Court memos: Makah Tribal Council OK'd whale kill
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
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
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
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
Prosecutors have recommended that they receive six-month sentences in a
federal facility, and a year's probation.