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The Community Today - Taala Fund

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
by Chief Seattle, 1854

The Community Today

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 .

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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