By KEALOHA PISCIOTTA
Aloha. As a Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner, I wish to respond to Mr. Chad Kalepa Baybayan’s opinion piece about Mauna Kea (March 19, Tribune-Herald).
First, Kalepa, mahalo for speaking your truth, as I believe that is one of the greatest forms of respect one may offer another. While I respect your truth, other important truths about Mauna Kea were omitted from your commentary, thus altering readers’ perspectives on the issue of Mauna Kea development.
I wish to point out some omissions you may have forgotten to share. It is my hope that by doing so, a more complete story of Mauna Kea — and the impact of its astronomy development — will appear.
The four most glaring omissions are as follows:
1. You did not inform the readers that you work for the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, which has received funding from Gordon Moore, one of the Thirty Meter Telescope funders.
2. While testifying at the contested case hearing, the University of Hawaii did not offer you as an expert witness, nor were you qualified as an expert of the cultural practice relating to Mauna Kea — as were members of the Mauna Kea Hui, including kumu hula Paul Neves, kumu hula Pua Case and Mr. Kalani Flores of the Flores-Case Ohana, Mr. Clarence Kauakahi Ching and I.
3. When questioned about your Native Hawaiian practices relating to Mauna Kea, you answered that you understood Mauna Kea from the perspective of the sea. So you did not mention that construction of the TMT atop Mauna Kea would NOT directly impact your particular cultural or religious practice, as it would other Native Hawaiian practitioners — including members of the Mauna Kea Hui and me.
4. Lastly, you mentioned that you are only one of four individuals that Papa Mau Piailug graduated into the rank of master navigator, and while that must have been a tremendous honor for you, you failed to mention that others of that rank, including Nainoa Thompson, have spoken out in support of protecting Mauna Kea.
While serving as a university regent, Nainoa said of further development on Mauna Kea, “This is really about the native people being subject to racism and disrespect” (quoted in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, June, 21, 1999).
In the end, the core issue is about the many Hawaiians whose practices will be negatively impacted. It’s about the ‘aina that will be negatively impacted. Even the university’s environmental impact statements (EIS) admits this fact: “From a cumulative perspective, the impact of past and present actions on cultural, archaeological and historic resources is substantial, significant and adverse: These impacts would continue to be substantial, significant and adverse with the consideration of the [TMT] project and other reasonably foreseeable future actions.”
This means development is not good for either Mauna Kea or the people of Hawaii.
Aloha and mahalo for listening to my truth, too.
Kealoha Pisciotta is a Native Hawaiian practitioner and one of the six petitioners in the contested case to protect Mauna Kea from further industrialization and desecration. She lives in Ola‘a.