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Contemporary Issues/Makah Whaling

History 1: The student examines and understands major ideas, eras, themes, developments, turning points, chronology, and cause-and-effect relationships in US, world, and Washington State history.
History 2: The student applies the methods of social science investigation to investigate, compare and contrast interpretations of historical event.
History 3: The student understands the origin and impact of ideas and technological developments on history and social change.

GRADE LEVEL: Secondary

BASIC CONCEPTS: Complexity of issues surrounding the recent Makah whale hunt.

ORGANIZING GENERALIZATION: On May 17, 1999, the only American Indian nation with reserved treaty rights to whale in their usual and accustomed fishing grounds resumed their rights and successfully completed a whale hunt. The controversial decision was the topic for heated debates, discussions, etc. in the world arena.

CULTURE AREA: Most extreme Northwest corner of Washington State - Coastal tribe

TIME PERIOD: Present day.

BACKGROUND: Approximately 70 years ago, the Makah Nation chose to halt their whaling activities because of the decimation of the gray whale by commercial fishing. When they appealed for permission to begin to hunt whales again, controversy ensued. Many issues surfaced that reinforced the conclusion that mainstream public opinion was full of misconceptions, bias, stereotypes, and distortions of facts. The facts show that the hunt was legal, successful, sanctioned by world whaling authority and US governmental authority, and most definitely will continue. This topic will inevitably return to the forefront of the public in the future and it is imperative that students in Washington State are informed as to the facts, the results on the Makah Nation, and the pride it has instilled in the people of the Makah Nation.


Knowledge Students will: (History 1.2) identify and analyze major issues, movements, people, and events in US history from 1870 to the present with particular emphasis on growth and conflict. (History 2.1) determine components of a historical problem and investigate a topic using electronic technology, library resources, and human resources from the community. (History 2.2) organize and record information and separate fact from conjectur4e; discern bias; separate relevant from irrelevant information in persuasive materials; distinguish verifiable information. (History 2.3) evaluate information and develop a statement of the significance of the findings; defend own analysis and reason logically, compare and contrast differing perspective; argue both for and against a position. Skills Students will: utilize electronic technology, various resources, and organize and record the information.

Values Students will: understand historical time, chronology, and causation, and analyze the historical development of events, people, places, and patterns of life in US, world, and Washington State history, and will examine the influence of culture on US, world and Washington State history. ALSO, will investigate and research, analyze historical information and synthesize information and reflect on findings.

ACTIVITIES: Students will research on the Internet various sites on the topic, including; Makah Nation website, various state newspapers websites, and opponents to the whaling websites. Students will write a paper on what they have learned, focusing on their preconceived ideas and beliefs, and if any of these have changed as a result of their investigation.

EXTENSIONS: A debate on the pro's and con's of this topic can be interesting, stimulating further discussions on other issues relevant to Indian people.

EVALUATION: It is important that balance be kept in regard to this issue and the focus be maintained that we can support "Save the Whales" and the Makah's return to whaling at the same time, without a conflict.


"Makah Pride Continues To Grow Following Hunt" article in Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission NEWS - Vol. XIV No. 3 - Fall 1999

"It's Finishing What We Started: Makah High School Students Assemble Bones of Historic Whale" article in Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission NEWS - Vol. XIV No. 4 - Spring 2000

"Ozette: A Makah Village in 1491" by Maria Parker Pascua in National Geographic, Vol. 180, No. 4, October 1991 -(This issue's focus in "1491: America Before Columbus" and includes tribal people's viewpoints, excellent map supplements, and superb artwork from a variety of places in the United States.)

Websites: Makah Nation website: http://www.makah.com - Makah Whaling: Questions and Answers

University of Washington Library website- http://content.lib.washington.edu

The Makah Tribe: People of the Sea and Forest by Ann M. Renker

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