(BIVN) – The nomination of Maunakea as a Traditional Cultural Property, or TCP, will be considered by officials in the coming weeks. On Thursday, members of the Maunakea Stewardship and Oversight Authority board discussed the nomination, and its possible implications for the management of the mountain.
If the nomination is successful, Maunakea lands at the 6,500 ft. elevation and above would be designated a Traditional Cultural Property on both the National and Hawaiʻi Historic Registers.
The Maunakea TCP nomination was submitted in July 2023 by KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance and Mauna Kea ʻAnaina Hou. Both organizations have been active as petitioners opposed to the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea. The Hawaiʻi Historic Places Review Board will review the request at its November 17, 2023 meeting.
“In practice, TCP designation will mean the state – and those applying for state funds or permits – must consider impacts of their actions over a wider cultural landscape and not limit their review to piecemeal artifacts, sites, or features lacking the full context of their importance,” wrote Bianca Isaki, Ph.D., the Mauna Kea Legal Director for KAHEA, in a recent article published in Ka Wai Ola, the monthly newspaper of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. The article notes that the idea for a TCP designation goes back decades, and that the University of Hawaiʻi has stated it would support the TCP nomination for Maunakea if one is ever submitted.
“Mauna Kea may be the first – or one of the only – TCPs nominated for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) by an Indigenous organization,” Isaki added.
During Thursday’s MKSOA board meeting, Greg Chun – the Executive Director of the Center for Maunakea Stewardship under the University of Hawaiʻi – said the TCP eligibility is determined by the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources and the National Park Service.
“We don’t have a complete understanding of all the implications of listing”, Chun said. “Such a listing would raise the level of analysis/consultation/mitigation for projects involving federal actions” under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, such as the Thirty Meter Telescope, Chun said. It would also increase the level of analysis for State actions, such as land leases, under HRS Chapter 6E Historic Preservation.
Chun said the “area of potential effect”, or APE, would increase significantly. “In other words, the projects now have to be evaluated in terms of their impact on the whole TCP area,” he added.
Chun said it is currently believed a TCP designation would not impact the implementation of the existing Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan or Administrative Rules.
“We felt this was a DLNR and MKSOA, now, matter,” Chun said. “I don’t know the status of the actual nomination. This is the only information we have received thus far. I know that some of the surrounding other impacted land owners have been affected. They’ve been reaching out to us to consult with them.”
Before entering into an executive session, some board members said it might be a good idea to invite KAHEA and Mauna Kea ʻAnaina Hou to make a presentation to MKSOA concerning the TCP nomination.