Whaling politics heat up

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, Jan/Feb 1997:

NEAH BAY, Washington––Easily winning the fall
band election––as anticipated––the pro-whaling faction of the
Makah tribe moved immediately to form a 20-member commission
to draft a whaling charter and management policy.
The Makah in June 1996 withdrew an application for
an International Whaling Commission “aboriginal subsistence”
quota of up to five grey whales, but the would-be whalers, led
by logger and fisher Dan Greene, has announced intent to get a
quota this year––and, some hint, to go whaling whether or not
the IWC approves.
Although the Makah have not been whaling in 72
years, Greene et al claim the 19th century treaty that established
the Neah Bay reservation also guaranteed them whaling
rights in perpetuity. The Bill Clinton administration supports
that interpretation.

Taking the advice of Eskimo whalers who have pursued
similar strategy to win quotas on highly endangered bowhead
whales in recent years, the pro-whaling Makah have
moved to isolate internal critics Dotti Chamblin and Alberta
Thompson, the two female elders whose eloquent testimony to
media at the 1996 IWC meeting helped bring about the withdrawal––for
one year––of the Makah quota application.
Chickasaw journalist Linda Hogan documented the
tactics used against Chamblin and Thompson in the December
15 edition of the Seattle Times. For instance, during the late
summer “Makah Days” festival, wrote Hogan, “72-year-old
Thompson was issued a resolution, hand-delivered to her by
the acting chief of police, that she was not to speak about whaling
or even ‘make a face,’ or she would be arrested.”
Hogan pointed out that listening to the elders was traditionally
fundamental to the Native American way of life, and
that the same language supposedly guaranteeing the Makah
right to whale also forbids them from engaging in foreign trade,
which would cut off access to the Japanese market for whale
products that Greene et al covet.
Japan at deadline was reportedly likely to join
Norway in petitioning CITES to downlist minke whales, and
also to propose downlisting Bryde’s whales and gray whales in
the north and eastern Pacific, respectively.
Going the opposite direction, Australian foreign
affairs minister Alexander Downer and environment minister
Robert Hill on December 15 jointly called upon Japan to end
so-called “scientific” whaling, and rebuked Norway for
increasing its 1997 commercial catch limit. Hill back on
September 30 announced the formation of a national task force
on whaling to help advance a permanent international ban on
whaling. “We believe the practice of killing whales is unjustifiable,”
he wrote. “It is time the international community
stopped talking about a ‘moratorium’ on commercial whaling
and instead adopted a permanent international ban. We will
continue to make every effort to gather international support for
a permanent ban.”

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