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Mauna Kea: A first step towards the integration of indigenous peoples

Mauna Kea: A first step towards the integration of indigenous peoples

Mauna Kea volcano is the site of 13 world-famous observatories. Due to its geographical location, the place is already ideal for astronomy, can we read in it temper nature. Since 1968, the University of Hawaii has managed the lands surrounding Mauna Kea.

However, the mountain is considered sacred by some indigenous groups. In Hawaiian cosmology, Mauna Kea is the center of the universe. So local communities seek their protection for spiritual and cultural reasons, but also for environmental reasons.

In recent years, a split has been created between science and culture, causing tensions between current officials and local communities. For example, in 2014, indigenous groups opposed the construction of a new observatory, and 30m telescope. In 2019, the protest movement led to the arrest of a number of community members.

restore harmony

The Law which has just been adopted, proposes a new way of managing the site in order to maintain harmony between science, ecology, natural resources, cultural practices and education.

The text states that the group’s representative of the 11-member voting community will now ensure oversight of Mauna Kea. One of these members must be a cultural practitioner, i.e. an individual recognized by the community who engages in cultural and traditional activities and whose knowledge makes him a reference. The second member must be a descendant of a cultural practitioner associated with Mauna Kea. Other members include representatives from astronomy, education, politics, and land administration.

according to Scientific AmericanThis law is based on a report prepared by a team of 15 people from different backgrounds Mauna Kea عمل Working GroupEstablished by the Hawaii House of Representatives in 2021.

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A big step forward

However, it will be necessary to take several other steps before the law is enforced. First, you will have to name the group members. The Governor’s office A call for applications was launched on July 21.

It will also be necessary to transfer administrative functions that were previously administered by the University of Hawaii. From 2023, a transition period of 5 years will be put in place to allow the group to work with the foundation. After that, the authority over the territory of Mauna Kea will be completely transferred to the new commission.

In an interview with News lettersCultural practitioner Noe Noe Wong-Wilson believes the new law is a welcome change for Aboriginal communities. According to her, this is a huge step forward because Hawaiians now have a seat at the discussion table. So this new law could serve as a model for enabling the scientific community and Indigenous groups everywhere to work together.