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I OF & 















• • 

NEW YORK 1920 


'-.•.TiVii put to it when asked 

LiuE shall give the layman a 

imw known regarding their 

■jic of its branches. They are 

I «uch an up-to-date synthesis 

poner does not exist. In no 

s the want of a modem sum- 

•hlly felt than in that of social 

^=u, historians, and students of com- 

kll require the data the anthropolo- 

"( of a genera! guide they have 

Itin in Morgan's Ancient So- 

mtific ethnography was in its 

"opologists have not merely 

concrete material but have developed 

■ nts of view that render Morgan hope- 

!i^ work remains an important pioneer 

-.'.imable intelligence and exemplary 

't-_'^ knowledge of primitive society 

' ;;etting one's biology from some 

1 1 is emphatically a book for 

i^ and not for the general 

at the Univer- 

!S anthropo- 

ihe want of an 

"Ranization as 

" '"ring 

Co U'V 





Aa rigkis resened 

« • 



ANTHROPOLOGISTS arc hard put to it when asked 
to recommend a book that shall give the layman a 
brief simmiary of what is now known regarding their 
science as a whole or any one of its branches. They are 
usually obliged to confess that such an up-to-date synthesis 
as is likely to satisfy the questioner does not exist. In no 
department of anthropology has the want of a modem sum- 
mary made itself more painfully felt than in that of social 
organization. Sociologists, historians, and students of com- 
parative jurisprudence all require the data the anthropolo- 
gist might supply, but for lack of a general guide they have 
been content to find inspiration in Morgan's Ancient So- 
defy, a book written when scientific ethnography was in its 
infancy. Since 1877 anthropologists have not merely 
amassed a wealth of concrete material but have developed 
new methods and points of view that render Morgan hope- 
lessly antiquated. His work remains an important pioneer 
effort by a man of estimable intelligence and exemplary 
industry, but to get one's knowledge of primitive society 
therefrom nowadays is like getting one's biology from some 
pre-Darwinian naturalist. It is emphatically a book for 
the historian of anthropology and not for the general 

As I discovered during a year's lecturing at the Univer- 
sity of California, the college student who takes anthropo- 
logical courses suffers as grievously from the want of an 
introductory statement on primitive social organization as 
the interested la3mian or the investigator of neighboring 



brandies of knowledge. It is the requirements of these 
three classes of readers that I have had in mind in the 
preparation of the present volume, which purports to pre- 
sent the position of modern American workers. 

I am naturally under obligations to more of my colleagues 
than can conveniently be named here. Above all I must 
acknowledge my indebtedness to my preceptor, Professor 
Franz Boas, the champion of scientific method in all an- 
thropological research. To Dr. Clark Wissler of the Amer- 
ican Museum of Natural History I owe abundant and varied 
field experience among North American Indians and a 
great deal of stimulation in our common field of specialist 
investigation, the Plains area. To Professor A. L. Kroeber 
I am indebted for the opportunity to lecture at the Univer- 
sity of California during the academic year of 1917-18, 
which led to a systematization of my views on primitive 
society and thus indirectly to the present volume. Among 
many of my Berkeley associates from other departments 1 
found quite unexpectedly a most encouraging interest m 
anthropological theory. More particularly, I was stimu- 
lated by my friend Professor Francis S. Philbrick, now 
of Northwestern University, whose broad knowledge of 
comparative jurisprudence helped greatly to enlarge my 
own vision of primitive law. Finally. I must express my 
obligations to my friend Mr. Leslie Spier of the American 
Museum of Natural History for reading and acutely criti- 
cising the typescript of chapters H to VIH before setting 
out on a field trip; and to Miss Bella Weitzner for the com- 

tparation of the index. 
Robert H. Lowie. 



Preface v 

I. Introduction i 

11. Marriage . 14 

Marriage Prohibitions. Means of Acquiring 
a Mate. Preferential Mating. 

III. Polygamy 40 

Polygyny. Polyandry. Sexual Communism. 
Hypothetical Sexual Commimism. 

IV. The Family 63 

The Bilateral Kin Group. Looseness of the 
Family Unit. Matrilocal and Patrilocal Resi- 
dence. Sexual Division of Labor. Segregation 
of Unmarried. Sexual Segregation. Adoption. 

V. Kinship Usages 80 

Mother's and Father's En. Parent-in-law 
Taboo. Other Taboos. Privileged Familiarity. 
Taboo and License. Teknonymy. 

VI. The Sib iii 

Types of Sib organization. Unity or Diversity 
of Origin. Sibs of Higher Order. Totemism. 

VII. History of the Sib 147 

Priority of the Family. Origin of the Sib. 
The Sib and the Dakota Terminology. Mother- 
Sibs and Father-Sibs. 

VIII. The Position of Woman 186 

Theory and Practice. The "Matriarchate." 
Matrilocal Residence. The Economic Interpre- 
tation. Correlations with Stages of Civilization. 





PRIMITIVE society is in a sense coextensive with primi- 
tive civilization. For civilization or culture, to substi- 
tute the ethnological term, is according to Tylor's famous 
definition "that complex whole which includes knowledge, 
belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities 
and habits acquired by man as a member of society"; 
whence it follows that a complete consideration of society 
involves a study of all the phases of civilization. No such 
stupendous task is here attempted. I will limit myself to 
those aspects of culture known as social organization, i.e., j 
I will deal with the groups into which society is divided, 
the functions of these groups, their mutual relations, and 
the factors determining their growth. 

Yet So closely are the several departments of civilization 
knitted together that concentration on any fme of them to 
the exclusion of all others is an impracticable undertaking. 
Recent events have familiarized us with the mutual depend- 
ence of apparently disparate branches of culture. Military 
operations cannot be successfully conducted without the 
activities of the laboratory scientist and of the husbandman. 
In stages of lesser advancement the same principle holds. 
If we wish to study social organization it is impossible to 
ignore industrial factors because often society is organized 
precisely along industrial lines, into guilds of blacksmiths 
and architects, shipwrights and tattooers. Our concern, 
however, will not be with the technical processes employed 


by these artisans, even though they are characteristic of 
the society to which they belong ; we shall rather deal with 
j the position of each body in the community, its comparative 
/ status of superiority or inferiority, its prerogatives and 
duties as one of a number of parallel or intercrossing aggre- 
gates. Similarly, if wc have occasion to take notice of re- 
ligious corporations, interest will not center in beliefs or 
observances, but in the position which the several groups 
occupy in the general polity. If we were to view Christian- 
ity from this angle, differences as to auricular confession or 
the theory of transubstantiation would figure mainly as 
group labels, while the rise to ascendancy in the state of 
one body of believers, the degradation of another, the dis- 
abilities of a third, would primarily engage our attention. 
Nevertheless it is impossible to anticipate how much knowl- 
edge of religion proper would prove necessary to illuminate 
the main problem, and unawares we might find ourselves 
plunged head over heels into the subtleties of scholastic 
disputation. It is not otherwise with savage peoples, and 
in order to gauge with accuracy the character of a social 
organization it is sometimes essential to take note of data 
representing all other phases of aboriginal activity. 

Scientifically the study of primitive societies does not 
require justification. They exist and as part of reahty 
Science is bound to take note of them. But the manner 
and spirit in which they have been regarded in the past have 
differed widely, and it will not be amiss to consider some 
of the ideals pursued in their investigation. 

