Thousands of winters before the arrival of the White Drifting-House people, the Ho-qwats, the Quileute Indians and the ghosts of their ancestors lived and hunted near La Push, Washington. For as long as the ageless memory of legend recalls, the Quileutes flourished in their territory, which originally stretched from their isle-strewn Pacific beaches along the rain forests rivers to the glaciers of Wt. Olympus.
Quileutes need only lift up their eyes to see the burial place of their chiefs atop James Island, or A-Ka-Lat (Top of the Rock). This sense of cultural community is their birthright and heritage. Though much has changed, Quileute elders remember "back in the days" when the "old people" dared challenge Kwalla, the mighty whale, and who recounted the exploits of Wily Raven or Rayak. According to their ancient creation story, the Quileutes were changed from wolves into human beings by a wandering transformer, a shape-shifter who embodied two personas, man and wolf.
According to a tribal legend the Quileutes' only kindred, the Chimakum Tribe, were washed away from La Push by the flood and deposited near present-day Port Townsend, where they lived until Chief Seattle's Suquamish Tribe wiped them out in the 1860s. This left the Quileutes with no known tribal relatives on Earth. Quileutes were thus surrounded by unrelated
tribes. To the north along the Pacific Coast are the Makah (Nuh-Chul-Nuth) who migrated south, down from the west coast of Vancouver Island, to the northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula. The S'Klallam live to the northeast, along the Strait of Juan de Fuca; and the Quinault are south, at Taholah. Both these tribes are descended down from the Salishan. Relations with these groups allowed trade, intermarriage of nobility, and an ostentatious ceremony known as the potlatch - a community-wide celebration that displays honor through a give-away of possessions, a redistribution of wealth. Occasionally, however, controversy over trespassing did cause outbursts of warfare.
Today the Quileute Nation's homeland is located at the juncture of the Quillayute River and the Pacific Coast, at a village known as La Push. There the Quileute Tribal Council guides the tribe, oversees the Quileute Tribal School, holds a calendar of many community events throughout the year including the mid-summer Quileute Days, and benefits from a local economy supported by an ocean fisheries industry, and the tribal-run Oceanside Resort.