Quileute potlatch to fete move to higher ground

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

LAPUSH — The Quileute will celebrate the tribe’s impending move to higher ground with a potlatch at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Akalat Center in LaPush.

The event will fete the Quileute Tribe Tsunami Protection Act, authored by U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, approved by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in February.

The law expands the tribe’s boundaries in LaPush so it can move about 40 residents, the Quileute Tribal School and other facilities out of the tsunami zone.

Thursday’s Move to Higher Ground Potlatch Celebration will recognize past and present elders, Tribal Council members, dignitaries and friends of the tribe who have contributed to the occasion.

The event will include traditional singing, drumming, dancing, a salmon bake and other ancestral foods.

An 1855 treaty restricted the Quileute’s lands to an area at and near the mouth of the Quillayute River, which is prone to flooding and tsunamis and has only one-road access.

The road frequently is cut off during storms and high tides.

The legislation gives the tribe 785 acres of nearby Olympic National Park, including 275 acres where the tribal headquarters, school day care center and elder center can move, and 510 acres of ceremonial land to resolve a decades-long boundary dispute with the park.

In return for the land, the tribe will allow public access to Olympic National Park beaches reached by trails that go through tribal land.

The legislation was sponsored by Dicks and backed by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Mountlake Terrace, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Bothell.

The move is not expected to be finished until 2017.

Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 21. 2012 6:02PM
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