Northwest NEWS

June 7, 1999

Editorial

The Makahs are walking their talk; can we?

   As a visitor to Washington, I visited the little lighthouse in Mukilteo. There I read an original copy of the treaty delivering all but a few acres of much of the land in this area to uninvited immigrants.

   In legal terms it gave, and then took back in the next paragraph, their rights to 30 odd Native American chiefs. The "X" of each chief is testament to the deception of the event. Read it, if you haven't.

   Today I read a letter published May 24 concerning the writer's sickening reaction to the Makah harvest of a whale which caused him to cheer the anti-whaling activists and propel himself into becoming a political activist himself. I had heard area radio stating that nine out of ten callers were against the whale hunt. One paper reported protesters with a sign, "Save the whale, kill a Makah."

   We uninvited immigrants to this land slaughter 27.9 million animals each year to feed our appetite for red meat, which averages 112.8 pounds per year for each person in this country. Our 33.5 billion-pound harvest of animals exceeds any other country in the world. This does not count the poultry and fish we also consume, nor the killings required to feed our 52.9 million dogs and 59.1 million cats, nor the sources of leather shoes and goods from other countries.

   The writer reasons that the Makah cultural heritage has passed into history. He may be right. Native Americans have lived here for over 10,000 years. Less than 300 years ago, Native Americans were 97% of this country's population. Today they are less than 0.9%. Are they as endangered as the gray whale was?

   Could it be the real danger is we are hypocrites of colossal proportions, that we still make laws against racial discrimination while doggedly pursing cultural genocide of Native American's heritage? Do we stand over the carcasses of our kill and pray and give thanks to the creator of all things with reverence even for the beast that enables our lives to go on, or do we hustle down the aisle of the grocery store salivating at our choice for tonight's barbecue? Should we be protesting at every meat counter and interfering with purchasers?

   Do we honor our stated principle of respecting cultural diversity? How would we feel if some ethnic group protested and interfered with our right to take the holy host of sacrament representing Christ's body to us? Would it be any of their business? Do we have any right telling the Makah how to practice their religion and conserve their culture?

   We have a choice--walk our talk, or live with the fact that we are bigoted hypocrites, totally deceitful under the mantle of conservation. The Makahs appear to be walking their talk. Do we have the guts to do it ourselves?

Don Sanders, Sarasota, Florida