Thursday, April 9, 2009

Civil Disobedience or Good Old-fashioned trouble making?

Sunday, we'll be throwing a party and givin' stuff away in honor of Evelyn's 89th. Its a lot like a potlatch, described on wikipedia this way:

"The potlatch is a festival or ceremony practiced among Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. At these gatherings a family or hereditary leader hosts guests in their family's house and hold a feast for their guests. The main purpose of the potlatch is the re-distribution and reciprocity of wealth.

During the event, different events take place, like either singing and dances, sometimes with masks or regalia, such as Chilkat blankets, the barter of wealth through gifts, such as dried foods, sugar, flour, or other material things, and sometimes money. For many potlatches, spiritual ceremonies take place for different occasions. This is either through material wealth like foods and goods or immaterial things like songs, dances and such. For some cultures, like Kwakwaka'wakw, elaborate and theatrical dances are performed reflecting the hosts' genealogy and cultural wealth they possess. Many of these dances are also sacred ceremonies of secret societies like the hamatsa, or display of family origin from supernatural creatures like the dzunukwa. Typically the potlatching is practiced more in the winter seasons as historically the warmer months were for procuring wealth for the family, clan, or village, then coming home and sharing that with neighbors and friends."

Unfortunately, this practice was outlawed in the late 19th century. Again, wikipedia says:

"Potlatching was made illegal in Canada in 1885[9] and the United States in the late nineteenth century, largely at the urging of missionaries and government agents who considered it "a worse than useless custom" that was seen as wasteful, unproductive which was not part of "civilized" values.[10]

The potlatch was seen as a key target in assimilation policies and agendas. Missionary William Duncan wrote in 1875 that the potlatch was “by far the most formidable of all obstacles in the way of Indians becoming Christians, or even civilized.”[11] Thus in 1885, the Indian Act was revised to include clauses banning the potlatch and making it illegal to practice. The official legislation read, “Every Indian or other person who engages in or assists in celebrating the Indian festival known as the "Potlatch" or the Indian dance known as the "Tamanawas" is guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not more than six nor less than two months in a jail or other place of confinement; and, any Indian or other person who encourages, either directly or indirectly an Indian or Indians to get up such a festival or dance, or to celebrate the same, or who shall assist in the celebration of same is guilty of a like offence, and shall be liable to the same punishment.”

Eventually it became amended to be more inclusive as earlier discharged on technicalities. Legislation was then expanded to include guests who participated in the ceremony. The indigenous people were too large to police, and enforce. Duncan Campbell Scott convinced Parliament to change the offense from criminal to summary, which meant ‘the agents, as justice of the peace, could try a case, convict, and sentence.”[12]"

Party on, Campers

Notes for Next Week

Hello all, just an update on next week:

Renovation Schedule

Early in the week we'll be split into two crews:

- Yard Work: Tree Removal, Yard Clearing, and Bonfire Collection , and
- House Work: Demolition, dumping and and major floor and wall clearing

once the stage is set, we can move on to:

- Brush Work: Painting and Prepping

and of course, throughout we'll need help with:

- Kitchen Work: Food and Partying

Stuff Management:

Once we've collected all of the unneeded stuff from the old studio, we'll take some of it to the Pickens County Flea Market to sell off. We'll save the best to offer to our guests for Evelyn's birthday, and we'll bonfire everything else that's bonfire-able.