Nisqually Potlatch Ceremony

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Nisqually (pronounced Nis-KWALL-lee) is a tribe that lived in the area of the Salish Sea. The name Nisqually comes from the word squalli, meaning “prairie grass.” (Malinowski, Sharon and Anna Sheets, 1215) They called themselves the “Squalliabsch” meaning “the people of the grass country, the people of the river.” (Carpenter, 14) In former times, the Nisquallis occupied at least 40 villages on both banks of the Nisqually River and exending nearly 30 miles upstream from its delta. The Nisqually’s cultural group is Coastal and they spoke the Nisqually dialect of the Coastal Salishan language. In 1780, there were about 3,600 Nisquallis. They were said to have numbered 258 in 1838-1839 and 200 four years later. (Ruby, Robert H., John …show more content…

One of the most important ceremony to the Nisqually tribe is the Potlatch Ceremony. The Potlatch was a common form of puberty, marriage, burial or naming. Each person invited to a Potlatch received a present. The present can be simple or complicated, depends on the person who planned the Potlatch. In funerals, “bodies of the dead were either buried in rocky ground or wrapped in ropes, placed in a fishing canoe covered by mat, and suspend 10 to 14 feet in the air between 2 trees. Cedar plank sheds marked the graves.”(Malinowski, Sharon and Anna Sheets, 1224) First Salmon Ceremony was also a very important ceremony to the Nisqually tribe, took place when the first fish of the season was caught. According to the tribe’s religious belief, salmon were the gift from the salmon king and were honored as if it were a visiting chief. Once the first salmon was caught, it would be brought to shore and carefully prepared and cooked. Every member of the tribe would take a bite from that fish. The head of the fish would be kept point upriver, and the bone would be retuned to the river. Other creatures such as seals and elk were also …show more content…

The article “Seattle's Native American art reconnects with Salish tribes' traditions” on theguardian.com said that it's impossible to picture the Pacific Northwest tribes without the image of a totem pole. “Considered by many as the emblem of the native people of North America, the poles have been the iconic symbol of the region since the late 19th century… The tradition of art-making focused on smaller, personal objects or interior houseposts shown only to select guests.” Masks were carefully carved from cedar trees into many sizes and shapes with different patterns. From the grasses, rushes, roots and bark, they made baskets and weaved mats. Their baskets occasionally contained representations of human figures. Female were distinguished from males based by skirts and smaller waists. All of the figures were placed randomly in 2 rows, some with lower hands and some with raised hands; both of their feet and hands were illustrated. (Carpenter,

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