauna Kea, including future bail for kupuna. Kupuna, up to 75 years of age, were among the first protectors taken away during the arrest of more than 30 protectors on Thursday, April 2. Supporters bailed out all of the detainees within hours of their arrests.