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First Pair: Potlatch and Kachina
Among the Pacific Northwest native peoples, potlatch is gift-exchange ceremony held on significant life occasions, such as births, deaths, and weddings. Each kin group, who draws its identity from ancestral mythical animal spirit, is led by the man considered the living incarnation of this founding spirit. The amount of gifts given, and even their destruction, shows the power and authority one guest, or even kin group, has over another. These potlatches display the hierarchal relationships among guests and kin groups through giving and destroying of gifts, as well as dances and other ceremonies performed at the potlatch. These gifts given and destroyed are total cultural phenomenon, in that they represent political, religious, family, and economic relationships amongst kin groups. Using a large piece of wood that is typically used to create animal spirit totems, in this example (below), a figure has been sculpted to represent a speaker at a potlatch. A man standing behind this figure would announce the names of each guest arriving at the potlatch...
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