Standing with Mauna Kea

“Ku Kia’i Mauna!”

As many of you may know, Hawaiians are fighting for their right to protect Mauna Kea, the mountain they view most sacred to them as it allowed them to connect to the heavens. They are protecting it from a thirteen-meter (18 stories) telescope (TNT) to be built at the top. Their desires are to look out into galaxies formed at the beginning of time. Although this may not seem like a great deal to some, the Hawaiians have been fighting to keep their land sacred since the beginning of colonization. Their oceans are being polluted, their crops are being poisoned, and the precious beaches have turned into sky risers where people can come to vacation. Their culture continues to fade away as tourism culture grows. Mauna Kea is incredibly sacred to the Hawaiians, a temple where they have gathered to pray and honor their ancestors, as well as preserved burial sites. However, this movement goes beyond protecting a mountain or a telescope. This is the movement of Hawaiian sovereignty. I feel honored and inspired to share my experience of participating in this fight that was entirely fueled by ancestral wisdom and aloha spirit.

Upon arriving to the Big Island to celebrate my bearthday, Iwas unaware that the week spent there would change my life as I watched historyunfold in front of my heart and eyes. A dear sister informed me as I arrived tothe Big Island that this was synchronistically occurring on the day of myarrival. I felt the intense calling to be there and stand with the Natives,unaware of what that actually meant. I knew in my heart that in that moment,this was what I actually came here to do.

We arrived Tuesday night to camp and gathered in the rainycold to meet with the group. After some live music centered on indigenousrights and freedom, there was a call to everyone who was participating toorganize and get on the same page, which shocked me to see how incrediblyorganized everyone was. The energy shifted as they discussed when the police forceswere arriving and what would follow when that happens. They were told theywould be coming at 7 a.m. the next morning, but the Hawaiians were ready forthat moment to come at any point.

The cars, flags, and protectors in the mist of the rising sun at Mauna Kea

We were informed that the Kapuna, Hawaiian elders, would bewilling to take the consequences for the entire group. They sat blocking theaccess road to the top of Mauna Kea, not allowing anyone to pass. They weresuccessful thus far in their stance, as the construction trucks tried to maketheir way towards the access road the day before, but synchronistically endedup breaking down. They were willing to sit in the middle of the road untiltheir mountain was protected, even though the time frame of the fight wasindefinite. Although successful, there was still worry floating in the air.However, more than anything, there was an unwavering amount of hopefulness andunconditional love for everyone coming together to protect something so sacred.

The morning after started in ceremony during sunrise, withsome of the Alii singing their prayers. There were tents set up on the oppositeside of the road filled with an endless amount of donated food, water, warmclothing, blankets, sleeping bags, chairs, and sleeping cots. As we walked in, awoman saw us and immediately asked us if we wanted any food, as there was anentire system set up to cook and serve food. I was in pure amazement to see howprovided for everyone was. It was sucha blessing to see the support and success of this movement.

We gathered to prepare for the police to arrive as we wereinstructed to pick a side we felt comfortable standing in. The gravel outsideof the road was where most of us decided to stand, which was the space toremain quite and give all of our energy to the Kapuna and police. The policearrived and started walking through the crowd, standing in a line around theKapuna. All of the Hawaiians gathered and joined in prayer song. In thatmoment, I swore I never heard anything more powerful than what was pouring outof their hearts. I closed my eyes and felt the wave of love glide over theentire group, rippling into everyone’s heart. So gentle and pure, washing awayany of the pains we were feeling. However, I was completely brought to tearswith the fact that this force was coming up against the most gentle and lovingof people. I realized I was watching colonization happen right before my veryeyes.

The police made the decision to arrest the Kapuna, walkingthem one by one to the van. Again, we were instructed to remain silent andhonor the Kapuna the entire time. We stood with our hands up, fists open, eyesstaring into the souls of the police officers as they moved forward with thearrests. These elders have been sitting in these seats since Sunday at thispoint, so for many of them it was challenging to get up and walk. Many of themrefused to move out of their seats, which is when the police decided to carrythem by their limbs to the van. Each of them embodied this undeniable faiththat everything would be okay. The Hawaiians sang songs and gave their lovethroughout the entire process. Not one single negative remark was made to thepolice. As I looked the police officers in the eyes, I could see that many ofthem had tears streaming down their faces. I knew in that moment that this wasnot a fight that they wanted to contribute to. They came ready to combat anyform of violence, but weren’t equipped to deal with their own familiesoverpowering them with love.

Hawaiians coming together in prayer, song, and dance. Cherishing their ancestry and culture. Embodying aloha.

