Thursday, May 22, 2008

Makah Whale Hunt - Last Post On Subject

This post will be the last one I will be making on the Makah whale hunt, at least until a final decision is made.

On nutrition:

At the same time I was writing the last comment about the nutritional problems of the Makah and Native American peoples who have been forced from their tradition diet, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium announced the publishing of it’s book, “Traditional Food Guide for Alaska Native Cancer Survivors." The book was published with financial support from the Alaska Cancer Survivorship and Wellness Program, Alaska Regional Hospital's Cancer Care Center, the American Cancer Society, the Intercultural Cancer Council, the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Information Service, Seattle Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center and the state's Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. The purpose of the book is to educate and support the return to traditional subsistence foods for health reasons.

The traditional Eskimo diet, which includes seals, walrus, and whales, once resulted in the highest level of health found among indigenous peoples anywhere on earth. Because of the introduction of western foods, Alaskan Natives now have the dubious distinction of having the highest cancer death rates in the nation. In addition, the traditional diet of the Eskimo contained as much as 80 percent of calories as fat and there is no indication that they suffered from heart disease. Today, Eskimos have a fifty percent higher percentage of congenital heart disease than western populations.

Part of this high incidence is the result of the diet being replaced by plant derived liquid oils that have been hardened through the process of hydrogenation, and therefore tend to be rancid. Rancid fats contain large numbers of free radicals, molecules with unpaired electrons that are highly reactive. Free radical damage in the arteries is thought to be an important factor in the initiation of plaque. Secondly, these oils lack vitamins A and D found in animal fats and through processing are likely to be shorn of naturally occurring vitamin E and other antioxidants. Yet, these unhealthy plant oils are exactly what the animal rights activists would like to coerce American Indians such as the Makah to ingest.

Are the anti-Makah activists racist?

The selective protests against American Indians, such as the Makah, points to a concerted racist program conducted by the activists involved. Section 101(a)(5) (A-D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (MMPA), as amended (16 U.S.C. 1371(a)(5)), allows the incidental taking of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographic region. This taking includes depleted and endangered or threatened marine mammals. In 1992, a further amendment was added that expedited the process for authorization to take the mammals.

Yet, protests by activists against these authorizations are conspicuously lacking. The most recent authorization appears in the 21 May, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 99)] [Notices] [Page 29485-29491] in the Federal Register. This authorization allows an LNG facility in Massachusetts Bay to take not just one marine mammal species - as requested by the Makah - but several: North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis), humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), minke whale (B. acutorostrata), pilot whale (Globicephala spp.), Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus), bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), killer whale (Orcinus orca), harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), harbor seal (Phoca vitulina), and gray seal (Halichoerus grypus).

There are at least 32 authorization permits in existence. Eleven of these permits alone are for power plant operations in Central and Southern California, so that the populations there can receive electricity. Granted, these authorizations to not guarantee that marine mammals will be taken (defined under the MMPA as "harass, hunt, capture, kill or collect, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, kill or collect."). But, and this is important, the authority to do so is given. Whether a marine mammal is taken by the Makah for food, or by one of the permit holders because the mammal got in the way, the ultimate end result is the same for the mammal.

Yet, activists apparently think it’s okay for their culture to take a marine mammal because it‘s in their way, but not okay for American Indians to take one for their cultural and traditional sustenance purposes. I would certainly call this a racist inspired program. The continued denial that the indigenous people of this continent have no “traditional cultural” rights also strengthens this picture. The concept of western society being superior to the Native American is not dead.

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