Metcalf's Indian history
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JUNE 9, 2000

Representative Jack Metcalf (R Wash) has continually voiced his opposition to the Makah whale hunt.

In May 1999, as the first whale hunt by the Makah Nation of Washington was just beginning, he addressed the House of Representatives about the historic event.

"Mr. Speaker, the day we have all dreaded has arrived. After years of U.S. policy in opposition to commercial whaling, the Clinton-Gore administration is reopening whaling. This is a tragic day, and we will regret that this has happened," he told the House on May 11.

Two days later, he reiterated his concerns.

"I urge my colleagues to join me in opposition to the renewal of whaling by the Makah Tribe of Northwest Washington State," said Metcalf.

But Metcalf's views do not come as a surprise to many in Indian Country, where he has long been seen as a foe to tribal sovereignty and Indian rights. Whether its salmon, shellfish, or whales, Metcalf has vigorously opposed the rights of Native Americans to harvest them.

In regards to the whale hunt, Metcalf in 1999 said, "I know [my opposition] seems inconsistent because I'm a hunter, but I guess I feel there are some animals that shouldn't be hunted."

Some believe he only voices opposition when Indian tribes are involved.

As founder of S/SPAWN, the Steelhead and Salmon Protection Action in Washington Now, Metcalf led the fight in the 1970s against the treaty guaranteed fishing rights of tribes in the Northwest. Despite their efforts, many of which involved violent and physical confrontations with local Indian fishermen, the courts since the historic 1974 Boldt decision have continually upheld Native rights to 50 percent of the catch.

S/SPAWN later became known as UPOW, the United Property Owners of Washington, who continue today to oppose tribal rights on behalf of white landowners in the state. According to Arthur J. Miller, an Indian rights advocate, Metcalf sat on the group's board before entering Congress in 1995.

Like many others, Miller believes Metcalf is part of an anti-Indian movement rooted deeply in racism against Native Americans.

What do you think about the whale hunt? Do you think the government continue to support the tribe? Talk about the recent events in a discussion on The Makah Whale Hunt.
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