The Quileutes are real Indian people who live in the western part of Washington state on the West coast. The Indians live on a reservation which is on land which belongs to the Quileute people and is controlled by them.
They have their own government, legal system, police and needed services. The reservation is said to be like
a small country. The tribe members are all American citizens and as such must obey U. S. law. In the recent past each Quileute village was led by two village chiefs who were high ranking leaders. Currently the Quileute Indians are being governed by a tribal council who were elected by all of the people. The majority of the tribe speak English, some of them are trying to keep their native language alive.
The Quileute Indians have passed many mythological stories down through generations of tribe members.
Telling story after story about different characters which are part of the Quileute people’s legendary history.
One of the important mythological figures include O’waeti also spelled K’wati or Kwatee according the research information. This is a character who was given credit for creating the Quileute tribe and the neighboring people. O’waeti is said to have been a protector of the tribe in that the environment was changed for the better for the tribe and any monsters threatening the people were eradicated by O’waeti.
There are the stories about Raven who was called Bayaq in the Quileurte language. This mythological figure was thought to be a trickster in the Indian culture, very clever and non-threatening who would help human beings. The Quileute people thought that Raven was also deceitful, rude and arrogant. Raven, the myth goes was able to take on any form be it human or animal. One story about Raven has him finding some naked human beings in a giant clam shell. Raven bought the people fish, fowl and clothing, he also shared with them all the rituals that would protect them from the dark spirits that were lurking.
Then we have Thunderbird or as called in the Quileute language Tistilal, who was thought by many in the culture to be a very important character. Thunderbird was described as a very, very large bird who was big enough and strong enough to carry a whale in its claws. When he would fly through the air, the sound of his wings made a sound like thunder, thus the name Thunderbird. He lived in a cave in the Olympic Mountains and was not interested in anyone invading his space. Thunderbird would fly to the ocean to get whales and bring them back to his cave for food. The whales would fight hard to get away from him, one day during one of these missions there was so much noise made during the flight that many trees were uprooted, this Killer whale escaped time and time again until Thunderbird gave up trying to get the whale to the cave. That is why people say there are so many praries without trees in the midst of the forest on the Olympic Penisula and why Killer whales live in the deep oceans today.
Dask’iya also called Dasskiya a mythical creature who was described as a cannibal in the Quileute tales. There were references to Daskiya being a “basket woman”. The tales relate the story the character capturing little children in her basket and taking them away to her home to cook and eat them. These stories were created to scare the little children into being on their best behavior, because if they were not then Dask’iya would take them home to be broiled. Dask’iya was said to have been killed by a little girl. The woman had gathered up a group of children, took them away, covered their eyes with a gummy substance so they could not see and started a fire.
As the fire was getting hot the story goes, she was singing and dancing around. One of the girls warmed her hands by the fire and was able to remove the gummy substance. When Dask’iya came by the girl dancing, the little girl pushed her into the fire where she burned up. All the children removed the gummy substance and went home.
These and other stories are told to the children in the tribe and they tell their children as the mythology continues.
The Quileute tribe has an estimated population it is said of some seven to eight hundred people. The main population area is in the community of La Push in West Washington state, it is a tourist spot. There are many resorts facing the ocean in the area. Ouileute days are celebrated according to sources from July 17 to July 19 each year.
Sources: Quileute Cultural History, Quileute Mytological Tales