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November 19, 2019 2 min read

In the Twilight saga. Jacob Black lives on a Reservation in La Push, Washington. He states his family, the Quileute’s have descended from wolves. The Quileute Tribe, though, is an actual Native American tribe. So what is the truth behind the fiction of the Quileute Tribe?

The original territory of the Quileute stretched along the Pacific shore from the glaciers of Mount Olympus, Washington to the rivers of the rain forests. They made cedar canoes for fishing and whaling, ranging from small two person boats to giant vessels up to 58 metres (190 foot) long. These were capable of holding up to 6,000 pounds. The Quileute made almost everything out of wood and natural resources. They raised specially bred, woolly dogs for their hair, which they would spin and weave into blankets. They also weaved incredibly fine baskets, so tightly woven they could hold water. They used cedar bark to make waterproof skirts and hats to shield their bodies against heavy rainfall. 

Just as in the Twilight saga, the Quileute believe they are descended from wolves. In the beginning the Quileute believed that animals were the original tribe members. Q'wati is the hero of Quileute legends, referred to in English as the Transformer. Q'wati (who could transform himself into a wolf) is usually credited with creating the Quileute Tribe and their neighbours. He taught them both morals and skills. He created five tribal societies representing the elk hunter, the whale hunter, the fisherman, the weather predictor, and the medicine man. The medicine man honoured the creator with the wolf dance. He made the surroundings better and banished monsters from the land. Quileute folklore is still very much alive in the area of the Quileute Nation near La Push.

The Quileute first exposure with Europeans occurred in 1775 when a Spanish ship missed its landing and the Quileute enslaved the crew. In 1787 the same happened with a British ship and in 1808 with a Russian ship. In 1855 Isaac Stevens and the Quileute signed the Treaty of Olympia. Like many native tribes, they forfeited vast amounts of land and agreed to resettle on the Quinault Reservation. The Quileute culture was focused on possessions and they owned slaves. The US forced them to give up a key part of their history and culture. In 1882, A.W. Smith came to La Push and made a school. He started to change the names of the people from tribal names to Bible names. Despite this they clung to tribal names and in 1889 President Cleveland gave them the La Push reservation. The Quileute Tribe is a Sovereign Nation which means they have their own government inside of the United States that consists of a Tribal Council. Many come to visit the Reservation and today they rely on tourism, which was boosted by the Twilight movies and books. Traditionally, the Quileute are hospitable and generous in nature. However, spiritual teachings, sacred ceremonies and burial grounds are not openly shared with the public.


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