By Loea Keanaʻaina, Grade 10 Kawaikini NCPCS
Gentle wind kissed my face as sun beams illuminated the vast landscape in front of me. It was the summer of 2019, and I was standing atop Mauna Kea, embraced in the essence of the mauna.
My grandmother and I visited from our Kauaʻi home to take part in the kūʻē TMT, which resulted in forever memories. Native people worldwide joined this protocol, wearing traditional clothes and speaking their native languages. Seeing so many Native people passionately coming together to support another nation brought tears to my eyes.
As we arrived, we heard chanting along the side of the road and felt the powerful force advancing from their souls. These chants were so full of vigor and sincerity that you could feel the intensity. Before I experienced this transcendent ceremony, I didn’t fully understand the different aspects of my culture. But, experiencing this first-hand opened my eyes to the realness of Hawaiʻi and the true meaning of aloha. I got to really embody cultural values and realize the importance of moʻomeheu.
After that, we went to Puʻuhonua o Puʻuhuluhulu University, a community-run college on the mauna where professors taught ʻike kuʻuna Hawaiʻi, such as Indigenous rights, history, cultural practices, etc. This school was established by kiaʻi with the support of The Royal Order of Kamehameha I and was intended to protect the sacred mountain in the form of education. One class that really moved me was papa hula. We learned a hula dedicated to Mauna Kea and I felt so fortunate to be able to have learned it on the mauna.
Finally, we gathered on one side of the road and sang songs of Hawaiʻi. Kū Haʻaheo e Kuʻu Hawaiʻi; ʻŌiwi E; and For the Lāhui are just some of the significant songs we sang. The atmosphere was so binding, and the clear blue sky brought euphoria to us all. The air smelt like evaporation, fresh water being upraised into the sky, enveloping everyone in its embrace. Artists from all around the pae ʻāina played their instruments while we all sang along. I was mesmerized, almost hypnotized, with the entrancing sound coming up from the ground, through the summit of Mauna Kea, and into the heavens.
Thoughts of how blessed I am to be a part of the Lāhui Hawaiʻi were going through my mind during the entire trip. Connections with everyone around the mauna were heavily felt. Aloha was being shared through music, hula, singing, and the bonding in the battle against TMT. I felt blissful, elated, and honored to say the least. To experience that aura with so many different people all fighting the same fight gave me a sense of passion and intensity that flourished within me, increasing with each passing moment.