maunakea remains a sacred place
Maunakea is a deeply revered cultural landscape that also happens to be the premier site in the world to study the cosmos. We deeply respect its cultural importance and storied past. The decisions we make today are intertwined with the future of Maunakea and its cherished summit. We appreciate that Maunakea is sacred to many people in different ways, and we are thankful and privileged to study the universe from Maunakea’s summit – a unique portal on the universe.
The Kama‘āina Observatory Experience conducted monthly starts with a presentation from a cultural practitioner who conveys the sacred nature of Maunakea, its rich history, how Maunakea is the center of ahupua‘a on Hawai‘i Island, shares oli (chants) specific to Maunakea, and much more. This helps give participants in the program a better appreciation for the sacred nature of the summit areas they will later see.
The futures of many of Hawai‘i’s residents, on-island and across the State, are intertwined with the future of Maunakea. EnVision Maunakea was designed as a community-based initiative to gather a wide range of perspectives on the mountain’s future and put varying, valuable insights in the hands of decision-makers. This process was intended to inform policy and regulatory actions that will deeply impact the entire mountain.
A Hua He Inoa
Working closely with experts in Hawaiian language, and recognizing the Hawaiian traditional practice of naming celestial objects, major discoveries from Maunakea and Haleakala are being given Hawaiian names that are internationally and officially recognized. These include Laniakea, the galaxy supercluster our own Milky Way resides in, ‘Oumuamua, the first detected interstellar object to pass through our solar system, and a pair of unusual asteroids named by high school students fluent in 'ōlelo Hawaiʻi.
An essential part of the Maunakea Scholars program is that students are provided an education through the MANU program at ‘Imiloa about the cultural importance of Maunakea. This helps provide context and a place-based framework in which their astronomy research projects can be pursued.
The Maunakea Observatories combined with TMT help sponsor place-based STEM education across Hawai‘i Island through their contributions to the Maunakea Fund and The Hawaiʻi Island New Knowledge (THINK) Fund, both signature funds at the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation. Merged with other funds at HCF, these important resources support numerous after school programs, environmental programs, professional development for teachers, college scholarships, etc., all intended to create the workforce for the science and technology economy of the 21st century Hawaiʻi.