The tl'eaxet , or potlatch is a traditional Northwest Coast gathering that has been occurring for many, many years. The potlatch is very important as it is a time for families and communities to celebrate the birth of children, naming ceremonies, marriage and memorials. The potlatch is also a way of establishing honour and prestigeand provides an opportunity for the redistribution of wealth.
Items given away during a potlatch in the past often included eulachon oil, salmon, vegetables, basketry, woven blankets, and other important (and necessary) items to the Stó:lō people. Contemporarily, food and gifts (such as blankets) are still provided to people attending the important ceremonial events. It is now not unusual to give away money and other contemporary items as well.
The Canadian government forced the Stó:lō and other coastal peoples into a capitalist culture by making potlatching illegal from 1884 until 1951-but was never successful in eliminating the tradition. As potlatching is no longer illegal, it has become again a very important aspect of celebration for aboriginal peoples.