For one thing, it is possible to assume a predominantly 
monographic attitude. Some students fix their gaze upon 
a single people at a single epoch of its existence, and en- 
deavor to describe this one culture with the utmost fidelity. 
In the higher reaches of this type of work the ethnographer 
becomes an artist who sympathetically penetrates into the 
latent spirit of his culture and creates a picture after the 
fashion of Gobineau's Renaissance. That is the ideal of 


humani stic research acclaimed by the philosopher Windel- 
faand and his school. To them each manifestation of human 
history represents a unique phenomenon, an absolutely in- 
definable set of values that can merely be experienced 
fhroiigfa the visionary's intuition and then transmitted in 
fainter tints to his public Ethnographic effort conducted 
in tfiis spirit would result in a gallery of cultural portraits, 
eadi complete in itself and not related with the rest. 

Sodi an attitude toward the data of civilization is by no 
means inconsistent with scientific aims, and inasmuch as it 
reveals the subtler phases of culture it may even contribute 
indispensable elements to a complete description of reality. 
But it is equally true that Science cannot rest content with 
Ais aesdietic immersion in distinct manifestations of human 
society. Indeed, a student passing successively from one 
of tfa^e reproductions to another would imperceptibly yield 
to a mental exercise quite different from the impulse that 
fired the painter in plumbing the mdividuality of his sub- 
ject or from his own initial attempt at re-creation. Spon- 
taneously comparison of later and earlier pictures would 
blend with merely absorptive processes. Against the mar- 
tial cast of one culture would stand out the devotional twist 
of another or the blot of money-madness in a third. Re- 
semblances would be noted as well as differences, and the 
question would imperatively obtrude itself how both are to 
be txplsdned. In other words, phenomena would be not 
merely apperceived by themselves but viewed in their re- 

In part it would be a problem of causal relations. It is 
natural to suppose that like phenomena must have like 
causes and accordingly it would become the ethnologist's 
duty to determine these : a priori they might be supposed to 
lie in racial affinity, or the similarity of geographical en- 
vironment, or some other fundamental condition shared 
by the cultures compared. Practically, however, as will ap- 
pear later, it is not so easy to isolate such determinants 


amidst the tremendous complexities of cultural data and 
to demonstrate that they are the significant factors. In- 
deed, some ethnologists have abandoned all hope of ever 
unraveling them. But whether the quest of causal relations 
be a hopeless one or not, one kind of relation can never be 
ignored by the scientific student of culture — the chronologi- 
cal one. Assume that our cultural picture gallery contains 
delineations of all distinguishable cultures. It would then 
embrace separate pictures of the successive cultures of the 
same people. Aesthetic contemplation might rest content 
with apperceiving the picture of Japan in looo A.D. and 
the picture of Japan in 1900 as representing two disparate 
embodiments of cultural ideals as independent of each other 
as either is of the Italian Renaissance. But that could not 
possibly be the attitude of the scientific student. To him 
the fact that one culture has grown out of another, that 
the same culture has varied with time, is an all-importan' 
fact; without a knowledge of the time relations of cultures 
that are merely links of one chain he would feel that he had 
missed the most essential part of reality. To put it tersely, 
j whatever else the investigator of civilization may do, he 
must be an historian. 

But what kind of an historian shall the ethnologist be? 
Some eminent savants whose thinking has been moulded in 
experimental laboratories have prescril>ed with much em- 
phasis what kind of history is worth while. Accustcsned 
to seeing physical phenomena described in the stenographic 
equations of the calculus, they cannot conceive of any, 
branch of knowledge as worth a candle unless it conforms 
to the pattern of celestial mechanics. Says Professor Pear- 
son in The Grammar of Science: "History can never be- 
come science, can never be anything but a catalogue of 
facts rehearsed in more or less pleasing language until 
these facts are seen to fall into sequences which can be 
briefly resumed in scientific formulae." Applying his tenet 
specifically to civilization, this author contends that in 


broad outline the development of man has followed the 
same course in Europe, in Africa, in Australasia; that it 
can be briefly resumed in terms of certain basic principles ; 
and that except in so far as the historian undertakes to ascer- 
tain these, his efforts are hardly worthy of serious consider- 
ation. Similar opinions have been voiced by Professor Ost- 
wald, the chemist, and Dr. Driesch, the zoologist. 

The attitude just defined displays a surprising naivete. 
No doubt ethnologists and other historians would be greatly 
at fault if they failed to discover the laws underlying civili- 
zation, thus giving to their data the highest degree of co- 
ordination to which they are amenable. But the first ques- 
tion is whether any such laws exist and what measure of 
coordination is feasible. The existence of uniformity in 
culture history cannot be assumed simply because it would 
be convenient. Even in physics the investigator is not 
always fortunate enough to reduce his phenomena to a 
Newtonian formula. He must theoretically accept the fact 
that water has its point of maximum density at four degrees 
Centigrade, as men at large have had to reckon with it 
practically, without waiting until water shall assume the 
properties- of other liquids. So the ethnologist cannot per- 
mit his task to be pre-determined for him. If there are laws 
of social evolution, he must assuredly discover them, but 
whether there are any remains to be seen, and his scholarly 
position remains unaffected by their non-existence. His 
duty is to ascertain the course civilization actually has fol- 
lowed; and the kind of synthesis he gives must depend on 
the nature of his facts. To strive for the ideals of another 
branch of knowledge may be positively pernicious, for it 
can easily lead to that factitious simplification which means 
falsification. It would be equivalent to insisting that water 
must condense in freezing. If every people of the globe 
had a culture history wholly different from that of every 
other, the historian's task would still be to record these sin- 
gularities ana make the best of them ; and in contributing his 


share to the sum total of knowledge he would suffer no loss 
in scientific dignity from the unmalleability of his materiaL 
Without, therefore, at the outset renouncing the search 
for laws of social evolution, we will emphatically declare 
our independence of that pseudo-scientific dogmatism which 
insists on formulating all phenomena after the fashion that 
has proved serviceable in a diminutive comer of the field 
of human knowledge. Uninfluenced by any bias for or 
against historical regularities, we shall attempt to deter- 
mine what are the facts and what has been their actual 

Here, however, the ethnologist encounters an obstacle 
from which the historian of the higher civilizations is ex- 
empt. The succession of events in primitive communities is 
rarely a matter of recorded knowledge except for the most 
recent period, and when positive information extends back 
to several centuries ago the student considers himself imusu- 
ally fortunate. This presents a real difficulty but not an in- 
surmountable one. For in addition to the sparse document- 
ary sources the ethnologist possesses a stock of established 
ethnographic and linguistic fact, and when this is combined 
with the data of geographical distribution it is often possible 
to reconstruct history with practical certainty. With regard 
to phenomena of social organization instances will be sup- 
plied in later chapters ; I will therefore elucidate the method 
by a technological illustration. In smelting iron the natives 
of Madagascar employ the piston-bellows, a type quite dif- 
ferent from the bellows of the Negro blacksmiths of the 
neighboring African continent. In a splendid example of 
historical reconstruction Tylor pointed out that the piston- 
bellows occurs also in Sumatra, in other parts of the Malay 
1 Archipelago, and the adjacent portion of the Asiatic main- 
'land; and that anthropologically and linguistically the 
i Malagasy of Madagascar are members of the Malay family, 
i Hence the piston-bellows is undoubtedly a Malay invention, 
: which was carried by the Malays to various regions in the 


ooorse of their migrations. By thus combining general 
anthropological knowledge with knowledge of the distri- 
bution of a trait Tylor succeeded in establishing the 
history of a mechanical contrivance beyond any reasonable 

In the historical reconstruction of culture the phenomena 
of distribution play, indeed, an extraordinary part. If a 
trait occurs everywhere, it might veritably be the product 
of some universally operative social law. If it is found in 
a restricted number of cases, it may still have evolved 
through some such instnmientality acting under specific 
conditions that would then remain to be determined by 
anal}rsis of the cultures in which the feature is embedded. 
On the other hand, as in the instance of the Malagasy bel- 
lows, there may be no law involved but a question of genetic 
i-elationship. Finally, the sharers of a cultural trait may be 
of distinct lineage but through contact and borrowing have 
come to hold in common a portion of their cultures. 

