The Makah Indian Nation: Whale Hunters? Murderers?

SHOOTING OURSELVES IN THE FOOT
The Sanitizing of Violence in Our Society
An all-creatures.org Article Series

Throughout the ages, we have accepted killing, violence, and violent behavior as just being a part of life - it's time we change!

| Home Page | Table of Contents |


The Makah Indian Nation: Whale Hunters? Murderers?

By: Frank L. Hoffman

On 17 May 1999 the Makah Nation began hunting whales in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Washington. They had not done so for 70 years, but decided to resume their hunting practices according to their tradition and a treaty which gave them such permission. I personally cannot believe that there could be any long term benefits to the Makahs by doing something so controversial and cruel.

In Proverbs 26:11-12, we are told:
11. As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.
12. Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
(NIV)

Why do people want to return to their own vomit, or to the sins of the past generations? Why do we try to imagine that brutal past ways of behavior are better than our current conditions and solutions to our problems? We need to leave the violent past behind us and work toward a better tomorrow. And, we need to do this in ways that are universally acceptable, and not only to receive the cheers of our own small groups. The Makahs' cheered their own, while most of the world looked on with remorse and disgust.

One proof that the Makahs couldn't completely return to their past traditions, is that they had to combine their past ways of killing with modern methods.

The Native Americans were brutalized, and thus, I believe the Makahs may be seeking some form of retribution for our ancestors' past sins, by returning to take advantage of a former treaty, which allows them to hunt whales. These whales, however, didn't brutalize them; our human ancestors did. Present day violence can never solve the problems of historical violence; all it does is cause more violence. And to try to sanitize this violence with the garments of hunters is only going to teach their next generation to be even more violent. Every shot they have put into a whale has also gone through their own feet. Whatever respect and honor they may have deserved previously, they have destroyed off the coast of the State of Washington. To me, they have become no better than terrorists and serial killers of innocent victims.

Some of the recent press reports indicate that the public are beginning to boycott some of the Makah Nation's business enterprises, which is another proof that their actions are really counter-productive.

And as long as we look on and accept this kind of action as "a right of the Makah Nation", we, in essence, become co-conspirators in the murder of these whales.