John Arum, who backed treaty tribes and environmental causes throughout his legal career, passed away in 2010. He is now the feature of an essay recently posted at HistoryLink:
One of Arum’s longest running cases involved the Makah Indian Tribe, which lives on the northern tip of Washington’s coastline. The Makahs have an ancient whaling tradition, and their right to hunt the marine mammals was guaranteed in the 1855 Treaty of Neah Bay. But they had not hunted whales since the 1920s, when commercial whaling nearly wiped out the gray whale. When that animal was removed from the Endangered Species List in 1994, the Makahs saw an opportunity to reconnect with their tradition. They announced their intent to resume hunting whales as their ancestors had done, from a cedar canoe with a harpoon. The lines were drawn for an epic legal battle — treaty rights vs. animal rights.
The federal government chose to honor the 1855 treaty, and major conservation groups such as Greenpeace and the Sierra Club did not object to the Makah whaling plan, even though the hunts would be in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. But there was widespread and determined opposition. American, British, and Australian animal-rights groups, along with tour-boat operators, kayakers, and Congressman Jack Metcalf (1927-2007), a Republican from Whidbey Island, sued to stop the plan. They contended that federal agencies had ignored laws in approving the proposed hunts and that more time was needed to study the environmental impact. In September 1998, with Arum representing the tribe, the Makahs prevailed. U.S. District Judge Franklin Burgess of Tacoma approved the tribe’s plan to kill up to 20 gray whales in five years. The whale hunt could proceed.