Thus the data as to distribution demand an interpreta- 
tion, whether in terms of some causal factor, or of tribal 
affinity or international intercourse ; and the answer elicited 
with the aid of extraneous ethnological information is neces- 
sarily cast in historical form. If we were tracing the history 
of ironwork, we should assign to the Malay bellows a rela- 
tively late date because it is a specialized form evolved in 
a region of Asia remote from the ancient centers of metal- 
lurgy; and we should regard the Malagasy bellows as a 
relatively recent importation because Madagascar represents 
the farthest outpost of Malay civilization. 

Since, as a matter of fact, cultural resemblances abound 
between peoples of diverse stock, their interpretation com- 
monly narrows to a choice between two alternatives. Either 
they are due to like causes, whether these can be determined 
or not ; or they are the result of borrowing. A predilection 
for one or the other explanation has lain at the bottom of 
much ethnological discussion in the past; and at present 

influential schools both in England and in continental 
Europe clamorously insist that all cuhural parallels are due 
to diffusion from a single center. It is inevitable to envisage 
this moot-problem at the start, since uncompromising cham- 
pionship of either ahemative has far-reaching practical 
consequences. For if every parallel is due to borrowing, 
then sociological laws, which can be inferred only from in- 
dependently developing likenesses, are barred. Then the 
history of religion or social life or technology consists ex- 
clusively in a statement of the place of origin of beliefs, 
customs and implements, and a recital of their travels to 
different parts of the globe. On the other hand, if borrow- 
ing covers only part of the observed parallels, an explanation 
from like causes becomes at least the ideal goal in an inves- 
tigation of the remainder. It is therefore proper to justify 
in the beginning whatever position one is inclined to take 
in the conflict between the rival theories of diffusion and 
independent evolution. 

The great strength of the diffusionist theory lies in the 
abundance of evidence that transmission has played an enor- 
mous part in the growth of cultures. This is often not 
merely a matter of inference but of recorded observation, 
as in the influence of Egyptian on Greek, or of Arabian 
on mediaeval European civilization. To this vast body 
of testimony must be added numerous examples of borrow- 
ing established by inference but in a manner that admits of 
no doubt. Whenever a well-defined trait is distributed over 
a continuous area, the conclusion can hardly be avoided that 
it has developed in one spot within that area and has thence 
traveled to its confines. Often that conclusion is corrobo- 
rated by a quantitative test : the feature in question is found 
in a state of high elaboration about the center of origin and 
dwindles towards the periphery. Thus, Professor Boas has 
demonstrated with great elegance that the Raven cycle of 
Canadian mythology originated about the northern part of 
British Columbia and thence traveled southwards. The 


farther one proceeds from the point of origin the smaller is 
the degree of elaboration of the cycle until it finally tapers 
away. This combination of legendary adventures could 
not be confined to a narrow coastal strip if it were the prod- 
uct of some law of myth-making; and there would not be 
noticeable that progressive diminution of complexity if we 
were not dealing with a case of successive transmission to 
districts farther and farther removed from the fountain- 

Diffusion must accordingly be hailed as a vera causa. 
But is it the only one ? Wliat shall we say when like traits 
crop up in widely severed regions of whidi the populations 
are neither racially related nor have ever been in contact so 
far as is known ? In that contingency the diffusicmist must 
have recourse to the auxiliary hypothesis that contact at 
one time existed ; and he does so because of his conviction 
that every element of culture is ultimately due to so extraor- 
dinary a confluence of circumstances that the conditions for 
a second invention can never recur. This is the basic tenet 
of the diffusionist creed that we must face. 

It may at once be admitted that some of the arguments 
leveled at this positicm in the past have not been especially 
fortunate. Thus, the duplication of scientific discoveries 
has been cited to prove that the same feature may develop 
independently. Yet in general this argument lacks cogency. 
A careful historical examinaticm usually shows that the co- 
discoverers both borrowed largely from the same cultural 
stock, as did Newton and Leibnitz in the discovery of the 
cakuhis. Such a case, then, cannot be likened to the inde- 
pendent creation of cultural elements in completely sepa- 
rated areas. Further, when modem scientists duplicate 
each oCfaer^s results they are not merely building on the 
same foundation but are trained workers who consciously 
sedc to add definite stones to the structure. This deliberate 
striving on die basis of spedal training is a motive that must 
be wholly banished in considering the ruder civilizations, 


and the Hkelihcxxi of a repeated invention is proportionately 

The weakness of the diffusionist doctrine in its extreme 
form lies in its lack of discrimination. Few would deny; 
that a highly complex invention could not readily be made 
several times, but when this principle is extended to the 
simplest devices and conceptions it flies in the face of proba- 
bility. It is true that man suffers from poverty of inven- 
tiveness and ever prefers to follow the path of lesser 
resistance by borrowing, but his failing is not so great as is 
contended. If it were, that admirable adaptation to environ- 
ment which we occasionally note in widely separated areas 
could never have taken place. The Micronesians would not 
have learned to substitute the shell of the giant clam for 
the stone no longer available on their islands for axe blades ; 
the Andaman Islanders and South American natives would 
never have learned to stupefy fish with poisonous plants; 
nor would any of a legion of ingenious industrial processes 
of strictly limited range have been achieved. Must we 
assume that the Plains Indian who was able to perfect a 
highly complex embroidery technique in porcupine quills 
was incapable of discovering for himself that buffalo dung 
could be used in fire-making and had to learn it from some 
alien source? The Hidatsa Indians of North Dakota still 
cross the Missouri in boats resembling the Welsh coracle, 
an umbrella-shaped frame being covered with a hide. Must 
we countenance the assumption that a connection once 
existed that has merely been obliterated in course of time ? 
We shall certainly not yield to that view if among neigh- 
boring tribes there turns up the protot}T)e of the Hidatsa 
bull-boat, — ^an improvised raft of tent skins supported by 
cross-pieces of wood and proving the autochthonous inven- 
tion of the boat. Again, there is the case of the Australians 
and the Tierra del Fuegians, both of whom readily noted on 
becoming acquainted with glass that this material offered 
a good substitute for stone in the manufacture of certain 


implements. Thus a fairly long catalogue might be made 
of simple ideas that are either positively known to have 
been conceived more than once or that at least in all proba- 
bility originated independently in two or more places. In- 
deed, there is not lacking evidence that even more abstruse 
notions have in rare instances been re-invented. None is 
more remarkable than the occurrence of the zero figure in 
the notation of the Maya of Yucatan, an achievement not 
equaled by the Greeks or Romans and duplicating that of 
the Hindu without the least possibility of mutual influence. 
However, the illustrations cited apply only to a limited 
section of the cultural domain, that in which mechanical or 
theoretical problems are solved by intellectual means. The 
religious, sociological and aesthetic aspects of culture are 
founded in response to totally different motives. It is con- 
ceivable that in these, where there is greater freedom from 
rational control, where in other words the analogical faculty 
functions in unrestrained vigor, the chance for independent 
evolution is lessened or annulled. Indeed, some observers 
would sooner admit that the most important inventions of 
mechanical ingenuity could have a multiple origin than that 
any human mind could independently have retraced the 
tortuous path that has led to some grotesque mythological 
conception. Nevertheless the non-rationalistic departments 
of culture are not lacking in examples of the independent 
origin of similar features. A single illustration will suffice. 
No worse affront can be hurled in the teeth of a Kurnai 
Australian than to call him an orphan ; and the same is true 
of the Crow Indian in Montana. That so harmless a term 
should be resented as the most offensive imprecation seems 
strange, but there is an explanation for it. Among the 
ruder peoples influence is often directly dependent on the 
greater or lesser number of faithful relatives. The kinless 
orphan is consequently damned to social impotence and 
considering aboriginal vanity it is natural that the vocabu- 
lary of vituperation should contain no more degrading epi- 


thet. It is therefore not only certain that neither the Kumai 
borrowed from the Crow nor vice versa, but the reason for 
the observed parallel is clear from known facts of primitive 

It is not necessary to multiply instances of this type 
because an inexhaustible supply of relevant data is furnished 
by a single department of culture, to wit, language. Lin- 
guistic processes belong to the same category psychologically 
as the processes by which the non-intellectualistic part of 
culture has come into being, and what applies to them has 
accordingly a wider application. English has come to ap- 
proach Chinese in the simplicity of its grammar not because 
of the direct influence exerted by China on the speech of 
the British Isles but from internal causes. If the Shosho- 
nean Indian languages of the Great Basin of North America 
have a dual number it is not because tliey have borrowed 
the notion from the ancient Greeks but because it is a notion 
that can and does arise independently. In this manner a 
.host of instances can be enumerated showing that the same 
(mode of classifying or describing phenomena has been 
I evolved in languages utterly unrelated in origin and wholly 
disconnected in point of contact. If that is so, even though 
the reason for the resemblances be forever hidden from our 
ken, the fact is established that reasoning and classification 
by analogy can produce analogous results. Accordingly it 
is sheer dogmatism to decree that such results could not 
occur in the case of customs or myths. 

In short, there is no reason for excluding the possibility 
of independent development in the study of social organiza- 
tion. I will accordingly treat each case of resemblance on 
its merits and shall not strike the balance between the rival 
theories before the close of my investigation. 

In the foregoing remarks lies the reason for the impor- 
tant place assigned to matters of distribution in the subse- 
quent chapters. From the range of a phenomenon we know 
at once whether it can even tentatively rank as a necessary 


consequence of human gregariousness, while a comparison 
of linked traits may reveal the conditions favoring its 
appearance. The distribution of an institution may demon- 
strate that it has been diffused, and when coupled with other 
information it may aid in a fairly complete reconstruction 
of historical processes. When we know only the range of 
a usage, we may not yet know very much, but we have at 
least a point of departure for amplif)ring our information. 
AVhen we do not know the distribution of a phenomenon 
with unrecorded history, we know nothing that is theoreti- 
cally significant 

The knowledge of primitive society has an educational 
value that should reccmimend its study even to those who are 
not primarily interested in the processes of culture history. 
All of us are bom into a set of traditional institutions and 
social OMiventions that are accepted not only as natural but 
as the only conceivable response to social needs. Departures 
from our standards in foreigners bear in our biased view 
the stamp of inferiority. Against this purblind provincial- 
ism there is no better antidote than the systematic study of 
alien civilizations. Acquaintance with adjustments in one 
society after another that rest on wholly different founda- 
tions from those with which we are familiar enlarges our 
notion of social potentialities as the conception of n-dimen- 
sional space enlarges the vision of the non-Euclidean geome- 
trician. We see our received set of opinions and customs 
as merely one of an indefinite number of possible variants ; 
and we are emboldened to hew them into shape in accord- 
ance with novel aspirations. 



IF SOCIAL organization is but one phase of culture and 
can be understood solely in connection with other phases, 
a corresponding statement holds even more decidedly for 
any one of the aspects of social organization. We may begin 
by considering the primitive family, but very soon we find 
that in order to comprehend its phenomena we must con- 
sider what at first seem quite irrelevant series of facts. In 
parts of Oceania, where a man regularly eats and sleeps at 
his club, this tjrpe of unit aflfects family life so profoundly 
that the two cannot well be divorced in picturing either. 
If, on the other hand, we begin with clubs, we shall very 
soon be engaged in a discussion of property concepts be- 
cause membership in these organizations is sometimes equiv- 
alent to the holding of a proprietary title. But any treat- 
ment of property involves the notions of kinship that 
determine inheritance of property. And so forth. In short, 
these several topics are so closely interrelated that none of 
them can be treated as the basic one from which all others 
are logically deducible. However we commence, there must 
be constant anticipation and constant cross-referencing, for 
by the sheer necessities of exposition we are driven to exam- 
ine fragment after fragment of an organic whole. 

This being so, any starting-point will do. I will select the 
family as the first social unit to be considered; and will 
naturally begin by describing the conditions that confront 
the individual who desires to found a new family, — ^the 
social prohibitions and prescriptions to which he has to sub- 



mit in the sdection of a mate and die traditional means of 
acquiring one. 

Massiage Prohibitioks 

In every part of the world there are restrictions on the 
dioice of a mate based on propinqnity of relationship. 
Those who transgress the mks are gnilty of the dread crime 
of incest. Within the narrowest family circle sexual rela- 
tions are umversally tabooed. There are no tribes which 
countenance die mating of parent and diild, and where 
brother-sister unions have been recorded they are not die 
result of primitiveness but of excessive sophistication. That 
is, in communities where pride of descent obtains in hjrper- 
trophied form, as in ancient Egypt and Peru, the sovereign 
may find no one of suflSdently high rank to become his 
mate except his nearest blood kin. Such instances are* 
ho w e v er, decidedly rare and do not affect the practices of 
the common herd. 

It is not the function of the ethnologist but of the biolo- 
gist and psychologist to explain why man has so deep-rooted 
a horror of incest* though personally I accept H obhou sc's 
vkw that the sentiment is instinctive. The student of so- 
ciety merety has to redcon with the fact that the dread of 
incest limits the bk>k^cally possible number of unions. He 
must fnrdier register die different ways in which different 
communities CDncc i %' e die incest rule. For while parent 
and dnld, brother and sister, are universally barred from 
mating, many tribes favor and all but prescribe marriages 
between certain more remote kindred. That is to sav. while 
the aversion to marriage within the group of the closest 
relatives may be instinctive, the extension of that sentiment 
beyond diat restricted drrle is conventional, some tribes 
drawing die line far more rigoronsly than others. For 
example, die Bhckfoot of Montana not only discountenance 
die marriage of ooosins but look askance at any union 




within the local band "because there is always a suspicion 

that some close bIoo<i relationship may have been over- 
looked." The Shtiswap and Thompson River Indians of 
British CoUimbia deprecate unions of second cousins, the 
Nez Perce of Idaho even those of third cousins. Accord- 
ing to an educated member of the Paviotso of Nevada the 
most remote cousins are still reckoned by her people as 
kindred, and consequently matrimony is barred. 

This repugnance to in-breeding must be connected with a 
common primitive usage. A Paviotso, e.g., addresses all 
cousins, regardless of degree, as his brother or sister. Now 
among rude peoples there is a fjreat deal in a name and 
from calling a girl sister to regarding her as a sister for 
matrimonial purposes is but a step owing to the superstitions 
identification of things bearing the same appellation. 
Hence, provided a tenth cousin be called by the same term 
as the first, the incest horror will be naturally extended to 
her as well. 

There are, indeed, far more startling extensions of this 
sentiment. Frequently there is not merely a rule against 
the marriage of actual blood-kin but even of individuals 
between whom no relationship can be traced and who are 
regarded as kin simply through the legal fiction that fellow- 
members of a certain social group are ultimately descendants 
of the .same ancestor. The magical potency of the group 
name doubtless plays a large part here. Thus in Australia 
a man of, say, the Emu group in one tribe would not mate 
with an Emu woman of an alien tribe a hundred miles 
away, though blood-kinship is absolutely precluded by the 
conditions of the case. 

The rule which prescribes that an individual must find 
a mate outside of his own group, whether that group be the 
family, the village, or some other social unit, is known as 
exogamy. The contrary rule which makes it compulsory 
for a man to mate within his group is labeled endogamy. 
J Endogamy flourishes where social distinctions have come to 


be matters of paramount importance. The Hindu caste / 
system is the stock illustration, European aristocracy sup-/ 
plies another. At a lower level of civilization the Tsimshian 
of British Columbia frown upon the marriage of a chief's 
relatives with those of a chiefs attendant or of an attend- 
ant's with commoners. It is only the notion of obligatory 
marriage within the social unit not the de facto occurrence 
of imions within the group that constitutes endogamy. For 
example, the young men of Kalamazoo naturally find their 
wives for the most part among their townswomen, but 
there is nothing to prevent them from seeking a bride in 
Ottumwa or Przemysl. It is only where there is lurking 
the notion of a prohibition that we can speak of an en- 
dogamous tendency, — say, in connection with the feeling 
that a Catholic ought not to marry a Protestant 

Exogamy and endogamy are not mutually exclusive except 
with regard to the same unit. The Toda of the Nilgiri 
Hills in Southern India are divided into two groups, the 
Tartharol and the Teivaliol, between which legal matrimony 
is prohibited. But each is subdivided into groups which 
are exogamous. A person of the Pan section of the Tartha- 
rol may not choose for his spouse a girl of Teivaliol affilia- 
tion, but must seek a Tartharol of some section other than 
his own.* 

Means of Acquiring a Mate 

Generalizations about primitive tribes are dangerous, but 
few exceptions will be found to the statement that matri- 
mony with them is not so much a sacramental as a civil 
institution. It differs, however, notably from modern ar- 
rangements in Caucasian civilization in that the contract 
often binds not individuals but families. This appears 
clearly in two forms of matrimony known as marriage by 
exchsoige and marriage by purchase. In both a girl is 
treated as an asset which her family will not surrender 
without receiving adequate compensation. 


Among the Kariera of Western Australia the acquisition 
of a bride is complicated by certain rules of preferential 
mating. That is, a man is not only forbidden to marry his 
sister and certain other kinswomen, but is practically obliged 
to mate with a particular type of cousin or some more re- 
mote relative designated by the same term (see below, 
Preferential Mating). With this limitation exchange is 
commonly practised. A man, A, having one or more sisters 
finds a man, B, standing to him in the proper cousin relation- 
ship who also possesses a sister. These men each take a 
sister of the other as wife. This method seems to have a 
very definite distribution. It is common in Australia and 
the Torres Straits Islands but rare or absent even in the 
neighboring region of Melanesia. 

Apart from such exchange of sisters, the Kariera elders 
arrange marriages of the orthodox type between juvenile 
cousins. The death of one of them may effect a change 
but the new arrangement will still conform to the matri- 
monial norm : the prospective spouses will be cousins of the 
prescribed type, though perhaps more remotely related. In 
the case of infant betrothals a boy grows up with the under- 
standing that a certain man is his probable father-in-law 
and as such is entitled to occasional presents and services. 
But since his fiancee may die, there is a whole group of 
potential fathers-in-law who are entitled to similar con- 
sideration, though in lesser degree ; these attentions may be 
conceived as a form of compensation equivalent to the pur- 
chase form of other areas. When a girl attains the proper 
age, she is simply handed over to the bridegroom. That 
we are verily dealing with a family compact appears clearly 
from certain additional elements of Kariera matrimonial 
life. "Where there are several sisters in a family they are 
all regarded as the wives of the man who marries the eldest 
of them." This is a widespread custom known as the 
sororate. On the other hand, a man's wives are automatic- 
ally inherited by his younger brother or a kinsman ranking 


as SQdu a usage tedmically referred to as the Uvirait. 
Finally, a man may waive his preemptive claim on his wife^s 
yoonger sister in favor of his younger brother 

Compared with exchange, purchase has an exceedingly 
wide distribution. It is, however, important to distinguish 
several varieties of purchase which are neither psychologic 
cally nor legally equivalent In some regions woman is to 
all intents and purposes a transferable and inheritable species 
of chattel ; in others, there will be found only the appearance 
of purchase, since the price offered is balanced or even out- 
weighed by an equivalent gift or dowry. 

To b^n wth purchase in the strictest sense of the term. 
Among the Kirgiz, a Turkish tribe of southwestern Siberia, 
a man will betroth a ten-year old son to a girl and commence 
forthwith to amass the bride-price, which is as high as 
8i head of cattle. This is paid in instalments ; only when 
a large porti<m has been conveyed to the fiance's family 
may the young man visit the girl, and the marriage takes 
place with the completed payment. Owing to the high 
amount exacted by the bride's family, few men have more 
than one wife and very rarely is a woman divorced, though 
under the Mohammedan law the husband's authority would 
be unrestricted. Here the woman is quite definitely con- 
ceived as her spouse's property and loses contact with her 
own family. 

With the Ho, an Ewe tribe in the interior of Togo, West 
Africa, there is a series of payments and services which 
establish a proprietary title to the wife, but there is no com- 
plete severance from her family and altc^ether her social 
status is distinctly better than among the Kirgiz. Here the 
initial arrangements are often made even before the girl's 
birth : a man who likes a woman is wont to bespeak the next 
daughter she may bear. If the proposal is accepted, the 
fiance must give a preliminary present to the prospective 
parents-in-law, which is followed by monthly gifts of cow- 
rie-shdls to the infant girl and horticultural assistance to 



her parents, leather with a variety of other services. At 
puberty the young woman is turned over to the bridegroom, 
but if the compensation offered by him appears inadequate 
the parents will previously annul the contract by sending 
him a stipulated amount of cowrie money. There can be 
no doubt that in a certain sense the Ho woman is a form 
of property : she may serve as a pawn in a creditor's custody 
and is inherited by her husband's brothers while herself 
barred from inheriting any of his possessions. Neverthe- 
less in practice the theoretical rigor of these conceptions is 
considerably weakened. Women may exercise a great deal 
of influence on their husbands, have been known to leave 
them in joint retwilion, and are entitled to compensation for 
supplying their spouses with cotton. 

The erroneous notions that might be suggested by the 
catchword 'purchase' are clearly exposed by a consideration 
of the Kai, a Papuan people in New Guinea. Here the 
bride-price, consisting of a boar's tusk, a hog and other 
valuables, is paid to the girl's maternal uncles and brothers, 
while the father is merely entitled to a certain amount of 
work. In a sense the husband again becomes the owner of 
his wife through the transaction: she is inherited by his 
brothers or kinsmen, is punishable by her husbartd for adul- 
tery, and in cases of elopement her loss is compensated by 
a return of the bride-price. liut while juridically the wife 
is nil, her person has not been surrendered absolutely by her 
kin. If the man breaks his wife's pottery, he must in- 
demnify her family; he is as little entitled to inherit her 
property as she is to appropriate his legacy: and the chil- 
dren belong definitely to her and her kin. In short, what 
the man acquires by purchase is an exclusively sexual pre- 
rogative: even in return for his wife's economic services he 
is obliged to do an equivalent amount of work on behalf 
of the common household. 

In contrast to Kai custom stands the lobola usage of 
the Thonga of South Africa. To be sure, here too the 


suitor and his family acqaire a woman throogii offering 
a sdpalatcd bride-price (/ofro/a).— cattle or hoes; and the 
wkiow is as a matter of coarse inherited by a member of 
her husband's family,— <»ie of his yomiger brothers, or 
sister's sons, or sons by another wife. Indeed, the p iupeit y 
concept is consistently applied to a still greater extent 
Wlien a man has surrendered the customary bride-price, his 
wife's family forthwith use it to purchase a wife for an 
adult son. If. now, the first man's wife elopes, her husband 
may claim the lobola; since it has already been expended in 
buying a wife for his brother-in-law, the eloper's insc^Tent 
kinsfolk may be driven to the point of surrendering this 
newly bought woman to her fugitire sister-in-law's husband. 
So far it is simply a case of rigorously applying the pur- 
chase principle. But in one respect there is a fimdamental 
div er g e n ce from Kai practice: the lobola is most emphati- 
cally understood to pay not only for the woman but for aU 
her issue, so that a husband may claim restoration of the 
bride-price if his wife dies childless, while, on the other 
hand, tfie offspring of a woman belong to her family pro- 
vided tfie lobola remains unpaid. 

Again a different conception prevailed among the Hidatsa 
of North Dakota. Purchase was here the most hcxiorable 
form of marriage for the woman, and only girls never prc- 
vioosly married were bought But though some proprietary 
right was acknow^ledged, as evidenced by the levirate rule, 
its development was relatively weak. The husband had 
no absohite power over either his wife or the children. 
He was indeed entitled to wed his wife's younger sisters 
but on Ae other hand he frequently figured in the begin- 
ning of his matrimonial life as a sort of servant in the 
father-izHlaw's household. It is also important to note that 
the pmrtose was often no more than an exchange of g^fts, 
the bridegroom's being sometimes exceeded in value by the 
netnni presents received from the bride's kin. 

This equivalence of dowry and bride-price is by no means 


rare in North America. It was characteristic of the matri- 
monial unions of the Tlingit of southern Alaska. Obviously 
in such cases we can hardly continue to speak of purchase. 
The legal conceptions bound up with such usages are inter- 
esting. With the Tlingit the children always belonged to 
the mother's family in case of divorce. If the husband 
separated from his wife on account of sheer incompati- 
bility, he was obliged to restore the dowry to her parents, 
who retained his gifts. If, however, the cause was adultery 
on the woman's part, he was entitled to have his presents 
returned to him and kept the dowry. 

Enough has been said to show the great variability of 
the purchase concept and the range of juristic notions as- 
sociated with it in different regions. Before leaving the 
category of cases in which compensation of some sort is 
offered for the wife it is well to point out that the notion 
of service for a bride, which is frequently merely a substi- 
tute for purchase or supplementary to it, may display a 
quite different significance. Thus, with the Koryak of 
northeastern Siberia service is the established method of 
winning a bride. Even when the son-in-law settles with 
the wife's parents, so that they not merely avoid losing the 
daughter's assistance but gain her husband's permanent 
support, the rule is not relaxed. The suitor not only must 
accomplish useful work, but must endure privation and 
humiliating treatment; his service period is a test of char- 
acter and skill rather than the equivalent of a bride-price. 

Suitors' trials, indeed, play a very prominent part in 
aboriginal folk-tales, which delight in depicting the hero as 
overcoming the most extraordinary obstacles. Reality is 
less romantic, but definite tests are not wanting. Thus, 
among the Arawak of British Guiana the prospective hus- 
band was obliged to prove his marksmanship by shooting 
an arrow into a woodpecker's nest from a moving boat and 
to jsive further demonstration of his mettle by clearing a 
field and filling a large number of crab baskets within a 


specified span of time. The idea at the bottom of such 
tasks is of course to make sure that the young man is ca- 
pable of providing for a family. This motive occurs as a 
constant refrain in the utterances of North American In- 
dians, where the skilful hunter figures as the ideal son- 

Common as is the notion that some sort of compensation 
must be yielded in return for the bride, it is by no means 
universal. Even in some of the cases cited above a closer 
examination has shown that the form of rendering a con- 
sideration may harbor substantially different conceptions. 
There can be no real purchase where the dowry equals the 
bridegroom's gifts ; nor where the present offered dwindles, 
as among the Indians of the northwest Amazons country, 
to a pot of tobacco and another of coca. A number of 
forms of marriage must be mentioned, however, which lack 
even the semblance of compensation. 

In the first place, there is marriage by capture. Though 
it plays an exaggerated role in the earlier speculative litera- 
ture of the subject, it is really of distinctly minor impor- 
tance. For example, the warlike Plains Indians frequently 
enough captured women of hostile tribes and took them to 
wife ; but the vastly preponderating number of alliances for 
obvious reasons took place within the tribe. There, how- 
ever, the appropriation of a woman by force was not so 
simple a matter because it might at once precipitate a fam- 
ily feud. It is true that among the Northern Athabaskans 
of the Mackenzie River region there were wrestling-matches 
between rival claimants, the stronger being entitled to carry 
oflF a woman even though she had already been married; 
and similar practices are reported from the Eskimo on the 
west coast of Hudson Bay. But. on the whole, social sanc- 
tion of the rights of brute force within the community is 
granted by very few peoples. To be sure, there occurs in 
a fair number of cases a dramatization of bride capture. 
Thus among the Koryak the bride, often assisted by her 


friends, resists the groom's advances and he may receive a 
sound thrashing before reducing her to submission. Such 
usages were interpreted by an older school of anthropologists 
as survivals of a condition in which marriages were nor- 
mally contracted by capture. But it is far simpler and less 
hypothetical to connect it with other incidents of Koryak 
pre-matrimonial experiences and to recognize in the symbolic 
capture merely the final test of the suitor's adroitness and 
prowess. Elsewhere we may plausibly assume with Dr. 
Hobhouse that the dramatic performance of capture sym- 
bolizes appropriation and "is not necessarily a survival of 
something more real, but may be rather a legal expression 
of the character of the act performed." 

