Subject: The Makah Menu (fwd)

Courtney E. Stirling (
Fri, 22 Nov 1996 16:08:39 -0500 (EST)

	In your email to me you asked for some relevant web sites to look
for information on whaling.  I just got one on an email, so have included
it for you.  It is located at the very bottom of the email I have included
to you which came from the marmam newsgroup.

Good luck,

---------- Text of forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 21 Nov 1996 11:26:29 +0100
From: Georg Blichfeldt <>
To: Multiple recipients of list MARMAM <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET>
Subject: The Makah Menu

Dear Marmamers,

there have been different versions presented in the media of what really
happend when the Makah Indians last year took an entangled gray whale
ashore to make it into food. Some say that the event proved that the
skills needed to process a whale are gone and cannot be regained - and
that the taste of whale meat today is not appealing anymore. Others
said something different. The High North Web News spoke to the US
National Marine Fisheries scientist Pat Gearin, who discovered the
entangled whale, to get his version:

The Makah Indans' whaling plans:
Might whale eat once again find a place on the menu?

Will whale meat - after an absence of 70 years - once again be found on
the Makah Indians' daily menu? Will they be able to handle the carving
of such a big animal? Will they know how to prepare the meat? And will
they like it? Last year a dead grey whale found entangled in a Makah
fisherman's net, taken ashore and carved up, offered a chance to put
these questions to the test.

There is, however, fervent disagreement as to how they got on. Some say
that "nobody wanted the meat" - others say that "most people were really
surprised how well it tasted". Opinions follow the dividing lines
between the two standpoints on the resumption of whaling. The Times (UK)
quoted Makah woman Alberta Thompson as saying: "They had to ask an
Alaskan woman to cut it up. They handed it round the village. Nobody
wanted it because it was a horrible smell". Thompson was brought to the
Whaling Commission Meeting in Aberdeen by a coalition of animal rights
groups so that she could make her opposition to the Makah whaling plans
known to the international media.

The High North News has asked "an outsider", biologist Pat Gearin, for
his version. He is employed by the federal National Marine Fisheries
Service and works with the Makah tribe on cooperative research on
fisheries and marine mammal issues.  "Some of the people liked it, some
did not. I guess it was about fifty-fifty," says Gearin. In his opinion,
it all depended on how the meat was prepared. The whale had been dead
for over 24 hours and some of the meat was slightly off, whereas other
parts of it were still fresh. Some of it had to be thrown away. "It had
started to turn green," says Gearin.

Since the whale had been found dead, the blood had not been drained from
the meat. Some people put it in salt water in order to remove the blood,
while others boiled it as it was. "I think that, on the whole, the
people that prepared it properly and had a fresh cut of meat, did in
fact like it," says Gearin.  In his opinion, whale meat may once again
become part of the Makah Indians' menu, providing that people are given
experience in preparing the meat, and that the meat made available is of
good quality.

Gearin was impressed by the efficiency of the butchering and
distribution process. Within three hours the meat and the blubber had
been stripped off the 7 tonne whale and distributed to the villagers.
About fifty people took part in the process and also many of the 300 -
400 people who came down to the beach during the day lent a helping
hand. Everybody that wanted it, got a plastic bag with meat and blubber
to take back home. Gearin confirms the fact that an Alaskan Inuit
women living with the tribe, instructed some of the people on how to
make the cuts: "It was quite helpful," he said.

The Makah are used to eating seal meat and the oil from seal blubber is
used to garnish fish meals. Much of the whale blubber was used to render
oil, but some was also eaten: "We boiled some of the blubber at the
beach and the kids ate it like candy," Makah director of fisheries, Dan
Green, told the International Harpoon.

In November 1995, Seattle Times Magazine reported that Maria Pascua, a
museum researcher and curator of the Makah language and culture museum,
boiled some blubber from the stranded whale, rendered the fat and
brought a paper plate of smoked whale blubber to work. It was chewy,
softer than salmon jerky, tastier than pork rind but not as fatty. The
staff munched the savory whale jerky during coffee break, along with
their usual store-bought Danish.

High North Alliance
P.O. Box 123
N-8390 Reine i Lofoten
Tel.: + 47 76 09 24 14
Fax.: + 47 76 09 24 50
Web Site: