Near the end of the conference, a session that was a late addition to the program gave the podium to two kia’i. They shared with astronomers not their reasons for opposing the telescope, but the daily rituals they are following on Maunakea and an invitation to visit their roadside outpost.
That was a deliberate choice. “This is different, perhaps, from what you thought this would be,” said Pua Case, a native Hawaiian who has been organizing against the TMT for a decade. “We’re not presenting our side to get another side, we’re not going to do that. You know why? Because we’re meeting you for the first time, most of you.”
Instead, she explained that they wanted to offer astronomers a glimpse into their world. “The way we create relationship is through ceremony, ritual, tradition, ancestral passing down of knowledge and protocol,” Case said. That’s also how the kia’i have arrived at their opposition of the project and how their daily prayers on the mountain continue their process of determining how to live with Maunakea. “We have no choice but to stand, so we’re letting you know that,” she said.