Chief O'waxalagalis Describes A Potlatch

In his famous speech to anthropologist Franz Boas
who wrote "The Indians of British Columbia" for The Popular Science Monthly in March of 1888 Vol 32 p. 631, the Indian Chief O'waxalagalis stands and describes a gift giving feast called a 'potlatch.'

"We will dance 
when our laws command us to dance,
We will feast when 
our hearts desire to feast.
Do we ask the white man, 
'Do as the Indian does'?
No, we do not.
Why then will you ask us,
'Do as the white man does'?
It is a strict law that bids us to dance.
It is a strict law that bids us 
to distribute our property 
among our friends and neighbors. 
It is a good law.
Let the white man observe his law
 and we shall observe ours.
And now, 
if you are come to forbid us to dance, begone!
If not, you will welcome us."

The Canadian government banned the practice of potlatch from 1884 to 1951 using the Indian Act. It was seen as wasteful, reckless and anti-Christian. First nations considered the law as an instrument of intolerance and injustice.

Today, Potlatch is making a comeback, eh? It's all about generosity, sharing the wealth and the tradition of gift giving. 

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