LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Hawaiians gathered at the Las Vegas Sign twice on Saturday to demonstrate against a telescope being built on the island's highest mountain, Mauna Kea.
Nakaneula is one of several event organizers. "We got people coming over to represent for our people back home. We just want to show them we're here supporting," says Pololu Nakaneula.
Most Hawaiians that live in Las Vegas say they are not protesting but rather are defending their “sacred land.”
"Our main goal is to appropriately represent our people back home.” Many Hawaiians living in Vegas are hoping for a peaceful end to protests over a telescope that's supposed to be built on the island's highest mountain. @KTNV pic.twitter.com/D2bD92CxYO— Cinthia Maldonado (@CinthiaKtnv) July 21, 2019
"We are not protesters. We are protectors of Mauna," says Kumu Kahiki Akana.
"It's like our ancestors, what we grew up with. What we grew up knowing in the Hawaiian culture," says Ryan Whitfield.
Nakaneula told 13 Action News most Hawaiians not against the science Thirty Meter Telescope is trying to conduct.
"It's refuting to listen to the people of the land. We've been trying to stop the construction on Mauna Kea. That's our scared land. There's a lot of history behind it."
There are concerns about environmental damage, losing traditions.
"Upbringing our kids, how we raise our [kids], the language, all of that we take with us. No matter where we're at there's a connection," says Akana.
More than 1,000 demonstrators gathered at demonstrations combined, they hope the telescope project to moved to Spain.
"We want people to understand what's going on. Whether you Hawaiian or not it's important we get the word out. We're not going to let it go unnoticed," says Nakaneula.
Ed Stone, the executive director at Thirty Meter Telescope released this statement: