Hey, I just donated to a kickstarter about Coast Salish economics

How nerdy and SJW can it get? It’s called Potlatch, and it’s a game written with the assistance of Indians to educate people about a misunderstood principle.

Potlatch, the game is a strategic, educational card game based on indigenous philosophies. It is designed to meet K-12 educational standards for teaching about native history, economics, culture, and government. Potlatch, the game, was developed as a community effort with local elders and language experts. The game is written in both English and Lushootseed, the indigenous language of the Pacific Northwest. Game mechanics are based on sharing resources to meet other players’ needs for food, materials, technology, and knowledge.

What sold me was this recommendation, though:

“A big change in thinking from other games. I started out thinking about what I was getting and by the end it was more important the way I was sharing.”

Oh my god. If it’s any good, can we buy a bunch of copies, and then lock all the billionaires of the world in some rooms and force them to play until they grasp the concept?


  1. birgerjohansson says

    Our whole society is built around wanting to have bigger, shinier things than the Joneses. And (for USA at least) on diverting wealth upwards.
    — — — — — — — — — —
    When I have read books I have bought, I give them away. Brand new books go to the local library, slightly used ones go to friends and relatives.
    I only hoard things for which it is difficult to “find a new home”, obscure Russian science fiction and similar things that deserve appreciative owners.

  2. Bruce Fuentes says

    Great concept for a game. As a student of history and politics I have always been fascinated by the difference between Native American cultures and the Western European culture most of us derive from. Very happy to donate to this Kickstarter, Thanks for the heads up.

  3. vole says

    Hope it’s good. Playable co-operative games are notoriously difficult to design, though I’ve heard well of one called Pandemic.
    Kickstarter is looking like an interesting source of socially important games. My copy of “Arranged”, a game about arranged marriages, should be arriving in a few weeks time.

  4. eveningchaos says

    Thanks PZ! I’m an avid board gamer and am always looking at unique and interesting projects to back. This one resonates with me on another level too and I’m happy to donate a copy to a First Nations/Native (I’m Canadian) youth center.

    Today our PM is issuing an apology to the Indigenous children who survived (and those who didn’t) our horrendous residential school system. Today’s apology is specifically for the survivors in Labrador and Newfoundland. I can only hope to help heal the damage done to the First Nations people in any way I can. I know a card game won’t be some panacea, but I feel that understanding First Nation’s culture and traditions is a small step in the right direction. The artwork is really beautiful and reminds me of the hours I’ve spent at the Museum of Anthropology UBC . If you are ever in the Vancouver area, you simply must visit this museum. http://moa.ubc.ca/

  5. bryanfeir says

    Thanks for the heads-up: going to go take a look.

    Pandemic is fun. One flaw is that because everybody’s hand is out in the open, and randomness is limited to the order cards get turned up, it’s quite possible for one person to try to take control and ‘steer’ the entire game. There’s also now a Legacy version where the results of one game carry over to what you can do on the next game.

    The original Arkham Horror was one of the earlier co-operative board games, back when it was from Avalon Hill.

    Yes, I’ve been to that museum before. Definitely worth the visit.

  6. Randy Randleman says

    Long time lurker, first time poster here. Big fan of alternative economies as well as board games (loved Avalon Hill back in the day). And, of course, a fan of science fiction. The Mars trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson, suggested that new human societies that develop away from Earth could migrate toward a gift economy.

    “So both of them were trying to lose?”
    “To lose?”
    “To come out short in the deal?”
    “To give more than they got?”
    “Well, sure. Of course.”
    “Oh, of course!” Art rolled his eyes. “But you… you can’t give too much more than you get, did I understand that?”
    “Right. That would be potlatching.”
    Nirgal watched his new friend mull this over.
    “But if you always give more than you get, how do you get anything to give,
    if you see what I mean?”
    Nirgal shrugged, glanced at Vijjika, hugged her waist suggestively. “You have to find it, I guess. Or make it.”
    “It’s the gift economy,” Vijjika told him.
    “The gift economy?”
    “It’s part of how we run things out here. There’s a money economy for the old buy-and-pay system, using units of hydrogen peroxide as the money. But most people try to do as much as they can by the nitrogen standard, which is the gift economy. The Sufis started that, and the people in Nirgal’s home.”
    (Green Mars)