Makah whaling trial in Tacoma could weaken treaty rights

Tacoma, Washington (AP) 3-08

The trial of five Makah who killed a gray whale without a permit is scheduled to begin soon in federal court in Tacoma.

Tribal chairman Micah McCarty is concerned that the trial has the potential to weaken the tribe’s treaty rights. He hopes the case can be settled with a plea bargain.

One of the federal prosecutors, Jim Oesterle, says the case is about regulating a treaty right, not abrogating it.

Five whalers frustrated at the delay in getting official permission shot and harpooned a whale. Tribal whalers legally killed a whale in 1999, under rights recognized in an 1855 treaty.

 

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