Summit of Maunakea and its shadow

A group of Native Hawaiian scientists and researchers, including University of Hawaiʻi faculty released a white paper on January 6, regarding their indigenous perspectives on building telescopes on Maunakea.

The group submitted the paper titled “A Native Hawaiian-led summary of the current impact of constructing the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Maunakea” to the National Academy of Sciences for its Astronomy 2020 Decadal Review. The review is also considered an opportunity for the astronomy community members to rank their preferred spending priorities for federal funds.

The paper and the collection of supporting papers examines the history of decisions that brought the TMT project to where it is now. The paper also provides recommendations on what can be done to expand dialogue with Native Hawaiians and find a process by which astronomy institutions can improve relationships with indigenous peoples.

“Maunakea is a lightning-rod issue for the Hawaiian community, and should spur scientists to (1) reflect on the human impacts and externalities of their research, and (2) learn more about the Maunakea issue,” said Rosie ʻAnolani Alegado UH Mānoa oceanography associate professor. “TMT is not the only astronomy project on Indigenous land, and we urge scientists of all fields to consider their ethical and moral obligations to Indigenous people when designing research projects.”

The organizers hope the papers will spark further discussions that will lead to more collaborative opportunities for the discipline and native peoples.

Read the academic paper and accompanying collection.