Jason Momoa is doing his best to explain why Hawaiians are protesting plans to build a telescope on a sacred mountain.
The Aquaman star, who is a native of the islands, recently talked to CNN about the protests that have been going on since 2015. Protestors have all the access roads to Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano, blocked in order to prevent the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). The telescope would require builders to drill into the sacred mountain.
“It’s kind of the umbilical cord to earth,” Momoa, 40, told CNN of Mauna Kea. “You know, if you think about the Hawaiian islands, that’s the biggest mountain in the world, right? All the way up. So Mauna Kea is the most sacred. They call it the belly button, too. That’s like our birth place. You can imagine that in the middle of the ocean. That’s how our islands were formed. So how can that not be sacred?”
While there are other telescopes on the mountain, most of them are defunct and a lot smaller than the plans for the TMT. Momoa got involved with the protests after hearing what was happening in his home state.
“It started in 2015, heard the news about it and you know, it’s, it’s my home. I’m Hawaiian. It’s my nationality. What’s happening over there was just not right,” Momoa said. “And I wanted to bring awareness to it. And I went over there to meet with everyone and from then on, it’s just been this constant as a devotion to bringing awareness to the world.”
The Game of Thrones actor has been joining the protest whenever he can in recent years, and made another stop the day before his 40th birthday last month. Momoa was accompanied at the protest by family and his two kids with wife Lisa Bonet: son Nakoa-Wolf, 10, and daughter Lola Iolani, 12.
“I just want to say that I’m thankful to the protectors and the stewards of this land, and we are not going anywhere,” Momoa told the crowd, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Momoa isn’t the only celebrity to join the protests. Dwayne Johnson made a surprise appearance the week before Momoa’s latest visit to help protect the island he called home for a few years in his childhood.
Johnson, who arrived at the tenth day of protests, told the crowd he was honored to be with them and said, “I stand with you,” according to the Associated Press.
“This is such a critical moment and a pivotal time. Because the world is watching,” he added.