Secondly, there are those cases in which the young couple, 
defying it may be the wishes of elders or the dictates of 
convention, marry by mutual consent, possibly overcoming 
obstacles through elopement. Instances of this type are 
reported from everywhere but the implications of such love" 
matches vary enormously. In modern America marriages 
based on mutual love represent theoretically the highest type, 
but this notoriously does not hold for the upper strata of 
European society. There, as among the Kai. legal wedlock 
and the gratification of the sexual instinct are two distinct 
things. The latter is abundantly satisfied apart from mar- 
riage: marriage is largely dissociated from love in its 
higher and lower forms and is based on considerations of 
an economic, social, or political character. The type of 
union that seems highest to us may thus be regarded by 
others perhaps as unequivocally inferior in social value. 
Among the Crow Indians of Montana there was abundant 
I opportunity for philandering at picnicking excursions or 
I similar occasions, and some of the attachments thus formed 
I ripened into more than temporary unions. Yet in tribal 
estimation such marriages were not to be compared with 
j marriages by purchase, which ranked as more honorable 
and are said to have had far greater likelihood of per- 




P manence. This doubtless was due to the fact that a man 
would only buy a woman or girl with an established rq)u- 
tation for chastity, The matrimonial history of a typical 
Crow might thus consist of several love matches and a single 
orthodox marriage by purchase, which through the sororate 
often became polygamous. A woman did not become an 
outcast by associating herself with a man from inclination : 
she merely fell short of ideal perfection. Indeed, she would 
not even rouse unfavorable comment unless she frequently 
changed mates. A handsome or brave man was expected to 
have an indefinite number of love affairs, quite apart from 
anything resembling marital alliances. The matter might 
be formulated thus, that the more permanent love matches 
acquired a status superior to mere philandering or con- 
cubinage but never attained the prestige of marriage by 

The Crow data suggest a principle of wider application. 
Generally there is more than one way of acquiring a per- 
manent mate, though the several methods may be graded 
differently in the scale of public approbation. A Crow may 
get a wife by buying one or by inheriting his brother's 
widow, he may enter an alliance of love without payment 
or legitimately acquire additional spouses through the soro- 
rate after purchasing the eldest daughter In the family, or 
capture an alien woman in an attack on a Dakota camp, or 
under special conditions legitimately take away a tribes- 
man's wife if she has previously been his mistress. In other 
regions the particular means may differ but multiplicity is 
fairly common. This fact renders a numerical estimate of 
the several methods of arranging marriage in the world 
peculiarly difficult, and the task is rendered even more oner- 
ous by the different connotations of such terms as purchase 
or service. Shall we reckon the Crow as a bride-buying 
people because purchase is the ideal mode, even though pos- 
sibly sixty per cent of all the stable unions may be non- 
cooformist? Or is it permissible to treat Kirgiz, Kai, and 



Hidatsa as wife-purchasers without discrimination? Pro- 
fessor Hobhouse has attempted a census of the bride-buying 
peoples, giving the percentage of pastoral, agricultural and 
hunting peoples who render compensation for their wives. 
But though every effort to enhance the precision of sociologi- 
cal statements must be hailed with pleasure, in the present 
instance it seems foredoomed to failure because of the 
variability of matrimonial arrangements in the same tribe 
and because of the varying significance of purchase.* 

Preferential Mating 

While primitive society frequently interdicts unions which 
to us seem unobjectionable, it often favors and even pre- 
scribes the marriage of individuals in a manner foreign to 
modem Caucasian usage. Several instances have already 
been encountered, — 3, type of cousin marriage, the levirate, 
and the sororate. 

When primitive peoples favor cousin marriage, this is 
nearly always limited to those relatives technically known as 
cross-cousins, while parallel or identical cousins are barred 
from intermarrying by the incest rule. The children of a 
man and those of his brother are one another's parallel or 
identical cousins ; so are the children of a woman and those 
of her sister. On the other hand, the children of a man are 
cross-cousins of his sister's children, the relationship being 
reciprocal. Everyday speech lacks a generic word to include 
brother and sister, but the ethnologist may conveniently bor- 
row the biologist's term siblings, which designates descend- 
ants of the same parent regardless of their sex. With the 
aid of this term we may put the matter thus : the children of 
siblings of the same sex are parallel cousins and are usually 
themselves called siblings in primitive languages; the chil- 
dren of siblings of unlike sex are cross-cousins and are 
generally designated by a term expressing greater remote- 
ness of kinship. Cross-cousin marriage may theoretically 


be of two types : a man may marry either the daughter of 
a mother's brother or of a father's sister. Practically these 
two forms may coincide through the fact that the mother's 
brother by trit^l custom usually espouses the father's sister. 
So far as this is not the case, marriage of a man with the 
maternal uncle's daughter is decidedly the more common 

Cross-cousin marriage has a very interesting distribution. 
Far from being universal, it is nevertheless reported from 
every grand division of the globe. In West Australia and 
about Lake Eyre tribes prescribing marriage with a mater- 
nal uncle's daughter jostle others which prohibit any such 
union. The custom flourishes in several of the Melanesian 
Islands, notably in Fiji, but is discountenanced in nearby 
Polynesian groups, such as Samoa. Southern Asia may turn 
out to be the center where the institution attains its high- 
est development; at all events, it has been fully described 
for the Toda and Vedda, occurs among various peoples of 
India and Farther India, such as the Tibeto-Burman Mikir 
of Assam, and also in Sumatra. Nor is it lacking in Si- 
beria ; the Gilyak enjoin the union of a man with his moth- 
er's brother's daughter, and it is at least likely that the 
cousin marriages permitted by the Kamchadal and Tungus 
conform to the same pattern. While relatively rare in f 
America, this usage is reported from the northern coast of ' 
British Columbia, from central California, and Nicaragua; 
and the fact that in South America Chibcha women have d 
single word for husband and father's sister's son suggests 
that they too frequently mated with cross-cousins. Whether 
this type of preferential mating is countenanced by the 
Sudanese Negroes, is doubtful; but it is orthodox in parts 
of South and East Africa, — ^among the Hottentot, Herero, 
Basuto and Makonde. 

It may be asked what happened in these tribes if a man 
had no cross-cousin, — if his mother had no brother or her 
brother no daughter. From our best accounts it is clear 



that in such cases a substitution of some more remote rela- 
tive occurred who was reckoned of the same status. This 
took place, we are told, among the Kariera of West Aus- 
tralia : preeminently it was the daughter of a man's mother's 
own brother that was his prospective spouse; but failing 
such an uncle, he would apply to a mother's parallel male 
cousin or if necessary even to a more remote maternal kins- 
man provided he too was called maternal uncle. 

In this connection an important question arises. If 
primitive folk commonly extend the term for cross-cousin 
so as to embrace many more remote relatives, are we not 
here confronted with a serious source of error? Is it not 
possible that our authorities have mistaken the native mean- 
ing and given the impression that near kin are expected to 
marry when in reality the form of marriage favored may 
be that between far more remote relatives or even between 
fictitious relatives? Fortunately modern investigators have 
made their records sufficiently specific to render an answer 
possible. The Toda, the Vedda, and the Fijians definitely 
prescribe the marriage of actual cross-cousins in the strict 
sense of the term whenever possible. Thus, nearly 30 per 
cent of the Fijian marriages tabulated by Mr, Thomson are 
of this type. With the Toda the figure does not quite come 
to 12 per cent, but this is explained by the transfer of wives 
in later life, which follows no definite rule and thus ob- 
scures the orthodox arrangement of infant betrothals. 
Even so there are families rigidly adhering to the norm. 
with six out of eight unions conforming to theory. Dis- 
parity of age is no obstacle, so that a woman of twenty may 
be wedded to a boy of two, On the other hand. Mr. Gif- 
ford informs us that among the Miwok of California local 
differences have arisen as to the favored degree of the 
cross-cousin unions. Some divisions countenance actual 
cross-cousin marriages, others restrict them to cousins of 
the same status but more distantly related. 

Altogether our data suffice to prove that in one's own 


generation the incest sentiment cannot be instinctive so far 
as first cousins are concerned but must be conventional. If 
it were instinctive, why are unions of parallel cousins gen- 
erally tabooed and those of cross-cousins frequently en- 
joined? Why does one tribe permit cross-cousin mar- 
riage, while the institution is anathema to its next-door 
neighbors? Why do some communities license marriage 
with the daughter of a maternal uncle but under no condi- 
tions allow the other variety of cross-cousin marriage 
(Mi wok, e.g.) ? 

