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Video: 2001 Confrontation Between Animal Rights and Indigenous Rights

On the morning of Monday, May 17, 1999, members of the the Makah nation of Northeastern Washington killed a whale, adding fuel to a growing controversy and splitting traditional allies of animal rights and Native rights communities.
As a consequence of this controversy, in 2001 the Environmental Land, Air and Water Conference invited Ward Churchill and Paul Watson to speak on this issue.
Ward Churchill and Paul Watson
Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was on hand during the Makah whale hunts and his organization sought numerous times to intervene in the hunt, emphatically condemning the actions of the Makah.

Ward Churchill is a writer and political activist. "The primary focus of his work is on the historical treatment of political dissenters and Native Americans by the United States. His work features controversial and provocative claims, written in a direct-often confrontational-style." Wikipedia

Watson is also a controversial character. Their confrontation at the Conference portrayed much that was both good and bad in their respective movements.
The audience participated in their remarks throughout the evening, both speakers garnering numerous periods of applause and disapproval. After Watson speaks for about 45 minutes and Churchill for about 30 minutes, Watson responds to Churchill's remarks, and members of the audience provide comments, addressing the tenor of the presentations.

Background Information:
Historical Context of Makah Whaling Controversy

The Makah had originally stopped hunting due to plummeting whale populations, but decided to renew their subsistence and cultural relationship with the whale when populations grew back. Though the Makah had not taken a whale for 70 years, they felt they had the right to reassert their treaty rights "to fish and hunt in accustomed places," stating after ward that taking the whale had sparked a renewed interest in their culture and language among the youth.

Tempers flared, as both communities asserted their rights to the moral high ground. "The outrage among some animal rights activists was so great that within a few days religious leaders in Seattle called for tolerance, expressing dismay at death threats against the Makah and the racist tone of some protests." HistoryLink.org

This program was produced in 2001 by Paul Richmond.

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