Charles Nelson
Winter, 2018
Academy for Life Long Learning

Three two-hour sessions:
1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
January 9th, 16th, & 23rd
Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Get map, directions.

Brief course description:         eMail the instructor
Autochthonous Northwest Coast societies suffered from artificial economic bubbles of their own making. Sound familiar? These bubbles grew and burst within the Potlatch system. They become so severe after the population was decimated by diseases, that the Canadian Government outlawed the Potlatch, itself. In normal times, when economically advantaged classes flourished, such economic bubbles were frequent, normal, and resorbed without difficulty. How did they do it? Why, they called in the Cannibal Woman Society. Learn how this society saved their communities from economic collapse while rehabilitating antisocial elements.

MENU    . = recently added material
Active links are in dark red and in purple.


     A Cannibal's Geography

     Status and Rank

     Cannibal Woman Masks

     The Hiligaxste'

     Hamatsa Society Masks

     Hamatsa Dance Ceremony

     Tlakwa - The Copper

     The Potlatch


     Northwest Coast Indians
          [A set of instructive slide shows]

     The Hamatsa Ceremony
          [As Practiced Today]

     Kwakiutl History
          [The Kwakiutl on the Kwakiutl]

     Kwakiutl Mythology
          [Wikipedia pages by topic]

     Peoples & Languages [PDF]
          Seth Cable Seminar, UMass, Amherst

     Kwakiutl Language (Kwakwala)
          [Distionary w/pronounciations]

     The Potlatch [Peabody Museum web page]

     Hamatsa Politics
          [Musuem Anthropology Review blog]

     Wendigo Psychosis
          [Cannibalism in the Boreal Zone]

     Voyage of the Hawai'iloa
          [Conversations about the Hamatsa]


Download PDF of Course Outline
Download Course Bibliography

Northwest Coast Culture
   Origins and Distribution
   Social Organization - Lineage, Clan and Moiety
   Social Stratification & Economic Organization
   Subsistence Economy vs Social Economy
   Material Symbols of Rank
The Potlatch System and the Social Economy
   Organization of the Potlatch System
   Functions of the Potlatch System
   Instability in the Potlatch/Lineage System
   Periodic bubbles in the Social Economy of the Potlatch
   Recent History of the Potlatch
      Population/Lineage collapse on the NWC
      Kinship networks and patterns of inheritance
      Excessive competition within the Potlatch
      Outlawing of the Potlatch by Canadian government
   Limits in reconstructing the traditional Potlatch System
The Copper - ultimate symbol of the Potlatch System
   Antiquity of copper use in Northwest Coast Cultures
   Value of copper in antiquity
   Symbolic value of copper in the culture and the potlatch
   The Copper as a symbolic object
   Role of The Copper in the potlatch - inflation of its value
   The Copper dilemma in the social economy
Cannibal Woman Myths
   Boreal belt cannibalism and the proper way to go insane
   Cannibal Woman in NWC culture - deeply embedded
   Elements of the Myth
   Myth is real when you are a part of it.
   How myth is used in social interaction
The Cannibal Woman Society - making the myth real
   Is your son is being possessed by Cannibal Woman?
   The role of the Shaman
   The role of the Cannibal Woman Society
      Completing the psychosis in the forest primeval
      Curing the psychosis at the Winter Dances
Where did that economic bubble go, anyway?
   The economic drama during the winter dances
   The Cannibal strikes
   The dance of Raven and his Cannibal Birds
   Binding the Cannibal - Cannibal Woman is defeated
   The breaking of the Copper and its revaluation
   Benefits of the Cannibal Woman Society
      Mythological harmony
      Psychological well-being
      Economic stability restored
      Lineages bound together
Humorous parallels

©2010 by Charles M. Nelson
All rights reserved.