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Quiet in Quileute

Clouds over the headlands

Went to La Push, Washington this weekend. The plan had been to spend the whole weekend flying kites, enjoying good food, and enjoying the simple life. Fair to say that we accomplished most of it, but perhaps not to the degree that we were expecting. Initially the weather prediction had been for 12-15 mph sunny, and 50-60 degrees all weekend. While the sun was out for the majority of the time, what we did have was wind for a day and a half in the 20 mph range with gusts over 30. We spent the time hiking and exploring the beaches, hanging out with our friends, and talking about some of the finer points of life.

Walking in Strong Wind

We stayed at the Quileute Tribal Resort, and while I hate to share this little secret because others might find themselves flocking to it.... it is the perfect place. There is a motel, cabins, a-frames, rv spots, and a campground all right on the edge of the beach. The view is spectacular, and due to the remoteness of the location it is protected by hundreds of miles of wilderness. The place proudly boasts the following, and it is worth noting before you go. There is generally no cell service. (Verizon members could sometimes catch a glimpse of a bar) There is no wi-fi in any of the motel rooms or cabins. But they do have wi-fi at the check in building if you really need it. There is also no TVs or Phones in the rooms/cabins. There are kitchenettes and kitchens in each room/cabin and firepits for campers. Do not expect room service, or housekeeping, nor will someone be at the front desk/check in between 7pm-8am. You are pretty much on your own.

Technically, the room was listed as a 'no ocean view room'.... not true. :)

The town has a marina, and a small restaurant that serves simple American diner style food. There is also a small convenience store that has your typical gas station food and sundries. If you need food or a nightlife, you are going to have to drive about half an hour away back up on to the peninsula into Forks, Washington. (Famous for all of the Twilight Fans) Which, if you are planning on going to La Push, it is worth stopping in at the grocery store (it is also the hardware store) in Forks and stocking up.

There are some additional rules about staying and using the tribal land that need to be respected, but for anyone that is generally a considerate person this list of 'rules' is just common decency. The ones that stood out the most for me were:

1. No filming, photographing, or recording of Tribal activities or People with out express permission from the Quileute tribe before hand.
2. Beach fires were restricted to certain times of the day for non-tribal members.

At first glance the rules may seem like the tribe is inhospitable, bordering on discrimination even. But it isn't. The tribal members we talked with, while rather shy and quiet, were incredibly beautiful and proud of their traditions, and proud that they could share their 'home' with visitors. In fact I had a fascinating conversation with one rather shy woman at the front desk. The day before I had asked if I could record her saying the name of the tribe so I could pronounce it correctly, and she visibly became agitated and retreated into the other room. I felt horrible to put her in such a position. The next day I went into to check out and noticed that there was a book for sale on the counter... a book from my childhood that I had been wanting to find again.

I am not sure why this book had such a huge impact on me. It is a short childrens book of only 20 pages or so. It is a beautifully illustrated interpretation of one of Chief Seattle's speeches. (There is some controversy as to whether he actually gave this speech or not) The book is called Brother Eagle, Sister Sky.

When I saw the book on the shelf, I almost cried. I pulled it off the shelf and started speaking with the woman behind the counter and told her how important this book was to me. She told me that she felt the same about some of the 'Stories of the Raven' of her tribe. We then talked about the power of language and sharing it, and she shared with me about the uniqueness of the Quileute language and that she and her family still spoke it.

"The defining element of this culture, the Quileute language, is still spoken by elders at LaPush. The basics are also taught at the Quileute Tribal School. It is a complex tongue typified by clicked sounds, epiglottal stops and tongue twisting strings of consonants with words that would run off the page, for example: “kitlayakwokwilkwolasstaxasalas” which means “those are the people who think that I am the one who is going to Forks”. Quileute is not, as some outsiders believe, composed of Chinook jargon or devoid of all abstract ideas. It has the distinction of being one of only five languages in the world that have no nasal sounds (no m or n). Quileute is also one of the few languages not known to be related to any other tongue. Quileute elders have supervised the compilation of a dictionary and instructional texts that are taught in the school. " - Quileute Nation History

Sometimes it is easy to go on a kite trip, or any trip really, and be so focused on the reason that we are going there.... only to forget that part of the reason we are getting away is to experience something different, explore something new. Connect, Discover, Explore. That is what life is all about.

Till next time!


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