[sixties-l] Re: Makah Whaling Update (June 18, 2000: Your tax dollars at work)

From: Joe McDonald (joe@countryjoe.com)
Date: Mon Jun 19 2000 - 04:02:26 CUT

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    fyi, for the past two weeks a running battle has taken place between the Makah
    Native American Tribe, the US Coast Guard ordered to protect them and pro whale
    defenders, resulting in a hospitalized protester and many demonstrations and
    confrontations. A judicial ruling a few days ago reversed the ruling that
    allowed the Makah to hunt whales in violation of the International Whaling
    Commission. Here is the latest info: enjoy , cheers, country joe mcdonald

    For further information and several web sites related to this issue visit my
    home page at <http://www.countryjoe.com>

    Dan Spomer wrote:

    > ===== A message from the 'makahwhaling' discussion list =====
    > -------------------------------------------------
    > Sekiu, WA: 10:25am PDT
    > We are pleased to bring you the results of the investigation launched by
    > Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), a 600,000 member, private,
    > non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to educating Americans about
    > the waste, mismanagement, and inefficiency in the federal government.
    > It is our opinion that the following article may be one of the most
    > important ever generated on the Makah whaling issue, and we encourage you to
    > contact CAGW to thank them for their involvement! (www.cagw.org) Be SURE to
    > contact your congressional representatives with this information and DEMAND
    > they halt any further hunting NOW! Further information is available at
    > www.stopwhalekill.org
    > As taxpayers, you will be less than amused with what you are about to
    > read...
    > *****
    > ------------------------------------------
    > By Kerrie N. Rezac
    > (June, 2000 'WasteWatcher,' CAGW's official newsletter)
    > Whether you are Tevye, the lead in the musical Fiddler on the Roof, or a
    > member of an American Indian tribe trying to resurrect a long forgotten
    > hunting custom, you have to know that some traditions just arent worth
    > keeping. Especially if they cost the taxpayers $5 million.
    > While cutting back on normal operations (such as ticketing drunken boaters
    > and arresting drug smugglers) due to increasing oil prices, the Coast Guard
    > is spending $11,550 an hour to help the Makah Indian Tribe of Washington
    > resurrect a tradition. Ironically, Coast Guard spokesman John ODell has
    > remarked, If it is not a life-threatening situation, we have to ask how
    > much involvement from the Coast Guard there should be. Apparently the
    > rules change if the Clinton-Gore administration wants something.
    > In Neah Bay, Wash., the federal government has doled out almost $5 million
    > to help the Makah Indian Tribe resurrect the tradition of hunting gray
    > whales. But the Makah hunt is not a tradition at all. Unlike 21st century
    > Makah, earlier Makah did not wear Nikes and Adidas and use automatic rifles
    > on their hunts. The early tribesmen certainly did not get government
    > funding for their hunting. Their sense of pride came from having conducted
    > the hunt themselves.
    > The current situation no doubt has the Makahs ancestors rolling in their
    > burial mounds. The federal government spent $200,000 just to obtain
    > permission for the hunt from the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
    > Uncle Sam also spent $735,000 to show members of the tribe how to kill and
    > eat their prey. And then there are the Coast Guard escorts who watched the
    > hunters do cannonballs off the sides of their canoe for three hours. All
    > in order to restore a sense of culture in the tribes children.
    > After the gray whale was taken off the Endangered Species List in 1994, the
    > Makah requested the governments assistance in resurrecting their
    > tradition. The tribe made their appeal under an 1855 treaty in which the
    > U.S. government agreed not to interfere with Makah tradition. So far, no
    > one has stopped to consider whether a federal handout is, by its very
    > definition, government interference and a violation of the 145-year-old
    > pact.
    > Further, the Makah accepted the wampum despite the fact that the tribe had
    > voluntarily given up whaling early in the 20th century and, in the 1970s, a
    > tribal council decided against resurrecting the whaling tradition. Many of
    > the tribes elders (including one woman who was fired from her job after she
    > spoke out against whaling) still believe the hunt is unnecessary.
