Gifting in Potlatch


Items lined up for a potlatch near Victoria, British Columbia, 1865
PMAE # 2004.1.806

The significance and nature of gifting in Northwest Coast potlatches has varied through time and across cultures. It is commonly portrayed as extremely competitive, with hosts bankrupting themselves to outdo their rivals and aggressively destroying property. While this form of gifting characterized practices of northern groups such as the Kwakiutl, such competition would have been considered inappropriate during Nuu-chah-nulth or Salish potlatches on the southern coast.


Chest with Cover; Tsimshian: Nishga
PMAE # 21-8-10/87644

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