The Makah people indigenous to the Pacific Northwest have a very close and long standing cultural bond to the ocean. This cultural bond is displayed in various forms such as their artwork, history, and lore. One key aspect of their culture has come scrutiny within the past twenty years—whaling. Since 1855, the Makah people have legally held the right to whale in designated waters around their reservation. In the 1920’s, the Makah decided to halt whaling due to a dwindling population of the whales. In 1986, the International Whaling Commission enacted a global moratorium on commercial whaling with two exceptions being scientific research and aboriginal subsistence. In the mid 1990’s the Makah people decided to resume their whaling practices with rising whale populations and successfully killed their first whale in roughly 70 years in 1999. This has led to much backlash from domestic governmental agencies and NGOs alike. Thus the problem lies in the question as to whether the Makah people should legally be allowed to whale with the answer being a resounding no. There many issues domestic and international issues with the continuation of the Makah people whaling with the most important being: other previously whaling states seeing the United States ‘pardon’ cultural whaling and failing to see the importance of the global whaling moratorium in effect, the possible discovery of a small population of rare resident whales in the area, and the immorality of slaughtering a highly sentient being.
The Makah’s seemingly domestic issue of whaling has and is taking on a larger international problem. The United States plays a large part in policing the hunting of whales, one of the most recent examples being the U.S.’s ...
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