Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Makah Indian Nation's proposal to hunt gray whales has fewer negative impacts than five of six alternatives considered in a draft federal study released May 9.

Stumble It!

The National Marine Fisheries Service conducted the study of the possible impacts of Makah resuming gray whale hunts, in response to the nation's request for a waiver of the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act. It is accepting public comment on the study until July 8.

NMFS developed alternatives to consider based on Makah's proposal and on comments submitted at public hearings in 2005. One of the alternatives is to take no action on Makah's request - essentially, to deny it. But "divorcing" the Makahs from whaling would erode cultural identity and increase tensions "between [the] Makah Tribe and others, including [the] federal government," the study states.

In allowing the Makahs to hunt in the manner they propose, "Makah whale-hunting rituals, spiritual training, songs, dances and ceremonial activities could increase over current conditions, and regularly recur, reinforcing Makah cultural identity," the study states.

Whale hunting is a Makah tradtion carried on for hundreds of years

"The opportunity to regularly harvest, process, share and consume whale products could increase tribal members' sense of community. The whale-hunting ceremonies could provide an additional social framework, which could contribute to community social and spiritual stability."

The Makahs would hunt up to four whales a year for five years.

The study's release comes almost nine years after the Makahs' last whale hunt and three years after their request for a waiver.

Article 4 of the Treaty of Neah Bay, signed in 1855, allows the Makahs "[t]he right of taking fish and of whaling or sealing at usual and accustomed grounds and stations."

Read more about this proposed whale hunt

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