As a Native Hawaiian scientist, I have humbly reached out to the Sacred Mauna Kea Hui to share my anonymous letter. As a Mauna Kea supporter, I am often faced with the dilemma of supporting STEM and supporting my indigenous culture. However, the problems I face on a near daily basis are not from the STEM community, but from the Hawaiian community. As I write this, I sit here with a heavy heart. I feel anger, sadness, and confusion.
I sit here with anger. Anger because of the long history of suffering our indigenous people have faced. I sit here with anger. Anger because our people often feel like we are not being listened to. I sit here with anger. Anger because of the constant desecration of our sacred and beloved lands. I sit here in anger. Anger because of all the fighting I see amongst our people. I am angry at those that take advantage of and benefit from the ignorance of some of our people. I am angry at the way the people who have different views are treated by some of us.
My heart sheds tears. The tears of sadness at seeing our people fight. The tears of sadness at seeing our people belittle each other. The tears of sadness at seeing us not have respect for other people – both kanaka and non-kanaka. I recently read a Facebook comment that said, “No Hawaiians support TMT, only Americans with koko they don’t honor [do].” Differences in opinions do not make us less important or less Hawaiian.The tears of sadness at seeing people be relentlessly harassed and mocked for having different opinions. The tears of sadness at how we cannot come together because some people are stuck in their beliefs. Differences in opinions allow us to learn and grow from each other. The tears of sadness when kanaka are deemed less important to our community because they received a “haole” education.
I’m confused. I’m confused by all the fighting. I’m confused by all the belittling. I’m confused that different opinions are not held valuable. I’m confused by the harassment and mocking caused by some of us. I’m confused as to why we wouldn’t want to see our people become successful and later contribute positively to our people. I’m confused by the assumptions that some make regarding what they deem to be a “haole” Hawaiian. I’m confused because I thought many of us had, in the larger picture, the same goals? To be heard, to be given back our birth rights in our native land, to have control of our own people, and to make changes that benefit our people. I’m confused because we constantly fight amongst each other about the ways we should accomplish these goals.
As I sit here, I sit with a heavy heart filled with anger, sadness, and confusion. Not because of the haole people, but because of our own people – the people I try so hard to fight for and support. As I contemplate, I must admit to the happiness I often feel at the progress I do see our people make. Our once near-extinct culture and language have recently flourished. More Hawaiians and haole people are eager to learn our culture, traditions, and language. I myself, have had the privilege of merging two things I love – our Hawaiian culture and traditions with modern STEM practices – something that would not have been possible in the past.
I am amazed by the recent coming together of people. Those that have stood up to say, “enough is enough.” Those that are forcing our voices to be heard. Those that have helped spread our voices worldwide. However, I cannot condone the behavior of some of our people. From my viewpoint, I see this behavior – not the haole people – as the destruction to all our progress. How can we expect the haole people or the “haole” Hawaiians, which I have been repeatedly told I am, and not in a good way, to take us seriously if we cannot fully come together ourselves? If we cannot agree to disagree and move on?
I undoubtedly take so much pride in being Native Hawaiian. I undoubtedly love our people so much. I love our people so much that I want us all to be successful – from the cultural practitioners to the caretakers of the land to the scientists, and anyone in between. We are all important and can contribute to the success of our people. I want us to work hard for what we love and for what we want. I love our people so much and envision such a brighter future for us, that I refuse to condone the unacceptable behavior displayed by some of our people. This also means that I had to share this letter anonymously. Anonymously to protect my career as a scientist, to protect my family and myself from being scrutinized or harmed, and to protect any group or affiliations people assume I may be part of. And it is not to be protected from the haole people or the STEM community, but from our own Hawaiian people whom I cherish so dearly.