The Evergreen Playground
Native American tribes have inhabited the land of the Olympic Peninsula for thousands of years. The tribes of the peninsula once lived in relative isolation surrounded by unlimited natural resources. Their societies depended on rivers plentiful with wild salmon; the Pacific Ocean with fish, seals, and whales; and immense forests providing cedar for canoes, baskets, and everything else needed to sustain them.
Well-known for their skill with canoes and superb knowledge of their surroundings, tribal members were enlisted to paddle tourists along the coastal waters as well as along rivers and lakes.
An interest in tribal culture was recognized in the 1930s. For the first time in Clallam County fair history, Makah "craftsmanship" was to be on exhibit.
Tribes on the Olympic Peninsula include the Lower Elwha Klallam, Jamestown S'Klallam, Port Gamble S'Klallam, Skokomish, Squaxin Island, Quinault, Hoh, Quileute, and Makah.
Most western Washington tribal languages are rooted in the Salishan language. Yet in the relatively small area of Clallam County, three distinct language families exist: Salishan, Chimakuan, and Wakashan, spoken by the S'Klallam, Quileute and Makah respectively.
The tribes of the Olympic Peninsula are stewards of the Peninsula's resources and partners in preservation. They retain strong cultural traditions and are committed to having their youth carry forward traditional knowledge and Native language.
The world-famous Makah Cultural and Research Center in Neah Bay has been open since 1975. The Quileute at LaPush welcome tourists to their village. The Lower Elwha Klallam tribe is known throughout the state of Washington for its language program which is now taught at Port Angeles High School. The Jamestown S'Klallam tribal complex greets people as they enter the peninsula from the east.