Native Hawaiians say Hawaii’s tallest mountain is a sacred realm of creation.
Scientists believe it’s the best spot in the world for exploring the very origins of our galaxy.
For more than a decade, they’ve been arguing over what happens on the summit of Mauna Kea. And, as it turns out, that’s a good place to view the current international debate over indigenous rights, the importance of science in society and America’s legacy of colonialism.
In its second season, “Offshore” — our podcast in partnership with PRX — explores the clash between science and culture using the ongoing debate over whether a new telescope should be allowed on Mauna Kea on the Big Island.
The Thirty Meter Telescope is a $1.4 billion project proposed by a consortium of astronomers in collaboration with the state and the University of Hawaii. In late 2015, the Hawaii Supreme Court invalidated the state permit for the project and kicked it back to the Board of Land and Natural Resources for a new hearing, an event that recently wrapped up after months of testimony from dozens of people on both sides.
“Offshore” editor Ben Adair records audio while Pua Case, a Native Hawaiian and opponent of the Thirty Meter Telescope, prays at an ahu across from Saddle Road at the base of Mauna Kea.
Jessica Terrell/Civil Beat
In this season, “The Sacred Mountain,” we’ll take listeners to the summit as we explore why this mountain is so special to many people.
And then we’ll take you to other places where the same debate over science and culture, land use versus preservation, is playing out — to North Dakota where the Standing Rock Sioux tribe is trying to protect its land from an oil pipeline and to Arizona where the San Carlos Apaches have already been dealing with telescopes atop their mountain and now are trying to stop a mining company from operating on sacred lands.
Our question this season: Can these special places support a culture that goes back centuries and allow for science and technology to move forward?
Now this season of “Offshore” is available now on iTunes, Stitcher and anywhere you listen to podcasts. “Offshore” is produced by Jessica Terrell and April Estrellon, and edited by longtime radio producer Ben Adair.
And, on Saturday, the first season of “Offshore” — “A Killing in Waikiki” — will begin airing on Hawaii Public Radio. “Offshore” is scheduled to air at 4 p.m. Saturdays with a repeat of the episode the following Friday.
Season 1, which has been downloaded more than 700,000 times on podcast apps, examines the issue of race and power through two of Hawaii’s most infamous court cases — the Massie case in 1931 and the Deedy case in 2011. In both instances, a Native Hawaiian was killed by a white person in a position of power. We wondered what Hawaii, America’s most multicultural state, had learned that would be helpful to other areas of the country struggling with police shootings, for instance.
The answer might surprise you.
It’s a good expansion for both HPR, who has been our media partner practically since we launched in 2010, and Civil Beat.
“Hawaii Public Radio is honored and excited to collaborate with Civil Beat as the exclusive radio broadcaster for their Off Shore podcast,” said Jose Fajardo, president and general manager of HPR. “Civil Beat plays an important role in investigative reporting in Hawaii, and HPR is delighted to be its broadcast partner.
So download our new season of “Offshore” or listen to Season 1 on HPR starting this Saturday. You won’t be disappointed.
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Patti Epler is the Editor and General Manager of Civil Beat. She's been a reporter and editor for more than 30 years, primarily in Hawaii, Alaska, Washington and Arizona. You can follow her on twitter at @PattiEpler, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 808-377-0561.