on to something. At best, the Northwestrnwas crawling with cnltural imperiahsts.rnAt worst, it was httered with latent racists.rnBnt because it was the racism of hipstersrnwho adorn their Volvos and Volkswagensrnwith politically correct bnmper stickers, itrndidn’t generate the high-profile media attentionrnthat comes when, sav, a pitifulrnband of neo-Nazis crawls out of thernwoods and marches down Main Street ofrna small town in Idaho. Clearly, many ofrnthose outraged by the hunt considered itrnan act of treachery. They had been inculcatedrnwith the romantic mythologyrnthat Hollywood and public schools dispense:rnhi the days before Eurotrash ruthlesslyrnconquered the New World, thernNoble hidian lived in Edenic harmonyrnwith Mother Earth, neither polluting thernstreams in which he urinated nor bendingrnthe grass on which he tread.rnBut the Makah shattered that illusionrnwhen they harpooned the whale on liverntelevision in front of all those peoplernpreparing to do their eight hours for thernglobal economy. Viewers got a bitterrndose of what life as an hidian was reallyrnlike, and it didn’t jibe with their sensibilities.rnIndians in the Northwest hadn’trnspent their days whittling driftwood intorntotem poles: They had been engaged in arnbrutal struggle for survival. Native Americanrncultures may have been predominantiyrncommunal—a fact which launchesrnmany a drooling davdream—but theyrnwere also disciplined, spiritual, and hierarchical.rnClear social lines existed betweenrnthe sexes, and between the weakrnand the strong. Cripples and weaklingsrnweren’t sent out on hunting parties. Toornmuch was riding on their success forrnegalitarian concerns.rnIt was strong stuff to swallow . . . toornstrong for many. Words like “savage” andrn”barbaric” were used to describe thernMakah. Thev were called “those people”rnby some of the same people who boiledrnover with indignation when Ross Perotrnreferred to blacks as “you people.” ThernMakah received death threats, and environmentalrnactivists boomed forth thatrnthey would use whatever means necessar)-rnto stop the Makah from killing again.rnThev may ha’e even wanted to raise anrnarm of Indian fighters—perhaps led byrnthe intrepid Gen. Wesley Clark, hero ofrnKosoo —to ride west to the coastal frontierrnto whip the savages into shape.rnIn this fight, however, environmentalistsrnfound themselves on the wrong sidernof the government. Most area politiciansrndid condemn tiie hunt. Sen. Slade Gortonrnand Rep. Jack Metcalf—two WashingtonrnRepublicans not known for votingrnwith green thumbs—blasted the Makah.rnEven so, the Makah enjoyed official federalrngovernment support in their quest tornresume whaling. After gray whales wererntaken off of the endangered list in 1994,rnthe Makah made it clear they were goingrnto whale again, citing their rights underrnthe Treaty of Neah Bay, which had beenrnsigned on January 31, 1855, by Territory’rnof Washington Governor Isaac I. Stevensrnand representatives of the Makah tribe.rnThe treaty granted explicit whaling rightsrnto the Makah, the only tribe in the continentalrnUnited States so privileged.rnWhaling opponents argued that therntreaty no longer applied because, inrn1946, the United States signed the InternationalrnConvention for the Regulationrnof Whaling, which established thernInternational Whaling Commissionrn(IWC). In effect, whaling opponentsrnsaid, the United States could not honorrnits obligations to the Treaty of Neah Bayrnbecause it had signed away that right tornthe IWC.rnThe IWC’s original mission was tornprovide for the “optimum utilization ofrnthe whale resources” and to safeguardrn”the interests of the consumers of whalernproducts and the whaling industry.” Thernconvention never defined what qualifiedrnas a “whale,” and the convention’s FinalrnAct listed only the names of a dozenrnspecies—the “great whales.” But as WilliamrnAron, William Burke, and MiltonrnFreeman pointed out in the May 1999 issuernohhe Atlantic Monthly, today’s IWCrnis controlled by members who “act as ifrnthe convention covered all whales—andrneven all cetaceans.” In 1982, the IWCrnplaced a moratorium on commercialrnwhaling, effectively strangling the industryrnit was created to nurse. Now guidedrnby an animal-rights agenda “based onrnmoral judgments rather than science,”rnthe IWC violates the international rule ofrnlaw and the convention’s spirit.rnA loophole to the 1982 moratorium allowedrnaboriginal peoples non-commercialrnwhaling rights if they could demonstraternsubsistence needs and an ongoingrntradition of whaling. Anti-whaling forcesrnbelieved the Makah didn’t qualify becausernthey had not whaled in 70 years.rnBut nobody could deny that whaling, andrnthe spiritual activities that revolve aroundrnwhaling, had remained central to theirrnheritage and cultural identity. It wasn’t asrnif the Makah, flush with the hope of thernIndustrial Revolution, had abandonedrnwhaling in the 1920’s to open an automobilerncompany to compete with Ford.rnWhaling foes also argued the Makahrnhad done just fine for 70 years withoutrnputting whale on their dinner plates.rnThough tiue, this argument ignored therntribe’s future subsistence needs. ThernMakah had not needed whale becausernthey had fallen into the viper’s nest ofrngovernment-assistance programs. Ratherrnthan applauding their efforts at becomingrnmore self-sufficient, those opposingrnthe Makah seemed to be saying, “Letrnthem rot on welfare.”rnIn 1997, the IWC approved a deal inrnwhich the United States exchanged arnportion of its quota of bowhead whales,rnhunted by Alaskan Inuit, for a portion ofrnRussia’s gray-whale quota, which Siberianrnnatives hunt. According to anti-whalingrngroups, the U.S. delegation thenrnpulled a fast one on the IWC by givingrnthe gray-whale quota to the Makah, allowingrnthem to kill up to five annuallyrnuntil 2002. Anti-whaling groups complainedrnthat the IWC never recognizedrnthe Makah’s aboriginal claims, a factrnwhich both the U.S. delegation and antiwhalingrndelegations to the IWC confirm.rnIn 1998, U.S. IWC Commissioner JamesrnBaker told the Seattle Post-Intelligencerrnthat the IWC “grants quotas; it does notrnidentify people” who will do the hunting,rna decision which is left up to the discretionrnof the member nation with the quota.rnThat the IWC recognized the quota,rncontinued Baker, “is sufficient legal supportrnfor the Makahs to do their whaling.”rnAnti-whaling groups refused to acceptrnBaker’s take. As the Makah prepared tornlaunch their first whaling part)’ in the fallrnof 1998, the anti-whalers vowed to put arnstop to the “illegal” hunt. They descendedrnupon Neah Bay en masse. Led by thernSea Shepherd Conservation Societ)’ —rndie-hard environmentalists who considerrnGreenpeace and the Sierra Club to bernsissies —a motley armada dropped anchorrnin the waters outside Neah Bay tornconfront the savages. The Coast Guardrndecided to head off trouble by proposingrna 500-yard exclusion zone aroundrnMakah whaling vessels that would keeprnprotesters at bay.rnAt first, the showdown attracted gangsrnof reporters from all over the world. Butrninterest soon dissipated when the twornsides drifted into the doldrums of a routinernthat went something like this: By laternmorning, a few dozen or so Makahrnwould gather at the beach near their marina.rnThe pantheist fleet would steam in-rnAPRIL 2000/35rnrnrn