Dennis Lakusta: Advocacy & Fundraising



Ceremonial Eagle's Feather pictured above was gifted to Dennis by the Chief and Council of the Upper Nicola Band

The Give-Away

Following in the traditional footsteps of his Plains Cree ancestors, Dennis would like to extend the 'Give-away' ceremony (an integral part of the Potlatch cultural gathering) into the twenty-first century. Which means, nothing on this website is for sale...the music, artworks and writings are free to be viewed, listened to and downloaded for the pure enjoyment of visitors to the site.

A little history. The Potlatch was an opulent ceremonial feast to celebrate an important event held by tribes of the Northwest Indians of North America including the Tlinqit, Tsimishian, Haida, Coast Salish and the Chinook peoples. A Potlatch was characterized by a ceremony in which the tribe's wealth and possessions were given away. Many tribes, especially among the Plains Indians (Dennis' lineage), have traditionally practiced some form of Potlatch or Give-away ceremony, highlighted by the lavish distribution of goods and food to members of other clans, villages or tribes.

The concept of the Give-away custom is difficult to comprehend by those who do not share the culture and beliefs of the Native American Indians. The European system of values placed much emphasis on the acquisition and accumulation of material wealth therefore the early settlers found the Give-away custom impossible to understand. The very idea of giving away one's wealth and possessions was a somewhat alien concept to them. The Potlatch and Give-away ceremonies were therefore outlawed by the Canadian Government in the 1880s and natives caught practicing the ceremony were liable to prison terms ranging from between 4-6 years.

The beliefs and customs of the Native American tribes who practiced the Potlatch ceremonies and rituals were based upon the fundamentals of egalitarianism, communal responsibility and the democratic inclinations of the tribes. This was characterized by social equality and a demonstration of the legitimacy of those elected as tribal leaders. Anyone elected to a leadership position was given the stewardship, rather than the ownership, of the tribe's wealth. Those elected were also expected to give away that wealth so as not to be able to profit materially from their new position. The basic concept and ideals of the Potlatch prevented corruption in high places of trust and power.

(Note: The ceremonial eagle's feather pictured above was gifted to Dennis by the Chief and Council of the Upper Nicola Band following the Douglas Lake blockade near Merritt, British Columbia in 1995).

 

INFORMATION on FUNDRAISING: to be added at a later date.

 

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