Gray Whale Meat?
from Scott Taylor
I wish to enter these two pieces of information into the public debate about the Gray Whales. I offer them to you because I feel you have stated very clearly the situation as it exists, and are obviously on the side I feel must prevail.
First, among the Inupiat people who have lived in the area of Barrow, Alaska for centuries, the name for the Gray Whale means "the Whale whose meat makes you shit".
It is considered to be such an unworthy prey, since it's meat is inedible, that when the three baby Gray Whales were discovered off the coast of Barrow in late September, 1988, trapped in the ice, the local head of the Whaling group, who found them, announced with dismay that there were no "good" Whales trapped that year, and that it was a shame to see them die in the ice.
This was overheard by the local TV station manager, who relayed the story, as a human interest piece, on his newscast that night. It was seen by the networks in the US and picked up, where it was seen by millions more, Ronald Reagan among them.
Reagan was running for President at the time, and decided to make some good press for himself out of this story, and the rest is history, with the Soviet icebreaker, the Makharov, eventually breaking them free. These Gray Whales are the same ones who are now under threat in the salt mine issues in Baja California.
Second, my point is taken one step further by this: (I am unable to verify this at present, but perhaps someone does know the facts.)
The quota of Gray Whales taken by the Russians is not used for human consumption. Once again, the meat is unfit for human food, and is dried and ground to make meal for the fur farms of Siberia. I have read several accounts of visits to Chukotsk (sp?) where the Russian Whaling is based, and they do not speak of any use of the meat by the locals except for fur-farm food.
I feel that these facts need to be taken into account, if indeed they are facts.
As I understand it, the Makah hunt, traditionally, was not for Gray Whales, but for Humpbacks and Orca. If this also is true, then the hunt as now contemplated, and being prepared for, is purely a sham, most likely provoked by other agendas than those stated.
While I feel for the loss of their sense of independence, not all traditions deserve to be perpetuated, now that we are all in the global era of environmental responsibility. Their interest in maintaining their spiritual activities in the traditional manner deserves to be honored, but changed. Headhunting no longer is allowed, though it was arguably a long-standing tradition...
In service to the Whales,
Scott Taylor, Executive Director
Cetacean Studies Institute
Archive and Educational Programs
500 N. Guadalupe, Suite G-821
Santa Fe, NM 87501
(505) 455-0540 voice
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