By Irena Theriot
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Extra resources for All About Whaling and Conservation Issues
In particular, a major cultural base of the Makah revolves around the whale and the associated hunt. The Makah signed a treaty in 1855 known as the Treaty of Neah Bay with the United States government that ceded over half of their ancestral lands to ensure their right to continue hunting whales. However, by the 1920s the dangerously low populations of whales caused the Makah to cease hunting whales to ensure the whale's survival. Once whale populations showed stability again in the 1980s, the Makah decided to pursue whaling again, against widespread protests from environmental groups.
Since then, every detail of the pilot whale hunt has been carefully defined in the regulations. This means that the institution of the pilot whale hunt, which had previously largely been based on tradition, became an integrated part of society's legal structure. In the regulations one has institutionalized old customs and added new ordinances when old customs have proved insufficient or inappropriate. Districts Since 1832, the Faroe Islands have been divided into several whaling districts, although there is reason to believe that these districts already existed in some form prior to this date.
The meat and blubber of the pilot whale has been an important part of the islanders' staple diet. The blubber, in particular, has been highly valued both as food and for processing into oil, which was used for lighting fuel and other purposes. Parts of the skin of pilot whales were also used for ropes and lines, while stomachs were used as floats. Rights have been regulated by law since medieval times and references are found in early Norwegian legal documents, while the oldest existing legal document with specific reference to the Faroes, the so-called Sheep Letter from 1298, includes rules for rights to, and shares of both stranded whales as well as whales driven ashore.