POTLATCH is an important cultural event celebrated by most of the FIRST NATIONS of the Northwest Coast. The term comes from a NUU-CHAH-NULTH (Nootka) word borrowed into CHINOOK JARGON meaning "to give." The potlatch serves many purposes: to reinforce status in the community, to memorialize the dead, to celebrate a marriage or the construction of a house, to raise a TOTEM POLE, to name children and to pass on the heritable privileges and positions that go with chieftainship. The forms of the...

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