Press "Enter" to skip to content

‘Drifting White Race’

Rialto, September 2008

There must be ten ways to spell Quileute. The tribe seems to prefer the preceding, but the river is spelled Quillayute, and Edward S Curtis spelled it Quilliute, despite mentioning a historic spelling of Qiliyut. The first contact of the tribe with white men was with Spanish or French traders who washed in on boats. The tribe named them for their lack of land, color.. and perhaps resolve. Drifting White Race. With the staggeringly hysterical vitriol of the latest election race, I tend to agree. But I enjoy trips out here in ways that an atrophying and doughy white culture; cyclic history, exclusionary politics, unfathomable incompetence and hypocrisy can not invade. Ok, maybe just a little.

But where was I.. It’s thought that the present name of the town La Push came from the French la bouche, or mouth- perhaps in reference to the mouth of the Quillayute River.

More from Curtis:
“The Quilliute have fought with almost every salt-water tribe between the Columbia River and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but mostly with the Ozette Makah. The affairs were more often defensive on the part of the Quilliute: the usual method of attack was to lie in ambush in the woods and cut off the unwary, killing men and carrying off women and children, and are known in memories of men born as late as 1863.
“In death the body was wrapped in skins and pushed headlong into a hollow log and arranged so that it lay on its back with the head towards the east. “

-Edward S Curtis, from The North American Indian