An Indian tribe which lived near Cape Flattery, Wash.
(YTB-509: dp. 237; 1. 100'; b. 26'; dr. 10'; s. 12 k.; cpl. 10;
a. none; cl. Cholooco)
Makah (YTB-509) was laid down by Commercial Iron Works, Portland, Oreg, 7 May 1945; launched 14 July 1945; and placed in service 30 August 1945.
Assigned to the 11th Naval District, Makah has rendered valuable service for ships of the Pacific Fleet for more than two decades while performing tug and miscellaneous harbor towing assignments out of San Diego, Calif. Reclassified YTM-772 in March 1966, she at present operates in the 11th Naval District.
On September 8, 2007, five Makah whalers harpoon and then shoot a gray whale in the Strait of Juan de Fuca off their reservation on the Olympic Peninsula. The whale hunt, conducted without permission from the Makah tribe or the federal government, comes eight years after a Makah whaling crew, including some of the same men, conducted a successful, and legal, whale hunt for the first time since the 1920s. Since that brief success, court challenges by whaling opponents have stymied the Makahs' efforts to exercise the right to hunt whales guaranteed by the 1855 Treaty of Neah Bay. Frustrated by the delays and what they see as violation of their treaty rights and religious freedom, the five whalers succeed in catching the whale, but are detained by the Coast Guard before they can bring it to shore. The dead whale is allowed to sink to the bottom of the strait and the hunters are condemned not only by animal-rights activists but also by tribal leaders.
For centuries, the Makah hunted gray whales that migrated in the thousands past their homeland around Cape Flattery every spring and fall. In the Treaty of Neah Bay, they became the only tribe in the United States with a treaty expressly guaranteeing the right to whale. However, Makahs did not hunt gray whales after the 1920s, when commercial whaling decimated the population.
By 1994, after the gray whale's population rebounded and it was removed from the Endangered Species List, the Makah decided to resume whaling. The U.S. government supported the tribe's request and helped win approval from the International Whaling Commission. The Makah decision generated a storm of protest from anti-whaling and animal-rights groups. Opponents’ initial court challenges were rejected and the first Makah whale hunt in more than 70 years took place in May 1999.
Whalers in the carved cedar canoe Hummingbird, backed up by a motorized support boat, sought whales while protestors in speedboats and Zodiacs tried to stop them. On May 17, 1999, the whalers harpooned a 30-foot gray whale, which was shot and killed by a rifleman on the support boat, then towed to Neah Bay. A potlatch was held the following weekend to celebrate the successful hunt, while protestors condemned the whale's death.
Then in 2000 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with whaling opponents and suspended the hunt. Several years later, the court ruled that, despite the treaty, both a full environmental impact statement evaluating the hunt's potential impacts and a waiver of the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act were required before the Makah could hunt gray whales in their traditional waters. In 2005 the Makah tribe began the lengthy process of attempting to comply with the court ruling.
Many Makahs disagreed with the stringent restrictions that the court had placed on their right to hunt whales, and some did not want to wait years for the uncertain process of obtaining federal permission to play out. By 2007, a group of whalers, including Wayne Johnson, a Makah whaling commission member who had headed the authorized hunt in 1999, were making plans to harvest another whale, plans that they kept secret from tribal authorities and even from their own families and friends. The group decided to act after a meeting in which a lobbyist for the tribe predicted that it would take two more years to win permission for a whale hunt (a prediction that in the end proved to be overly optimistic).
Early on the morning of Saturday, September 8, 2007, five whalers set out from Neah Bay in two motorized boats. Besides Johnson, they were Theron Parker, the harpooner on the 1999 whaling crew Andy Noel, who steered the canoe in 1999 Frankie Gonzales and William Secor Sr. Johnson later explained that the whalers did not use the canoe in the new hunt to limit the number of people subject to arrest and to avoid having the canoe impounded.
