| Home | Free Articles for Your Site | Submit an Article | Advertise | Link to Us | Search | Contact Us |
This site is an archive of old articles

    SEARCH ARTICLES
    Custom Search


vertical line

Article Surfing Archive



The Northwest Coast Native American Potlatch Ceremony - Articles Surfing

One of the most popular ceremonies among Native peoples is the Northwest Coast Native American potlatch (or potlach of Native Indians of the Pacific Northwest). The potlatch has been practiced by Native nations such as the Haida, Salish, Tlingit, Tsimshian and Kwakwaka*wak for thousands of years.

Potlatches can be held to celebrate births, rites of passages, weddings, funerals, puberty and honoring of deceased. These celebrations will typically include a feast, music, some theatrical performances involving tribal masks and spiritual events. The host family of each potlatch will also demonstrate their wealth and social status by distributing gifts to the guests. Gifts included food, canoes, blankets, copper and many other types of items. Potlatches will often elevate the prestige of the hosts even more.

Potlatches were also used to assert or formally transfer to heirs, certain economic or ceremonial privileges. The gifts were therefore used as payments to the guests for being witnesses to claims since written records were not produced.

Lower status families would hold potlatches on a local scale while the elite would invite guests from many tribes to grander events. Sometimes, rival families would be in competition to outdo each other in elaborate potlatches. The potlatch itself would either be held inside a large longhouse or outdoors.

Unfortunately, missionaries considered the potlatch to be demonic and satanic. As a result, they were able to get the Canadian government to ban potlatches in 1885. The US government also placed a similar ban in the late 19th century. Potlatches continued on a much smaller scale and in secrecy away from non-native eyes. The bans on the potlatch were eventually lifted in the US in 1934 and in Canada in 1951.

Potlatches are still held today but of course, the types of gifts are also more contemporary and can include useful household items, Native art as well as cash.

Submitted by:

Clint Leung

Clint Leung is owner of Free Spirit Gallery (http://www.FreeSpiritGallery.ca) , an online gallery specializing in Inuit Eskimo and Northwest Native American art including carvings, sculpture and prints. Free Spirit Gallery has numerous information resource articles with photos of authentic Inuit and Native Indian art as well as free eCards.



        RELATED SITES






https://articlesurfing.org/culture/the_northwest_coast_native_american_potlatch_ceremony.html

Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).










ARTICLE CATEGORIES

Aging
Arts and Crafts
Auto and Trucks
Automotive
Business
Business and Finance
Cancer Survival
Career
Classifieds
Computers and Internet
Computers and Technology
Cooking
Culture
Education
Education #2
Entertainment
Etiquette
Family
Finances
Food and Drink
Food and Drink B
Gadgets and Gizmos
Gardening
Health
Hobbies
Home Improvement
Home Management
Humor
Internet
Jobs
Kids and Teens
Learning Languages
Leadership
Legal
Legal B
Marketing
Marketing B
Medical Business
Medicines and Remedies
Music and Movies
Online Business
Opinions
Parenting
Parenting B
Pets
Pets and Animals
Poetry
Politics
Politics and Government
Real Estate
Recreation
Recreation and Sports
Science
Self Help
Self Improvement
Short Stories
Site Promotion
Society
Sports
Travel and Leisure
Travel Part B
Web Development
Wellness, Fitness and Diet
World Affairs
Writing
Writing B