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The Only Good Indian Is A Liberal Indian By: David Yeagley
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, February 07, 2001


What have the Makah done to deserve such treatment? They have failed to play their designated role in liberal mythology. Rather than intoning prayers to Mother Earth at Green Party rallies - as good little Indians are supposed to do - they have had the temerity to go out and commit the most un-liberal act imaginable: to hunt and kill whales, just as their ancestors have done for centuries. In the process, the Makah have run afoul of the great unspoken rule that guides every leftwing, New Age environmentalist I ever met: The only good Indian is a liberal Indian.

In 1855, the governor of Washington signed a treaty with the Makah tribe, guaranteeing, for all time, that they would enjoy “the right of taking fish, and of whaling, and of sealing.” The Makah stopped whaling in 1930, by their own choice. But in May 1999, after seventy years of voluntary abstinence, they decided to get in touch with their ancient customs once again.

Using traditional methods, a canoe-born Makah hunting party killed a single grey whale.

It was perfectly legal. Moreover, it was ecological. With 22,000 grey whales counted in 1994, the animal is off the endangered species list. The law says the Makah can take up to 20 whales per year, though they only plan to harvest 1-4.

But that’s not good enough for the environmentalists. For them, the killing of that single whale in 1999 was an act of war.

A coalition of green organizations immediately formed ranks for battle, including The Peninsula Citizens for the Protection of Whales (PCPW); the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS); The Park Foundation of New York and The Foundation for Deep Ecology of California.

The Hoffman Family Foundation called the Makah Indians “murderers,” saying they were “no better than terrorists and serial killers of innocent victims.”

The well-funded PCPW filed a federal lawsuit. In December, 2000, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the tribe from hunting the grey whale, in violation of the 144-year-old treaty.

For the Indians, it was just one more broken treaty in a long and sorrowful list. For the environmentalists, it was party time.

Since their campaign against the Makah began, the eco-warriors have not shrunk from physical interference with the whale hunts.

Eco-terrorists in boats have harassed the Makah in their own waters. At times, they have even blocked them from entering their own Washington state reservation.

Paul Watson, of SSCS, attempted to disrupt a whale hunt by scaring the animals away with underwater noise.

Above water, he shouted at the Indians through a megaphone: “Just because you were born stupid doesn’t give you any right to be stupid.”

For an Indian, those words have a special resonance. Watson himself would probably deny that he meant them in a racial sense. After all, liberals cannot be racists. I guess he’d probably say that he just meant to accuse those particular Indians of being stupid due to their ignorance of ecological dogma.

But why did he say they were born stupid? For me, that’s the giveaway. The stereotype of the “dumb Indian” is back, brought to you by the Green Movement.

There is heavy irony in the war between greens and Makah Indians.

The professional liberal has long regarded the American Indian as his most valuable mascot. After all, the Indian loves Mother Earth. He embraces world peace. He is not judgmental. He is the ultimate liberal, the original New Ager!

The ‘60s generation imagined that they were acting like Indians, with their long hair, love beads, foreign religions, sexual license and disregard of civic duties. They managed to convince themselves that their socialist agenda was the Indian Way, more truly American than the teachings of the Founding Fathers.

But the Indian has his own agenda. And it has nothing to do with love beads and socialism. Above all, the Indian cherishes his independence.

One of these days, I have a feeling I’m going to go out on the prairie and shoot me a buffalo, just like my Comanche ancestors.

Will I be encircled by Cherokee jeeps, filled with eco-activists with megaphones? Stay tuned for further developments from Indian Country.

Dr. David A. Yeagley is a published scholar, professionally recorded composer, and an adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Liberal Studies. He's on the speakers list of Young America's Foundation. E-mail him at badeagle2000@yahoo.com. View his website at http://www.badeagle.com.


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