Tribes of the Olympic Peninsula

Two canoes out in the water at the start of the 2002 tribal journey
Many tribes of the Pacific Northwest take part in the Tribal Journey, canoeing the waters of the peninsula.

What if your highways were rivers and mountain ridges? What if your grocery store was the forest and the ocean? What if your home overlooked a beautiful coastline, complete with whales and sunsets? For the original residents of the Olympic Peninsula, the majestic landscape and wealth of resources supplied both physical and spiritual sustenance. Although the land and its ownership have changed, these essential connections have been maintained through generations. Today Olympic National Park protects the natural resources that engendered those connections as well as the cultural resources that reveal the rich history of the people who first called this rugged place home.

Eight Olympic Peninsula tribes continue to recognize a relationship to the park based on traditional land use, origin, beliefs, mythology and spiritual beliefs and practices. These tribes are the Lower Elwha Klallam, Jamestown S'Klallam, Port Gamble S'Klallam, Skokomish, Quinault, Hoh, Quileute, and Makah. It was the ancestors of the these tribes that lived throughout the Olympic Peninsula, but ceded their lands and waters to the federal government through treaties in 1855 and 1856 and now live on reservations along the shores of the peninsula.

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Historic photo of the Hicks family standing in and around a dugout canoe
The Hicks family, near Chimicum Creek ca. 1914

University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, NA681

Last updated: February 15, 2018

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