Column: Respect Makah Nation's hunting rights

"Imagine if the government said nobody could fire a gun while it spent untold years studying the social and environmental effects of gun use.

Even if you think that's a fine idea, imagine the protest there'd be about government tyranny.Folks would go around defiantly blasting off pistols, quoting Charlton Heston or the Second Amendment. And they'd have a point.

It's roughly how the Makah Indians feel about now.

The Makahs' freedom issue isn't guns, but whales. They are a sovereign nation with a treaty right to go whaling. Treaty rights are different than constitutional rights, but they're in the same league. They can be regulated, managed, overseen. Yet they are "the supreme law of the land." They're not supposed to be denied.

But the government isn't letting the Makahs whale. The hunt has been barred since 2003, while the feds spend untold years studying the social and environmental effects of whaling.

Imagine if one of your rights — say, the right to call me a whale hater — was suspended while the government studied free speech. You'd be seething."

Get the Story:
Danny Westneat: Makahs' right must be honored (The Seattle Times 3/26)

Another Story:
Tribal pretrial conference postponed for five Makah whalers (The Peninsula Daily News 3/26)

Relevant Documents:
Tribal Council Statement | Makah Tribal Whale Hunt | Marine Mammal Protection Act

Court Decisions:
Anderson v. Evans (June 7, 2004) | Anderson v. Evans (December 20, 2002)

Relevant Links:
Makah Nation -

Related Stories:
Makah whalers reject plea deal for illegal hunt (3/25)
Makah whaling case set for trial in two courts (03/17)
Judge reduces charges in Makah whaling case (2/20)
Federal court delays trial for unauthorized whalers (01/25)
Opinion: Makah Nation shouldn't hunt whales (1/22)
Makah Nation delays trial for unauthorized hunt (1/21)
Makah chairman confident of tribe's return to whaling (1/14)
Makah whalers plead not guilty for illegal hunt (12/12)
Makah Nation charges five for unauthorized hunt (11/27)
Rogue Makah whalers seek delay in federal trial (11/12)
Editorial: Makah hunters to pay price for illegal hunt (10/8)
Rogue Makah hunters indicted on federal charges (10/5)
Opinion: Makah Nation has treaty right to hunt (10/5)
Federal probe into Makah whale hunt ongoing (09/18)
Editorial: Makah Nation must punish rogue hunters (9/14)
Letters: Readers discuss illegal Makah whale hunt (9/14)
Makah leaders hopeful after Washington meetings (9/13)
Column: Makah Nation shouldn't hunt whales (9/13)
Makah Nation hires former Slade Gorton aide (9/12)
Editorial: Illegal hunt may be last for Makah Nation (9/12)
Unauthorized hunt likely to delay action on permit (9/11)
Editorial: Makah Nation reacts swiftly to rogue hunt (9/11)
Editorial: Illegal whale hunters must be punished (9/11)
Makah Nation blasts unauthorized whale hunt (9/10)