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McGill-Queen’s Press Essay

Kwakwaka’wakw is a Native American group made up of 17 tribes who speak the kwak’wala language. They carried out activities like fishing, hunting, woodwork, weaving, logging among other activities. The continual of the society was hereditary and there were different classes of people among them slaves and nobles. Potlatching was one of the ways in which the items produced by the community were shown excahanged as gifts and among the groups of the community. “A potlatch was organized and hosted by a chief and his group when guests from other regions were invited (Edwards, Gosden, & Phillips, 2006).

” Offering gifts was a sign of giving back to the community and this act made a person more blessed. Potlatching was good because it ensured that people in the community were more productive as they produced enough to meet their daily needs and a surplus that could be presented during the potlatching festivities. “Such occasions provided the necessary avenues where the members could interact and learnt different skills in the production of goods. This made people more specialized thus making production of better quality (Goodfellow, 2005).

” Manufacturing and production therefore continued across all seasons and ensured that members of the community who were not so privileged did not lack. Moreover, there was plenty for consumption and giving to those who lacked. The exchange in the community’s wealth was the normal way of conducting business as people gave out what they had and received what other people made that was beneficial to them. In such a way, both the giver and receiver gained. Nowadays, people do not necessarily practice potlatching but there are occasions when gifts are exchanged such as Christmas, Easter, anniversaries, Father’s day or even mother’s day.

This are the times when people show appreciation for their loved ones. Yeah there are “pure gifts”. These are the gifts given without accepting anything in return. Pure gifts can be given on special occasions such as birthdays or weddings. Here gifts are given as a sign of blessing and appreciation. References Edwards, E. , Gosden, C. & Phillips, B. R. (2006) Sensible Objects: Colonialism, Museums and Material Culture. Berg Publishers Goodfellow, A. M. (2005) Talking in Context: Language and Identity in Kwakwaka’wakw Society. Published by McGill-Queen’s Press – MQUP


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