potlatch

potlatch

[pot-lach]
potlatch, ceremonial feast of the natives of the NW coast of North America, entailing the public distribution of property. The host and his relatives lavishly distributed gifts to invited guests, who were expected to accept any gifts offered with the understanding that at a future time they were to reciprocate in kind. Gifts distributed included foodstuffs, slaves, copper plates, and goat's hair blankets, as well as less tangible things such as names, songs, dances, and crests. In return, the host was accorded prestige and status in direct proportion to his expenditures. The potlatch ceremony also involved dancing, feasting, and ritual boasting, often lasting for several days. Various theories have been proposed by anthropologists to account for this seemingly irrational ritual. While the emphasis varies from group to group and through time, the potlatch clearly was the fundamental means of circulating foodstuffs and other goods amongst groups, validating status positions, and establishing and maintaining warfare and defense alliances. Contact with Euroamerican populations in the early 19th cent. brought about a massive depopulation among aboriginal northwest coast societies. At the same time, the growth of the fur trade led to an influx of industrially manufactured trade goods. Under these conditions, the potlatch came to serve as a means by which aspiring nobles validated often tenuous claims of high rank, increasingly through the ostentatious destruction of property. This led both the U.S. and Canadian governments to outlaw the practice beginning in 1884. Potlatching nevertheless continued, though covertly, until the ban was lifted in 1951, by which time the ceremonies no longer involved property destruction.

See P. Drucker and R. Heizer, To Make My Name Good (1967); A. Rosman and P. Rubel, Feasting with Mine Enemy (1971, repr. 1986); H. Codere, Fighting with Property (1950, repr. 1988).

Ceremonial distribution of property and gifts practiced among the American Indians of the Northwest Pacific coast, particularly the Kwakiutl. A potlatch is given by an heir or successor to assert and validate his newly assumed social position. Ceremonial formalities are observed in inviting guests, in speech making, and in distributing goods according to the social rank of the recipients. Great feasts and generous hospitality accompany the potlatch. The ceremony has been much studied by anthropologists for the light it sheds on the nature of property, wealth, prestige, and social status. Seealso gift exchange.

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Potlatch is a city in Latah County, Idaho, United States. The population was 791 at the 2000 census.

Geography

Potlatch is located at (46.922157, -116.897646).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.3 square miles (0.9 km²), all of it land.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 791 people, 332 households, and 222 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,355.7 people per square mile (898.3/km²). There were 357 housing units at an average density of 1,063.2/sq mi (405.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.59% White, 0.88% Native American, 0.25% Asian, 1.26% from other races, and 1.01% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.39% of the population.

There were 332 households out of which 34.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.5% were married couples living together, 12.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.1% were non-families. 28.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the city the population was spread out with 30.0% under the age of 18, 6.6% from 18 to 24, 27.4% from 25 to 44, 21.1% from 45 to 64, and 14.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 95.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,021, and the median income for a family was $35,385. Males had a median income of $30,833 versus $21,964 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,449. About 11.1% of families and 15.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.1% of those under age 18 and 11.4% of those age 65 or over.

Notable residents

References

External links

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