Sperm whales are mercilessly hunted by Russian and Japanese whalers. These giant mammals provide a type of valuable oil.
So many whales are killed to get this oil that the whales are in danger of extinction. However, a small plant that grows in the arid lands of the San Carlos Apaches in Arizona may put the whalers out of business and save the whales.
The plant is the jojoba (pronounced “Ho-Ho-Bah”). The Apache have used it for centuries, drying its beans and roasting them to make a drink and using the bean’s oil as a hair dressing. Scientists have found that the oil of the jojoba plant is far more pure than the oil of the sperm whale. It works better than the whale oil and can be put to wider use.
San Carlos Apaches have begun to sell their jojoba oil to industry and are setting up farms to grow the plants. Since it grows well in the dry, sandy climate of the high desert and needs little or no irrigation, it may do something else just as wonderful as saving the sperm whale.
It may give some of the poorest Indians in our country a way to make a good living.