MAKAH is a Native American tribe that resides at the extreme northwestern corner of Washington State, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Together with the Nuu-chah-nulth bands of Vancouver Island, Canada, the Makah form the Nootkan subgroup of Northwest Coast Native cultures. The first recorded European contact was in 1790 with the Spanish ship Princesa Real. The 1855 Treaty of Neah Bay established the reservation while preserving hunting and fishing rights in "usual and accustomed" areas. The aboriginal population of perhaps 2,000 was reduced to 654 by 1861, largely through smallpox epidemics. Tribal enrollment at the beginning of the twenty-first century was approximately 2,300, and 70 percent of tribal members lived on the 44-square-mile reservation, mostly at the settlement of Neah Bay.
Prior to European colonization, Makahs lived in five autonomous villages, Diah't (now Neah Bay), Ba'adah, Wa'atch, Tsooyes, and Ozette. A strong reliance on halibut and marine mammals (whales and seals) distinguished Makahs from the salmon-oriented tribes of Washington State. Accumulation of material wealth and private property ownership were important factors in Makah society, with hierarchies of rank and class characterizing social relationships. Potlatch ceremonies reinforced these social positions and continue into the twenty-first century.
Archaeological excavations at Ozette in the 1970s yielded the most comprehensive collection of Indian artifacts on the Northwest Coast, sparking a cultural revival and renewed pride in tribal identity. Artifacts are displayed at the Makah Cultural and Research Center in Neah Bay, which also teaches Qwiqwidichchuk (the Makah language) and traditional arts.
In 1999 the tribe drew international attention for its resumption of subsistence whale hunting. The Treaty of Neah Bay is the only U.S.–Indian treaty that specifically mentions whaling rights, a reflection of the importance of whaling in local culture. Tribal whaling ended in the 1920s, after non-Indian commercial hunters decimated whale populations. The California gray whale was removed from the endangered species list in 1994, and the tribe began controversial preparations to resume hunting this species. In 1997 the International Whaling Commission approved a subsistence quota that included up to five gray whales per year for the Makah. On 17 May 1999, amid protests, media attention, and Coast Guard protection, a single whale was taken using a combination of ancient and modern technology. Whale meat and blubber
were consumed by Makah families for the first time in decades, and indigenous representatives from around the world attended a ceremonial potlatch feast. The tribe at that time made clear its intention to continue subsistence hunting as long as the whale population can support a sustainable harvest.
Colson, Elizabeth. The Makah Indians: A Study of an Indian Tribe in Modern American Society. Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 1953.
Sullivan, Robert. A Whale Hunt. New York: Scribner, 2000.
Swan, James Gilchrist. "The Indians of Cape Flattery, at the Entrance to the Strait of Fuca, Washington Territory." Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge Vol. 16, article 8. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1870.
"Makah." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/makah
"Makah." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/makah
Makah (mäkô´), Native North Americans who in the early 19th cent. inhabited Cape Flattery, NW Wash. According to Lewis and Clark they then numbered some 2,000. The Makah are the southernmost of the Wakashan branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock, being the only member of the Wakashan group within the United States (see Native American languages). Makah culture was fundamentally that of the Pacific Northwest Coast area. In 1855 they ceded all their lands to the United States except a small area on Cape Flattery that was set aside as a reservation. Today most of the 1,600 Makah in the United States live on the Makah Reservation; their main tribal income is from forestry.
"Makah." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/makah
"Makah." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/makah