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Mauna a Wakea: Hawai'i’s sacred mountain and the contentious Thirty Meter Telescope

19 Oct 2015, 07:48 UTC
Mauna a Wakea: Hawai'i’s sacred mountain and the contentious Thirty Meter Telescope
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By Duane W. Hamacher (University of New South Wales) and Tui R. Britton (Macquarie University)Hawaii's Thirty Metre Telescope (artists tic design)Plans to build a new telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawai'i have led to months of protests and arrests, including several earlier this month. The ongoing protest pitches astronomers against Hawaiians wanting to protect their sacred site.Conflict between Indigenous and Western interests are part of a long history of colonisation and exploitation. In the Amazon, indigenous communities are fighting governments that exploit the rain forest for natural resources. In the United States and Canada, First Nations people are battling mining and oil interests.In Western Australia, Aboriginal people are finding their 30,000 year old rock art sites being deregistered as sacred because they must be “devoted to a religious use” rather than be “a place subject to mythological story, song, or belief”. Many of these sites are in areas of industrial expansion.If the traditional custodians of the land reject proposals for development, they might face aggressive legal action. “No” is rarely a good enough answer for those exploiting the land, and seeking permission from indigenous people often smacks of tokenism rather than a real attempt to address the wrongs of the past.The mountain of WakeaUnfortunately, it is not just economic interests that ...

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