Indian Whaling

Reid asked me what I thought about this NYT story about the Makah and their attempt to return to their whaling tradition. Did I think it comparable to tribal use– and sometimes abuse– of eagles in the southwest?

I replied:

“Hmmm– I think I have a rather different take on the Makah. There is an excellent book by Robert Sullivan called A Whale Hunt covering their whole attempt to revive the hunt, and I think it can be justified. They use the whole whale, it( the gray) is far from endangered, nobody else wants them– they just think whales are holy and that nobody should touch them. It is significant that the major opponent is the HSUS, now a die- hard fanatical animal rights group. There is no commercial market, the way there is for eagle feathers…

“The “anti” groups come off very badly in Sullivan’s book, and I think he started as an ordinary reporter with no brief for hunting”.

Incidentally: some of the Amazon commentary on Sullivan’s book is priceless– not reviewing the book but savaging it from every point of view from that of “Gandhi’s grandson”– yeah, there’s an authority on Indian whaling (no comments on that please)– to Indian activism to alleged (I didn’t notice, and I do) bad editing. Makes me ever less hopeful of our bridging our divides. Can’t we ever leave anyone alone?

5 thoughts on “Indian Whaling”

  1. How does the rate of whaling take compare to the breeding rate?

    I imagine they’re both pretty slow, just a question of which is slower.


  2. Steve you beat me to the mention of the book, A Whale Hunt. I found it a few years ago in the bargain bin of a big retailer ($2.95, I think) and enjoyed it much. I didn’t find the book especially partisan; although the writer had to get to know the people (unlike the hunt protesters), and that effort tends to nurture some empathy and undertanding. Maybe the Friends of The Whales should give that approach a try? 🙂


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