“We’re not going out there to take a life. We’re going out there asking for the life of that whale to be presented to us.” (Timothy Greene, Sr., Makah Tribal Chairman)
Save the whales or respect the treaty rights and culture of Native Americans? The debate surrounding Makah whaling has served as an interface between significant conservation challenges and the need to honor and maintain treaty sovereignty, as well as the historical and cultural traditions of Native Americans. Whales are a resource to the Makah beyond a simple food source. They have been utilized as tools, artwork, handicrafts, and spiritual resources, and hold deep cultural significance. This multi-faceted debate stems from fundamentally different perspectives on natural resources in modern society.