September 09, 2007

The whale-hunting controversy

Makah WhalingIn 1999 and 2000, after a hiatus of seven decades, Makah Indian whalers again hunted gray whales from their ancestral lands around Cape Flattery on the Olympic Peninsula. The Makah, whose whaling tradition dates back thousands of years, are the only tribe in the United States with a treaty guaranteeing the right to hunt whales. Makahs had not whaled since the 1920s, when commercial whaling nearly wiped out whale populations, but the tribe announced it would resume whaling after the gray whale was removed from the Endangered Species List in 1994. The decision ignited worldwide controversy. Some animal rights activists bitterly denounced the Makah, but other groups, from advocates for indigenous rights to the United States government, supported the tribe's right to hunt. Following legal battles and physical confrontations with protestors, Makah whalers landed their first whale in more than 70 years on May 17, 1999. In 2003, that remains the only whale taken. Court decisions currently block the hunt, but courtroom battles go on as the Makah continue to assert their right to hunt whales.Comment:  If Newspaper Rock had been around then, we would've been all over this story.

Read the whole essay for the details on the whale-hunting controversy.

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