1914: Mamook kopet cultus potlatch
Everybody knew that the Canadian Settler government had outlawed traditional Native potlatches.
Not everyone complied.
Here’s a newspaper report on one alleged infraction, and some unfortunately jocular splitting of hairs in court.
MAMOOK KOPET CULTUS POTLATCH
‘Stop Doing Giveaways’]
When is a “Potlatch” not a potlatch and how “cultus” does it need to be before it will meet with the approval of the Indian Department.
All of these and some more questions were asked at the trial this week of a few of our Indian neighbors who were accused of anticipating the Holiday Season with a few, pre-dated Christmas gifts. It all came over the recent revival of this ancient tribal tradition on the local reservation, and simmered down to a solemn warning from the court to “Kopet mamook mesachie delate alta.” [kʰəpít mamuk-mas(h)áchi dlét álta = stop make-evil really now = ‘stop causing trouble right now’]
Mr. Gallo [?] wanted to know if “alta” could be translated as meaning “tomorrow sometime” but was warned that “delate alta” was accepted by experts as meaning “right away” and had better be so taken.
Later signs were posted warning the “White Visitors” that the fun was “all off,” and that any further proceedings were “delate Ipsoot.” [dlét ípsut = really secret.]
— from the Port Alberni (BC) Alberni Advocate of November 27, 1914, page 1, column 3, courtesy of Alex “Alik” Code