The move short-circuited years of wrangling in the courts over whaling by the tribe, which hunted its first whale in 70 years in 1999.
"I don't know why they did this. It's terrible," said John McCarty who, as a former member of the tribe's whaling commission, has been an advocate of the Makah Nation's right to resume whaling under an 1855 treaty.
"I think the anti-whalers will be after us in full force, and we look ridiculous," McCarty said. "Like we can't manage our own people, we can't manage our own whale."
The hunt was starkly different from a federally sanctioned hunt in 1999 during which a whale was harpooned and then quickly killed with a large-caliber rifle. That was the tribe's first whale hunt in 70 years.