Potlatch is a system of giving to obtain social status. It was a system
practiced by the Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest (and possibly
elsewhere, although I'm only familiar with it in the Pacific Northwest).
It's not the accumulation of wealth that conveys importance to a person or
family in a potlatch system, but distribution (or destruction in some cases)
of wealth that makes a person or family influential.
This was an actual survival mechanism, those who had the fortune to obtain
large amounts of tradable goods would give out to those that were not so
fortunate (say, due to flood, drought, or other natural disaster) with the
implication that when times turn bad for them, there will be some other
“big man” (to borrow a term) to give stuff out.
Note that this is an economic system based upon abundance or overabundance
and might be another way for people like musicians to make a living: the
more they give away, the more influence they gain.
Something to think about.
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