The Quileute are a small nation of people located in La Push, Washington, on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. They were recently thrown into the spotlight as Twilight (and subsequent novels), written by Stephenie Meyer, have become a world wide phenomenon.
The Twilight Saga is about a world where myths and legends become a reality in the small town of Forks, Washington. The main character, Bella Swan, falls in love with Edward Cullen, a vampire. Edward is not your ordinary vampire though. His entire “family” are what they refer to as vegetarians; They only drink the blood of animals. Bella seems to be a magnet for danger and Edward spends much of his time making sure she is safe, while fighting the urge to kill her himself. The bond between Edward and Bella goes far beyond any teenage romance.
In bordering town of La Push lies a pack of werewolves whose sole purpose is to protect people from their only enemy: the vampire. Complicating things further, Bella’s best friend, Jacob Black, is one of those werewolves. He also happens to be in love with Bella creating tension between Edward and himself, as if being mortal enemies wasn’t enough!
It’s a love triangle in which a human is caught between a vampire and a werewolf. Each one struggles to keep Bella safe as her life is put in danger again and again.
There were many legends spoken about the Quileute Tribe. Most of these legends are true, with the exception of “the cold ones,” the vampires.
In the books, the Quileute legend is that they have descended from wolves. I did some research. The Quileute legends talk about the Q’waeti’. He is considered a hero to the tribe. Q’waeti’ traveled across the Olympic Peninsula, and when he came to the Quileute land he found only two wolves. No humans were to be seen. He transformed the wolves into people. Q’waeti’ told them they would be brave and strong as they came from wolves.
The Quileute indians did not ride horses nor did they live in teepees. They were masters of the ocean. They fished and hunted sea mammals. They also weaved many different kinds of baskets. Most of their clothing and weapons were made from natural materials that were found on their land or traded for with nearby tribes. The Quileutes were also known for their cedar carvings. They created canoes, some that could go out into the ocean and haul up to three tons.
For fun in the winter, they gathered at night to relive ancient myths from the time when animals were considered people. They also held gambling tournaments and contests of strength and skill. These gatherings sometimes lasted all hours for days on end. Their traditions and legends were and still are held sacred to the Quileute tribe.
Now I know you must be wondering about the cold ones. This legend was made up solely for the purpose of Stephenie Meyer’s novels. There is no mention of the cold ones or vampires in the Quileute legends. I suppose that doesn’t mean vampires don’t exist. Who am I to say they don’t? But that’s another article entirely.
The Quileutes do not say specifically there is a pack of young men who turn into wolves. From what I’ve read, there is no mention of them turning into wolves at all. Just that they were created from wolves. However, there is a legend from Navajo that talks about skin-walkers, people who can turn into animals. It’s believed this is where the basis for werewolves come from.
To many people all of this is just pure folklore, stories and myths, none of which hold any truth. But to the Quileute people this is their history. Their stories and traditions are still passed down from generation to generation. It is what they believe. In my humble opinion, Stephenie Meyer did an excellent job respecting their legends and staying true to them. And perhaps we should be thankful that the legends of “the cold ones” don’t exist.
Information for this article was taken primarily from www.quileutenation.orghttp://www.native-languages.org/quileute-legends.htm and www.quileutelegend.com