Skokomish potlatch celebrations


August 18, 2022

Courtesy of Mason County Historical Museum

Undated photo from a Skokomish potlatch.

The following story is adapted from "A Brief Historical Sketch of Shelton, Washington" written by Grant Angle in 1940, and Jean Bearden's "History of Hoodsport," first published in 1987.

In 1886, the Rev. Myron Eels, writing about his 10 years of missionary work with the Skokomish Indians, had this to say about the Indian potlatch: "The potlatch is the greatest festival the Indian has. 'Potlatch' is a Chinook word meaning 'to give.' The central idea of it is a distribution of gifts by a few persons to the many present whom they have invited. It is generally intertribal, from 400 to 2,000 p...

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