Five Makah who killed whale indicted by federal grand jury; tribe disappointed

NEAH BAY – The Makah tribal prosecutor is prepared to file five charges on behalf of the tribe against the men who hunted and killed a gray whale about a month ago.

But she is waiting to have access to key pieces of evidence currently held by federal investigators, a tribal spokesman said Thursday.

Members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington on Monday were informed by the Makah of pending local charges during a meeting in Neah Bay.

U.S. Attorney Jeff Sullivan on Thursday announced that a federal grand jury indicted the five whalers on three federal misdemeanor charges that mostly revolve around violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

According to Micah McCarty, a member of the Makah Tribal Council and its spokesperson, the federal prosecutors were told about the pending Makah judicial charges in hopes that the federal government would defer prosecution to the tribe.

But that did not happen, to the dismay of tribal leaders.

“It was our position that we didn’t want to see this paraded in federal court, and if there was a decision made, we were concerned about how it would proceed,” McCarty said.

“The real human victims here are the Makah tribe and its people, who now face a more uncomfortable spotlight.”

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