Doin’ the dolphin dance


    Those seeing the photo front page and reading the full-page coverage inside last week’s edition of the Surfside News may be interested in knowing what this “environmental festival” was all about and what the Chumash Dolphin Dancers have to do with Dolphins.

    The Unbroken Chain is a series of concert festivals, featuring some very talented bands, that keep alive the musical tradition of the world-famous rock-band, The Grateful Dead. This event was produced by Rich Olsen as a benefit concert for Great Whales Foundation and for the Malibu Dolphin Recovery Center project, headed by our own Dolphina Bastel, who also performed at the concert. Also represented at the festival were Surfrider Foundation and People into Saving Trees.

    The name “Dolphin Dancers” reflects the ancient Chumash tradition that traces the origin of the people and the dolphins from a common ancestry, as told in their story of “The Rainbow Bridge.” Many people today feel such a deep kinship with the dolphins (and their bigger cousins, the other whales) and feel a responsibility to protect them form the many man-made hazards threatening these “people of the sea.”

    As I pointed out in my talk at the concert, the dolphins and whales are threatened today more than any time since the 1986 enactment of a global moratorium on commercial whaling (i.e., organized whale killing for profit). The mass media have underplayed, and many politicians are trying to avoid, the fact that an organized group of nations and other advocates of whaling has been working effectively in recent years toward a resumption of the slaughter of our aquatic friends, for such uses as sushi, animal feed, industrial chemicals and trinkets. The U.S. administration (i.e., Clinton-Gore) and most Republicans in Congress have been sympathetic to this movement, out of their “free trade” policies and international deal-making priorities, and the government is now encouraging, assisting and paying for a small and economically depressed tribal reservation in coastal Washington state, the Makah, to lead the charge by killing California Gray Whales as they pass by the Olympic Peninsula this autumn. The first killing could happen any day now, or may have already occurred by the time you read this. Great Whales Foundation is among several organizations that have backed a law suit to expose the treacherous and illegal actions by our government to promote whale-killing by exploiting the economic aspirations of the Makah tribe.

    So, the Dolphin Dancers of the Chumash people danced with us, not only in connection with their ritual past, but also in spiritual solidarity with the living dolphins and whales in peril, our cousins of the sea!

    Francis Jeffrey