Melissa Dacoscos, left, and Kawika Dacoscos stand on the I-5 overpass between Marysville and Quil Ceda to show support Saturday for the people at Mauna Kea on Hawaii Island. They were protesting the construction of a telescope atop a mountain they consider sacred. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Melissa Dacoscos, left, and Kawika Dacoscos stand on the I-5 overpass between Marysville and Quil Ceda to show support Saturday for the people at Mauna Kea on Hawaii Island. They were protesting the construction of a telescope atop a mountain they consider sacred. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Protest shows solidarity for native Hawaiians vs. telescope

Mauna Kea’s summit is held as sacred. A rally near Tulalip drew attention to native rights.

MARYSVILLE — The honks on busy I-5 were in solidarity, not fury. Even if they couldn’t be heard 2,700 miles away.

More than 100 people lined the 88th Street NE overpass on Saturday to show support for demonstrators in Hawaii thwarting construction of a giant telescope atop Mauna Kea on the Big Island.

The gathering was small compared to massive turnouts in Hawaii, where Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, actor Jason “Aquaman” Momoa and pop star Bruno Mars have joined protests against the Thirty Meter Telescope.

The Marysville rally was peaceful, colorful and lyrical. People waved flags and signs. Many wore Hawaiian T-shirts. A little boy donned a Superman cape.

Drummers from the Tulalip Tribes opened the event, followed by prayer, singing and chanting.

At issue is that many native Hawaiians believe Mauna Kea’s summit is sacred. It also has the best conditions for astronomy in the Northern Hemisphere. About a dozen telescopes are already there.

Construction has been stalled since 2015 for the proposed observatory. Price tag: $1.4 billion.

For opponents, this isn’t about money.

“It’s disrespect of the land,” said David Dacoscos, of Marysville, who took the day off from work as a Walmart auditor to participate in the rally.

Hundreds gather along the I-5 overpass between Marysville and Quil Ceda in protest Saturday in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Hundreds gather along the I-5 overpass between Marysville and Quil Ceda in protest Saturday in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

He carried a red-white-and-blue striped Hawaiian flag turned upside-down. On the back of his red Mauna Kea T-shirt, yellow letters read “I am a protector.”

“We don’t call ourselves protesters, we call ourselves protectors of sacred land,” said Hawaiian native Gerry Ebalaroza-Tunnell, event organizer.

She invited the Tulalip Tribes to partner.

“It is important to acknowledge the land that we are on, the Tulalip people, and every indigenous culture that has gone through what we are going through right now,” she said.

Ebalaroza-Tunnell, director of equity for Mukilteo School District, is in favor of advancing scientific methods responsibly, she said.

“They are doing this in the name of Western science, which fails to see the connection we have to the land, the power we have to the land,” she said. “Even though I am an educator in Western education, I am from Hawaii first, no matter how many degrees or letters I have behind my name.”

In a tent by the highway, Bobby’s Hawaiian Style Restaurant provided free food. “When we come together, we have to feed our people,” she said.

Protestors wave shaka signs to drivers that honk during their demonstration on the I-5 overpass on Saturday in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Protestors wave shaka signs to drivers that honk during their demonstration on the I-5 overpass on Saturday in Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Water bottles were handed to the men, women and children stationed on the overpass with the sun beating overhead.

Tony Dela Cruz, of Smokey Point, stopped by on his way to work at an Everett tattoo studio.

“It is about time we stand as one as a nation amongst all the different native nations of our country,” he said. “There is a great divide amongst America, either you’re one side or you’re the other. We’re not trying to turn anybody against their beliefs or religions, we just want to be heard.”

Amy McClellan, a Shoreline teacher, isn’t connected to the issue by heritage.

“We are standing with our brothers and sisters in the cause,” she said. “As teachers, we are bringing in awareness about the local tribes and the land and the peoples who were here before us as white people… Bringing forth the stories of indigenous peoples and teaching it in a decolonizing way.”

Hendrix McGinty, 12, of Everett, gave up his normal Saturday morning routine of cartoons and cereal for the rally, which he’d studied up on.

“I hope it gets global and more people do it, even if they’re not Hawaiian,” he said.

Andrea Brown: abrown@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

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