UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Coast Salish gambling games Maranda, Lynn


The thesis examines in detail the histories and customs of Coast Salish gambling games, and looks at the game structure and its attending spirit power affiliations. Three principal sources of data were employed in the explication of the thesis: (1) pertinent ethnographical data recorded in published reference literature and archival documents, (2) information acquired from various museums on the relevant material culture in their collections and the attending documentation, (3) empirical data collected in the field through direct game observation and the interviewing of informants. The study concludes as the circumstance of Coast Salish gambling games suggests that these games are not just a simple set of rules, and that the games discussed here have, on the other hand, meaningful functions and serve as a form of social expression. As a social mechanism, Coast Salish gambling games are a forum for supernatural power. The existence of power is seen as the basic influence in Coast Salish life, and as such, powers are given meaning as ontological expressions. The gambling games are seen to be an expression of man's power affiliations. Power is an element which may affect the outcome of each gambling event, and the gambling games thereby may be an endorsement of power favour. In view of this concept, Coast Salish gambling games appear to be useful devices to measure the differential degrees or strengths of power among players. Further, it can be said that one of the functions of these games is that they give tangible and observable verification of the influence of power.

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