Spotting a 40-foot gray whale, the hunters harpooned it with multiple harpoons with floats attached, to keep the whale afloat while towing it to shore. Then, as in 1999, they attempted to kill it with a high-powered rifle (a procedure used to ensure a quick death). However, according to a report later prepared by the tribal biologist, the hunters lost the large caliber rifle overboard and were unable to kill the whale with the other guns they had. A Coast Guard boat arrived about 45 minutes after the whale was harpooned, detained the whalers, and refused their request to allow them to finish killing the animal. When tribal officials learned that the whale had been shot, they requested federal approval to euthanize it, but by the time approval was received hours later the whale had already died. Because the hunt was illegal, federal officials refused to permit the whale to be harvested. It was allowed to sink deep beneath the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Prosecution and Conviction
When news of the whale's death broke, anti-whaling activists condemned the killing and demanded that the hunters be prosecuted. This time, in sharp contrast to 1999, the hunt was also denounced by tribal leaders, who criticized the whalers for harming the tribe's image and jeopardizing its request for legal permission to hunt whales. While acknowledging, indeed sharing, the whalers' frustration over the delays, Makah officials insisted that the men, who were briefly jailed in Neah Bay after the Coast Guard turned them over to tribal police, would be prosecuted in tribal court.
In addition to the tribal charges, the five were indicted in federal court. Despite the condemnation and criminal charges, the whalers defended their hunt. Johnson said, "The five of us did this to protect the kids . If nobody exercises their treaty right -- we don't have one" (P-I, "Makah 'Treaty Warriors'. "). Defense attorney Jack Fiander, who cited religious freedom in an unsuccessful effort to get the charges dismissed, called the hunt civil disobedience and explained:
"These folks haven't been able to harvest a whale and conduct all the ceremonies that their whaling culture is tied to since 1999 . It's like someone telling you that you can't go to church for 10 years" ("Makah 'Treaty Warriors'. ").
Three defendants -- Parker, Gonzales, and Secor -- ultimately accepted a plea deal in federal court. They pled guilty to the misdemeanor of violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act in return for the prosecutor recommending probation rather than jail and the tribe waiving the charges in tribal court. Johnson and Noel were convicted of the same misdemeanor after federal magistrate Kelley Arnold rejected their religious freedom defense. Arnold sentenced Johnson to five months in jail and Noel to three months, and stunned the men and their families when he ordered them into custody immediately.
Despite the jail time, animal rights activists, who had criticized the plea bargain with the other defendants, called the sentences light. Although whaling opponents cited the 2007 hunt in their efforts to block the Makah waiver request, the federal government continued to process the request. The National Marine Fisheries Service released a draft of the environmental impact statement in May 2008, and public hearings began shortly before the whalers were sentenced.
The Makah Nation - the Cape People
The Makah Tribe has called the spectacular Neah Bay, Washington area home since time immemorial. The name Makah was attributed to the Tribe by the neighboring tribes, meaning “people generous with food” in the Salish language.
The meaning still applies today, as we invite you to visit our community to enjoy the natural beauty and learn about our culture and history.
The Neah Bay History of the Makah
In the 70&rsquos, our southernmost village was discovered and artifacts from our ancestors from 300 to 500 years ago were recovered. Approximately 1% of the artifacts are on display at our nationally renowned Museum at the Makah Cultural and Research Center.
Neah Bay Recreation & Lodging
After a tour of the museum, enjoy the beaches, the rainforest or the ocean by surfing, hiking or fishing. We invite you to stay with us in a variety of accommodations we host here on the Makah Reservation in Neah Bay, Washington on the most northwestern tip of the Olympic Peninsula.
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Makah Air Force Station was one of twenty-eight stations built as part of the second segment of the Air Defense Command permanent radar network. Prompted by the start of the Korean War, on July 11, 1950, the Secretary of the Air Force asked the Secretary of Defense for approval to expedite construction of the permanent network. Receiving the Defense Secretary's approval on July 21, the Air Force directed the Corps of Engineers to proceed with construction. The land for this site was leased from the Makah Indian tribe.
The 758th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron (AC&W Sq) was activated at Bahokus Peak on 27 November 1950, which assumed coverage from the temporary "lashup" site L-34 at Neah Bay. The 758 AC&W Sq started operating an AN/FPS-3 long-range search radar and an AN/CPS-4 height-finder radar, and initially the station functioned as a Ground-Control Intercept (GCI) and warning station. As a GCI station, the squadron's role was to guide interceptor aircraft toward unidentified intruders picked up on the unit's radar scopes. The station was renamed Makah AFS on 1 December 1953.
