1889, BC: The boss potlach

It’s not difficult to find news articles about Native “potlatching” in the second half of the 1800s.

This one is especially worthy of being shared here, because this clipping provides context about the Canadian government’s ongoing attempt to ban potlatches, and Native people’s reaction to that effort.

boss potlach

The Boss Potlach.

One of the largest and most valu-
able Indian potlaches will take place
at Fort Rupert, near the northern
end of this island about Christmas
day. The potlach will be given by
Captain Jim, an aged Indian, who is
known from one end of the province
to the other. The articles to be given
will comprise 6600 blankets, 300 pairs
silver bracelets, (Indian make), 40
large canoes and muck-a-muck [food] gal-
ore, in all valued at $10,000. For
this $10,000 Captain Jim, according
to native custom, will receive within
two years $20,000. The potlach will
embrace nineteen tribes residing be-
tween Qualicum and Fort Rupert.
This will make the hundredth pot-
lach Captain Jim has given, and he
intends to eclipse all former efforts in
that line, and judging from the value
and quantity of the articles to be
“donated,” it will be the biggest thing
on record. The hero of the potlach
is about 6o years of age, of fine phy-
sique, and speaks English with re-
markable fluency. A law has been
passed by the dominion Parliament
putting a stop to these “potlaches,”
but the old Indians do not under-
stand this infringement on what they
justly consider their hereditary rights.
— Alaska Free Press.

— from the Astoria (OR) Daily Morning Astorian of October 20, 1889, page 4, column 5

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