Case Study: Modern Inuvialuit Whaling

Michael Williamson (
Mon, 30 Jun 1995 22:24:49

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From: Michael Williamson <WHE_WILLIAM@FLO.ORG>
Subject: Case Study: Modern Inuvialuit Whaling
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Subj:	traditional beluga hunt
Date:         Thu, 29 Jun 1995 10:54:55 -800
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From:         jnollman <>
Organization: Interspecies
Subject:      traditional beluga hunt
To:           Multiple recipients of list MARMAM <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET>
        I've witnessed and studied the traditional beluga hunt
done by the Inuvialuit people of the MacKenzie Delta.
My experience there was very different from what the
government's many demographic reports made me expect.
The whales had all but retreated from the estuary, probably
 from a mixture of an "upgrade" to new hunting methods based
on fast outboards with huge engines as well as demolition tests
 by the ever-expanding gas and oil industry. The government studies
say that the population is healthy and growing. That  seemed
unlikely from the observations made by myself and my
companions. But I'm no government scientist.
        One fact emerges as critical. Mark Fraker, reporting
back in the early 1980's concluded that the modern hunters
probably lose more animals today than they ever did before
the introduction of bullets and motorboats. Using a
harpoon tethered a whale to a boat no matter what else
happened. Now they shoot the
whale until it bleeds to death, and hope that they get
close enough to stick it with a harpoon before it sinks in the
very muddy waters of the delta.  What seems primarily missing
in the modern hunt is the traditional values of patience
and perseverence. What is mostly new, is the idea of using
the whales as target practice. Whether the whale suffers more
or less I can not say. But I can say that far more of them suffer
 today than suffered fifty years ago.
       Jim Nollman
Interspecies Communication Inc.