Friday, March 18, 2005

Northwest Native American Tribe vs Animal Rights Group

One of the groups that produce great Northwest Native American art, the Makah tribe, are in a battle with an animal rights group for whales over their traditional hunts in Washington state. It's rather unfortunate that these conflicts come up. Here's the news release:

Washington: For at least 1,500 years, the Makah Tribe harvested whales from the nearby Pacific Ocean near the Olympic Peninsula. The tribe dropped the practice in the 1920s because of declining whale numbers. Today, the gray whale population has grown to a healthy 17,000-23,000, and the Makah are requesting a waiver from the Marine Mammals Protection Act for the right to begin harvesting them again. ''It's in our history and culture,'' said Makah tribal councilman Ben Johnson, Jr. The tribe points out that some elders can still remember the traditional whale hunts, thus establishing a continuity. One group standing against the tribe is the Cetacean [Whale] International Society. President Bill Rossiter says that times have changed, and the Makah no longer depend on whales for survival. He admits that the Makah have ''gotten a raw deal'' from the government and said that while his group wants to help the tribe, they do not believe whaling is the answer. ''[The Cetacean Society International's] position is that we are for the Makah, and helping the tribe to grow culturally and economically, but when it comes to whaling we have to take a wider world view and stand in opposition to those efforts,'' he said.

See Northwest Native American Art

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