“Our first teacher is our own heart”
Introduction: The people known as the Quinault Indian Nation lived on the Olympic Peninsula as members of individual family groups thousands of years before a small portion of their ancient lands became the Quinault Indian Reservation. They lived off the land in harmony with nature, their spirits acquiring strength from many bonds to the creatures and plants, which shared the environment. Material needs were met by the ocean, rivers, and land. The Tribe used chitem, the Western Red cedar, to make longhouses for shelter, canoes for transportation, baskets for storage, and clothing for their bodies. The rivers and beaches were highways to move from place to place in pursuit of food and commerce. Their longhouses, sheltering family groups, were built along the river banks convenient to the abundant salmon which were so important to their lives.
Land: The land was blessed with food and the people were one of the most successful hunting and gathering societies. They harvested fish, whales, and seals from the sea; clams, mussels, and sea bird eggs from the beaches; elk, bear, and other animals from the forests and meadows; and berries, tea and roots from the prairies. Despite the ready abundance of these foods, their lives were closely tied to the salmon which returned to the rivers each year. The runs of Chinook, coho, chum, steelhead, and blueback were the basis of the culture and economy.
Government: No formal structure of government was needed. The people relied upon tradition and loyalty and conscience for social order. Those who lived along the coast had the most contact with others who shared the same watershed drainage’s and together, they formed a loosely knit, larger body of organization that came to be regarded by other governments as a tribe.
Resources: Since resources were so plentiful, farming was not essential for survival, and land ownership as such was virtually unknown. They shared the land and its resources with one another. The land was there for all to use, but it belonged to no one. There was considerable rivalry between tribes however, and territories were to be respected. The present boundaries of the Quinault Reservation were established by executive order of President Grant in 1873.
Explorers: Beginning in the late 1700 ‘s the Quinault’s way of life began to change drastically and quickly when Spanish, English, and Russian explorers searched the Pacific Coast for furs and the mythical Northwest passage.
Changing Lands: Allotments on the Quinaielt Indian Reservation in Washington began in 1905 under the General Allotment Act of 187. The first roll of 119 names was submitted in 1907, the second of 327 names in 1908, and the third of 300 names in 1910. Thus, 748 Indians were allotted on the Quinaielt reservation before the passage of the Act of March 4, 1911.
The Treaty: In 1855, the Treaty of Olympia was signed by the, Quinault, Quileute, and their bands the Hoh and Queets, they ceded nearly a third of the Olympic Peninsula to the United States in exchange for a “tract or tracts of land sufficient for their wants”. The Quinault Indian Nation was formed with the original signers of the treaty the; Quinault, Queets, Hoh, Quileute. During this time representatives, interpreters, certifiers, witnesses, and members of the Quinault Reservation took part in handling the affairs of the Quinault Reservation. The Superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1921 requested that the Quinault Tribe form a Council to administer the affairs of the Quinaielt Reservation. A Council was Elected: The first elected officers were nominated: President; Harry Shale, Secretary; Frank W. Law, Treasurer; William Garfield. The Constitution and by-laws were written. (Blanche S. McBride, Elder, and Lelani Jones-Chubby, Museum)
Location and Lands: The Quinault Indian Reservation is located on the Pacific coast in Northwest Washington State. It is a land of magnificent forests, swift-flowing rivers, gleaming lakes and 23 miles (37 kilometers) of unspoiled Pacific coastline. Its boundaries enclose over 208,150 acres (84,271 hectares) of some of the most productive conifer forest lands in the United States.
Resources: Located on the southwestern corner of the Olympic Peninsula, its rain-drenched lands embrace a wealth of natural resources. Conifer forests composed of western redcedar, western hemlock, Sitka spruce, Douglas-fir, Pacific silver fir and lodgepole pine dominate upland sites, while extensive stands of hardwoods, such as red alder and Pacific cottonwood, can be found in the river valleys. Roosevelt elk, black bear, blacktail deer, bald eagle, cougar, and many other animals make these forests their home.
Villages & Neighbors: The reservation is located within a seasonal tourist haven surrounded by the rainforests of the Olympic National Park, the National Forest Service, and the Quinault Lake. The Reservation primarily is contained within Grays Harbor County, with a small portion also in Jefferson County. The Reservation includes three primary villages: Taholah and Queets (primarily Native) and Amanda Park (primarily non-Native.) There are also several areas with very small, but growing populations. The recent construction of approximately 45 homes in a new area called “Qui-Nai-Elt Village” is, perhaps, the start of a new Native community.
Demographics: According to the 2010 Census, the Reservation population is comprised of 1,408 residents, of which are between the ages of 19 and 65. Over 73% are native residents. Overall, the QIN is comprised of close to 2,900 tribal members. Roughly half of its members live off-Reservation and half live on-Reservation. A majority of the off-Reservation members live within 60 miles of the Reservation in the towns of Moclips, Pacific Beach, Hoquiam, Aberdeen, and Ocean Shores.
Poverty Rate: In 1990 the poverty rate for all residents of the Quinault Indian Reservation was 31%, with 425 persons living in households with income below the poverty line. For American Indians living on the reservation the poverty rate was 37% with 375 persons living in households with income below the poverty line. Key contributors to the high poverty rate are 1) the rural location of the reservation; 2) a decades-poor and declining timber industry; and 3) declining fish runs due, in large part, to declining river spawning habitat above and off the reservation. These poverty numbers will change once the 2010 census if fully tabulated and available to the public.
Tribal Government: The Quinault Indian Nation is governed by the Quinault Business Committee (QIN Tribal Council). It consists of the president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and seven council members. Council members are elected at the annual general council meeting and serve staggered, 3-year terms. Several council members served on an interim board to govern the Taala Fund once the organization was formally established. This interim board was responsible for identifying and recruiting seven people who became the self-perpetuating permanent board of governors for Taala Fund, effectively removing Taala Fund from under the tribal government’s wings and establishing Taala Fund as an independent nonprofit.
Economy/Employment: Currently, tribal government and tribal enterprises—including a casino, a seafood plant, two convenience stores and timber enterprises—make up a large majority of the employment on the Reservation. These jobs are an important part of the local economy, but they do not represent growth opportunities. Existing private-sector jobs are related to fisheries, including fishermen, fish processing, and fishing guides. Most jobs are seasonal. QIN is committed to expanding private business development, asset-building, and financial literacy on the Reservation and among our tribal members