Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has never been overtly political. Sure, he’s joked about running for president with Tom Hanks in 2020 on SNL but, overall, we rarely know what The Rock has cooking in the voting booth. But earlier today, Johnson stepped out to support Indigenous Hawaiian’s culture and rights on Mauna Kea’s slopes in Hawai’i.
Why was Johnson commiserating with a group of Indigenous protestors on the state’s tallest mountain? Mauna Kea is the proposed site of a new, massive telescope. The issue is pretty simple. Mauna Kea is the most sacred site on the planet to Indigenous Hawaiians. The placement of large telescopes on the mountaintop was already a pretty big slap in the face to the Indigenous population in the late 1960s/early 1970s. Today, Indigenous Hawaiians and allies from the rest of Indigenous America are taking a stand to put a stop to their holy site being used against their will yet again.
Let’s let Johnson break it down for us.
It’s not about stopping science. It’s about respecting a culture and respecting a people, and doing things the right way. When things escalate to that emotional apex, that is a sign that something has to be done. And to full-charge-ahead isn’t the way to do it. And, as I shared with the crowd today, the world is watching. And the world is saying we should take a pause. And this is where care and decency and love and respect for not only culture but for humanity really comes into play. This is a steadfast culture. The protest are so peaceful, yet so powerful. And no one’s going anywhere. And so, I’m optimistic that something positive is going to come out of this.
The protests Johnson joined on Mauna Kea have been peaceful representations of Hawaiian culture. People have gathered to talk, sing, and dance traditionally along the road leading up the observatory, blocking construction truck access. Camps have been set up to assure that people are safe as they peacefully demand their culture be respected and their voices heard. Johnson was welcomed with open arms as he talked with protestors, campers, dancers, and elders throughout the protest. He was also able to bring a huge amount of media with him to help highlight the issue to the world.
To catch you up on the protest and to speak to Johnson’s opening point. This protest isn’t about stopping science nor is the issue new. Indigenous Hawaiians have been fighting against the observatory expansion for years and years. In fact, The Smithsonian reported that the Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa (and part of Spain), had been selected as an alternative site for the new telescope back in 2016. However, the lawsuit that pushed the move was overturned by the Hawaiian Supreme Court in 2018 and the plans moved forward again on the sacred mountain.
“What I’ve realized today, and obviously I’ve been following this for years now and more so as everything’s been amping up more recently,” Johnson told reporters, “when you come here to Mauna Kea you realize that it’s bigger than a telescope. It’s humanity. It’s a culture. It’s our people, our Polynesian people.”
Johnson’s actions today highlights a chance for a dialog to find a solution to this issue peacefully. A solution that respects the Indigenous people of Hawai’i while also allowing a super cool telescope to be built so we can gaze into the wonders of space.
(via Hawai’i News Now)