“Why The Mountain”: A Documentary Film to Protect Sacred Mauna Kea

sacred mauna kea

Activists blockade the road to Mauna Kea in October 2014.

This comes from our friend Anne Keala Kelly, an award-wining native Hawaiian journalist and activist whose previous film, Noho Hewa: The Wrongful Occupation of Hawai’i is a powerful indictment of American settler-colonialism in the Hawaiian islands.


“Why The Mountain”: A Documentary Film to Protect Sacred Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea is majestic. Environmentally, it’s one of the most extraordinary places on earth. Located on Hawai’i Island in the middle of the Pacific, with an above sea elevation of 13,800 feet, when measured from its base beneath the ocean it’s more than 33,000 feet high. It is the tallest mountain in the world. It’s also a target for a form of exploitation that threatens the island’s ecosystem and the cultural, spiritual and religious survival of the Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians).

“Why The Mountain” will be a 30-minute documentary film that explores why Hawaiians and environmentalists oppose the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT), and why the astronomy industry is determined to construct this 18 ½ – story building on Mauna Kea.

Environmentalists argue that because the largest fresh water aquifer for Hawai’i Island is on Mauna Kea, the potential for irreversible harm is too high a price to pay. They say to build a football stadium size structure and its accompanying 5,000-gallon container for hazardous chemical waste, is an unnecessary risk. And given the toxic chemicals in use by the 13 telescopes already on the summit, the TMT increases the threat to the watershed and endangered and threatened species’ habitats.

But for Hawaiians, what began as an agreement to allow one telescope on Mauna Kea over 40 years ago has turned into a generational struggle to protect the mountain from further harm and desecration. Traditionally, the Hawaiian people have regarded the summit as sacred. Now it’s also a symbol of cultural erasure and the ongoing assault on Hawaiian spiritual and religious practices, and rights to self-determination.

What You Can Do

Donate to support the film.

Read more about the issue and follow the progress of this project on the film blog.

Get involved in local resistance efforts, such as Deep Green Resistance Hawai’i.

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