01:21 GMT17 January 2021
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    Despite years of consistent pushback from Native Hawaiians, Governor David Ige announced Thursday that construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will proceed on Mauna Kea, a dormant Hawaiian volcano deemed sacred by some cultures.

    On June 20, Hawaii’s government announced via livestream that the state had granted a “notice to proceed” to the TMT project following the removal of “four unauthorized structures.” In addition, Ige announced the Hawaiian Supreme Court had ruled two ahu be removed from the TMT site, as they “did not constitute a traditional or customary right or practice.”

    An ahu is defined as a collection of stones generally used to represent an altar, shrine or memorial, according to Wehewehe Wikiwiki.

    Since October 2014, the construction of the telescope has been opposed by droves of protesters asserting that Mauna Kea’s peak, the highest point in all of Hawaii, is sacred, religious ground that should not be used for the telescope project.

    Protests have halted every attempt to resume the TMT project since the first successful demonstration.

    “What’s the argument for taking them down? It’s completely discriminatory. It’s hostile to the Native Hawaiian people,” Native Hawiian activist Kealoha Pisciotta told the Associated Press Thursday. “These are places of worship and the places where we lay our offering and our prayer.”

    Aware of the backlash to come, Ige claimed Thursday that the Hawaiian government would be working closely with the project to ensure the proper respect is paid to the Native Hawaiian culture.

    “We will proceed in a way that respects the people, place and culture that make Hawaii unique,” Ige claimed during the press conference. “I will continue to work with the University of Hawaii and all our partners to make meaningful changes that further contribute to the co-existence of culture and science on Mauna Kea.”

    However, Ige’s assurances did not seem to convince those against the telescope. Social media users on both Facebook and Twitter voiced overwhelming opposition to the project, with netizens such as Kekoa Kaaiawaawa sternly asserting under the livestream, “If you not Hawaiian your comments are meaningless. Period!”

    The press release notes the telescope project, which will purportedly “allow us to see deeper into space and observe cosmic objects with unprecedented sensitivity,” will receive a start date after relevant Hawaiian agencies meet with project leaders.


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    religious beliefs, religious site, protest, volcano, volcano, Governor David Ige, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, telescope, Thirty Meter Telescope
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