Alberta “Binki” Nora Thompson was a Makah tribal elder who opposed her tribe’s effort to kill gray whales for the first time since the 1920s. Mrs. Thompson attended five IWC meetings and stood her ground as she faced off with the Makah tribe’s government that supported whaling. Even though there were several elders who, with Alberta, signed a petition opposing the hunt, it was she who remained the public symbol of tribal opposition. For that, she faced an unrelenting barrage of persecution from pro-whale killing factions within her tribe.
Mrs. Alberta “Binki” Nora Thompson died this spring. At her service, her pastor wept openly as he described Binki’s suffering from that persecution for the sake of defending the gray whales—the whales who had not known the violence that all of our ancestors have perpetuated against whales for thousands of years.
We remain inspired by Alberta Thompson as we work to protect all species of whales and their ecosystems. And we are filled with joy knowing that, at last, on a sunny day in the wilderness of Baja, California, Mexico, Binki met her friends in a protected and peaceful gray whale lagoon. Alberta stretched out her arm; then a young gray whale rose up next to his 40-ton mother until its nose touched Binki’s hand. This was the relationship both Binki and the whale sought.