Should an Indian Be Allowed to Kill a Whale With a Machine Gun?

Dear Uptight Seattleite,

How about those tar bubbles in Gas Works Park?Beach Bubble Bingo'd

Dear Beach Bubble,

Hazmat suits displacing dogs and picnics? Not good. But the more observant of you have perhaps noticed that Gas Works has always had a slightly ominous cast to it. I know some people think of it as a whimsical vision that arose from the imagination of landscape genius Richard Haag to enrich our lives with its Seussian kite hill and historic industrial structures turning a thousand shades of rust in the sunset. These may be the same people who underestimate the threat of these resurgent tar bubbles, pointing with touching gullibility to reports that you would have to put your face down in front of this tar and inhale its fumes for an extended period to feel any effects at all. If you are among these people, you may want to think twice at least once more.

I'm not just saying this because of my experience as a member of the Friends of Gas Works Park. If the rest of you had as much concern for the hassle we have parking our cars as you have for "the public enjoying itself" or whatever, we wouldn't have had to file suit against One Reel to stop the Summer Nights concert series.

People who live near Gas Works may soon have to unite again, against an even bigger threat: Gas Works Park itself. Because the fundamental question is not related to this recent upwelling gooey, dark matter; rather, it's why a gas-related factory type of thing was built here to begin with. True, it would be unrealistic to oppose a facility dedicated to the comfort of ordinary people. We need heat and light for our homes, after all. So I'm OK with those people in 1906 building their plant somewhere. Just not in my future backyard.

Dear Uptight Seattleite,

Should an Indian be allowed to kill a whale with a machine gun?Sittin' and Wonderin'

Dear Sittin',

Being sensitive to Indian history is something of a forte of mine. Indeed, you could bury my heart under the books I've read that deconstruct the manifest destiny of our tragically misguided cowboy-ism. This one time, at a Sherman Alexie book reading? I asked Sherm a question that I prefaced with my own personal spin on Native American history, as best I can glimpse it with a mind stumbling humbly toward a truly postcolonial perspective. The long, silent look he gave me was, I dare to believe, a tactful (so as not to exclude the rest of the audience) acknowledgment of my hard-earned Native cred.

I wouldn't even bother to tell you all this except that I'd like to admit to a few sneaking concerns about Indians and whales. And that was just a quick little flash of my blindingly shiny "don't-mess-with-me-on-that-whole-racism-thing" badge so I can express these concerns freely.

Since Native Americans claim a right that makes sensitive people squeamish, I don't think it's too much to ask them to claim it in a picturesque manner. For example, it seems to me that a hollowed-out canoe should be involved any time an Indian kills a whale. Based on designs that go back through the generations and all that. Drums booming slowly in the background would also help, as would a chanting medicine person of some type to get the whole myth-invoking, pipe-toking deal on the road.

I know that this latest whale incident had nothing to do with any legitimate hunting, and the Makah tribal leaders have condemned it and so forth. But the last time there was a legitimate hunt, didn't they use a shotgun? Guy in the back of the canoe, holding it across his legs? And now a machine gun, so what next? If it's efficiency over tradition they want, why not a huge conveyor belt that carts the whale carcasses from the ocean into factories on the shore? Then they could carve them up and package the whales for mass consumption. Indian whaling should not be allowed to resemble a soulless and highly profitable enterprise like America's meat industry. Again, I know there is danger in a Caucasian male seeming to pass judgment on a minority group, especially one with such an impressive history of oppression, and so I say all this merely as someone whom circumstances have blessed with an odd insight or two.

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