The 'Twilight' saga used its people and traditions. Now, the Quileute Tribe is relocating in an effort to preserve them.

·2 min read
The Quileute Tribal School is located just yards away from the Pacific Ocean in the Quileute community of La Push, Washington.
The Quileute Tribal School is located just yards away from the Pacific Ocean in the Quileute community of La Push, Washington, on Monday, April 11, 2011. Tony Overman/The Olympian/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
  • The Peninsula Daily News reported that construction of the new Quileute Tribal School is expected to be completed in May 2022.

  • In 2012, President Barack Obama signed a bill transferring 785 acres of Olympic National Park for the Quileute Tribe's relocation.

  • The Quileute Tribal School is the only institution that teaches the tribe's language.

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The Quileute Tribe has resided in the Pacific Northwest for thousands of years, preserving its language and ocean-centric culture despite being forcibly resettled via executive order to a one-square mile reservation in La Push, Washington. In recent years, the tribe's lower village has been forced to relocate from its ancestral home due to the threat of extreme weather events.

Located next to the Pacific Ocean, the Quileute Tribal School and the community's lower village sit just feet above sea level in northwestern Washington, according to the tribe's Move To Higher Ground website.

"A catastrophic earthquake can wipe out our community in less than 10 minutes - an entire generation of the Quileute people will cease to exist," the website's home page reads. The community is also at-risk for floods and storm surges as the sea level rises.

Geologists told the Peninsula Daily News that a magnitude-9.0 earthquake could occur at any time along the Cascadia Subduction Zone and send a 40-foot tsunami crashing into low-lying coastal areas like La Push.

Even with construction beginning last July on the school's new site, the school is just the first phase in a multigenerational effort to move tribal facilities and housing to higher ground, according to the Peninsula Daily News.

The Move to Higher Ground website maps out its new location, which will house the Quileute Tribal School, an Elder Center, cultural facilities, a tribal government building, a justice complex, residential areas, parks and open spaces.

"Much has been achieved by our past leaders, many years of fighting for what is rightfully ours, for the protection and preservation of our children and our culture. Now is the time to build that future," a Quileute Tribe statement reads in its grant presentation to the Bureau of Indian Education.

Many viewers were familiarized with the Quileute Tribe through the "Twilight" saga, a series of films based on books by Stephenie Meyer. Although its members have different opinions on the books' portrayal of their people and culture, the Quileute Tribe has been forced to negotiate the rights to their own oral histories, ancient regalia and mask designs, and even the sanctity of their cemetery, according to an article by Deana Dartt-Newton and Tasia Endo for the Seattle-based Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.

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