PAWS Magazine

Issue 39, Fall 1998

Makah Whaling Who's Who

PAWS Advocate Will Anderson Will Anderson and the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) Will Anderson is the Wildlife Advocate for PAWS. Anderson has spent many summers in Baja, Mexico studying gray whale mothers and their calves. PAWS is an internationally-respected animal advocacy and direct care organization based in Lynnwood, Washington. Anderson and PAWS have been actively opposing the Makah plans since they were first announced in 1995.

International Whaling Commission (IWC) The IWC is an international organization of countries founded in 1946 to regulate the hunting of the world’s dwindling whale populations. By the 1970s many of the original members of the Commission had developed anti-whaling stances, including the United States. In 1982 the IWC approved a historic moratorium on world whale hunting, to begin with the 1985/86 season. The moratorium allowed for "scientific research" hunting, and for subsistence hunting by certain indigenous tribes (who must obtain a quota from the IWC), yet banned all other hunting. Several nations, including Australia, are now pushing to turn the moratorium into a permanent ban, while others, including Norway and Japan, are pushing to have the moratorium lifted.

Wayne Johnson The leader of the Makah whaling crew. Johnson has been working with 16 Makah men for several months, taking them out in traditional dug-out canoes and using hand-carved paddles. Johnson is recognizable to many readers of Seattle papers: he’s the man always pictured holding the not-so-traditional .50-caliber anti-tank rifle that will be used to kill gray whales. According to the Seattle Times, the first time Johnson fired the weapon he was knocked six feet backward and landed on his rear. (Seattle Times, September 20, 1998).

World Council of Whalers (WCW) The WCW is a Japan and Norway-backed international pro-commercial whaling group founded in 1997 by 14 Vancouver Island Nootka tribes and 20 political entities consisting of aboriginal and non-aboriginal whalers. Their stated purpose is to promote "community-based whaling among indigenous people for cultural, dietary or economic reasons." In March of 1997 the WCW opened an office in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, with considerable financial help from both Japan and Norway (they recently moved their offices to Victoria). Last March, 60 members of the WCW, from as far away as New Zealand, Tonga, and Greenland, flew to the Makah reservation in Neah Bay, where Makah "swapped whaling legends and songs with their guests, paddled them around in a whaling canoe and fired off the giant rifle the tribe plans to use in their hunt" (Seattle Times, March 13, 1998).

Congressman Jack Metcalf Metcalf is the leading voice in the U.S. House of Representatives opposing the Makah hunt. Metcalf, a very conservative Republican congressman from Whidbey Island, filed an unsuccessful suit in federal court to have the hunt stopped. Metcalf is a member of the powerful House Resources committee which voted unanimously on June 26, 1996 to "condemn both the hunt and the Clinton adminstration for supporting it" (Seattle Times, June 27, 1996).

Alberta "Binki" Thompson Alberta "Binki" Thompson Alberta Thompson is a 74-year-old elder of the Makah who has actively opposed the proposed Makah hunt. Thompson travelled with another tribal elder, Dottie Chamblin, to Aberdeen, Scotland in 1996 to testify before the International Whaling Commission. Thompson and Chamblin’s testimony was instrumental in forcing the Makah delegation to withdraw their 1996 request for IWC whaling rights. Thompson was recently fired from her tribal job. She believes that her firing was in retaliation for her outspoken views on the whaling controversy.

The Makah Nation The Makah are Nootka Indians, directly related to the Nootka tribes that populate Western Vancouver Island (many of whom recently founded the pro-commercial whaling WCW). They are not directly related to most of the other native tribes that populate Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. The Makah have rich cultural history that archeologists have dated back several thousand years. The Makah were the only American tribe assigned a treaty right to whale, in a treaty signed with Washington Territory Governor Issac Stevens in 1855. Five years later the Makah suspended whaling completely for 30 years, while they instead actively hunted fur seals as part of the profitable seal trade. In 1890 the Makah resumed limited whale hunting after the government instituted protection of seals. In 1926 the Makah last hunted whales in Neah Bay. A petition by the Makah Tribe was successful in removing the Gray Whale from the U.S. Endangered Species list in 1994. Despite the fact that many Makah elders do not support whale hunting, the Makah are planning to resume whale hunting this winter.

Clinton Administration Faced with an 1855 treaty that grants the Makah a right to hunt, and a U.S.-signed international treaty banning hunting, the Clinton administration chose to back the agreement that endangers whales. Through the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and other outlets, the Clinton Adminstration has given the Makah tribe $335,000 to create their tribal whaling commission, hire the public relations firm Miller and Associates, as well as fly Makah to France, New Zealand, Oman, and Alaska to plead their cause.

