Did you know that Mount Everest is not the tallest mountain in the world? The tallest peak is actually Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano in Hawaii. It has been revered for thousands of years by Hawaiians and has benefitted many others. Most of the volcano is submerged in water, but when measured from its base, it is 33,500 feet tall, beating Everest at 29,029 feet. It was formed 1 million years ago and went dormant several thousand years ago after a large eruption. This volcano has been used by many people for its lush landscape and wide variety of native animals. Because its peak is so high, 13,803 feet above sea level, it is a popular site for astronomical observation. There are 11 countries who use 13 telescopes on this site because the conditions are perfect to see the night sky. To Ancient Hawaiians, this volcano and other mountains around it were sacred, and traditionally only high-ranking religious members were allowed to go to the peaks. They used Mauna Kea as a place of worship. This volcano was seen as a place where deities and religious leaders could interact. Their culture was very connected with the earth and landscape. They believed since Mauna Kea was the highest peak it was the holiest of all the surrounding volcanoes. Archaeologists have found evidence of shrines at the base of the volcano which they believe was a marker of where the holy part began, which only religious leaders could cross. They have also discovered evidence of possible burial sites at the base of the volcano. This is indicative of the way Ancient Hawaiians were very connected to the mountain. Today, it is no longer considered a holy site. It has been used for the benefit of others in the past; in the 18th and 19th centuries, European explorers brought disease, animals, and farming to the island which caused major damage to the population and the landscape. Today, it is used as a US military base, an archaeological dig site, and an astronomical observatory. Hawaiians try to preserve the mountain today, and it is used for hiking and other recreational activities that promote the beauty of the natural landscape. The Ancient Hawaiians were very connected to the earth and the volcanoes were spiritual to them. It is important to continue the archaeological digs and the astronomical observations, and these have relatively little effect on the ecosystem of the volcano. We should try to preserve the mountain so the native inhabitants can keep worshipping as their ancestors did.
Mauna Kea Hawaii EK