During 1960 Makah AFS joined the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, feeding data to DC-12 at McChord AFB, Washington. After joining, the squadron was redesignated as the 758th Radar Squadron (SAGE) on 1 April 1960. The radar squadron provided information 24/7 the SAGE Direction Center where it was analyzed to determine range, direction altitude speed and whether or not aircraft were friendly or hostile. During the 1960s this site saw a variety of radars. By 1963 the squadron operated an AN/FPS-7A search radar and AN/FPS-90 and AN/FPS-26A height-finder radars.
Over the years, the equipment at the station was upgraded or modified to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the information gathered by the radars. In the 1970s, the AN/FPS-7A was modified to an AN/FPS-107V1. Circa 1977 the AN/FPS-90 height-finder radar was modified to an AN/FPS-116. In October 1979 Makah came under Tactical Air Command (TAC) jurisdiction with the inactivation of Aerospace Defense Command and the creation of ADTAC. Circa 1980 the AN/FPS-107V1 was replaced with an AN/FPS-91A search set, with an AN/TPS-43E search radar temporarily operating atop the old AN/FPS-26A tower during the radar change-over.
On 15 June 1988 the 758th Radar Squadron was inactivated and the Air Force reduced its presence at Makah Air Force Station, closing most facilities. The radar site was turned over to the FAA, however a small detachment from McChord AFB was assigned to maintain the radars. The AN/FPS-116 was retired c. 1988. In the latter 1990s the AN/FPS-91A was replaced by an FAA-operated ARSR-4 radar. The FAA now the radar at the site as part of the Joint Surveillance System (JSS).
The station and housing were turned over to the Makah people, and the former Air Force station now is the Makah Tribal Council Center. It is well maintained and in use by the tribe.
5. Most recent IWC Scientific Committee Advice on the Whale Populations
The general approach to the provision of scientific advice to the IWC for all ASW hunts is through the use of a Strike Limit Algorithm.
The IWC Scientific Committee integrates the available data (biology, ecology, abundance and trends, removals including direct hunting, ship strikes and bycatches, requested catches from the relevant ASW countries) to provide scientific advice to the Commission.
The most recent Scientific Committee advice (from the 2018 Scientific Committee meeting) for this population of gray whales is provided below. Note that the request for Scientific Committee advice on an annual strike limit of 140 whales is from the Russian Federation and that there is an agreement between the Russian Federation and the U.S. regarding the allocation of the catch limit between the two countries for their respective aboriginal subsistence whaling hunts (Chukotka Natives and Makah Tribe).
The Scientific Committee's management advice, which is located in Section 8.2.2. of the 2018 Scientific Committee Report, is as follows:
The Russian Federation (SC/67b/AWMP/17) had requested advice on the following provision:
‘For the seven years 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025, the number of gray whales taken in accordance with this sub-paragraph shall not exceed 980 (i.e. 140 per annum on average) provided that the number of gray whales taken in any one of the years 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025 shall not exceed 140.’
(1) agrees that the Gray Whale SLA remains the best available way to provide management advice for the gray whale hunts
(2) advises that an average annual strike limit of 140 whales will not harm the stock and meets the Commission’s conservation objectives
(3) notes that its previous advice that the interannual variation of 50% within a block with the same allowance from the last year of one block to the first year of the next remains acceptable
4) advises that the Makah Management Plan (see Item 220.127.116.11) also is in accord with the Commission's management objectives.
The Scientific Committee’s conclusions and recommendations regarding the U.S. proposed management plan for the Makah Tribe’s hunt, which appear in Section 18.104.22.168. of the 2018 Scientific Committee Report, are as follows:
The Committee reviewed a US Management Plan for a Makah hunt of gray whales off Washington State (the Committee had evaluated a previous plan in 2011 - IWC, 2011 2012), using the modelling framework developed for its rangewide review of gray whales (SC/67b/Rep07). In conclusion, the Committee:
1) agrees that the performance of the Management Plan was adequate to meet the Commission’s conservation objectives for the Pacific Coast Feeding Group, Western Feeding Group and Northern Feeding Group gray whales
(2) notes that the proposed management plan is dependent on photo-identification studies to estimate PCFG abundance and the mixing proportions of PCFG whales available to the hunt (and to bycatch in its range)
(3) stresses that its conclusions are dependent on the assumption that these studies will continue in the future and
(4) expresses its great thanks to Punt, Brandon and Allison for their excellent work in developing and validating the testing framework and running the trials.