Makah Whaling Commission President Keith Johnson Keith Johnson Keith Johnson is the current president of the Makah Whaling Council. Johnson has been one of the prime media spokesmen for the Makah recently. He appeared on a KOMO-TV Town Meeting in September to debate Toni Frohoff of the Humane Society of the United States and Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admistration (NOAA) NOAA, part of the Clinton Administration’s Commerce Department, has given the Makah tribe several hundred thousand dollars. The head of NOAA, D. James Baker, travelled to the International Whaling Commission meetings in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1996, and in Monte Carlo, Monaco in 1997, to argue the Makah’s case for their resumption of whaling. When it became apparent that the IWC was not going to approve the Makah request in 1997, it was Baker who ultimately helped broker the back-room deal with Russia that allowed the Makah to take a portion of the Russian Gray Whale subsistence quota.

Makah Whaling Commission The Makah Whaling Commission was established in 1996 by funds provided by the Clinton Administration. The Whaling Commission is the official entity of the Makah Tribe in relation to whaling affairs.

Japan and Norway Japan and Norway are the two most avowedly pro-whaling nations on Earth. Japan has taken full advantage of a clause in the 1986 IWC world-whaling moratorium which allows for "scientific research-related" captures of whales. In 1997 Japan killed 540 whales under the "scientific" clause, up from 288 in 1992. DNA tests of whale meat in local Japanese fish markets have shown that much of the meat was in fact the protected blue, fin, and humpback whale species, which are not allowed to be hunted even under the "scientific" clause. Norway continues to hunt minke whales despite the IWC moratorium. In 1996 Norway claims to have killed 503 Minke whales, up from 95 in 1992. Norway has been repeatedly caught illegally shipping whale meat to Japan. Japan and Norway have taken a keen interest in the Makah’s effort to resume whale hunting for "cultural" reasons. It is expected that if the Makah hunt goes smoothly, Japan and Norway will begin seeking approval to legally resume whale hunting based on their own "cultural" ties to whaling. Japan and Norway helped to found the World Council of Whalers on Vancouver Island.

Denny Miller and Associates, Inc. This high-powered Washington D.C. Public Relations firm was retained by the Makah Nation following the Makah’s unsuccessful 1996 IWC bid in Aberdeen, Scotland. Miller and Associates has also represented such clients as Boeing and American Airlines. Prior to hiring Denny Miller and Associates, many Makah whaling leaders-including David Sones, Dan Greene, John McCarty, and Keith Johnson-were quoted widely saying that they either intended to sell gray whale meat to Japan, or at least were reserving the right to sell the meat. Curiously, after hiring Denny Miller and Associates, the commercial possibilities of the whale hunt are now rarely being discussed by most Makah spokespeople.

John McCarty John McCarty is the former executive director of the Makah Whaling Commission. McCarty was quoted in the October issue of Mother Jones: "Selling the whale was a thought," concedes McCarty. "And I’ll be honest with you. Selling the whale could be very, very advantageous to the tribe."

Micah McCarty Micah McCarty is the soft-spoken son of John McCarty. An original member of the whaling crew, McCarty was featured prominently in a Seattle Post-Intelligencer article in August. McCarty discussed his deeply personal cultural reason for wanting to participate in the hunt. By early October McCarty had apparently changed his mind and chose not to participate. Some reports indicate that McCarty no longer felt that the hunt was representative of ancient Makah practices and traditions.

Captain Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Captain Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society are among the leading opponents of the proposed hunt. Sea Shepherd has two boats in the water during the Makah hunt, as well as a submarine painted to resemble an orca whale. In 1973 Watson served as a medic for American Indians at the Wounded Knee Massacre. He was made a warrior brother to the Oglala Lakota Nation and was given the name Gray Wolf Clearwater. During his sweat lodge ceremony Watson had a vision, which Wallace Black Elk interpreted for him: "Your mission is to help the buffalo of the sea-the whales... it will not be easy."

Dan Greene Greene is the former director of fisheries for the Makah Tribe. These days Greene follows the official Makah line that the tribe has no intention of selling whale meat. Two years ago Greene was talking much differently. Greene was quite candid in an interview in Vancouver’s The Georgia Strait: "When asked whether or not the Makah have plans to sell whale meat, fisheries manager Dan Greene was even less circumspect: ‘Even if we do,’ he asked rhetorically, ‘so what?’" Greene’s most recent job found him working on a Japanese-owned processor vessel, working the Makah whiting harvest.

David Sones Sones is the Makah Tribe’s assistant director of fisheries management. Sones led the tribe’s successful effort to have the gray whale taken of the U.S, Endangered Species list. Sones’ views on the commercial possibilities of whaling were made clear in the Sept. 26 - Oct 3 edition of Vancouver’s The Georgia Strait: "People get offended in the environmental community when I refer to whales as a resource," said Sones, adding in a voice heavy with contempt: "They say, ‘They’re not a resource; they’re a spiritual thing.’ He [Sones] clearly finds the idea a little ridiculous."

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