A potlatch is a gift-giving feast practiced by Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of Canada and the United States, among whom it is traditionally the primary economic system. This includes the Heiltsuk, Haida, Nuxalk, Tlingit, Makah, Tsimshian, Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka'wakw, and Coast Salish cultures. Potlatches are also a common feature of the peoples of the Interior and of the Subarctic adjoining the Northwest Coast, though mostly without the elaborate ritual and gift-giving economy of the coastal peoples (see Athabaskan potlatch).
Potlatches went through a history of rigorous ban by the Canadian and American federal governments, continuing underground despite the risk of criminal punishment, and have been studied by many anthropologists. Since the practice was de-criminalized in the post-war years, the potlatch has re-emerged in some communities.
A potlatch was held on the occasion of births, deaths, adoptions, weddings, and other major events. Typically the potlatch was practiced more in the winter seasons as historically the warmer months were for procuring wealth for the family, clan, or village, then coming home and sharing that with neighbors and friends. The event was hosted by a numaym, or 'House', in Kwakwaka'wakw culture. A numaym was a complex cognatic kin group usually headed by aristocrats, but including commoners and occasional slaves. It had about one hundred members and several would be grouped together into a nation. The House drew its identity from its ancestral founder, usually a mythical animal who descended to earth and removed his animal mask, thus becoming human. The mask became a family heirloom passed from father to son along with the name of the ancestor himself. This made him the leader of the numaym, considered the living incarnation of the founder.:192
Only rich people could host a potlatch. Tribal slaves were not allowed to attend a potlatch as a host or a guest. In some instances, it was possible to have multiple hosts at one potlatch ceremony (although when this occurred the hosts generally tended to be from the same family). If a member of a nation had suffered an injury or indignity, hosting a potlatch could help to heal their tarnished reputation (or "cover his shame", as anthropologist H. G. Barnett worded it.) The potlatch was the occasion on which titles associated with masks and other objects were "fastened on" to a new office holder. Two kinds of titles were transferred on these occasions. Firstly, each numaym had a number of named positions of ranked "seats" (which gave them a seat at potlatches) transferred within itself. These ranked titles granted rights to hunting, fishing and berrying territories.:198 Secondly, there were a number of titles that would be passed between numayma, usually to in-laws, which included feast names that gave one a role in the Winter Ceremonial.:194 Aristocrats felt safe giving these titles to their out-marrying daughter's children because this daughter and her children would later be rejoined with her natal numaym and the titles returned with them.:201 Any one individual might have several "seats" which allowed them to sit, in rank order, according to their title, as the host displayed and distributed wealth and made speeches. Besides the transfer of titles at a potlatch, the event was given "weight" by the distribution of other less important objects such as Chilkat blankets, animal skins (later Hudson Bay blankets) and ornamental "coppers". It is the distribution of large numbers of Hudson Bay blankets, and the destruction of valued coppers that first drew government attention (and censure) to the potlatch.:205 On occasion, preserved food was also given as a gift during a potlatch ceremony. Gifts known as sta-bigs consisted of preserved food that was wrapped in a mat or contained in a storage basket.
Dorothy Johansen describes the dynamic: "In the potlatch, the host in effect challenged a guest chieftain to exceed him in his 'power' to give away or to destroy goods. If the guest did not return 100 percent on the gifts received and destroy even more wealth in a bigger and better bonfire, he and his people lost face and so his 'power' was diminished." Hierarchical relations within and between clans, villages, and nations, were observed and reinforced through the distribution or sometimes destruction of wealth, dance performances, and other ceremonies. The status of any given family is raised not by who has the most resources, but by who distributes the most resources. The hosts demonstrate their wealth and prominence through giving away goods.
Potlatch ceremonies were also used as coming-of-age rituals. When children were born, they would be given their first name at the time of their birth (which was usually associated with the location of their birthplace.) About a year later, the child's family would hold a potlatch and give gifts to the guests in attendance on behalf of the child. During this potlatch, the family would give the child their second name. Once the child reached about 12 years of age, they were expected to hold a potlatch of their own by giving out small gifts that they had collected to their family and people, at which point they would be able to receive their third name.
