Wearing red shirts and grasping signs emblazoned with the words, “A’ole TMT” and “Ku Kia’i Mauna,” meaning “No TMT” and “Guardians of the mountain,” students at Kaiser High School marched during lunch on Sept. 16 to protest the construction of the Mauna Kea Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).
While the movement against construction on Mauna Kea has been going on for decades, protests against the TMT began in 2015. With the arrests of 33 protestors in July of this year, the movement has gained significant global attention and increased public debate both in Hawaii and throughout the entire nation about Indigenous rights.
Led by Isaac Mamizuka (12) and supporters Malia Marquez, Kaumaka Wong, Nani Elm, and history teacher Lori Dillon, the protesters met at 12:15 P.M. by B Building and then walked around the entire school campus before settling at the Gathering Place. There Mamizuka spoke to the students about the purpose of the movement, saying, “It’s not only a fight for Mauna Kea, but it’s also a fight for everything that’s happened to us [in the past]: our language being banned, our culture being banned, they nearly got rid of everything we had.” Knowing that it’d be difficult for students to attend the protests at Mauna Kea, Mamizuka decided to hold his own on campus. “I just want to bring awareness to Kaiser, so they know what’s going on. A lot of these students who came [can’t go to Mauna Kea], so I thought doing something here would help the schools know that we’re still here,” he said.
Marquez, who has been a part of the We Are Mauna Kea movement since its inception in 2015, delivered the final remarks. Marquez is also a part of the Aloha Aina movement: Aloha Aina is a central idea of ancient Hawaiian thought and culture that stresses the connection between the land and people. She emphasized how important it is for local citizens to truly understand the reason behind the protests. “We are not against astronomy. How can we be? Our ancestors were the kings and queens of all of the stars,” she said. “That’s not what the issue is. The issue is the place [of its construction], and the mismanagement of the university of the Mauna Kea region and the telescopes there. I think people think it’s either anti-science or pro-science, and it’s really so much more than that.”
Marquez was moved by the number of Kaiser students who participated in the Mauna Kea protests. “[The youth] are my leaders,” she said. “Having the youth step up, we know that we’re going to make firm a whole other generation that we will entrust with teaching [younger generations].”
Contributed by Eui Ji Song