La Push, Washington
People and Places
La Push, the location of the Quileute Tribe’s reservation, is in Washington State’s Clallam County, on the Olympic Peninsula. The residential district is around 153 miles northwesterly from Seattle. It’s located at 47°54’32”N and 124°38’07”W. The Quileute Reservation covers about one square mile of land (594 acres).
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, La Push has a population of 371, with a gender dispersion of 57.1% male and 42.9% female. In 2000 nearly 82.8% of residents Are American Indian and Alaska Native, 11.3% White, 0.5% Black, 0.3% of another race, and 5.1% of two or more races. About 5.4% of residents affiliated with Hispanic or Latino. A low percentage of residents (3.8%) were foreign-born with 42.9% born in Mexico, 35.8% in Canada, and 21.4% in Australia.
The average age in La Push in 2000 was 27.5, significantly down from the national median age of 35.3. Of the population age 18 years and over, 52.9% had graduated from high school or carried on on to higher education, 4.2% had obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher, and 1.7% had obtained a graduate or professional degree according to 2000 U.S. Census.
The region of La Push is the traditional land of the Quileute Tribe. According to their creation story the Quileute “were changed from wolves by a wandering Transformer” and their “only kindred, the Chimakum Tribe, were washed away by a flood and deposited near contemporary Port Townsend,” only to be killed off by the Suquamish Tribe in the 1860s. The Quileute historically fished in addition to hunting seals and whales, whaling in red cedar canoes as far as Southeast Alaska and California.
The Quileute were regarded by many as “second only to the Makah as whalers, and first among all the tribes as sealers.” Liaison was established with European traders as early as the 1700s. The first official contact took place during the signing of a treaty in 1855, with the members of the
Washington Territory Governor Isaac Stevens’ staff. In 1856 a delegation of Quileute signed a treaty with the United States which gave up their land and would relocate the Quileute tribe onto a reservation, but they weren’t pressured to depart because of the remoteness of their traditional land and lack of pressure to settle that area.
A schoolteacher, A.W. Smith, came to the village in 1882, made-up a school, and renamed Quileutes with names obtained from the Bible, American history, and by anglicizing existing Quileute names.
In 1889 a one-square mile reservation was staged at La Push by an Executive Order of President Benjamin Harrison. At that time there were 252 persons occupying the reservation. In the same year all of the houses in the village were all incinerated by a settler who was trying to lay claim to the land. Four years later, in 1893, a separate reservation was parceled out for the 71 members of the Hoh River band of Quileutes. Through
the treaties the Quileute preserved the right to gather, hunt, and fish in their “usual and accustomed places.” The name La Push arises from the use of the Chinook word for “river mouth” by traders, a distortion of the French “la bouche.”
The 1936 Constitution and By-Laws of the Quileute Tribe and the 1937 Corporate Charter, published by the Secretary of Interior, affirmed the Tribe’s sovereignty. During World War II, the area was part of the 13th Naval District’s Coastal Lookout System with spotter sites on James Island and in La Push. In 1997 evidence of earlier inhabitation of the village was discovered from an archaeological exploration.
Presently La Push comprises the Quileute Headquarters, a museum, seafood firm, oceanfront resorts, fish hatchery, marina, a store, a recreational vehicle park, post office, and other amenities.
The Quileute Reservation contains 594 acres and is located on the south banks of the Quillayute River and the Pacific Ocean.
According to 2000 U.S. Census, 42.6% of the potential labor pool in La Push was working, and there was an unemployment rate in the community of 27.4% for the same year (calculated by dividing the unemployed population by the labor force).
Approximately 41.4% of the population age 16 years and over wasn’t working at the time of the 2000 U.S. Census, compared to the national average of 36.1%. Approximately 12.3% of employed La Push residents worked on agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting; even so this number most probable doesn’t count all those involved in fishing. The additional top employment sectors for working La Push residents were educational, health, and social services (23.6%); public administration (17.9%); arts, entertainment, and recreation (9.4%);
accommodations and food services (7.5%); and manufacturing (7.5%). Some 54.7% of employed residents worked within the local, state, or federal government.
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the of each person income in La Push in 1999 was $9589 and the average household income was $21,750. The 2000 U.S. Census reports that in 1999 the income of 34.5% of the population was below the poverty level. In 2000, there were a sum of 128 housing units in the community, of which 90.6% were occupied and 9.4% were vacant. Of the tenanted housing units, 87.1% were owner occupied and 12.9% were renter occupied.
La Push, place of the Quileute Tribal reservation, is regulated by the Quileute Tribal Council. The Council “exercises the powers to:…veto any sales, disposition, lease, or other encumbrance of tribal lands; apprise on and approve appropriations; levy and collect taxes and license fees from nonmembers performing business on the reservation; enforce regulations dealing with visitors, trespassers, and tribal memberships; and operate a tribal court and to maintain law and order.”
