Subject: Case Study: Questions on "aboriginal" whaling"

Michael Williamson (whe_william)
Mon, 11 Jun 1995 18:59:27

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From: Michael Williamson <WHE_WILLIAM@FLO.ORG>
Subject: Case Study: Questions on "aboriginal" whaling"
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From:	SMTP%"MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET" 11-JUN-1995 09:24:32.61
Subj:	"aboriginal" whaling
Date:         Sat, 10 Jun 1995 12:19:20 -0400
Reply-To:     Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
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Subject:      "aboriginal" whaling
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To:           Multiple recipients of list MARMAM <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET>
I, too, am interested in "aboriginal" whaling, and have been keeping an eye
on the Makah proposal.
Firstly, there really isn't such a thing as "aboriginal" whaling.  Certainly
there are indigenous people around the world with a long and unbroken history
of whaling who take whales.  There isn't a good name for what it is now,
except perhaps "non-commercial whaling."   It is misleading to call it
"traditional" because ALL whaling is traditional in societies where it is and
was practiced.
At the Dublin IWC meeting, the Makah representative, Dan Greene, talked with
many people -- some of whom I'm sure encouraged him and others who did not.
 Greene is a very personable young man.  The Makah do have a tradition of
whaling which goes back centuries.  However, they (like the rest of American
whalers), were put out of business 70+ years ago.  Greene speaks of the
American and European whalers who destroyed Makah whaling.  What must also be
understood is that ALL American whaling collapsed at about the same time.  We
simply took too many whales, as whaling nations tend to do.  In the ensuing
years, the Makah have lost the know-how. Some elders remember the last hunts,
but the gear and the savvy would have to be relearned.  Also, the Makah way
of killing whales was extremely inhumane by current standards (as Greene
explained it to me in Dublin), so the Makah are considering using explosive
harpoons -- a technique that is NOT in their tradition, and with which they
are going to need help to learn.  So who will teach this?
This is going to be a difficult problem for everyone.  The Makah will have to
establish NEED for whales in order to qualify for the exemptions under Marine
Mammal Protection Act, even with their treaty.  The gray whales are, of
course, off the endangered species list, so that law will not apply.
 However, since the Makah intend to kill the whales during the migration --
either up or down -- the whales would be covered by the Migratory Species
Act.  Now, if they take whales during the migration, it means that if they
kill a female, she will probably either be pregnant (heading south), or with
a calf (heading north), which brings up further problems.
I personally am very sympathetic with the drum-keepers and the spiritual
leaders of indigenous people around the world who are attempting to keep
their values and their spirit/souls alive and well, and who work for the
health of the planet.  I am not so sympathetic with any people who manipulate
cultural expressions for profit or for some selfish end.
The Makah saga has just begun.  There will doubtless be many turnings before
it is finished.
phoebe wray