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Native American tribe wins right to hunt gray whales off Washington coast

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Native American whale hunters

After facing decades of legal and bureaucratic hurdles, the Makah Tribe in Washington has won approval from the US to resume whale hunting for the first time in 25 years.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) Fisheries announced on Wednesday that it would grant the tribe a waiver, allowing the Makah “a limited subsistence and ceremonial hunt” under an 1855 treaty. The Makah will be permitted to hunt up to 25 Eastern North Pacific gray whales over 10 years.

The tribe of 1,500 people on the north-western tip of the Olympic Peninsula is the only Native American tribe with a treaty that specifically mentions a right to hunt whales. But it has faced more than two decades of court challenges, bureaucratic hearings and scientific review as it seeks to resume hunting for gray whales.

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