"SEATTLE — An administrative law judge has recommended that a Native American tribe in Washington state once again be allowed to hunt gray whales — a major step in its decades-long effort to resume the ancient practice.
“This is a testament to what we’ve been saying all these years: that we’re doing everything we can to show we’re moving forward responsibly,” Patrick DePoe, vice chairman of the Makah Tribe on the remote northwestern tip of the Olympic Peninsula, said Friday. “We’re not doing this for commercial reasons. We’re doing it for spiritual and cultural reasons.”
DePoe was in high school in the late 1990s when the Makah were last allowed to hunt whales — occasions that drew angry protests from animal rights activists, who sometimes threw smoke bombs at the whalers and sprayed fire extinguishers into their faces.
Since then, the tribe’s attempts have been tied up in legal challenges and scientific review. A federal appeals court ruled in 2002 that the Makah needed a waiver under the Marine Mammal Protection Act; the tribe applied for one in 2005 but still hasn’t received one."