Column: Let Makah Nation decide on whaling
"The experience of hunting and consuming whale, a sacramental meal associated with ritual, might change over time, as Makah culture changes. Today, in some Protestant congregations grape juice is substituted for wine in the interest of avoiding alcohol. Perhaps some future pope would make a similar change (although I think it unlikely, just as I think it unlikely that there would be a substitute for whale).

The central issue here is that Makah people have the legal right to make this decision for themselves, and all others are prohibited by treaty from interfering in the legitimate decision-making process.

By signing the Treaty of 1855, the Makah gave up many rights, but reserved for themselves those few rights that the Makah at the time deemed absolutely inalienable. Hunting whale was one of those inalienable rights.

Just as we respect the decisions of elders who drafted our Constitution, we must respect the decisions of elders, Makah and non-Makah, who drafted the 1855 treaty. That respect requires us to let the Makah make their own decisions in conjunction with the decision of the International Whaling Commission and the marine biologists, who tell us that hunting some gray whales will improve the health of the species as a whole."

Get the Story:
Judith Pine: Whaling decision not others' business (The Seattle Post-Intelligencer 5/20)

Relevant Documents:
Draft EIS on Makah Whale-Hunting Request | Q&A

9th Circuit Decision:
Anderson v. Evans (June 7, 2004)

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Makah judge defers prosecution of whalers (5/15)
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