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The Makah Indian Whaling Indigenous Right or Environmental Injustice by xxxxx Abstract For hundreds of centuries the Makah Indians have revolved their culture and traditions around whaling It has been part of their tradition as long as the tribe has ever existed In the early part of this century the Makah voluntarily abandoned the whale hunt in recognition of the precarious situation of the gray whale When the whale was listed as an endangered species in 1969 the hunt was officially banned The Makah were formally forced to give up whaling After seventy years however the Makah are once again in a position to whale They wish to do so on the basis of the importance of whaling to their traditional culture This wish however is highly controversial It is has stirred up much dissent among numerous groups including the International Whaling Commission the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and numerous animal rights groups Even the Makah themselves are not fully united on this issue of whaling This paper examines the importance of the whale hunt to Makah culture and discusses the changing nature of tradition The question is presented as to whether the Makah are reestablishing tradition or simply pursuing a viable commercial opportunity Introduction The Makah Indians are indigenous to what is now Washington State Their population is small only about two thousand people are on the tribal rolls The Economist 1998 Their traditional culture like all indigenous groups was completely toppled by the arrival and eventual dominance of non-Native European groups to this continent during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries Makah tradition included as one of its core components many of the same hunting and gathering practices employed by other indigenous peoples Much of their livelihood and material culture was based on their extensive whale hunting activities In 1928 recognizing the precarious status of the whale population the Makah voluntarily abandoned their tribal tradition and
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