Makah whale hunt begins
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NEAH BAY, THE MAKAH NATION (WA) -- In 1999, the Makah Nation of Washington resumed a thousands of years old tradition with their first whale hunt in over 70 years. This year, the hunt takes on a more low key tone, involving only a few hunting families of the tribe. Yesterday morning, the Makah Whaling Commission granted a 10-day permit to the Paul Parker family, one of five that have been preparing for this year's hunting season. Before embarking on the hunt, each family undergoes spiritual preparations, passed down generation to generation within that family.

The Parker family returned from the seas late in the day on Monday without obtaining a whale. They will resume their hunt today.

The first day of the hunt was not without incident. The Coast Guard, enforcing a 500-yard exclusion zone around the participants in the hunt, bumped a 23-foot boat piloted by Bill Moss, an anti-whaling activist from the World Whale Police. Both Moss and his passenger were arrested and had their boat confiscated after Moss violated the zone.

On land, a group of anti-whaling protesters attempted to set up a road block to Neah Bay this past Saturday. Unsuccessful, they were turned around by Makah tribal police. A tribal ordinance bars protests within the borders of the Makah reservation.

Notable for their lack of presence is the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, who have been focusing recent efforts on Japanese and Norwegian hunting.

The Makah are the only Indian nation in the United States to have secured the right to hunt whales through their 1855 Neah Bay treaty with the United States.

About the Photo:
Historical photo of Makah at Port Townsend beach, ca. 1890. From the National Archives and Record Administration.

Staff and news wires contributed to this report.

Related Stories:
Whale hunt update (4/18)
Whale hunt revives clashes (The Seattle Post-Intelligencer 4/18)
Stories of whale shootings may save them (The Seattle Post-Intelligencer 4/18)

Relevant Links:
The Makah Nation of Washington.

The 1855 Neah Bay Treaty

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