Leisure Recreation and the Arts

People on the Northwest Coast had far more leisure time than people in most cultures. Their highly scheduled economic quest left the winter free from most subsistence duties. This time was also one when villages were full. People visited their friends and relatives. It was a time of informal gatherings, often with people entertaining one another with singing and storytelling. Games were sometimes played, with a variant of the Native American stick game being popular. This was a gambling game that was apparently played in mixed-gender social groups. Sounds and dance steps often accompanied the play. Canoe and foot races were popular outdoor activities in more temperate weather.

The Northwest Coast cultures are probably best known for their artwork. As noted above, men worked on hard materials like wood, metal, and stone, and women worked with more flexible materials like bark, roots, and animal pelts. This meant that men carved the extraordinary "totem" carvings that fronted the important houses and welcomed potlatch guests. They also carved more everyday items like boxes, bowls, and tools, as well as ceremonial masks and rank insignias. Carving took place during the nonsubsistence period, and artists were well paid for their best work. Women wove fine spruce root baskets for everyday and ceremonial use. They also wove dance blankets, including the highly valued Chilkat and Raven's Tail blankets. Like their male counterparts, Tlingit female artists were highly compensated for their finest work.

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Pregnancy And Childbirth

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