People of the Olympic Peninsula:
Long before Euro-Americans arrived to the peninsula, American Indians were inhabiting the area, living mostly along coasts and river mouths. Three treaties extinguished their land titles, and the vast lands were opened to settlement and development by Euro-Americans. The Olympic Peninsula was America's last frontier of westward expansion in the contiguous 48 states.
Promises of free land and agricultural opportunities brought Euro-Americans to the Olympic Peninsula. By the 1850s, settlement of coastal areas and lowlands had begun and four Indian reservations were established at the mouths of coastal rivers - the Makah, Quillayute, Hoh, and Quinault.
Though American Indians already had a deep knowledge and connection with the land, it was not until the closing years of the 19th century that a documented Euro-American exploration penetrated the Olympic Mountains. They traveled by way of the major river channels on both the east and west sides of the peninsula.
Life was hard and the establishment of the Olympic Forest Reserve persuaded a great deal of the homesteaders to move elsewhere. By 1919 few traces of Euro-American settlement history within the present-day Olympic National Park remained.
Last updated: February 28, 2015