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Spirits of Our Whaling Ancestors: Revitalizing Makah & Nuu-chah-nulth Tradition, by Charlotte Cote - Washington State Historical Society

Spirits of Our Whaling Ancestors: Revitalizing Makah & Nuu-chah-nulth Tradition, by Charlotte Cote

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Spirits of Our Whaling Ancestors: Revitalizing Makah & Nuu-chah-nulth Tradition, by Charlotte Cote.

"Following the removal of the gray whale from the Endangered Species list in 1994, the Makah tribe of northwest Washington State and their relatives, the Nuu-chah-nulth of British Columbia, announced their intent to revive whale hunting. Neither tribe had exercised their treaty right to hunt whales since commercial whalers had hunted the gray whale to near extinction in the 1920s. The Makah whale hunt of 1999 was an event of international significance, connected to the worldwide struggle for aboriginal sovereignty and to the broader discourses of environmental sustainability, treaty rights, human rights, and animal rights. It was met with enthusiastic support and vehement opposition.

As a member of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation, Charlotte Cote offers a valuable perspective on the issues surrounding indigenous whaling. Whaling has been central to Makah and Nuu-chah-nulth social, economic, and ritual life throughout their histories. even as indigenous societies faced disease epidemics and federal policies that undermined their cultures, they held fast to their traditions. Whaling, Cote asserts, "defines who we are as a people."


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