Heal Our Planet Earth

Open letter to the President and Vice President of the United States of America


Dear President of the United States of America:

On February 11, 1997, you wrote a letter to the U.S. Congress citing Canada as having "conducted whaling activities that diminish the effectiveness of a conservation program of the International Whaling Commission", regarding the granting of whaling licences to the Canadian Inuits without IWC approval. We as Canadians take your point well, and pledge to pursue the matter with our government. This letter, however, concerns the killing of a Grey whale by your own Makah tribe.

In the same letter to Congress, you also wrote: "I understand the importance of maintaining traditional native cultures, and I support aboriginal whaling that is managed through the IWC." On this, we beg to differ, and hope that you will reevaluate the basic philosophy behind this statement.

First, we question the word "traditional". Obviously this is a key word distinguishing aboriginal whaling from non-aboriginal whaling, and must itself therefore be clearly defined. In particular, should traditional whaling employ definitely non-traditional equipment such as motorized watercraft and armour piercing firearms? We believe that the vast majority of Americans and Canadians would say a resounding "NO!"

More basically, and especially applicable to the Makah, is the question of traditional need, namely food, clothing and fuel. The Makah have done without whale-derived food, clothing and fuel for over seven decades. High on their list of reasons is to use the killing of whales to solve their people's alcohol and drug abuse problems. Kindly show us the traditionality of this reason.

Even more basic than this is whether all elements of traditional aboriginal culture are to be held sacrosanct. If so, then even slavery should be revived. If not, then why should killing whales be so unquestionably honoured?

Ultimately, we believe that as civilization advances on to a new millennium, killing sentient, intelligent, peaceful and trusting creatures like whales and dolphins can no longer be justified, for any reason, by anyone, be they Japanese, Norwegian, Russian, American (Makah), or, yes, Canadian (Inuit). This means that within or beyond IWC parameters, whaling must end.

We ask you to please re-examine the basis of your thinking, which the vast majority of your citizens, judging by their overwhelming opposition to the hunt, obviously have done.

Yours sincerely,

Anthony Marr

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