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How much is a Whale Worth? $20 Bucks According to the Makah Tribal Court

May 15, 2008

How much is a Whale Worth?

$20 Bucks According to the Makah Tribal Court

This was the lead paragraph of the story in the Seattle Times today:

"They promised tough prosecution, but in the end the Makah Nation couldn't put together a jury to try five whalers who were charged with illegally killing a gray whale off Neah Bay last fall.

Tribal Judge Stanley Myers on Wednesday instead granted the men one-year deferred prosecution and promised to dismiss the charges if they committed no offenses during that time. The whalers also were each ordered to pay a $20 fine."

Twenty Dollars! These men viciously and illegally slaughtered a defenseless Gray whale. The whale took over ten hours to die, choking on its own blood, thrashing about in pain until its body finally sank to the ocean floor, never to be recovered.

Ten hours of agonizing suffering for which the unrepentant killers had to pay $2 per hour.

Last fall after Wayne Johnson and his fellow whale killers were arrested, the Makah Tribal Council held a news conference and promised a swift and just punishment if convicted.

Last September the Makah issued a statement to the media that said; "We are a law-abiding people and we will not tolerate lawless conduct by any of our members."

Obviously the Makah tribe is not capable of rendering justice in an impartial manner.

Former Sea Shepherd Crewmember Dan Spomer wrote today:

"Let's say that your name is Wayne Johnson, you are a Makah tribal member, and, even though barred from doing so by a Federal Court order, you had an urge to kill a gray whale, jumped into a boat and just blasted one with your rifle over and over and over again. It's just something you HAD to do.

Hours later, the whale was struggling to survive, blood thick on the water. Much later, the whale died, painfully sinking into the depths of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. You're taken into custody, you've dishonored your Tribe and basically demonstrated to the entire world your disregard for the rule of law.  Outrage follows as the world learns of the deed.

What penalty would you expect to face in Makah Tribal Court? Imprisonment? Steep fines? A harsh sentence?

Nope.

Today, the Makah Tribal Court sentenced the five Makah tribal members involved in the outrageous, illegal September hunt.

They were fined twenty dollars each.

The whale killers have also been indicted in the federal court and face up to a year in jail and $100,000 fines. In the end, federal prosecutors offered a plea deal that meant no jail time as part of a settlement that included the tribe waiving its prosecution in tribal court.

Three of the whalers took the deal, and sentencing in federal court is set for June. Two other whalers refused to plead guilty and were found guilty by the judge in Tacoma, Washington. They are appealing the conviction but also face sentencing in June, including fines and possibly community service, but very likely no jail time.

Last month, the Makah tribal judge refused to honor the federal plea deal and instead ordered all five whalers to stand trial in Neah Bay.

Johnson said yesterday he would have gladly faced trial and would have appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to defend his treaty rights to kill a whale. Asked whether he'd do it any differently if he could do it over, he answered, "I'd land the whale on the beach."

These Makah whalers have demonstrated total contempt for the law, for the whales and for many of the Elders of their own tribe. The only part of the traditional whaling they are seeking to preserve is the killing. No rituals, no sacrifices, no traditional methods - just a big .50 calibre gun, power boats, wetsuits and a redneck desire to kill sum'thin.

A public comment period is now under way on a federal draft environmental-impact statement on the tribe's proposal to legally whale under their treaty. A public hearing is scheduled in Seattle on June 2. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will be sending a representative to oppose the Makah application to legally slaughter whales.

"This is the 21st Century," said Captain Paul Watson. "The barbarism of whaling by Japan, Norway, Iceland and the Makah must be ended. It's time to celebrate life with the whales after centuries of horrific abuse. Wayne Johnson is a common thug who has contemptuously dismissed the concerns of his own Elders and who has given the finger to his own Tribal Council and for $20 he thinks he can now go back to the beach and pump lead into another defenseless whale. We need to stop him."

 

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