- "Another legend claims that we descended from wolves and that the wolves are our brothers still. It's against tribal law to kill them."
- ―Jacob explaining the Quileutes to Bella[src]
The Quileutes are a Native American tribe, currently numbering approximately 750.
The Quileute (also spelled Quillayute) people settled onto the Quileute Indian Reservation after signing the Treaty of Quinault River of 1855 (later reauthorized as the treaty of Olympia in 1856) with the United States of America. The reservation is located near the southwest corner of Clallam County, Washington at the mouth of the Quileute River on the Pacific coast. The reservation's main population center is the community of La Push, Washington. The 2000 census reported an official resident population of 371 persons on the reservation, which has a land area of 4.061 km² (1.5678 sq mi, or 1,003.4 acres). They have their own government that consists of a Tribal council with staggered terms.
The Quileute tribe linguistically belongs to the Chimakuan family of languages among Northwest Coast indigenous peoples. The Quileute language is one of a kind, as the only related aboriginal people to the Quileute, the Chemakum, were wiped out by Chief Seattle and the Suquamish people during the 1860s. The Quileute language is one of only five known languages that do not have any nasal sounds (m, n).
Like many other Northwest Coast groups, in pre-Colonial times the Quileute relied on fishing from local rivers and the Pacific Ocean for food and built plank houses (longhouses) to protect themselves from the harsh, wet winters west of the Cascade Mountains. The Quileutes, along with the people of the Makah tribe, were once great whalers.
According to Quileute legend, the spirit warriors were the first to shift from humans into wolves. Quileute population was always small, but they never disappeared since it was believed they had magic in their bloodlines.
The Quileute tribe settled in La Push and became efficient fishermen and shipbuilders. As time passed, other peoples coveted their land and moved against them for it. The tribe was small and could not defend themselves, so they took their ships and left the land. At sea, Kaheleha used the magic in their blood to defend it. He was the first Spirit Chief in Quileute history. He and all the men left the ships in spirit only, using the original power of Quileute Astral Projection, leaving their bodies behind under the care of the women. Though they could not physically hurt the enemy, the warriors had other ways. They blew fierce winds into enemy camps; they could make great screaming in the wind and could manipulate animals to do their bidding. Animals were the only ones that could see them and help. The invading tribe had packs of thick-furred dogs to pull their sleds in the north, and which were set against them. Bats were brought out of the cliff caverns. As a result, the dogs and bats won and the survivors of the invaders scattered thinking the harbor cursed. The Quileutes released the dogs, who ran wild, and returned to their bodies victorious.
The Hohs and the Makahs made treaties with the Quileutes because they wanted nothing to do with their magic.
Chief Taha Aki
Generations passed and the last of the great Spirit Chiefs came to be. Taha Aki was a man of peace and was known for his wisdom. However, there was one man named Utlapa who believed that they should use their magic to expand their control over the Hohs and the Makahs, building an empire. When the spirit warriors left their bodies their minds were all connected with each other. Taha Aki did not like what Utlapa wanted and banned him from the tribe. Utlapa left and hid in the nearby forest.
Taha Aki was vigilant and protected his people even when there was no danger. Every so often, the Spirit Chief would leave the village to a sacred and secret place in the mountains. He would leave his body behind and searched the surrounding areas for any dangers or threats. One day, Utlapa followed Taha Aki planning to kill him, but as he waited for him to leave his body he hatched another plan. Utlapa left his body, took Taha Aki's body, and killed his own. Taha Aki knew immediately what was happening when Utlapa joined him in the spirit world. He raced back to his sacred place but was too late. He followed his body in his spirit self down to the tribe. For weeks he watched with despair as Utlapa made sure everyone believes he was Taha Aki. Then Utlapa's first edict came: no warrior was to enter the spirit world because he had a vision of danger, but in truth, he was afraid of Taha Aki. Utlapa took liberties with the tribe that no one ever dreamed of. He took a second and a third wife, even though Taha Aki's wife still lived. Eventually, Taha Aki brought a great wolf down the mountains to kill Utlapa and free the tribe, but Utlapa only hid from it behind his warriors. The wolf ended up killing a young man, making Taha Aki's grief greater.
Taha Aki had been away from his body long enough to be in agony. He felt doomed of never being ever to cross the line between life and death. The great wolf followed him through the forest and Taha Aki felt jealous of the animal; at least it had a body and a life. At that moment the Spirit Chief had an idea that changed the future of the Quileutes. He asked the animal if he could share his body with him and the wolf complied. As a single being, the wolf and the man went to the village. The people feared the wolf, shouting for the warriors' help. The warriors came with spears in their hands, but they stopped in surprise of what the wolf was doing: the wolf was retreating from the warriors and trying to yelp the songs of their people. The warriors realized what it was doing and could only think that it was being influenced by a spirit.