Before they drove away, there was an announcement that theywould be back and as soon as they did, more Kapuna would be arrested. Icouldn’t believe what I was hearing… The police were taking the Kapuna to acheck-in point, to bring them back to protect their mountain. This was completeconfirmation that the police wereaffected by the love. They couldn’t arrest their grandmother who was standingfor something sacred to all! I started to understand that we were all on thesame side. Some (i.e., the police and governor) were just slower to realize itthan others. They came back to drop off the Kapuna and as everyone cheered,they began the next group. We sat for hours, honoring and holding space for theKapuna, while sending every ounce of love we could to the police. Meanwhilepeople were walking around passing out fresh fruits, fresh cooked breadfruitand taro, and water to anyone in need.

As the day went on and the group continued to grow, theGovernor called in the rest of the police force from the island. The tensiongrew as an entire S.W.A.T. team came in and police stood back-to-back facingall angles of the group. The police came on the loudspeaker saying “We will notdo any harm as long as you remain peacefully protesting.” One of the Kapu Alohaprotest leaders looked at the group and said “Give them nothing but Aloha! AndAloha is exactly what we will get in return.” Hawaiian brothers and sisterslinked arms in front of the Kapuna and began hours of singing songs and chants.The police’s exterior shells were fading away as tears continued to stream downtheir faces as time went on. There was not one negative remark made to thepolice, only the highest amount of respect. They recognized them as equals andthey understood they didn’t want to be there. Eventually, the police gatheredand left. We all came together to discuss what happened and what was going tounfold.

There was a new update of the Governor calling in theNational Guard in declaring a state of emergency. This meant that they wereallowed to use force to end the protest. Fear lingered throughout theconversation, but the solid message of standing strong in Aloha was overpowering.

The donations were endless! Racks of coconuts, bananas, fresh lilikoi, and papayas.

Each day that passed the ohana grew larger and stronger andthe donations were overflowing! Now there were fresh coconuts with someonechopping them for everyone, racks of bananas hanging, and boxes full ofhomegrown fruits. It seemed as though Spirit was flowing through the island, asthey wrote on the whiteboard what they were in need of and within hours boxesfull of supplies arriving. Each day the protecting space became more like avillage. More and more efficient with signs directing others where to go, awelcoming booth, crews set up for cooking, directing traffic, and picking upany garbage, zero-waste being implemented, more bathroom facilities, andguidelines for how to act accordingly.

Below the mountain sat the Kapuna while the Hawaiians shareddances, songs, and prayers all throughout the days. It was an incredible momentwhen a group from Japan showed up to share their dance and song. They spokeabout being one family with all of us, even though their corporate governmentis funding the telescope project. The people were coming together. My heart wasoverflowing. What I was experiencing was something that I’ve only envisionedand to be quite honest, wasn’t even entirely sure it could actually exist.

The ohana grew from a few hundred to over a thousand over the week… The movement is impenetrable.

On my last morning, I was able to serve breakfast, connecting and serving so many beautiful human beings completely embodying aloha. I felt very distraught in leaving, but knew that my heart and support would forever be with this mission. This experience of being here gave me an entirely different perspective of Hawaii and aloha. It also gave me an entirely different perspective on the power we have individually and collectively. This is not a fight. It is an example of how we can come together and stand for what we view is right and sacred. It’s an example to show us that love wins and there doesn’t have to be a fight. I can now confidently say that I believe in the power of people. I believe in the power of love. I know we each have the strength to protect what we view as sacred, but we all have to believe it together for it to work. The Kapuna saw a day where all the Hawaiian islands were uniting for one cause, but didn’t know it would be for this. They understand the power of this movement and so should we. I believe this is the precipice for the rest of the world to follow. 

Although I, and probably you reading this, are not therephysically, we can send all of our love and support in any way we possibly can.Whether that’s signing petitions, donating money, or sending your energythrough a group/individual meditation… Whatever you feel called to do! Everyounce helps. Remember, this is more than just protecting Mauna Kea. Although wearen’t sure what the future will bring, we have to believe. Please share thestory with others and allow it to live within our hearts.

Mahalo Nui for reading and receiving,

I am so blessed to walk alongside each of you in thisjourney.


2 thoughts on “Standing with Mauna Kea

  1. The thought that stays with me the most after reading your blog is that…….in order to create, and produce this kind of movement an idea emerges. It emanates from within one individual….from idea to action…its those steps that are courageous and brave…..and so it is with continuing the legacy of this most sacred shrine to the Hawaiian culture and through it all, not will only the Hawaiian culture benefit but ALL of us will.
    Having us all share your experience was a gift. It was beautifully written and gave us a feeling of “being there” Thank you…Mandalyn…gm


    1. Sweet Grandma,
      Thank you for your reply and insights! I couldn’t agree more. We are so powerful as individuals and our actions create ripple affects that could lead to movements. It absolutely does take bravery and standing in their personal truth against all odds. This is definitely a precipice for the rest of the world. We are all absolutely benefiting from this!


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