The Northwest Enforcement Office of the National Marine Fisheries Service is settled 153 miles away in Seattle. The closest regional office for state fisheries, the North Puget Sound Region Office of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is set in Mill Creek, about 159 miles to the southeast. The U.S. Coast Guard Station Quillayute River is located within La Push. The closest meetings of the Pacific and North Pacific Fisheries Management Council and the District Office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are located in Seattle.
La Push is accessible by both ground and sea. La Push is situated off of U.S. Highway 101 and State Route 110, about 196 miles from Sea-Tac International Airport. The nearest airport certified for carrier operations is the William R. Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles around 69 miles away, with international flights to Canada. The La Push Harbor is the base of the La Push fleet and furnishes vessel
moo rage, a fuel dock, and a waste water pump.
The Quileute Tribal School, located in La Push renders schooling for grades Kindergarten through 12th. Water, waste water, and sanitation services are operated by the Quileute Tribe.
Public safety is administrated by the La Push Police Department. La Push is served by the Quileute Tribe’s Quileute Tribal Health Facility which renders primary medical and dental care, behavioral health services, and family and addiction counseling and support.
There are various oceanfront resorts located in La Push. The Quileute Tribe utilizes the Sol Duc Hatchery in Forks, Washington, and the
Quileute’s Lonesome Creek Hatchery in La Push, to achieve population recovery goals for local salmon runs.
The Tribe, working under a cooperative agreement with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Sol Duc Hatchery, endeavors to increase wild summer run Chinook populations.
Involvement in West Coast Fisheries
West Coast fisheries landings in La Push in 2000 were delivered by 45 vessels, including 32 commercial, 12 tribal, and one personal use vessel. Recorded data suggests landings were created in the following West Coast fisheries (data shown represents landings in metric tons/value of said landings/number of vessels landing): crab (334t/$1,594,592/31), ground fish (229 t/$751,982/29), highly migratory species (21t/$38,644/5), salmon (78 t/$137,025/13), and other species (confidential/confidential/1). At least one seafood company, High Tide Seafood, is located in La Push. A total of three vessels were possessed by La Push residents in 2000. In the same year residents owned one vessel that took part in the federal ground fish fishery.
Recorded data suggests that the number of vessels owned by La Push residents that participated in each said fishery by state (WA/OR/CA) was: ground fish (1/0/NA), highly migratory species (NA/0/NA), salmon (1/1/0), shellfish (NA/0/NA), shrimp (NA/0/0), and other species (1/0/0).
In 2000 one federal ground fish fishery permit was held by one community member. According to recorded data for the same year the number of La Push residents holding permits in each said fishery by state (WA/OR/CA) was: crab (2/0/0), highly migratory species (NA/0/0), salmon (1/1/0), shellfish (0/0/NA), and other species (1/0/0).
At least six state commercial fishing permits were registered to La Push residents in 2000. In the same year recorded data indicates that the number of permits held by community members in each said fishery by state (WA/OR/CA) was: crab (3/0/0), highly migratory species (NA/0/0), salmon (1/1/0), shellfish (0/0/NA), and other species (1/0/0).
According to the Boldt Decision, the usual and accustomed (U&A) fishing grounds of the Quileute (and Hoh) before, during, and after treaty times “included the Hoh River from the mouth to its uppermost reaches, its tributary creeks, the Quileute River and its tributary creeks, Dickey River, Soleduck River, Bogachiel River, Calawah River, Lake Dickey, Pleasant Lake, Lake Ozette, and the adjacent tidewater and saltwater
area.” Members of the Tribe fish within their U&A for shellfish, ground fish, flatfish, rock fish, lingcod, trout, steelhead, salmon, sablefish, Dungeness crab, and halibut.
Sportfishing is gaining popularity in the La Push region. Today at least three charter companies operate in La Push. Surf fishing is also readily available on the beaches of La Push. Anglers in the area fish for salmon (Chinook, coho, and pink) and bottom fish, such as halibut, rock fish, and lingcod.
In Catch Record Card Area 3 (from the Queets River north to Cape Alava) the 2000 sport salmon catch based on catch record cards was 11,652; including 211 Chinook, 2298 coho, and 10 pink salmon. In 2000 about 2205 marine angler trips were made in the sport salmon fishery in Area 3. In the same area the sport steelhead catch in 2000 was 17 fish and coastal bottom fish catch was 10,994. Subsistence Quileute Tribal members fish within their U&A for shellfish, ground fish, flatfish, rock fish, lingcod, trout, steelhead, salmon, sablefish, Dungeness crab, and halibut.
Involvement in North Pacific Fisheries
La Push residents didn’t own vessels involved in North Pacific fisheries in 2000. A total of three La Push residents held crew member licenses for North Pacific fisheries in the same year. There was zero North Pacific commercial fishing permits held by community members in 2000.
One La Push resident bought an Alaskan sportfishing license in 2000.
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