For some cultures, such as Kwakwaka'wakw, elaborate and theatrical dances are performed reflecting the hosts' genealogy and cultural wealth. Many of these dances are also sacred ceremonies of secret societies like the hamatsa, or display of family origin from supernatural creatures such as the dzunukwa.
We will dance when our laws command us to dance, we will feast when our hearts desire to feast. Do we ask the white man, 'Do as the Indian does'? No, we do not. Why, then, will you ask us, 'Do as the white man does'? It is a strict law that bids us to dance. It is a strict law that bids us to distribute our property among our friends and neighbors. It is a good law. Let the white man observe his law; we shall observe ours. And now, if you are come to forbid us to dance, begone; if not, you will be welcome to us.
It is important to note the differences and uniqueness among the different cultural groups and nations along the coast. Each nation, community, and sometimes clan has its own way of practicing the potlatch with diverse presentation and meaning. The Tlingit and Kwakiutl nations of the Pacific Northwest, for example, held potlatch ceremonies for different occasions. The Tlingit potlatches occurred for succession (the granting of tribal titles or land) and funerals. The Kwakiutl potlatches, on the other hand, occurred for marriages and incorporating new people into the nation (i.e. the birth of a new member of the nation.) The potlatch, as an overarching term, is quite general, since some cultures have many words in their language for various specific types of gatherings. It is important to keep this variation in mind as most of our detailed knowledge of the potlatch was acquired from the Kwakwaka'wakw around Fort Rupert on Vancouver Island in the period 1849 to 1925, a period of great social transition in which many features became excaberated in reaction to British colonialism.:188–208
Before the arrival of the Europeans, gifts included storable food (oolichan, or candlefish, oil or dried food), canoes, slaves, and ornamental "coppers" among aristocrats, but not resource-generating assets such as hunting, fishing and berrying territories. Coppers were sheets of beaten copper, shield-like in appearance; they were about two feet long, wider on top, cruciform frame and schematic face on the top half. None of the copper used was ever of Indigenous metal. A copper was considered the equivalent of a slave. They were only ever owned by individual aristocrats, and never by numaym, hence could circulate between groups. Coppers began to be produced in large numbers after the colonization of Vancouver Island in 1849 when war and slavery were ended.:206
The arrival of Europeans resulted in the introduction of numerous diseases against which Indigenous peoples had no immunity, resulting in a massive population decline. Competition for the fixed number of potlatch titles grew as commoners began to seek titles from which they had previously been excluded by making their own remote or dubious claims validated by a potlatch. Aristocrats increased the size of their gifts in order to retain their titles and maintain social hierarchy. This resulted in massive inflation in gifting made possible by the introduction of mass-produced trade goods in the late 18th and earlier 19th centuries.
Potlatching was made illegal in Canada in 1884 in an amendment to the Indian Act, largely at the urging of missionaries and government agents who considered it "a worse than useless custom" that was seen as wasteful, unproductive, and contrary to 'civilized values' of accumulation.
The potlatch was seen as a key target in assimilation policies and agendas. Missionary William Duncan wrote in 1875 that the potlatch was "by far the most formidable of all obstacles in the way of Indians becoming Christians, or even civilized". Thus in 1884, the Indian Act was revised to include clauses banning the Potlatch and making it illegal to practice. Section 3 of the Act read,
Every Indian or other person who engages in or assists in celebrating the Indian festival known as the "Potlatch" or the Indian dance known as the "Tamanawas" is guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not more than six nor less than two months in any gaol or other place of confinement; and, any Indian or other person who encourages, either directly or indirectly, an Indian or Indians to get up such a festival or dance, or to celebrate the same, or who shall assist in the celebration of same is guilty of a like offence, and shall be liable to the same punishment.
In 1888, the anthropologist Franz Boas described the potlatch ban as a failure:
The second reason for the discontent among the Indians is a law that was passed, some time ago, forbidding the celebrations of festivals. The so-called potlatch of all these tribes hinders the single families from accumulating wealth. It is the great desire of every chief and even of every man to collect a large amount of property, and then to give a great potlatch, a feast in which all is distributed among his friends, and, if possible, among the neighboring tribes. These feasts are so closely connected with the religious ideas of the natives, and regulate their mode of life to such an extent, that the Christian tribes near Victoria have not given them up. Every present received at a potlatch has to be returned at another potlatch, and a man who would not give his feast in due time would be considered as not paying his debts. Therefore the law is not a good one, and can not be enforced without causing general discontent. Besides, the Government is unable to enforce it. The settlements are so numerous, and the Indian agencies so large, that there is nobody to prevent the Indians doing whatsoever they like.
