Potlatches are an honour to attend.
Yet the tradition survived, carried out in secret and now alive and flourishing again.
There are many reason’s a family may host a potlatch – As a celebration, traditional naming, in thanks, as a celebration of life, and so many more.
Last night I attended a Celebration of Life in Ahousaht. Dinner was served, the dance floor was cleansed and welcoming dances were done. Then tears were put away and the 4 year mourning period concluded and the celebrations for this wonderful lady – wife, mother, aunt, sister and cousin – began in earnest. We laughed, cheered and ate chumas (desserts). And of course, we danced. Visiting Nations brought their dances and songs to perform. Seeing new dances is always one of my favourite parts of a Potlatch. Sometimes I put down my camera and just watch, absolutely entranced.
Dinner started at 5pm. The dancing began by 7pm. Lennie and I finally headed home at midnight, but the party continued to after 5am! I always find that the longer you stay, the more fun and silly the dances are. The most treasured moments happen in the wee hours of the morning, but I can never stay awake, no matter how much coffee and sugar I put into my system!
Making it even worse, I have work today – So I had to minimize my “Potlatch Hangover” by getting some sleep last night!