Did You Know? Ozette Loop
The Ozette Loop, often referred to as the Ozette Triangle, is located on the Olympic Peninsula and offers spectacular coastal scenery. Ozette is the ancestral home of the Makah, and the site of a world-famous archaeological discovery. Here are some ways you can enjoy the hike and learn more about Makah culture.
"Eagles and elders soar in clouds looking through crimson skies. The village. A house. A home. Remembered in minds and mud. And furseals. Offering themselves to Makah brothers who come no longer." -David Stuart, 1981
Makah Village Archeological Site
In 1750, an earthquake along the Pacific coast triggered a large mudslide, covering a Makah village. The Makah recorded the “great slide” through oral history years later an archeological discovery would confirm the Makah’s account.
Storms and tidal erosion began exposing older parts of the village from 1966 to 1970. The lucky hiker and Washington State University researcher Richard D. Daugherty came upon the site and notified Makah tribal elders, which subsequently led to an excavation of the site. From 1970-1982, Washington State University students and members of the Makah Tribe embarked on a partial excavation of an area of the village. This work resulted in the recovery of 55,000 artifacts, held at the Makah Cultural Center and Research Center. Visitors can visit the center and view these 300-500 year old treasures. It’s definitely worth a trip!
The triangle begins at Lake Ozette. Upon reaching the junction, my preferred route veers right onto the Cape Alava trail. This trail reaches the beach at 3.4 miles and passes through Ahlstrom’s Prairie at 2.25 miles. Much of the path is on a cedar plank boardwalk up off the forest floor. It meanders through a dense forest of western redcedar, hemlock, fir, licorice ferns, salal, bunch berry, and evergreen huckleberries, opening up to a broad meadow where we saw plenty of blue gentian and skunk cabbage as well.
Ozette Loop Trail boardwalk. photo: Regina Robinson
After reaching the junction for the beach, we started working our way towards the petroglyphs at Wedding Rocks. These include fertility symbols, whales, masks, and even a schooner. Petroglyphs are sacred archaeological artifacts and should be treated with care. Please restrict your contact to photographs.
Petroglyphs of orcas at Wedding Rocks. Photo: Regina Robinson
Continuing the hike from Cape Alava to Sand Point, the mileage is 3.1 miles – be prepared to walk on rocks and soft sand, and beware of tides.
Upon exiting the beach at Sand Point, the trail heads back to Lake Ozette. It is a 3-mile jaunt, again on cedar plank boardwalk through forests. A brief stint through the southern end of Ahlstrom's Prairie brings you back into the forest, and back to the Ozette Ranger Station.
How the Makah Tribe beat the coronavirus odds and flattened the curve
The far northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula has been closed to outsiders since March. The Makah Tribe banned visitors to its reservation as part of the tribe’s effort to fend off the Covid-19 pandemic.
“For the pandemic, our goal is to not lose one single life, and so far, we've met that goal,” Makah Tribal Chair T.J. Greene said.
Native Americans in Washington state have died of Covid-19 at about three times rate of white people, according to data compiled by the Washington state Department of Health.
The Makah Tribe has managed to beat the odds and flatten the curve.
The tribe has had just 10 cases of Covid-19 over the past year, one hospitalization, and no deaths or community transmission of the virus.
“That's a testament to how serious our membership has taken this virus,” Greene said. “Following the recommendations of our public health officials has certainly been paramount to this success,” Greene said.
The tribe’s contact tracers found that everyone who caught the virus had done so off the reservation.
In addition to banning most outsiders, the tribal government prohibited non-essential travel off the reservation and quarantined whole households if an individual’s behavior put them at risk of spreading the virus.