Eventually the potlatch law, as it became known, was amended to be more inclusive and address technicalities that had led to dismissals of prosecutions by the court. Legislation included guests who participated in the ceremony. The Indigenous people were too large to police and the law too difficult to enforce. Duncan Campbell Scott convinced Parliament to change the offence from criminal to summary, which meant "the agents, as justice of the peace, could try a case, convict, and sentence". Even so, except in a few small areas, the law was generally perceived as harsh and untenable. Even the Indian agents employed to enforce the legislation considered it unnecessary to prosecute, convinced instead that the potlatch would diminish as younger, educated, and more "advanced" Indians took over from the older Indians, who clung tenaciously to the custom.
The potlatch ban was repealed in 1951. Sustaining the customs and culture of their ancestors, Indigenous people now openly hold potlatches to commit to the restoring of their ancestors' ways. Potlatches now occur frequently and increasingly more over the years as families reclaim their birthright. Anthropologist Sergei Kan was invited by the Tlingit nation to attend several potlatch ceremonies between 1980 and 1987 and observed several similarities and differences between traditional and contemporary potlatch ceremonies. Kan notes that there was a language gap during the ceremonies between the older members of the nation and the younger members of the nation (age fifty and younger) due to the fact that most of the younger members of the nation do not speak the Tlingit language. Kan also notes that unlike traditional potlatches, contemporary Tlingit potlatches are no longer obligatory, resulting in only about 30% of the adult tribal members opting to participate in the ceremonies that Kan attended between 1980 and 1987. Despite these differences, Kan stated that he believed that many of the essential elements and spirit of the traditional potlatch were still present in the contemporary Tlingit ceremonies.
In his book The Gift, the French ethnologist, Marcel Mauss used the term potlatch to refer to a whole set of exchange practices in tribal societies characterized by "total prestations", i.e., a system of gift giving with political, religious, kinship and economic implications. These societies' economies are marked by the competitive exchange of gifts, in which gift-givers seek to out-give their competitors so as to capture important political, kinship and religious roles. Other examples of this "potlatch type" of gift economy include the Kula ring found in the Trobriand Islands.:188–208
Clarence Ferris White (August 22, 1867 – August 28, 1932) was a prolific architect in the Pacific Northwest. He designed more than 1,100 buildings, including 63 schools, in the State of Washington. His largest project was the design of the company town of Potlatch, Idaho in 1905. Several of his works are listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places.Disc Northwest
Disc Northwest (also DiscNW or Northwest Ultimate Association) is a Seattle-based Ultimate organization with the aim of increasing participation in the sport of Ultimate at all levels. DiscNW is the largest and most active Ultimate organization in the United States, supporting many teams at the club, local, high school, middle school and elementary school levels. Their mission statement is "Serve as a regional resource, promoting growth in the sport of Ultimate and instilling the spirit of sportsmanship at all levels of play."
DiscNW is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, educational organization in the state of Washington. It is primarily a volunteer organization; however, the Executive Director does draw a salary, and some volunteers receive stipends.
DiscNW was founded by Joey Gray, Tom George, Mary Lowry, Jordan Dey, Maria Langlais, Mark Friedland, Bill Penrose and Lisa Thomas in 1995 as a nonprofit repository for funds generated by the growing Potlatch tournament. Soon, DiscNW became an umbrella for the spring ultimate league founded by Mark Friedland and others in 1984 and the fall league founded by Mike King. The first independent Juniors ultimate league was started in 1993 by Mary Lowry, Joe Bisignano, Jeff Jorgenson and others. In 2014, the DiscNW Middle School Spring League had over 1000 players on 79 mixed teams.  The DiscNW High School Spring League has both mixed and single gender divisions with over 30 teams total. In spring of 2007 DiscNW inaugurated what is believed to be the world's first elementary school League, with eight teams.
