Quileute Tribe 'Ecstatic' About Move Out Of Tsunami Zone

Feb 14, 2012

"Ecstatic," "amazed," and "stunned." Those are some of the words being used Tuesday around the tiny Quileute Indian Reservation on the Washington coast. This, after the U.S. Congress slightly shrank Olympic National Park to allow the tribe to move out of a tsunami zone. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation soon.

The U.S. Senate moved with surprising swiftness to clear the way for the Quileute Indian Tribe to move part of its village uphill. Lawmakers voted to transfer 785 acres of adjacent Olympic National Park to the tribe.

Quileute tribal chairman Tony Foster says a celebratory feast is planned. And then the top priority is to move the low-lying school and elder center out of harm's way.

"It's going to take a lot of time," Foster says. "I mean, now the work begins. We've had 30 or 40 years of fighting for the upper land."

The tsunami and flood protection legislation does not include any money for relocations, though. Foster is unsure how much the move could cost or who will pay.

He says ordinary residents in the village of La Push who've lived near the ocean all their lives will have the option to move onto safer high ground, but won't be forced to.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network