The tribe also shut down its fishing fleet — its main economic engine — for much of 2020. Close contact between crew members is all but inevitable on small fishing boats.
“It's been challenging and very, very difficult at times,” Greene said.
Greene said the tribe opened fishing seasons for salmon, black cod, and halibut in September after instituting new Covid-19 testing and safety protocols for the Makah fleet. No Covid cases were reported when the fishing seasons ended.
With no new cases of the virus since Nov. 23, the Makah Reservation moved to Phase 3 of its reopening plan on Jan. 8.
Now, socially distanced indoor gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed, as are outdoor gatherings of any size. Masks are still required in public spaces.
Travel off the reservation is still only allowed for essential purposes, and anyone who has had contact with people in designated “high-risk areas,” which include almost all of Washington state, must avoid contact outside their household for 14 days.
The tribal government operates a checkpoint on the one paved road into the reservation. Visitors who don’t have essential business or a family connection with the tribe are turned away.
“The majority of visitors are coming from the King, Pierce, Snohomish county areas, the hardest hit in the state,” Greene said.
Greene said, for now, the tribe plans to keep the reservation off-limits to outsiders through June.
In recent weeks, 615 people, more than half the reservation’s adults, have received at least the first dose of the two-shot Moderna Covid-19 vaccine.
“The Makah Tribe leads many other tribes and public health jurisdictions in having a very high percentage of our population vaccinated!” according to a statement from Sophie Trettevick Indian Health Center, the tribe’s health clinic in Neah Bay.
Makah commercial fisherman Larry Buzzell said there was “zero chance” he would get a Covid-19 vaccine, given the information he’s seen. He said he didn’t trust the billionaires of the pharmaceutical industry to have the public’s best interest at heart.
A December survey of Native Americans in 46 states found that 25% were unwilling to get a Covid-19 vaccine.
The Urban Indian Health Institute survey found that 75% of Native Americans were willing to get a Covid-19 vaccine, more than the 64% of the overall U.S. population who said they were willing in a January 2021 Ipsos survey.
“Fear and distrust of government and medical systems still exists in our community, which are hurdles that we have to overcome,” Urban Indian Health Institute director Abigail Echo-Hawk of Seattle said in a press release.
The Makah tribal health clinic’s goal is to get 80% of adults on the reservation vaccinated.
Clallam County, home to five Indian reservations including the Makah, has the highest Covid-19 vaccination rate in the state, with about 16% of residents having received at least one dose.
Statewide, 6% of people have received at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot, according to the Washington state Department of Health.
Treaties signed by the Makah and other tribes with the governor of Washington Territory 160 years ago guaranteed the tribes' rights to government-provided health care, including vaccines.
“The United States further agree to employ a physician to reside at the said central agency… who shall furnish medicine and advice to the sick, and shall vaccinate them,” the United States and the Makah Tribe agreed in the Treaty of Neah Bay in 1855.
Makah Cultural & Research Center
The Makah Tribe has called the spectacular Neah Bay, Washington area home since time immemorial. The name Makah was attributed to the Tribe by the neighboring Tribes, meaning “people generous with food” in the Salish language. The meaning still applies today, as the Makah Indian Nation invites you to visit the community to enjoy the natural beauty and learn about the culture and history.
Bordered by the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Pacific Ocean, pre-contact Makah Tribe held a vast area of inland and coastal territory. These richly forested lands and the seas which teemed with life offered early Makah a wealth of natural resources. The Makah skillfully utilized the bounty of the sea. From seals to salmon to whales, the sea was – and still is – a large part of the livelihood of the Makah. Makah lands also encompassed the islands of Waadah, Tatoosh, Ozette, Cannon Ball, the Bodeltas and the islands on Lake Ozette.
The Makah Cultural and Research Center houses and interprets artifacts from the Ozette Archaeological Site, a Makah village partly buried by a mudslide 300-500 years ago and discovered in 1970. The museum also provides a glimpse of pre-contact Makah life and features 500 artifacts including whaling and fishing gear, basketry and replicas of a full size long house and canoes. The Education Department responds to requests for information from the Makah community and the general public and develops Makah Tribal education programs for community members and visitors.
