Makah Elders Speak Out Against Whale Hunt

Tribe's Eldest Residents Write Public Letter Published In Washington Newspaper.

In the June 16, Sunday edition of the Peninsula Daily News, several Makah elders, including the eldest living Makah, spoke out in a one-half page ad against the Makah Tribal Council's plan to kill five gray whales per year. The Makah Tribal Council (MTC), the corporate representatives of the Makah Nation, is petitioning the International Whaling Commission (IWC) for an annual quota when it meets in Aberdeen, Scotland on June 24. The MTC has stated that it retains an option to enter into commercial whaling, and may whale regardless of the IWC decision.

Will Anderson, working in the Advocacy Department of the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), traveled to the Makah village of Neah Bay after requests by PAWS and several other organizations to meet with MTC officials and representatives were met with silence for over a year. "After spending time in Neah Bay, I discovered the whaling proposal is very controversial among the Makah. When it became obvious that elders were among the opposition, PAWS offered to coordinate the funding for a newspaper ad that the elders could use whatever they wished. The words are theirs", stated Anderson.

The nine organizations sponsoring the ad are: Animal Protection Institute, Animal Welfare Institute, Cetacean Society International, Chicago Animal Rights Coalition, Friends of Animals, The Humane Society of the US, International Wildlife Coalition, Progressive Animal Welfare Society, and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.

A pervious ad, Open Letter to the Makah Nation, requested the Makah to not fulfill the 1855 Treaty that explains Makah whaling rights. It was signed by 240 organizations from around the world [including Earth Island Institute International Marine Mammal Project]. The signature list has grown to be in excess of 300 environmental and animal welfare groups.

From an PAWS news release

Contact: Will Anderson, 206-787-2500 X 841

Alberta Thompson, Makah Elder, 360-645-2544

Text of ad

Whale Hunt Issue:

We are elders of the Makah Indian Nation (Ko-Ditch-ee-ot) which means People of the Cape. We oppose this Whale hunt our tribe is going to do.

The opposition is directly against our leaders, the Makah Tribal Council, Tribal Staff, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is an arm of the United States Government.

The Makah Indian Nation has been functioning without a quorum; two Councilmen are off on sick leave for very serious reasons, cancer.

How can any decision be legal when our by-laws state the Treasures shall be present at every meeting? The Vice Chairman is the other man out.

The Whale hunt issue has never been brought to the people to inform them and there is no spiritual training going on. We believe they, the Council, will just shoot the Whale, and we think the word "subsistence" is the wrong thing to say when our people haven't used or had Whale meat/blubber since the early 1900's.

For these reasons we believe the hunt is only for the money. They can't say "Traditional, Spiritual and for Subsistence" in the same breath when no training is going on, just talk.:

Whale watching is an alternative we support.

[Ed: I'm typing from a fax, so I may have misspelled the following names. My apologies.]

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