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waltonksm

Potlatch, Continued

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Just a bit more detail, and some explanations:

 

First, the photo below shows this young lady wearing some absolutely beautiful mukluks (boots/shoes). Traditionally, these would have dry grass stuffed inside to improve the insulating ability of the "shoe." Also, she has a really stunning parka; BUT it has a full length zipper down the front.  A bit of modern convenience added to the parka. I saw a parka similar to this one in a shop in Seattle (years ago.) The price on the tag was over $2000. Of course, with all of the emphasis on NOT using animal skins for clothing, I suppose this might have changed. Likewise, mukluks like these are super expensive. Mukluks would start out at over $250, and perhaps as much as $500.  Parkas and mukluks have become very difficult to buy for several reasons:
 

1.  This is almost a work of love, as you will not be paid much per hour. It would be difficult to earn a living doing this.

2.  They need to be made by a very good leather seamstress.  They are getting harder to find as the older generation dies off. The younger people are NOT learning this skill.

 

 

St. Mary's Potlatch 2019

 

 

Part of the "presentation" has the person distributing "special gifts" for certain special people.  She is giving a present to one of the oldest elders in the village.  Elders are still given extra respect and courtesy.  I get doors held open, heavy packages carried from the post office to my vehicle, and more.   I was only in my 50's when I left here before, so I was a little surprised that even an "outside white guy"  gets a bit of elder respect.

 

St. Mary's Potlatch 2019

 

And what could be more traditional than..............

 

A Minnie Mouse T shirt!

 

St. Mary's Potlatch, 2019

 

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And here is what has become usual for Potlatch:  The family ties large pieces of fabrics together and strings them out. The fabric starts the trip from outside of the room, and all ends up in a pile at the front of the room, next to the person who is being presented. The men and the women in this photo are wearing "Kuspuks." This is a traditional design, with a single large pocket in the front, and a small hood.

 

St. Mary's Potlatch, 2019

 

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This is so interesting to absorb through your words and photos, Walton. Coincidentally, last weekend my wife and I drove up to an area just outside the city where Zulu crafters sell their wares and we got into a conversation with one of the store minders about how the Zulu art is dying off now because none of the youth are interested in learning these skills from their elders. They would rather be playing Fortnite or whatever else these kids do online these days. 

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I like the idea of extra respect for elders.

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