Gifting in Potlatch


Potlatch at Fort Rupert, British Columbia
Photograph by R.B. Dixon, 1898
PMAE # 2004.1.363.3

Excessive gifting developed during the 19th century as a means of negotiating status within and between groups. This was not its only purpose, however, and to reduce potlatches to this rivalry does not do the institution justice. For example, in Tlingit mortuary potlatches, gifts given to guests compensated them for funerary services they had performed for the host's clan.

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