    > In order to kill the whales legally, the Makah first had to gain permission
    > from the IWC. And so a federal spending spree began (despite the fact that
    > 43 congressmen signed a petition against sanctioning the hunt). The tribe
    > received $200,000 for 15 tribesmen and their lawyer to attend the 1997 IWC
    > conference in Monaco. The IWC limits whaling rights to cultures that
    > depend on the whale for subsistence or that have a long, unbroken whaling
    > tradition. The Makah needed to convince the IWC that they fell into one of
    > these categories.
    > The Makah and their lawyers failed in this endeavor. The Oct. 23, 1997, IWC
    > decision, which supposedly allows the Makah tribe to kill four whales per
    > year, never mentions the tribe by name. The IWC decision not to sanction
    > the Makah hunt makes sense, since the tribe does not depend on the whale for
    > subsistence and their cultural tradition was voluntarily abandoned twice.
    > But the intrepid Makah whalers had no need to worry the pale faces in
    > Washington would cook up a deal.
    > The government struck a understanding, outside formal IWC discussions, with
    > Russian and American aboriginal tribes. (The tribes practices have long
    > been sanctioned by the IWC because the whale is the main source of food and
    > income for these tribes.) In a deal with these tribes, the Makah were given
    > 4 of the 120 whales that the tribes are allotted annually by the IWC. It is
    > this agreement, and not the language of the IWC decision, that gives the
    > Makah the permission for their hunt.
    > Spending on the Makah did not stop after the pow-wow in Morocco. The
    > government also gave the Makah:
    > $300,000 for a grant to prepare for the hunt, because the tribe had given
    > up whaling almost a century earlier and there was no one left in the tribe
    > who actually knew how to hunt whales;
    > $435,000 for a grant to teach the tribe how to eat the whale meat;
    > $335,000 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the
    > National Marine Fisheries Service to ensure that domestic and international
    > whaling laws are followed (although it appears that the government has
    > already skirted around the IWC law);
    > $87,000 directly from the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the hunt; and
    > $13,910 from the U.S. Marshalls Office for Operation Harpoon.
    > Nor did the federal governments spending spree cease when the Makah entered
    > the water, even though almost $1 million had already been spent. The
    > federal and local governments also dipped into taxpayers pockets to make
    > sure the Makah were not disturbed by protesters. Therefore:
    > $751,295 was spent for the National Guard and FBI to monitor anti-whalers at
    > the 1998 Makah Days celebration (not one anti-whaler showed up, so the
    > federal delegation watched ceremonial dances);
    > Approximately $50,000, including a $10,000 grant from the federal
    > government, was used by the Clallam County Sheriff to prepare for the
    > whaling events and the phantom anti-whalers;
    > $924,000 was used for Coast Guard escorts for the spring 2000 hunt at
    > $11,550 per hour (the fall 1998 and spring and fall 1999 hunts were also
    > provided Coast Guard escorts; and
    > $44,800 was spent on legal fees during Metcalf v. Daley, which questioned
    > the environmental impact of the hunt.
    > While the government was being so generous with taxpayers dollars, two
    > Clallam County Prison workers, who also happen to be Makah Indians, were
    > arrested for using prison equipment to make whaling tools. One female
    > protester was run over on her jet ski while the Coast Guard was patrolling
    > the waters with the Makah.
    > The tribe, whose members do not pay taxes, is having a whale of a time with
    > federal tax dollars. They have hired a Beltway-based public relations firm
    > to help with the tribes image. It shouldnt be difficult for the Makah
    > to find the means to pay for these services since the government has already
    > given them millions. The tribe spent $100,000 of their government funds for
    > a potlatch party to celebrate their 1999 catch. Who would throw a $100,000
    > party for less than 70 people? The same people who would spend $640 on a
    > toilet seat: the federal government.
    > As Tevye learned in Fiddler on the Roof, traditions disappear. But in this
    > particular case, it is our tax dollars that are disappearing far faster
    > than any whaling tradition of the Makah.
    > *****

    -- "Ira Furor Brevis Est " - Anger is a brief madness

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