Table Topic questions are meant to stimulate family and classroom discussion.
Use the questions below after reading,"Seattle Spirit Soars on Hype."
The Native American theme of the Golden Potlatch was grounded in Seattle's unique history and style.
Can you tell by looking at the Centennial photographs whether that rich culture was depicted with
authenticity and respect? Our community's annual summer Seafair celebration is rooted in the
diverse traditions of Seattle's ethnic neighborhoods. Do you see any difference between
the way Potlatch was celebrated then, and the way the Japanese Bon Odori festival is
celebrated now as part of Seafair? Does your family participate in Seafair's cultural
celebrations? Do they seem authentic?
- Looking back, there's concern about the insensitive co-opting of Pacific Northwest
Indian culture by civic boosters. Do you think they were trying to honor or exploit Native
American culture -- or both? What are some current controversies concerning the use of Native
American names and culture, and what do you think about them?
- Find references in today's newspaper to the various cultures and heritages of people
who live in America. What elements characterize a particular culture, making
it unique from others? Look through the paper again for signs of an "American culture" that all
Americans share. What things make us American? What is the function of "the common ground" in a multicultural society?
- In current Seafair tradition, grown men dress up and act as pirates,
rather than "tyees" and "shamans." Is there a difference? What other Golden Potlatch
events are similar to those of Seafair? In recent years, Seattle has begun to
celebrate the annual Salmon Homecoming and Pow Wow, with integral participation by
the Native American community. Contrast this event in substance and tone with the
Golden Potlatch. Which event would you rather attend? Do you think Potlatch,
Seafair and the Salmon Homecoming serve the same or different purposes?
- Part of this week's Centennial story concerns the evolution of city "spirit"
into civic ambition. As Seattle grew and prospered, so did the competition.
In response, growth strategies became calculated, as much about clever marketing as
civic cooperation. The Potlatch itself was a marketing idea that "sold" Seattle's image.
Do any of the products or promotions mentioned have a "natural" relationship to a potlatch event?
What are some modern equivalents of ads selling "Potlatch beer" or "Potlatch suits?"
Design a special event that promotes the "spirit" of your family or circle of friends.
Think of some appropriate products that might tie in with it.
- The Golden Potlatch grew out of unabashed boosterism and desire for growth.
But only the enthusiastic volunteerism of the business community made it possible.
Do you think Seattleites today would have such unquestioning faith in development
or would volunteer en masse for a civic event? What kind of event might unite local
businesses and the media in common cause? What are some other ways civic-minded
volunteers contribute to our community today?
Copyright © 1996 The Seattle Times Company