The Quileute people remained isolated from the whites until the American Captain Robert Gray came to trade with them in May 1792. There were stories of the Spanish who wrecked off the shores that came to live with them in the early times. The Americans came to the Quileutes in 1855 to get them to sign the Quinault River Treaty. On January 25, 1856 Chief How-yak and two sub-chiefs went to Olympia to officially sign the treaty. The treaty appointed the Quileute people to live on the Quinault Reservation but they refused to do so. The government established the Quileute Reservation in 1889. The act on March 4, 1904 made the commissioner of Indian affairs declare the Quileutes eligible to have allotments on the Reservation as stipulated in their 1856 treaty. In 1928 the government completed the allotments, granting 165 Quileutes each an 80-acre tract on the Quinault Reservation.
In 1936 the tribe adopted a constitution and bylaws. The governing body of the tribe is the Quileute Tribal Council. The power the tribal council has is the power to veto any sales, disposition, lease, or other encumbrance of tribal lands. They also have the power to advise on and approve of appropriations: to levy and collect taxes and license fees from nonmembers doing business on reservation; to enforce ordinances dealing with visitors, trespassers, and tribal memberships; to establish tribal court and to maintain law and order. For the lands ceded under the Quinault River Treaty the Quinault, Queet Indians, they and the Hohs all received $25,000 as stipulated by the treaty. The four tribes claimed this to be unconscionably low. The Indian Claims Commission determined that all four tribes had 688,000 acres as of March 8, 1858. On April 17, 1963 the Quileutes and Hohs were awarded $112,152.60 for their share. The people make a living by fishing and logging. The 593.84 acres of trust land is tribally owned.