January 1, 2000 Issue 29 - Special Edition
Makah Renew Their Tradition
For the first time in over 70 years, the Makah of Neah Bay, Washington, are experiencing the taste of fresh whale meat. Early Monday, May 17, the whaling crew in a traditional, hand-carved canoe, killed a gray whale.
The Makah are traditionally whalers. Since the 1920s, however, their whaling traditions were banned by world governmental agencies; commercial whalers had hunted the gray whale to near extinction.
In 1994, when the gray whale was removed from the endangered species list, the Makah petitioned to resume whaling. In 1997, the International Whaling Commission granted the Makah a quota of up to 20 whales by the year 2004.
Cheers could be heard throughout the village when word was received of the kill.
"It was overwhelming," said Joddie Johnson, owner of the Makah Maiden restaurant. "I've been telling people that no words can express what's inside. Very full of pride, honor...respect of the whale for the warriors and the warrior'respect for the whale."
Over 50 people were needed to beach the whale, and by Monday night, hundreds of tribal members experienced their first taste of whale blubber. With a gum-like consistency, its taste was described as a combination of lamb stew, latex, and Vaseline.
The Makah whaling crew will distribute the whale's meat to the tribe's 2,200 members. In agreement with the Whaling Commission, the Makah may not kill another whale until each whale's meat is gone.
Prior to Monday's kill, Tulalip and Puyallup tribal members brought their canoes in support of the Makah.
"I can't say in words the respect we have for them, " said Tulalip crewman Jay Napeahi.
After spending three days butchering and curing the whale meat, the Makah will host a powwow. Members of tribes from all over the United States and Canada will join the Makah in celebration of this triumph.
To learn more about the Makah, visit this website: