The study of space and exploration outside of our planet, and even our universe, has been a major focus of the scientific community for decades. More recently, there has been a large interest in studying black holes and extraterrestrial life. Using telescopes, scientists have come closer and closer to being able to see far into other galaxies, and eventually see things like life and black holes very clearly (Mcavoy). In order to do so, they need extremely large and powerful telescopes, which they have constructed many of in Hawaii. Recently, preparation for the largest telescope yet, being 30 meters in diameter and allowing very clear pictures of far distances, have been put in place (Mcavoy). However, the indigenous population in Hawaii is very against the construction of this project.
The mountain that was chosen by scientists was picked because of its high peak, which is normally above the clouds, and its dry air and smooth airflow because of its location near water (Mcavoy). However, the land is sacred to natives, and is already home to thirteen other telescopes. The natives are worried about further destruction of the mountain, which is known as home to the sky god, as well as their voices being taken away (Van Dyke). Native Hawaiians have been overthrown before, and forced to give up their language and culture, and don’t want to have their freedoms taken away once again. They have barricaded the road that leads to the construction site, effectively blocking vehicles from getting there to build the telescope. However, they would need to stay there for around a full year, until September 2021, to cause the crew to not begin construction before their deadline (Van Dyke).
The telescope could bring major scientific advancement in our understanding of space and other galaxies, but at what cost? The telescope seems to hav no direct positive influence on the population of Hawaii, as there has been litte effort to listen to their concerns, or even involve them in the discoveries and science being done on that mountain (Native American Led Summary). They want at least some say in the construction on the mountain, and to be involved in what does go on there, but they are being overshadowed by the scientists. It reminds me a lot of the song, Whitey on the Moon by Gil Scott-Heron. In the song he sings about how much progress there has been in the space race, but how he and his family are struggling to get by. It highlights how scientific advancement at that time was so important, and was funded quite heavily, while people in the country were unable to pay bills and get by. There are a lot of similarities with the issue of the telescope. At the cost of the population and their culture, science that does not even necessarily provide much to the general population is being pursued. It is worth considering that maybe that is not the focus that we should have, that maybe we should focus more on the wellbeing and success of the population of our planet, before we go on discovering aspects of others.