Tribal Relations

Tribal members pull cedar bark for harvest off trees in a lush, green forest.

Indigenous peoples have lived and flourished on the Olympic Peninsula since time immemorial. Today, the Olympic National Forest recognizes the many indigenous communities on the Olympic Peninsula and their original connection to the land now managed by the U.S. Forest Service. We continually work with these communities to learn about the ways they have, and still manage the land and resources. We thank them for working with us.

The Olympic National Forest currently consults with 12 tribes on and around the Olympic Peninsula, each with a unique relationship to the forest. They are:Map of the Olympic Peninsula displays National Forest, Park, & Tribal lands, cities and waterways.

Enduring Connections to the Landscape

The Olympic National Forest recognizes that all lands in present day Washington, including National Forests, are the ancestral lands of Indigenous peoples. Under the Treaty of Point Elliot (1855), Treaty of Point No Point (1855), Treaty of Quinault River (1855), Treaty of Neah Bay (1855), and the Treaty of Medicine Creek (1854), we acknowledge the imperative for shared stewardship of forest lands between Tribes and the Forest Service.

As part of honoring our trust responsibility we work to maintain a government-to-government relationship with the federally recognized tribes whose traditional territories are within the Forest. Beyond our trust obligation, it is our goal to create and maintain meaningful relationships between the Forest Service and local Indigenous communities. Together, we can work towards holistic land management and meet the needs of the communities impacted by our work.

Working Together

15 people; tribal members and forest service employees, pose among logs and stumps for firewood.The Olympic National Forest is part of the traditional and accustomed use areas of tribes. As such, maintaining access to these areas vital for hunting, fishing, gathering, and other cultural practices is of the utmost importance.

The Forest is committed to increasing opportunities for tribes to benefit from Forest Service programs and to help the Forest Service benefit from input from tribes, in support of Tribal Sovereignty, self-governance, and self-determination, as well as Forest Service goals such as adaptation and mitigation of climate change.

With the assistance from our tribal partners, the Olympic National Forest has had success in a number of watershed restoration and habitat management projects, including the following:

Coming Back: Restoring the Skokomish Watershed

In 2015, after decades of human-caused disruption along the Skokomish River, the Olympic National Forest in partnership with the Skokomish Watershed Action Team (SWAT) completed a restoration milestone: restoring the area to a “properly functioning” watershed, after extensive large scale road treatments and restoration work.

Improving Fish Habitat: A Story of Collaboration with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe

To improve salmon rearing habitat in the upper Dungeness Watershed, the Olympic National Forest partnered with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and others to complete the Large Woody Debris Project in October 2016. The Dungeness River Management Team (DRMT) still works collaboratively to preserve and enhance the Dungeness River Watershed Planning Area to this day.