In November 2021, Naselle Youth Camp hosted its annual potlatch where community members, family, and DCYF staff gathered to share a meal and immerse themselves in the spirit of local potlatch tradition.
“The event is a chance to have our voices heard,” said Sage, a youth of the Cheyenne River Sioux and Lummi Tribes. “It brings us closer together.”
Practiced by Native peoples of the Pacific Northwest coast for thousands of years, a potlatch traditionally takes place during colder months and serves as a gathering for the redistribution and reciprocity of wealth. During Naselle’s event, youth and guest speakers shared ancestral stories, performed traditional songs, and bestowed youth-made ceremonial gifts to attendees.
“I like the potlatch because I have learned about other cultures, and we can show appreciation for those cultures,” said Gabriel, a non-tribal youth participant. “People come here with thoughts about who we are and don’t see us as kids. We just want to be able to show people that we appreciate others and other cultures, and we have open minds.”
The potlatch ceremony closed with youth gifting blankets to the people they were especially grateful to, including the guest speakers, event organizers, and staff who helped them share this rich Native tradition with the community.
Special thanks to local Shoalwater Bay Tribe attendees and DCYF Native Group staff, Hugh Amaguq Ahnatook of the Inupiaq Tribe and Aliza Quinlan of the Yaqui-Pascua Tribe, for making this event possible.