An old warrior, Yut, disobeyed the orders of the false chief and left his body. Yut gathered the truth in an instant and welcomed Taha Aki. Almost instantly, Utlapa realized what had happened and raced towards Yut's body with his knife. The other warriors were confused. Yut went back into his body but could not fight Utlapa off before warning the others, as he was too old. Taha Aki watched as Yut's spirit left the world and he returned to the wolf's body feeling a great rage. The wolf shuddered and transformed into a man before the eyes of the warriors. The man did not look like Taha Aki's body, but like his spirit self, which the warriors recognized instantly. Utlapa tried to run but Taha Aki had the strength of the wolf and killed him. Upon realization of what had happened, everything returned to normal. The only change he kept in place was the forbidding of spirit travel. From then on he was known as the Great Wolf or the Spirit Man. He led the tribe for many years because he did not age. He fathered many sons, who in time found that they too could turn into wolves on reaching manhood. However, they were all different because the wolf form reflected the spirit of the man. Some became warriors like Taha Aki and did not age, others did not like to transform, and started to age.
The Third Wife's sacrifice
After Taha Aki gave up his spirit self, trouble began in the North with the Makahs. Several young women had disappeared and they believed the neighboring wolves were to blame. However, all the wolves knew it was none of them because their minds were still connected with each other. Taha Aki did not want a war, especially since he could not lead his people any longer. He gave his eldest son, Taha Wi, the responsibility of finding who was to blame. Taha Wi led five wolves in search through mountains looking for evidence but they only found a strange, sweet scent. They followed it and the journey took them so far north that Taha Wi sent the two younger brothers back to inform the chief. Taha Wi and the other two never returned.
A year later, two Makah maidens were taken from their homes on the same night and the Makahs called upon the wolves. The Quileutes found the same sweet scent and went on the hunt once more. Only one of them returned. Yaha Uta, the eldest son of Taha Aki's third wife, returned carrying strange cold pieces of a corpse. He described what had happened to his brothers. One of them underestimated the strength of the creature and became a victim. Yaha Uta and his other brother were more careful but the creature matched their movements and got his hands on one of them. Yaha Uta found an opening on the creature's throat and began tearing at him desperately trying to save his brother. It was too late but he succeeded in ripping his enemy apart.
Yaha Uta laid the remains of the creature on the ground to be examined. Suddenly the corpse began to attach itself together and so the elders set fire to it. They spread the ashes far and wide, except a small bag which Taha Aki wore around his neck to be warned if the creature ever decided to get himself together again. The creature was called the Cold One and the Blood Drinker. They feared there were others like it since they only had one wolf protector left. Then came the Cold Woman, its mate. She was the most beautiful creature to be seen, though one small boy claimed the smell hurt his nose. An elder heard this and yelled for them to get away. He was the first to die at the mercy of the woman. She then proceeded to the other people until Yaha Uta arrived, followed by Taha Aki, his third wife, and the elders. When Yaha Uta was defeated, Taha Aki turned into an old gray wolf with the strength given by his anger alone. He began fighting the Cold Woman, when his third wife came to a conclusion.
She had just seen her son killed and now her husband ran a terrible danger, along with the rest of her sons and tribe. She heard every word the witnesses told the council and heard Yaha Uta's version of events the night the other one was beaten. She knew that his brother's divergence had saved him. She grabbed a knife from one of her sons, ran towards the blood drinker, and stabbed herself in the heart. The Cold Woman could not turn away from the fresh blood and gave in to the thirst. Taha Aki bit her throat and finished her off along with two of his sons who felt such rage at seeing their mother dead that they turned into wolves. After that, Taha Aki never returned to his human self, staying to protect his wife's body and leaving for the forest, never to return to the tribe.
Taha Aki's descendants no longer turned to wolves when they reached manhood. Only when a cold one was near would they return. The cold ones always came in one or two so the pack stayed small with 3 wolves until a bigger coven came.
The leader of the coven spoke to Ephraim Black as if he were a man and promised not to harm the Quileutes. His strange yellow eyes gave proof of this, and a treaty was offered to the tribe even though there was no need—they outnumbered the wolves and could have won easily if they fought. Ephraim accepted and the coven's numbers forced a larger pack than before. Over the years, the coven left and returned to Forks but always kept true to their word and did not harm the tribe. It was said that Carlisle Cullen was the one who talked to Ephraim and made the promise.
The new packs
In the latest generation, the new pack was formed after the descendants encountered vampires and consisted of 10 wolves. In late 2006, the pack split in two after the rightful successor, Jacob Black, broke from the pack and formed one of his own. At the end of the year, due to a fateful gathering of vampires who visited the nearby lands, new wolves unintentionally emerged, increasing the packs' numbers to 17 wolves. This made the biggest packs in Quileute history.
Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined
In Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined—the alternate story of Twilight, the tribe's history is altered to consisting of female warriors. Notable Quileutes include Julie Black and her mother, Bonnie Black.
In the latest generation, the new pack was formed after the descendants encountered vampires and consisted of 3 wolves, but is expected to expand.