College of Arts and Sciences


Political Science

Faculty Mentor

Harriet Phinney, PhD

Faculty Editor

Rob Efird, PhD

Student Editor

Anna Petgrave


The construction of the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on the summit of the sacred mountain Mauna Kea has been debated for several years. It has recently sparked a cultural awakening of native Hawaiians in Hawai’i through protests against the telescope. These protests took place throughout the summer of 2019, starting in July, and were attended by native Hawaiians and others standing in solidarity. What came to be known as the Mauna Kea Protest Movement took place primarily on the slopes of Mauna Kea, but in various location across the state and on social media as well. inspired a Hawaiian cultural renaissance. The author witnessed this movement as it gained traction through social media, her presence on the mauna, and on the Big Island of Hawai’i where she resides. This ethnography explores how the movement has gained traction, and investigates the cultural renaissance it sparked. It considers themes such as the role of the media, the importance of Hawaiian history, and how the effects of settler colonialism stirred both the recent protest and those of the past. It concludes by discussing the effect the movement itself had on the identity of Kanaka Maoli, or native Hawaiian people.