Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Monster Seminar JAM

Event Information

Monster Seminar JAM - Whales, Barnacles, and Other Yummy Critters: Contemporary Hunting and Fishing Practices of the Makah Tribe

Dr. Jennifer Sepez, AFSC, NOAA Fisheries

Long Description:
More Information:
The Makah Tribe of Washington State garnered worldwide headlines when they resumed subsistence hunting of the California gray whale (Eschrichtious robustus) in 1999. In both the popular debate and in some scholarly contexts, some people questioned the authenticity of the whale hunt as a modern subsistence activity. The underlying assumption was that the process of cultural assimilation had been so transformative that cultural revival was not only improbable, but actually inappropriate. The validity of this assumption about assimilation is evaluated with a quantitative assessment of modern subsistence hunting and fishing activities, and a qualitative investigation of cultural and historical contexts in which subsistence activities take place. For the purposes of this research, subsistence was defined as the local harvest of wild fish, shellfish, mammals, and birds for local non-commercial consumption. The subsistence hunting and fishing harvest and consumption levels of the Makah Tribe as a whole were quantified for a one-year period, based on a random-sample survey of 15% of reservation households. Results were tabulated for 51 different taxa, representing more than 80 species. Additionally, ethnographic and archival methods revealed important factors shaping subsistence hunting and fishing practices, including kin-based sharing networks which distribute goods beyond the harvesting household, tensions between pan-Indian political solidarity and cultural heterogeneity, and the history of struggle over Native resource rights in the Northwest. Understanding the magnitude and context of contemporary Makah subsistence hunting and fishing provides the basic framework in which the issue of whale hunting should be considered, and challenges many assumptions about culture and assimilation.

2725 Montlake Blvd. E.
Seattle,  WA  98112

Date and Time:
Thursday, May 19, 2005, 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

Contact Person(s):
Blake Feist
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