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Around the Islands | Mauna Kea

THE following is an excerpt from this week’s episode of Around the Islands, “Northern Mariana Islanders Stand with Mauna Kea”:

Rep. Ivan Blanco: “So you asked why what’s going on in Mauna Kea affects or matters to us in the CNMI or for the whole Pacific for that matter. Granted Hawaii is many, many miles away from us. But we also have to remember that the ocean doesn’t divide us. The ocean connects us.”

Miss Earth NMI Leisha Deleon Guerrero: “This is just an issue that’s been happening not only in Hawaii, but all over the Pacific Islands. Even within the Northern Marianas we have outsiders come in and try to overtake our land, or our oceans, or our skies.”

Rep. Sheila Babauta: “It’s been really heartbreaking to watch them cry out loud, you know, and feel like their voices aren’t being heard.”

Pete Perez: “What’s happening in Hawaii is nothing new. This has been happening since colonial times. It’s just a continuation of the same story. There’s no respect for the indigenous people of the Pacific Islands. They’re just disregarded.”

Lino Olopai: “The people in the CNMI should care. We’re Pacific Islander. We’re part of this big ocean. And we have a lot in common; similarities, language- and culture-wise.”

Cinta Kaipat: “Land is our identity. It ties us to our past, to our present, to our future. And if we don’t speak up when that is being threatened, then we will have a lot of regrets.”

Analee Villagomez: “These are the sacred places that we go if we want to cleanse, detox and recollect, reflect, you know? People just need to understand that there’s that importance to connect and actually just be away, away from everything. You have to be in silence. You have to be at the right place to have that energy. Sacred places are the places where we go to find ourselves, to connect.”

Juanita Mendiola: “People have this attitude: ‘Oh, why are they holding that place so sacred? It’s been like forever, it happened way, way, way, way back.’ But who are they to tell us what is valuable to us?”

Lino Olopai: “They’re saying that our culture is already dead from many, many years ago. That’s not true. We’re still alive and well.”

Kimberlyn King-Hinds: “People are like, “Oh, the Chamorro and the Carolinian people are not really connected to the land. Well, why do you think that when we go into unchartered areas — not within the confines of developed areas — we ask, ‘Guelu yan guela, kao sina un petmiti ya para bai hu na’setbi i lugat mu?’ You’re asking your ancestors for permission to come and use the land. Because the land is not yours. It belongs to your ancestors. And the future. You’re just here, you know, in this time-space, right? And so there’s that connection, you know, that’s for the Chamorro people. And it’s the same way for the Native Hawaiians who have genealogical ties to the mountain, to the Mauna Kea.”

Analee Villagomez: “They’re going to take people out of their place. That’s a sacred place that needs to be protected. If it means a lot to you, then it means a lot to us because we respect that. “

Lino Olopai: “I don’t know if our ancestral ground can be removed. Bones I know or other artifacts can be removed. But sacred lands or areas, I think that can’t be removed.”

Cinta Kaipat: “How much more of your sacred land are you willing to give up for the sake of other people’s wishes and desires, ideas about exploration?”

Kimberlyn King-Hinds: “Over the course of 400 years, we’ve just seen so many superpowers come in and want to impose their way of life.”

Rep. Sheila Babauta: “Here in the CNMI, we have a small population of indigenous peoples who are constantly being threatened by outside forces; investors, the military, global warming. So supporting other indigenous and native peoples around the world will provide us a better perspective.”

Lino Olopai: “We need to come together when we address anything that is part of our ocean, which includes our ancestral property, sacred land, you name it. It’s been our property long before we were discovered by the Westerners.”

Rep. L.J. Castro: “I feel that this is something that we must all pay attention to, and it’s something where we can learn a lesson, too.”

Cinta Kaipat: “We are undergoing our own fight here in the Marianas, as well, to protect our lands from the buildup, the militarization of our islands.”

Make sure to check out the full episode on Marianas Variety’s YouTube channel!