Special arrangements can be made for tours, demonstrations, lectures and workshops all events are provided by Makah Tribal members. Guided Tour Cost: $70.00 unless otherwise noted - Group size: 15-24 people. (More than 24 people will require special arrangements). The permanent gallery exhibits 300-500 year old artifacts recovered from a Makah village at Ozette, Washington. There are 18 showcases, 3 dioramas and full-sized replicas of canoes and a longhouse. These showcases interpret Makah culture and history through artifacts, text and photographs. The museum opened in 1979 and is open to the public 7 days a week from 10 am to 5 pm.
Makah YTB-509 - History
Excerpt from a text published on the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) site, 28.10.98. The original text can be found here (external link) .
No one knows how long the Makah hunted whales. Archaeological evidence points back at least 2,000 years Makah elders say that they have hunted whales "forever." During times in Makah history, whales may have provided up to 80% of the subsistence needs for the five traditional family tribes that comprise the modern Makah.
Hunting whales was no easy task. It was made all the more difficult by the complicated rituals that the Makah hunters would observe in preparation for their hunts. Prior to the hunt, Makah tribesman would ritually bathe themselves in the icy waters of the Pacific. They would rub their skin raw on sharp mussels and barnacles. A few days before their hunt they would often dig up a fresh grave and dismember a corpse. During the hunt the they would secure the torso of the corpse on their backs-a gesture indicating their respect for their dead brethren.
On the hunt a Makah whaling crew would silently intercept a migrating whale, usually either a humpback or gray, and plunge a massive harpoon into its back. Attached to the harpoon would be a long line attached to the line were several air bladders made of gutted seals. The hope was that the inflated seal skins would prevent the whale from diving. After the whale died, a diver would plunge into the icy water and sew the giant's mouth shut, preventing air from escaping during the tow back to the village. When the whale arrived on the beach, the whole village clamored towards the dead beast. The wives of the hunters were certainly relieved during the entirety of the hunt they had been instructed to remain motionless in their beds, not eating, sleeping or talking.
The whale meat and blubber would be divided up among the villagers according to a strict tribal hierarchy. If it was a humpback, most of the whale would be eaten. If it was a less tasty gray whale, much of the carcass would be rendered for oil. The Makah would often potlatch much of their whale meat and oil with other Nootka tribes on the western side of Vancouver Island. This active trade of whale meat, as well as fish, seal, and other sea-derived products, naturally allowed the Makah to become savvy traders when the first Europeans began arriving in the 1700s. The Makah aggressively traded whale meat and oil through the mid 1800s. In 1855, the Makah signed a treaty with Washington territorial governor Isaac Stevens. The Treaty of Neah Bay is the only Native American treaty that explicitly granted a tribe the right to hunt whales (though it also forbade them from trading whale meat internationally).
Despite their treaty right, the Makah voluntarily abandoned whale hunting for most of the next thirty years. Makah hunters were busy plying the lucrative commercial fur seal trade. By the end of the 19th century, the fur seal population had been almost completely decimated, and the U.S. government moved to stop the trade. Many Makah hunters returned to hunting whales on a limited basis. Large scale commercial whaling operations through much of the first half of this decade had so severely depleted the North Pacific whale populations that it certainly contributed to the Makah's dwindling whaling efforts in the early 1900s. Makah sporadically hunted and traded whale until 1915, and then held a few final hunts in the mid-1920s.
That much of ancient Makah whaling culture was so clearly tied to the trade of whale meat is a fact that was not lost on Makah elders at the end of the 1980s. The twentieth century had been tough on the Makah: seasonal unemployment as high as 50%, crime, drug and alcohol abuse had all taken their toll on Makah youth.
The Makah Tribal Council began looking for a way out of their financial doldrums. Across the country many tribes had found economic salvation in casinos. Those lucky tribes who, by historical happenstance, found their reservations bisected by major interstate freeways, reaped considerable gambling profits.
But there would be no gambling profits for the Makah. Occupying the most northwestern patch of land in the continental United States, the Makah reservation is painfully remote. Despite a new multimillion dollar marina, which brings in revenue during the fishing season, few people visit the reservation.