After Visiting the Mauna

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I donʻt know.

I left Mauna Kea, filled with valuable experiences, but also empty because of new questions I now long to have filled. The only thing that was absolute to me was that the feeling of being drawn there was true.

What I saw...

Pulling up to Puʻuhuluhulu was a moment of anticipation - it felt like I was arriving at a function where I was being expected - like before I stepped out, my name was being called. I knew I needed to be there. There was something for me to learn.

The air was brisk and so clean. It seemed to go through you like a spirit. Lining the street on both sides were cars and tents. The tents moved in the wind in unison with the flags that adorned the mountain as jewels on a royal neck. It seemed only fitting that the flags were all so colorful and fluid as the lava rock was ash black and broken.

There was a new, unfamiliar spirit in the air. “Adobo fried rice!” was being called out and hand-delivered to all in sight. As we walked the wet asphalt under a gray sky, the feeling of anticipation grew. “What would I see?” along with, “How will I be seen?” were the foremost questions in my mind.

Tents, cots, and tarps were everywhere, leading curious eyes like mine to tarry longer than polite on what they were protecting. Families - thatʻs what I saw - and eyes. The eyes seemed to tell how long a person had been there, how much they had witnessed.

The organization of the puʻuhuluhulu was as tight knit as the shelters protecting the people. There was a place for every need, inviting you to forget all unnecessary things in life. On one side, we passed the donations tent, welcome tent, kitchen, serving area, place to get clothing and other necessities, orientation area, childrenʻs gathering place, medicsʻ tent, the university, and more.

On the other side of Saddle Road was the Kūpuna Tent. Some Kupuna were sitting bundled, being massaged by younger hands. In front of them was a stage defined not by a platform and a spotlight, but by the reverence of the audience. People were spread out across the vast rock as they watched the events with cameras and camera crews. Trash bag covered speakers playing in the majestic air of the mauna made it easy to hear what the educators, musicians, and announcers had to say.

What I learned...

This is what I saw. This is what prompted new thoughts in my heart. A few have been formed into conclusions.

The first is - although some of my views about the movement were changed in going, I still donʻt support TMT being built. I am not for the telescope itself because I donʻt presently care to see pictures of outer space. I believe in God and that he created the universe and all its secrets/complexities. We can pour billions of dollars into space once we solve all the problems on earth first. Iʻm not against innovation and science, a giant telescope is just not what I think should be on the top of the list to help the world.

My second realization is that there is a lot of hype in this situation and hype isnʻt sustainable. What can I do every day of my life as a Hawaiian? I will be ever more committed to contributing to the Hawaiian Community wherever I stand. I am committed to using Hawaiian Language every day with my family and friends. I am committed to painting and documenting Native Hawaiian plants. I am committed to sharing what I know with those around me.

Third: education over ignorance. Itʻs okay to say you donʻt know and I donʻt think itʻs shameful to seek out what you donʻt. You can reform your opinions along the way as long as you donʻt make final statements based on assumptions.

I am so proud to be Hawaiian. I am so proud and in awe of the people I met on Mauna Kea. The parts they all played were different, but equally impactful. Women sat with Pili so I could attend classes. Men helped us safely cross the street. Youth served food and helped to keep everything clean. Kūpuna generously shared their knowledge of cultural practices and their resolution to stand firm. People, a group of people, people connected by genealogy, dance, language, hair type, skin color, so much more, and love. Thatʻs what this is all really about.