Thursday, September 16, 2010

Quileute Legends

Quileute Legends
Posted by Medicine Man under Quileute Tribe

Quileute refers to a traditional Indian tribe. Stephenie Meyer mentions this tribe in her book and movie series, the Twilight saga. In Meyer’s novel, Jacob, Bella’s friend, is Indian and is related to the Quileute tribe. There are many myths, legends and stories associated with this tribe. The most well-known myth is the creation myth.

The creation myth is about the origin of the tribes. This myth involves a hero named Q’wati. In English, he is commonly known as the Transformer. The Q’wati was almost like a teacher. He told the people how they should be and taught them how to build houses and how to survive. Without the Q’wati’s words, the tribes wouldn’t have survived or prospered. The Q’wati did not only influence the creation of people, he influenced the creation of animals as well.

One day, he came upon Beaver sharpening his knife and asked him what he was sharpening the knife for. Beaver told him that he was planning on killing Q’wati. In response, the Q’wati stuck the knife Beaver was sharpening into his tail and told Beaver that he will always have the knife stuck in his tail, could only slap the water with his tail and had to dive whenever anyone came near.

Later, the Q’wati came across Deer. Deer also admits that he is planning on killing Q’wati. So, the Q’wati takes the shell Deer is sharpening and plunges it into the ears of Deer. He tells Deer that from now on, he will be afraid of people, run away from them, then stop and look back.

Next, the Q’wati comes to Q’wayi’t’soxk’a river, but finds no people. He spits on his hand and rubs them together, removing the dead skin. As the dead skin falls into the water, people appear. He tells the people that the name of the tribe is Q’wayi’t’sox and that they should live there.

Soon after, the Q’wati comes across the Hob people. These people walked on their hands, instead of their feet. The Q’wati goes up to them and tells them that they will now walk on their feet and will catch lots of smelt in the water.

The Q’wati reaches the Quileute land. He doesn’t see any people, but he sees two wolves. The Q’wati transforms the wolves into people. He tells the people that they shall be brave and strong and only have one wife, unless they are a chief. A chief will be the only member of the tribe that is allowed to have four or eight wives.

Continuing his journey, he soon comes across the Ozette people, but he only saw two dogs. He transforms the dogs into people and tells them to search around the rocks to find sea-food.

Lastly, he finds the Neah people. These people did not know how to fish, so they were on the verge of dying. The Q’wati did not want to see them die, so he showed the people how to fish and then told them there would be a lot of fish in the Neah bay.
The Quileute People
Posted by Medicine Man under Quileute Tribe

The Quileute are indigenous North Americans who inhabit the state of Washington in the United States of America. The population of the tribe is quite less – approximately around seven hundred to eight hundred. The Quileute people inhabited the Indian Reservation area which was given to them after having successfully negotiated the Quinault Theory in 1855. The 2000 Census reported that only about 400 people inhabited the reservation and the total land enclosed by the reservation was merely about 1000 acres. The tribe has its own government with its own terms and regulations. The Quileute relied on inland fishing and fishing from the Pacific Ocean for food and they built the longhouses to protect themselves from the might and rage of the winter season. The tribes were also great whalers and they depended on fish for their livelihood. The people of the tribe also made boats, canoes, cargo boats and were skilled sailors like the Vikings. They also wove beautiful baskets and Mother Nature satisfied most of their needs. They were skilled in making waterproof hats and skirts to guard themselves during a rain. They are renowned for making dog hair blanket which is made out of dog’s fur.

The main population center of the Quileute tribes is the community of La Push. La Push is a community in west-Washington in USA. It boasts of really good natural beauty and is a tourist spot. The word La Push in an infusion means ‘the mouth’. The name describes the community’s location at the mouth of the river. Today, due to the increasing number of tourists, La Push has many resorts facing the oceans, Seafood Company and other marine related businesses. The traditional skills and craft of the tribe is being taught at schools at a young age. The Quileute days are celebrated in La Push every year from July 17 to July 19. The extravaganza includes sports events, dancing, singing, traditional salmon bake, food concessions and a lot of interesting things.

