Makah Indians
The Makah are a Native Indian tribe who have recently decided to enact their
treaty rights, and start to hunt for whales. These actions have caused an uproar
in North America. The Natives state that they are not doing anything but
exercising their legal rights. Opponents to their hunting of whales argue that
the Makah are a group of uncivilized and inhumane individuals, and that they are
harming nature. The reportage of the controversy surrounding the Makah can be
seen as ethnocentric in many ways. Through the language used by the media
involved in the controversy, one can constantly see the Native people being
viewed as inhumane savages. In turn, this language allows readers to be sent
mixed messages about the Makah and their position in the whaling dispute.

Finally, the protestors themselves have contradictory arguments which leads one
to question the motivating factors behind their position. In order to fully
understand the whaling controversy, it is necessary to understand the history of
the Makah. They were a group of Native people who hunted gray whales. As a
result of their increased trade with the Europeans, the 'white man' decided to
also enter this hunt for the whale. This competition between the Makah and the'white man' lead to the whale coming close to extinction. Due to their love for
nature and respect for the whale, the Makah decided to voluntarily refrain from
hunting whales. It is important to note however, that in 1855, the Governor of

Washington State agreed to the Treaty Of Neah Bay, which gave the Makah a right
to hunt for whales. This is what is at the heart of the controversy. The Makah
have recently enacted their hunting rights of the whale after seventy years, and
are now resuming their hunt for whales. The Makah reasoning is a relatively
simple one. In 1946, the gray whale population was 2000, and now their count is
over 26,000. They believe that it is safe to hunt for whales again. The Makah
have been a group of people who have relied on whale hunting. . They used the
blubber from the whale to feed their families, and they used the rest of the
whale to provide themselves with shelter and tools. However, their opponents
have dismissed this practice of hunting whales as inhumane. Through the language
that is being used by the media, one can see Native people being viewed as
savages. The language being used is not blatantly discriminatory against the

Native people, but is done in a subtle, yet powerful way, in order to evoke a
message that Native people are inhumane. One of the reasons for this negative
commentary regarding Native people hunting for whales could be due to
ethnocentrism. This is the belief that one's own culture is considered to be
normal, therefore, other cultures are considered abnormal. The media carefully
uses words that show their bias towards the Native People. The media tries to
make the Makah look like a band of savages. While writing about a recent
anti-whaling demonstration, Peggy Andersen writes, "In a simmering dispute
that ended with a scuffle and arrests, angry Makah Indians pelted a protest boat
with rocks as the two sides bickered over a tribal plan to hunt gray
whales." The wording of this opening paragraph leads the reader to think
that it was Makah who were causing trouble, and that they were the one's that
were arrested. However, if one were to complete the article, they would realize
that this was not the case. Another example of media bias against the Makah
people is when Jonathan Dube writes, "As much as it's possible for one dead
animal to give new life to an entire nation, that's what has happened
here." Dube is implying that it is impossible for an animal that has died
to bring life to a nation, however, that is what has occurred. He does not
understand how killing this whale could give life to the Makah, and therefore,
he conveys this message of doubt to his readers. Dube is indirectly stating that
the Makah need to kill in order to have life. Many readers and viewers of the
media are being sent mixed messages about the Makah and the whaling situation.

As seen above, the media is using certain language that portrays the Makah in an
unflattering manner. However, this also has another major impact. The true
message, and plight of the Makah is being lost and overshadowed by this harsh,
and biased language. People reading newspaper articles probably know nothing
about the history of the Makah and are being given misleading information,