Rifles, Blankets, and Beads
Identity, History, and the Northern Athapaskan PotlatcheBook - 1995
The potlatch is the most significant cultural event in the life of the Tanacross people, an Athapaskan group in the Upper Tanana Region of east-central Alaska. A public occasion marked by the distribution of gifts, the potlatch commemorates a particular event in the person's life or heals a tear in the social fabric. Today it is an anchor to the past, to the traditional values of kinship, sharing, reciprocity, love and respect, and competence. By submerging competition, a symbol for the white man, and stressing the ideal of cooperation as expressed in the potlatch, Native people attempt to create and maintain their view of what is decent and acceptable human behavior. In Rifles, Blankets, and Beads, William E. Simeone explores the dynamic between competition and cooperation in Northern Athapaskan culture by examining four interrelated topics: the introduction of trade goods into Athapaskan culture, leadership, the problem of cultural identity, and the potlatch. The potlatch has survived despite numerous changes in the lives of the Tanacross people. Viewed as a distinctly Athapaskan ritual, it legitimates Native culture through a display of tradition that counteracts outward signs of change and non-Native racist stereotypes. Moreover, in encouraging and seeking participation of non-Natives, Native people attempt to re-create a relationship with non-Natives based on equality and reciprocity. Simeone has offered new insights into the historical and modern life of Northern Athapaskan people. His research and fieldwork in the village of Tanacross has opened a path to new understanding of the relationships within Native society and between Natives and non-Natives.
Publisher: Norman : University of Oklahoma Press, , ©1995
Branch Call Number: 979.8004 Si
Description: 1 online resource (xxii, 191 pages) : illustrations, maps
Alternative Title: Rifles, blankets & beads