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Looking through the telescope

On the show today Hawaii's House Speaker Scott Saiki says building a telescope on Mauna Kea is getting community input. Haskell University student Jared Nally helped with firing University's President over First Amendment rights..
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To Native Hawaiians, Mauna Kea is sacred. It’s a very special place. Scientists agree and want to see the Thirty Meter Telescope built there.

Before the pandemic, up to 30 thousand people camped and protested against its construction.

The Hawaiian State Legislature has established a working group to discuss how the site is managed. Three of its members are leading the protest movement.

House Speaker Scott Saiki joins us to talk about this House Resolution. 

The First Amendment guarantees Freedom of Speech and of the Press. Does that right apply to student journalists? The Editor of Haskell University’s The Indian Leader thinks it does.

Last year, Haskell’s University President Ronald Graham issued directives that limited the paper’s access to public officials and telling the news. The editor pushed back, and last month, Graham was fired.

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Some quotes from today's show 

Scott Saiki 

“I think that the international community, and a Thirty Meter Telescope proposal, is an international project. There's a number of other nations that are involved in that project. And everybody's watching everyone is watching this, but I think part of the reason why is because some of these nations themselves are facing similar issues within their countries. Canada, for example, is facing similar kinds of concerns and protests. And so I think that this is really the way that we handle the Mauna Kea issue, the way that we manage it, I think we'll create, could create an international model for how to try to resolve these kinds of cultural differences”. 

“So about a year prior to the pandemic about a year and a half ago, the department of land and natural resources, which manages public land in the state of Hawaii, brought on a consultant to do an evaluation of Mauna Kea and how its been managed and the consultant hold scoping meetings throughout, throughout the state for almost a year, and then produce the report in December, 2020. And basically the consultant made two findings. One was that the university had, somewhat improved its management ability over Mauna Kea, but the second finding was even more important, which was that the university had failed to manage cultural, cultural resources education on Mauna Kea. And it was the second finding that was the second finding of the universities and ability to manage culture that caused the house of representatives to adopt a resolution that creates the working group. And that's the purpose of this working group is to form a 15-member committee that will work over this summer and this fall and propose a new management and governance structure for Mauna Kea."

Jared Nally

“Yeah. The history of being Indian leader kind of started as a newsletter for Haskell administrators to get the word out on what an Indian boarding school was doing and the success they were having with native students and has Haskell has changed over the century to serve the educational goals of native communities. The press has also changed to reflect the voice of the students rather than the administrators."

“I look back at students in 1989 that also had a legal battle with the school and they set a precedent. They established a settlement agreement that really builds on the foundation of that activism that I'm doing to establish free speech and expression on our campus. And I have to think that their role models and the impact that they're having on my work today, that will be the same for students in the future. Being able to build off of what the outcomes of this are." 

“I haven't had a whole lot of communication with them since the change. They haven't even informed students directly that the president's been removed and that Tamara Pfeiffer is in her acting role as university president. And I think that really shows why a student press and local coverage is important because we broke that story. That's how our community knows. And the students aren't finding out from our administration. So there is a real importance for the work we do." 

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Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix.

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