The Quileute people were very religious and pious. According to Quileute beliefs, on attaining puberty, the boys would go out on a quest to find supernatural powers and return as a dignified man. They also believed that these powers were not eternal; the power would wear off at some point of time. To ensure everyone’s well being and for a good season, a salmon ceremony was performed. The people believed that each person in their tribe had his/her own guardian. The guardian was worshipped along with the other Gods like Sun and the Universe. After colonization of America by Europeans, the religion was long lost and forgotten. According to the Quileute folklore, the Quileute descended from wolves. It proclaims that mythical characters called Dokibatt and K’wa’iti was responsible for creating the first ever Quileute tribe whose name was Alpha, by transforming a wolf. In ancient times, there were six communities that represented the elk hunter, the fisherman, the whale hunter, the medicine man, the weather predictor. The creator was honored by the medical dance with the wolf dance. The Quileute tribe features in many books like Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series, Susan Sharp’s Spirit Quest, John Nance’s Saving Cascadia.

The tribe is well renowned for their unique language. Their language is known as the Quillayute which is a part of the Chimakoan family of languages. The Chimakoan tribe was the only other tribe who spoke a language from the same language family. The Chemcaum language of the Chimakoan tribe was long lost when the tribe was wiped off by Chief Seattle and other tribes. The Quillayute language is spoken by a few today and is on the brink of dying out. The words in the language are quite long and the language does not have any nasal sound – m or n. Quileute tribes needed to be taken care of and their rich culture and traditions must be preserved.
Revisiting LaPush
Posted by Medicine Man under La Push

La Push is a small region of land almost an island unto itself on the northern west cost of Washington’s most westerly peninsula that does not come under the rule of any municipality and are free from taxes of any kind. It is situated in Clallam County, Washington, United States. La Push is a picturesque place with natural landscape and beauty. It is also famous for whale watching and surfing. La Push is part of the community, Quileute tribe, the northern western Native American tribe of North America of Indian Reservation and has lived here for thousands of years and manages the whole place themselves. This area is excellent for fishing conditions for king, Coho, Chinook silver salmon, halibut and Cod. The major tourist attractions are Ocean park resort near James beach, Olympic National Park Rialto Beach and James Island. The area is rich in flora and fauna and hence wildlife in natural form and millions of birds can be viewed here.

The closest city is Forks which is named after the forks in nearby rivers namely Sol, Ducs, Quillayute and Bagacheil. The population of this place is only three thousand to four thousand. The main sources of income earlier were by the timber industry. But recently people are relying on Clallam Bay Correction centre and Olympic Corrections Centre as a source of jobs. This city too is importantly used as a plot of story in twilight series of novels by Stephenie Meyer . The story is based on this place, La Push and Quileute tribe. In recent years, the city has gained notability for being a key setting in the movie Twilight.

The Quileute tribe have a language native to them only and does not use any “m” or “n” sounds featuring very long words. There is legend that says Quileute tribes were created from wolves by a supernatural power or the mythical icon named Dokibatt, K’w’att thought as the trickster, the transformer and the changer. Quileute tribes used to built Cedar Canoes of all sizes, as small as two men and as large as to be capable of carrying three tonnes of load. They are known as best sealers and the second best whalers. They bred special woolly hared dogs. The woolly hair of these dogs can be spun into precious blankets.

According to the stories, the Chimacum were Quileutes’ only kin. They were separated by a great flood. The Chimacum were swept to the Quimper Peninsula, and then wiped out by Chief Seattle and Suquamish tribe in 1860. The first contact of the modern world happened in 1855 when the Quileute tribes signed a treaty with representatives of Territorial Governor Issac Stevens. President Grover Cleveland in February 1889 gave an executive order to give one mile reservation to the Quileute community having 252 inhabitants at the time. The population decreased due to the destruction by arson in 1889.The people here in La Push celebrates from July 17 to July 19 as Quileute days. The people celebrate these Days with fireworks display with traditional salmon bake, dancing, singing, music, softball tournament, and many other sports,art and craft display and potlatch ceremonies.

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