Anthropology 132 Native People of North America
This paper will focus on articles by Michelle and Phil on the topic of the Native People of North America. They cover topic of significance of potlatches, the events that they marked, when they were held, definition of ‘copper’, and why potlatches were banned by the Canadian government and the effect of the ban on the people of the Northwest coast.
Potlatches are important events in which individuals share their wealth to enhance their self esteem and status in the society. They took place in winter. Additionally, they were used to mark main cultural events including births, naming newborns, puberty, weddings, burials, house building and during handing of power mainly from father to son (Sutton, 2012). The copper made copper shields that were a symbol of rank and power for the rival groups. They were prohibited because of missionaries’ critique of the differing beliefs with Christianity. This had a negative effect because the knowledge of cultural beliefs and language has significantly declined among this people of this society (Sutton, 2012). I concur with the authors on the topic since the potlatches were of great importance to the people not only culturally and politically but also stimulated the spirit of giving and sharing in the society.
I think that cultural ceremonies such as potlatches are vital. During these rituals the elders pass important practices, language and beliefs to the younger generation. Vices such as disobedience to the elders which is common in this generation would not have been there.
I feel that the government was unfair in the way that the ban was enforced. It used force in taking the items used in these ceremonies. The decision to carry on with traditions should have been made by the people; maybe they would have adopted modern ways.
In addition, potlatches ensured that the people lived in harmony since enmity was resolved by breaking of copper...