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Mauna Kea activists recruiting help for Hawaiian TMT demonstrations in Las Vegas

Posted at 11:26 PM, Jul 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-29 08:37:55-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — For weeks they've stood near the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii's tallest mountain, blocking construction crews from accessing the site of a planned state-of-the-art Thirty Meter Telescope.

The Native Hawaiians and their supporters call themselves protectors, and they've begun recruiting help in Las Vegas.

Mehana Hind came from the front lines to teach locals with Hawaiian ancestry Origin Chants, which tell the story of Hawaiian culture, and teach the locals about why the demonstration has stretched on for two weeks.

"This is a critical time," Hind said.

Hind and other demonstrators said the new T.M.T. would further desecrate sacred land they consider sacred, and upset fragile ecosystems at the top of the mountain.

PREVIOUS STORY: Las Vegas Hawaiian community shows solidarity with protesters blocking telescope construction

There are already 13 telescopes at the mountain top.

Las Vegas Hawaiian Civic Club President Dorinda Puanani Keola Burnet said this is the latest in a decades long sour relationship between natives and outside influence.

"What we're saying is this is enough," Burnet said, "we won't do it anymore, and we won't allow you to desecrate our land anymore. To us our land is our life."

Burnet and Hind called on Hawaiians around the globe to stand against the construction, despite a 2018 State Supreme Court ruling allowing the build to begin.

"Legal doesn't always equal just," Hind said.

Telescope supporters said the $1.4 Billion construction project would diversify the island economy with 300 construction jobs, and employ 140 people once complete.

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Supporters also said the summit of Mauna Kea is the best spot in the world for the 18 story high telescope, and, once complete, it could greatly advance scientist's understanding of the solar system.

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"The protectors have come out firm," Hind said, "they are not negotiating. They are there until they reach their goal."