The Quileute Tribe: Navigating a Sea of Change

Tribal Profiles
Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals

The people of the Quileute Tribe of the Quileute Reservation, located on the Pacific Coast of Washington's Olympic Peninsula at the mouth of the Quillayute River, have for centuries depended on the sea and the rivers that flow through the community from the coastal mountains. But environmental pressures likely tied to climate change have diminished the tribe's traditional food sources, at times pushing some species below harvestable levels, including salmonids whose migration cycles have been disrupted by changes in snowfall patterns. Other problems have arisen as a result of shifts in precipitation and average temperatures, storm intensity, and changing marine chemistry. As climate change continues to impact the Quileute community, tribal members are rethinking not only their means of sustenance but their geographic location. Federal legislation in 2012 gave the small tribe an additional square mile of higher land to which they are slowly relocating parts of their community—a limited but possibly critical option.

Food insecurity, Flooding, Shoreline Erosion, Wildfires, Relocation, Coasts