Transcript of activist and Associate Professor at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College Kaleikoa Kaʻeo's speech delivered at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs' Thursday, April 23 meeting, concerning the Thirty Meter Telescope.
As our ancestors taught us: we are the land, and the land is us.
We are in a time of enlightenment for our people! We have risen; we have awakened; we have remembered; and we’re going to restore ourselves!
I support Mauna Kea; I support this ʻāina; I support our lāhui; and I support our right to define ourselves, to provide ourselves with self-determination, to determine our own future, to tell our history, to speak our language, and to have our place in the sun in this world! That kuleana belongs to us, as the people of this land.
And how dare anybody else assume that they have the right to decide for us our history, our language, our place and our sacred sites? That smells of supremacy—and that’s what it is, let’s tell the truth—for those who want to dehumanize us and treat us as if we are not a real people; as if our history is not true; as if we provided some kind of consent; as if, somehow, they inherited the title to that mountain. Those are all false statements.
No consent, no treaty, no title, no TMT—it’s really that simple.
The truth is, the young up there on that mountain? They know all of this! The truth is so powerful, it leads people to do what is necessary; to take the steps necessary to reclaim ourselves as the ʻōiwi, as the kānaka, as the maoli.
As the great George Helm said: “Call me a radical, for I refuse to remain idle and allow the foreigner to prostitute the soul of my being—my culture.” So call me whatever you may! But Aloha ʻĀina is an ideology of love: love for this place, love for our lāhui, and love for our fellow man.
The great Gandhi himself said: “One of the seven sins is science without humanity.”
How can you dehumanize us, and call yourselves scientists? Is it our mountain, or not? Either we’re human beings, or we’re not; either we have a place to decide what is sacred, or we don’t! It’s that simple.
But if you’re going to deny that to our people, I’m saddened, I’m hurt. I hope, one day, you will see the Hawaiian people as a real people in this land, deserving of human rights and the ability to decide for ourselves our destiny! The power of love and truth will make this occur.
And let me just end with a quote related to the ATSD (Advanced Technology Solar Telescope) on Maui. When the head of the solar observatory came to our school about eight years ago, I sat right across from him and I asked this person—his name is Craig Foltz, of the National Science Foundation—and I asked him directly: “What is the humanity of this project? You tell me, as a Hawaiian—I can take the pain, I can bleed, if it’s going to save some lives—tell me what it is.” And he looked me directly in my eyes and said: “It’s just pure selfish research.”
That is the honest truth. Pure. Selfish. Research. You see, that’s how they see us.
The great Gandhi also said: “Love and truth are the most powerful philosophies we can follow.
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win.”
(Read more about the OHA meeting in which this speech was delivered here.)
Photo by Will Caron