Culture and Beliefs

​Klallam families have many celebrations to announce important events like, births, marriages, or name giving. These types of celebrations are called Potlatches.

During a potlatch there is a lot of food and many speeches are made.


Witnesses are called upon during the potlatch. It is the witnesses responsibility to remember all that took place at the potlatch. This is a very important job, and was designated to witnesses back in a time when there was no written language, cameras, or video recorders. It is a witnesses job to remember at any time that you ask them about the potlatch what occurred at that potlatch.

Potlatch Protocol

The guests sing and dance from other families and Tribes. Traditionally the Tribe/Band from the farthest away has the floor at a potlatch first, and it goes in that order. Today, at modern day potlatches, the host will create a schedule of when Tribes/Bands will have the The host is not allowed to perform until the end of the potlatch.

Potlatches also include a giveaway to thank the guests for being witnesses at the event.

Traditionally, potlatches were held in a long house. Long houses were made of cedar with cedar house posts all around and were foremost a home. Because the potlatch was such an important event people wore special clothing, such as button blankets. The same family design found on the entrance poles was stitched into that family’s button blankets. Regalia like button blankets are only found in tribes of the Northwest and Canada, all the way up to Alaska.