Today, DiscNW's major effort is the Potlatch tournament, which takes place over the July 4 weekend and is the world's largest mixed tournament, featuring some of the world's best players and teams. Potlatch is a traditional Native American word that means "feast" and "giving." Giving gifts to each opponent is an important aspect of each Potlatch tournament.Hoodoo Mountains
The Hoodoo Mountains are a mountain range in the northwest United States, in north central Idaho. They are part of the Clearwater Mountains and are the source of the Potlatch and Palouse rivers. Located in northeastern Latah County and southeastern Benewah County, the high point is Bald Mountain at 5,334 feet (1,626 m) above sea level. On the west slope of the northern Rocky Mountains, the Hoodos transition into the adjoining Palouse region, to the southwest.
North–South Ski Bowl, a former alpine ski area, is in the north end of the range in Benewah County. Opened in the 1930s, the area was originally owned and operated by Washington State College (now Washington State University) in Pullman. Alpine operations were discontinued in the 1990s and it is now a "park'n'ski" area for cross-country skiing off of State Highway 6.Kwakwakaʼwakw
The Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw (IPA: [ˈkʷakʷəkʲəʔwakʷ]), also known as the Kwakiutl (; "Kwakʼwala-speaking peoples") are a Pacific Northwest Coast Indigenous people. Their current population, according to a 2016 census, is 3,665. Most live in their traditional territory on northern Vancouver Island, nearby smaller islands including the Discovery Islands, and the adjacent British Columbia mainland. Some also live outside their homelands in urban areas such as Victoria and Vancouver. They are politically organized into 13 band governments.
Their language, now spoken by only 3.1% of the population, consists of four dialects of what is commonly referred to as Kwakʼwala. These dialects are Kwak̓wala, ʼNak̓wala, G̱uc̓ala and T̓łat̓łasik̓wala.List of bibliographical materials on the potlatch
Below is a list of books and sources about the potlatch, an Indigenous ceremony from the north west coast of Canada, and the United States.National Register of Historic Places listings in Latah County, Idaho
This is a list of the National Register of Historic Places listings in Latah County, Idaho.
This is intended to be a complete list of the properties and districts on the National Register of Historic Places in Latah County, Idaho, United States. Latitude and longitude coordinates are provided for many National Register properties and districts; these locations may be seen together in a map.There are 55 properties and districts listed on the National Register in the county.
This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted March 7, 2019.Nuu-chah-nulth
The Nuu-chah-nulth (; Nuučaan̓uł: [nuːt͡ʃaːnˀuɬ]), also formerly referred to as the Nootka, Nutka, Aht, Nuuchahnulth or Tahkaht, are one of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast in Canada. The term Nuu-chah-nulth is used to describe fifteen related tribes whose traditional home is on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
In precontact and early post-contact times, the number of tribes was much greater, but the smallpox epidemics and other consequences of contact resulted in the disappearance of some groups and the absorption of others into neighbouring groups. The Nuu-chah-nulth are related to the Kwakwaka'wakw, the Haisla, and the Ditidaht First Nation. The Nuu-chah-nulth language belongs to the Wakashan family.
The governing body is the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.Potlatch, Idaho
Potlatch is a city in the northwest United States, located in north central Idaho in Latah County, about six miles (10 km) east of the border with Washington. On the Palouse north of Moscow, it is served by State Highway 6, and bordered on the northeast by the small community of Onaway. The population of Potlatch was 804 at the 2010 census.Potlatch, Washington
Potlatch is an unincorporated community in Mason County, Washington, United States. It is located on the western shore of the Great Bend of Hood Canal, near the mouth of the Skokomish River.
