Congressman Norm Dicks introduced the Tsunami Protection Legislation last week to transfer nearly 800 acres of Olympic National Park in Washington to the Quileute Tribe, currently located in La Plush, Washington, along the Pacific shores, reported The Seattle Times.
The land transfer will move portions of their lower reservation out of the tsunami zone.
“The Quileute day-care facility, the elder center, the tribal office and tribal members’ homes are in the path of the tsunami that one day will surely come,” Dicks said when introducing the bill. “The only way to get the tribe out of the danger zone is for the park to transfer higher, safer lands to the tribe.”
Flooding has hindered the tribe’s opportunities for economic development and created a shortage of housing, said Lonnie Foster, vice chairman of the tribal council, to The Seattle Times.
“We only have a square mile of land, and half of the reservation is unusable because of flooding,” Foster said.
Before the 1855 treaty that limited the tribe to one square mile along the Pacific and the mouth of the Quillayute River, the seasonal hunting, fishing and gathering tribe moved around the Olympic Peninsula, traveling from the Pacific Ocean to inland villages and up into the mountains — always moving to protected ground in winter.
“Our ancestors were pretty smart about that,” Foster said.