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Objectivity Problem and Incompleteness[edit]

There is decent coverage of the anti-potlatch laws, but how is the exchange of slaves, human sacrifice, and cannibalism practiced at potlatches before 1849 nowhere mentioned? See inter alia Ruth Benedict, Patterns of Culture 199 (1934) (talk) 15:11, 25 January 2016 (UTC)Aaron, Jan. 25, 2016

Need for some references to our own Quasi-Potlatches?[edit]

As is briefly mentioned in the separate article on the Canadian Potlatch Ban, the Indians themselves saw similarities between potlatch and Christmas (in my experience as a poor person, Christmas tends to destroy about 50% of my annual savings just before the coldest time of year, when the poor are most in need of savings - presumably this increases their illness and death rates; suicide among women also peaks in December, which is thought to be due to the stress of Christmas; and so on; but Christianity and many corporations at least appear to benefit from Christmas). I expect other instances to include the ritual destruction of family wealth at weddings (again at a time when young poor people are most in need of money and family resources as a backup), and the prestige gained by billionaire philanthropists from Andrew Carnegie to Bill Gates. There is also an intellectual and/or spiritual and/or semiotics and/or memetics aspect, as religions, ideologies, science, and Wikipedia itself, can all be seen as potlatches freely giving away potentially valuable knowledge and ideas - indeed I only found out about potlatches through the Baudrillard article's mention of our modern world as involving a potlatch of symbols. I can't simply add any of this in the article myself without violating all sorts of Wikipedia rules against original research, etc. But clearly common sense, and the Baudrillard reference, and the Indians noting the similarity to Christmas, all suggest there must be some reliable works out there that do discuss the link. I don't have the knowledge or the time or the inclination to go looking for those works myself, but hopefully there are other editors out there who will have such knowledge and time and inclination, and I think this might greatly improve the interest and relevance of this article.Tlhslobus (talk) 23:40, 6 January 2013 (UTC)


This article originally said that the word comes from Nuu-chah-nulth p'ačiƛ and used as its source the OED. I checked, and that's not what the OED actually says. See, I found two words for potlatch in Nuu-chah-nulth (from Davidson's grammar of Nootkan): p'ačiƛ and paɬaˑč. The OED entry says it comes from "patlatsh"-- it seems that somebody looked that up, and then looked up in another source that p'ačiƛ is a word for potlatch in Nuu-chah-nulth and wrongly assumed that that was the word OED refers to. At least that's my assumption. Etymonline also says it's from p'ačiƛ. The point is, it is much much much more likely that paɬaˑč would come into English as /pɒtlætʃ/ (or into Chinook Jargon as "potlatch"), than that p'ačiƛ would. So I'm changing this article to say paɬaˑč, for the time being. It strikes me as possible that p'ačiƛ is the real etymon, and that Nuh-chah-nulth paɬaˑč is loaned back from Chinook Jargon... but I don't have a source that says that for the moment so it seems less likely. (talk) 01:24, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

I am sorry, but as far as I can tell, your theory and observations constitute WP:Original research and I don't know of a source that gives any other origin than Nuu-chah-nulth; the term, so far as I know, is not Chinookan nor Sahaptian nor Chehalis, the other three main aboriginal languages whose lexicon was what the Jargon was made up of; it's certainly not English nor French in origin. The OED, in my opinion, is often wrong, also, but who am I? Just seen some questionable things before from them, mostly pronuncations/IPAs.Skookum1 (talk) 05:34, 10 June 2013 (UTC)

When was the ban repealed?[edit]

The article states when the ban on the potlatch was repealed, but was that the ban in the U.S. or in Canada? If that was in one country, when was the ban repealed in the other country? (talk) 15:17, 17 January 2014 (UTC)NotWillDecker

Definition Needed[edit]

The first paragraph offers a definition of "potlatch" as "as gift-giving feast". It then goes on to talk about where they occur. A comprehensive, one- or two-sentence definition of the word potlatch does not occur in this article.Johnvalo (talk) 11:00, 9 March 2015 (UTC)

That might be because it's in Wiktionary. That being said, this article was built around Kwakwaka'wakw traditions and is not region-wide in scope; similarly the Athabaskan potlatch article is mostly about Alaskan potlatching; the BC Interior, Columbia and other coastal potlatch styles/formats all yet need to be done; the actual dictionary definition is easy enough to find, even if it weren't already in Wiktionary.Skookum1 (talk) 12:39, 9 March 2015 (UTC)