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Court memos: Makah Tribal Council OK'd whale kill

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  • Robert Schmidt
    http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20080629/NEWS/806290307 Court memos suggest on eve of sentencing that Makah Tribal Council OK d whale kill last year
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 7, 2008
      http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20080629/NEWS/806290307

      Court memos suggest on eve of sentencing that Makah Tribal Council OK'd
      whale kill last year

      By Jim Casey, Peninsula Daily News

      NEAH BAY — The Makah Tribal Council knew about and approved an illegal
      whale hunt Sept. 8, says one of the hunters in documents filed in federal
      court.

      Theron Parker, 45, provided U.S. District Court in Tacoma with statements
      to that effect as he sought leniency in the sentence he will receive on
      Monday.

      Theron Parker and four other Neah Bay men — Wayne Johnson, Frankie
      Gonzales, William Secor and Andy Noel — are scheduled to appear for
      sentencing at 3 p.m. Monday in the federal court in Tacoma for their parts
      in the Sept. 8 hunt.

      In one of five statements supporting Theron Parker's bid for a shorter
      sentence, a witness said then-Tribal Chairman Ben Johnson Jr. told council
      members, "I think it's time to go fishing."

      "He was referring to getting a whale," wrote Luke Warkishtum of Port
      Angeles, who said he heard the comment almost two months before the hunt.

      "The whole tribal council nodded in agreement."

      Warkishtum sent his statement to the hunter about a month after a gray
      whale, wounded by harpoons and high-powered bullets, sank in the Strait of
      Juan de Fuca.

      Another witness, Paul Parker of Neah Bay, wrote about what he said was an
      exchange between Theron Parker and Ben Johnson:

      "Theron asked Chairman Johnson, 'What if I went out and got a whale?' The
      chairman's response was 'Go ahead, get one.'

      "Theron asked if he would have the Makah Tribal Council's support.

      "Ben [Johnson] said they would support the whale hunt if Theron decided to
      go out for a whale."

      New chairman 'not aware'

      Neither Ben Johnson nor the tribe's Seattle attorney, John Arum, could be
      reached for comment.

      The tribe's current chairman, Micah McCarty, said, "I'm not aware of this."

      Paula Olson, Theron Parker's court-appointed lawyer, provided Markishtum's
      and Paul Parker's hand-written statements as exhibits for her sentencing
      memorandum.

      It asks that Theron Parker receive a sentence of one year's unsupervised
      probation with 100 hours of community service

      Federal prosecutors have recommended that Theron Parker and two more
      defendants who pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Marine Mammal
      Protection Act receive two years' probation.

      The others who pleaded guilty are Gonzales and Secor.

      Two more defendants, Wayne Johnson and Noel, refused the plea bargain and
      were found guilty in a brief bench trial of two violations of the marine
      mammal act.

      Prosecutors have recommended that they receive six-month sentences in a
      federal facility, and a year's probation.
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