The town's main features are Potlatch State Park and the Cushman Dam No. 2 powerhouse, which generates hydropower electricity for Tacoma. Water from Lake Kokanee on the North Fork Skokomish River is piped to the powerhouse at Potlatch. Nearly the entire flow of the river was diverted to the Potlatch Powerhouse. A 2009 settlement will result in more water from the Cushman Hydro Project, which includes Cushman Dam No. 1 at Lake Cushman, and Dam No. 2 at Lake Kokanee, being released into the lower North Fork Skokomish River.The town's history dates to 1900, when Thomas Bordeaux became president of the newly incorporated Potlatch Commercial and Terminal Company. The company acquired timber lands and began construction of a logging railway to access them. Potlatch was built as a company town. The hydroelectric dam at Lake Cushman and the Potlatch Powerhouse began producing electricity in 1926. The second dam at Lake Kokanee was finished in 1930. The water is conveyed to Potlatch through huge pipes, visible for miles.Potlatch borders the Skokomish Indian Tribal lands to the south. During shrimp, crab, and salmon harvesting seasons, tribal fishing operations sell their fresh catch.PotlatchDeltic
PotlatchDeltic Corporation (originally Potlatch Corp) is an American diversified forest products company based in Spokane, Washington.
It manufactures and sells lumber, panels and particleboard and receives revenue from other assets such as mineral rights and the leasing of land as well as the sale of land considered expendable. In February 2018. Potlatch acquired Deltic Timber Corp., a smaller Arkansas-based timber company. Following the merger, the company was renamed PotlatchDeltic Corporation.Potlatch (album)
Potlatch is the second album by Native American rock band Redbone.Potlatch (software)
Potlatch is a free software editing tool for OpenStreetMap geodata using Adobe Flash. It is one of two editors embedded directly within the OpenStreetMap website.
Potlatch 2 requires a web browser with at least version 8 of the Flash plugin installed. It continues to be actively maintained.Potlatch (steamship)
Potlatch was a steamship which was operated on Hood Canal from 1912 to 1917, on Puget Sound from 1917 to 1937, although the vessel was little used after 1917.Potlatch River
The Potlatch River is in the state of Idaho in the United States. About 56 miles (90 km) long, it is the lowermost major tributary to the Clearwater River, a tributary of the Snake River that is in turn a tributary of the Columbia River. Once surrounded by arid grasslands of the Columbia Plateau adjacent to the western foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the Potlatch today is used mainly for agriculture and irrigation purposes.
Its name derives from potlatch, a type of ceremony held by the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest; one such tribe lived along the river for hundreds of years before the arrival of whites. Pioneers settled the watershed and established farms and ranches in the late 19th century. After that, logging eliminated most of the forests within the watershed and the ecology of the river is still in the process of recovery. Fishing, hiking and camping are popular recreational activities on the river; 14 percent the watershed lies on public lands. Before logging and agriculture, many varieties of riparian and forest plants once populated the catchment, and several species of fish still swim the river and its tributaries.Potlatch State Park
Potlatch State Park is a 57-acre (23 ha) Washington state park located on Hood Canal near the town of Potlatch. The park offers camping, hiking, boating, fishing, shellfish harvesting, beachcombing, and sailboarding.Potlatch ban
The potlatch ban was legislation forbidding the practice of the potlatch passed by the Government of Canada, begun in 1885 and lasting until 1951.First Nations saw the law as an instrument of intolerance and injustice. "Second only to the taking of land without extinguishing Indian title; the outlawing of the potlatch can be seen as the extreme to which Euro-Canadian society used its dominance against its aboriginal subjects in British Columbia."Though often ignored and circumvented, the ban remained in Canadian legal codes until 1951, when Section 149 was deleted from a revision of the Indian Act. Arrests for charges under the Act were few until 1921, when a raid on the village of Memkumlis held by Chief Dan Cranmer saw the arrest and charges laid against 45 people; of these 22 were given suspended sentences (three were remanded on appeal) and 20 men and women sent to Oakalla Prison in Burnaby. The sentences were two months for first offenders and three months for second offenders.Special routes of U.S. Route 95
Several special routes of U.S. Route 95 exist. In order from south to north they are as follows.The potlatch among Athabaskan peoples
The traditional potlatch among Athabaskan peoples was a gathering that combined aspects of competition, peacekeeping and a show of wealth.Warren and Saline River Railroad
The Warren and Saline River Railroad (reporting mark WSR) is an 8-mile (13 km) short-line railroad connecting Cloquet, Arkansas to the Arkansas Midland Railroad at Warren. It has always been independent of larger carriers, and was previously owned by the Potlatch Corporation, a lumber company, until January 2010. WSR is currently operated by the Arkansas Midland Railroad and owned by Pinsly Railroad Company.
WSR traffic generally consists of outbound lumber and other forest products.