Opinion

Editor's column

"Watching the Makah Tribe hunt whales, one can only conclude that Native Americans still don't have a clue when it comes to marketing. They should be making a fortune on this enterprise, but instead they'll likely end up with exactly what they got last year -- one dead whale, somewhat chewy.Native Americans have never adjusted to European/American ways. Ever since they fell for the $24 worth of beads for Manhattan Island, they've been cursed with poor business sense. It should have been clear even in the 17th Century that the old ways of living in harmony with nature were doomed. The only way to get ahead in modern life is to make money. Look at Bill Gates, a skinny myopic little geek who couldn't kill a whale with a bazooka. He's idolized because of his money, even though in a native society he'd be be fit only for whale bait.It's time for Native Americans to get with it and capitalize on their marketing opportunities. The Makah Whale Hunt is pathetic. Television cameras cover the canoe for hours, but there's one glaring problem: No sponsors. With sponsorships, the Indians could make enough money to start their own whale hatchery.Start with the garb. The canoe crew is dressed in Northwest casual, usually jeans and flannel shirts, but with no brand names visible. Get those labels up front, close to the cameras. Land's End would be a likely clothing sponsor with its link to a seafaring past. The company could sell millions of whaling pants, shirts and rain slickers to Native American wannabes on Wall Street and Main Street.The sleek native-built canoe is too bland. Liven it up and make money by plastering it with company logos, like an Indy 500 race car. Of course it will have to be motorized, which will open the canoe up to more sponsors: Evinrude, Pennzoil, Mobil, Exxon -- all companies with deep sponsorship pockets. The ceremonial harpoon could be named after Safeco, like the baseball stadium. And the 50 caliber whale gun could be sponsored by Smith & Wesson, the safe and sane gun manufacturer.After chasing whales all day, a crew member gets thirsty. Fine, but hoist that beverage with the cameras in mind. Take a long, satisfying swig of Gatorade or lean back with a relaxing Budweiser. Companies will pay millions to be associated with a successful whale hunt. Now, all that's missing is a superstar whaler that can market the canoe, the tribe and Native Americans in general. Grab a young, good looking Native American and let the media build him up like Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods. I always get what I want, he can say while rubbing his latest kill on the fluke. And so can you, if you eat your Wheaties.Properly marketed, whaling could become the new U.S. national sport with only Native Americans allowed to play. Unfortunately, that sounds like a monopoly. When they receive a call from the Department of Justice, Natives Americans will have finally made it to the level of Bill Gates."

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