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The potlatch takes the form of a ceremonial feast traditionally featuring seal meat or salmon. In it, hierarchical relations between groups were observed and reinforced through the exchange of gifts and other ceremonies .
Mauss’ noted that reciprocity is not only an economic system. Like birthday gifts, the sentimental value is often more important than its monetary value. Mauss argues that gifts index social relations in significant ways.
Contrarily, Mauss argues that "gifts" are often not what we think of as gifts. As part of an economic system, they can be thought of as payment of goods or services owed. Imagine receiving a birthday gift of considerably less value than one you gave!