What was a potlatch and What does the word potlatch mean in the Nootka Indian language?

In many Northwest Native American groups, prominent families held great feasts called potlatches.

In addition to food, guests enjoyed singing and dancing. They were also treated to giveaways, in which the host family offered gifts to everyone who attended.

Traditionally, gifts included blankets, food, wool robes, canoes, and even slaves. Yet, the most extravagant gift a potlatch guest could receive was a piece of a copper.

The word potlatch meant “to give” in the Nootka Indian language.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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