Recommended reading:

  • A Whale Hunt, by Robert Sullivan, pages 150-278
Presentation prepared by Dr. Raymond Pierotti

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Discussion questions to think about:

  1. What is Eco-colonialism? Does this illustrate how the dominant culture tries to put down indigenous knowledge and tradition when it differs with their desires, whether they are on the right or the left politically?
  2. Are the protesters genuine in their concerns or are they mostly racist? Would they act this way if another group was planning to take whales?
  3. Which of the following reasons do you think led to the intensity of scrutiny and the nastiness of the attacks on the Makah whalers?
    • Location, location, location: Were the Makah a target because you could easily drive to their reserve, as opposed to how difficult it is to get to Point Hope?
    • The Importance of tradition: The Makah stopped whaling for 70 years, whereas the Inupiat at Pt. Hope had never stopped taking Bowheads. Did this influence the response of protesters.
    • Was the use of drug tests harassment or legitimate? How does this tie in to the stereotype of Indian peoples as "alcoholics"? Do hunters and fishermen have to take drug tests or swear off alcohol and drugs? 
  4. Was Wayne Johnson a victim of racism, or a troubled man who created his own difficulties? How did his behavior impact the whale hunt, or would it have been no different if someone else had been the whaling captain?