With Saturday's hunt, the tribe shot a large-bore hole in its own foot and lobbying efforts. There was nothing traditional about last weekend's hunt, but it may be the last for a long, long time.
So the Makah Tribe seeks its "right" to harvest whales for cultural purposes—in a ritual that makes as much sense in modern times as the Incas sacrificing children to the Corn God to ensure a plentiful harvest—and then slaughters a gray whale illegally with a machine gun? That's one proud tradition.
Animal abuse is one of the first signs leading to further abuse. While I don't want to lump all of the Makah Tribe into one group based upon the behavior of five individuals, perhaps it's time to revisit the treaty that gave the Makah Tribe such rights.
What the treaty appears to say is that the Makah have exactly the same right to whaling as non-Native Americans do—no more, no less. And when was the last time non-Native Americans had the right to go out and kill whales, for either business or pleasure?
It is sad that a few individuals can create this kind of disaster. It will be an outrage if justice is not swiftly served.
“I think I understand their frustrations. We’ve been going through this for years,” said Johnson.
Apparently they didn't use a "machine gun" after all. But the answer to the title question--"What type of culture needs a machine gun to kill a defenseless animal?"--is a Westernized culture that values individual success and gratification over communal rights and responsibilities. In other words, a typical American culture.
It's the same mentality that led the white man to hunt the buffalo and Indians alike to near-extinction. It's the "shoot first and ask questions later" attitude you see in everything from yesterday's Western movies to today's superhero comics. It's the reason we invaded Iraq without thinking about what we were doing: because we could.