Another question that arises in connection with this in- 
stitution is to what extent it is not only permitted or even 
prescribed but obligatory. While the data are generally 
too meager to permit a general answer, it seems that tribes 
differ widely in this regard. The Kariera, if I interpret 
the evidence correctly, make cross-cousin marriage prac- 
tically compulsory; the Fijians made allowances to indi- 
vidual antipathy; while with the Toda and Miwok other 
co-existing forms of orthodox marriage share the field 
with cross-cousin unions. 

Can any interpretation be offered as to the essential mean- 
ing and origin of this institution ? Tylor, following Fison, 
g^ves a plausible explanation why marriages of cross-cousins 
are permissible while those of parallel cousins are tabooed. 
He assumes that the custom arose in communities subdi- 
vided into exogamous halves with fixed rules of descent. 
In such cases parallel cousins will always belong to the 
same half, hence will be prevented from marrying by the 
exogamous law, while cross-cousins will belong to comple- 
mentary halves and hence remain unaffected by the exog- 
amous restriction. For example, if affiliation be inherited 
from the father, then the following condition develops. A 
man and his brothers and sisters all belong to their father's 
half of the tribe, A. The children of this man and those 
of his brothers will also be A, hence are precluded from 
intermarriage. But his sisters are obliged to marry men 


of B, and their children are all B, hence of the group which 
the brother's children must marry into. 

This would be an exemplary solution if cross-cousin mar- 
riage were merely the marriage between members of cer- 
tain groups regardless of degrees of kinship. But, as Rivers 
has pointed out, and as the data from Fiji, the Toda and 
elsewhere prove, this assumption is contrary to fact. It is 
often the first cross-cousin that is regarded as the prefer- 
ential mate, more remote members of his kinship category 
being only substitutes in case of necessity. This is what 
Tylor fails to explain. All he shows is tiiat in a dual or- 
ganization cross-cousins in the strict sense of the term would 
be among potential mates. He does not explain why the 
next of kin among these potential spouses are considered 
preeminently the proper ones and the remainder merely 
makeshifts. A further difficulty lies in the fact that by no 
means all of the tribes practising cross-cousin marriage are 
organized into exogamous halves. The Toda are halved 
but into endogamous groups; while the Gilyak, Tsimshian 
and the South African tribes mentioned above lack the dual 
organization altogether. Further, Dr. Rivers has shown 
that in Melanesia it is precisely the tribes lacking such an 
organization which practise cross-cousin marriage, while 
this institution is absent where the dual organization is in 
full swing. Hence it cannot be the simple consequence of 
an exogamous dual system. 

For Melanesia Dr. Rivers offers an alternative hypothe- 

! sis avowedly constructed to cover only the Oceanian data. 

' He assumes that at first the old men in power arrogated to 
themselves the available women, but later surrendered their 
marital privileges to their sisters' sons, ultimately substi- 
tuting daughters for wives. An analogous interpretation, 
but of a rather less hypothetical cast, is presented by Mr. 
Gifford. He finds evidence that the cross-cousin marriage 
of the Mi wok is a relatively recent institution and was pre- 
ceded by marital rights over the daughter of one's wife's 


brother. These rights, Mr. Gifford plausibly argues, were 
passed on by inheritance to the man's son, whence marriage 
with the daughter of the maternal uncle. It is important to 
note that in consonance with their respective data Dr. Rivers 
and Mr. GifFord assume different rules of descent, a matter 
to be dealt with below. In Melanesia it is or was the sister's 
son, in central California the son that held the position of 
heir-apparent, hence if cross-cousin marriage is at all the 
consequence of inheritance rules, as both authors assume, 
either explanation is satisfactory but applicable only to 
tribes with corresponding laws of succession. 

It is of course conceivable that cross-cousins came to 
marry each other by a less round-about method. Where the 
possession of property pla)rs a dominant role in the tribal 
consciousness, as in British Columbia, the motive of keeping 
desirable belongings within the family circle may well lead 
to marriage with the father's own sister's daughter or the 
mother's own brother's daughter, as Swanton suggests. An- 
other, though often related, cause lies in the sentiment of 
caste, which discountenances union with a person of lesser 
rank. To be sure, such ends would be equally served by 
the marriage of parallel cousins. But these, as has been 
noted, are commonly called siblings and with the primitive 
tendency to identify what is similarly named are reckoned 
as siblings, i.e., the incest feeling is extended to them. The 
cross-cousins would thus remain as the next of kin whose 
marriage, being permissible by customary law, could at the 
same time preserve the property and the social prestige 
within the family. 

It should be noted that all the explanations offered of 
late are based on specific conditions. Cross-cousin marriage 
is in all probability not a phenomenon that has evolved 
from a single cause but one that has independently arisen in 
several centers from diverse motives. 

Before leaving this interesting institution, a few words 
must be devoted to its influence on the classification of kin- 




dred. Where a man regularly weds the daughter of his 
mother's brother or of his father's sister, a maternal uncle 
will normally be his father-in-law, or a paternal aunt his 
mother-in-law. Hence it is not at all remarkable that in 
many tribes practising this form of marriage the men desig- 
nate mother's brother and father-in-law by a single term 
and also have another single word for father's sister and 
mother-in-law. This is the case in Fiji and among the 
Vedda. But the effect of this form of marriage may go 
farther. Since a man's mate is normally his cross-cousin, we 
sometimes find that there is no distinct word for 'husband' 
or 'wife' but one term for both the husband and male cross- 
cousin of a woman, and another for both the wife and 
female cross-cousin of a man. Further, a brother-in-law 
may be called by the same terms as a man's male cross- 
cousin, while a woman will call her sister-in-law by the 
same designation as her female cross-cousin. However, 
by no means all tribes proceed with uniform consistency in 
this regard, and where other forms of preferential mating 
coexist with cross-cousin marriage (as among the Miwok), 
the influence of the latter may be dwarfed or even reduced 
to nothingness. 

Widespread as is the distribution of cross-cousin mar- 
riage, it pates into insignificance before that of two other 
forms of preferential mating, the levirate and the sororate. 
Though frequently in association, these customs also occur 
separately and accordingly are best treated in juxtaposition 
rather than as a single phenomenon. 

Tylor found the levirate in fully one-third of the tribes 
for which data were extant in his day. Nowadays the pro- 
portion found would undoubtedly be far greater. Indeed, 
it is easier to count cases where the custom is positively 
known to be lacking than to enumerate instances of its 
occurrence. In North America it seems to be definitely dis- 
countenanced only among the Pueblo groups of the south- 
West, while even among the neighboring Navaho Indians 



Lusage requires a widow to wed her husband's brother or 
iome other one of his close kinsmen. However, the levirate 
s not every\vhere appear in the same form. First of all, 
I fair number of tribes restrict the widow's remarriage to 
■ounger brothers of the deceased husband, as do the Kor- 
lyak and the Andaman Islanders. Though perhaps most 
* commonly recorded in Asia, the junior levirate is by no 
means confined to that continent, for it is reported from 
Santa Cruz (Melanesia) and West Australia. Owing to 
the inadequate information usually vouchsafed on this sub- 
ject by observers, we cannot even be sure that the levirate 
lis not commonly of this type. Nevertheless, for some re- 
Lgions our data are sufficiently specific to prove that the levi- 
gate does exist in the unrestricted form as well. This holds, 
■e.g., for the Banks Islands and the Torres Straits. 

Secondly, the juridical and psychological implications 

' of the levirate may be quite different. With the Thompson 

River Indians the brother of the deceased had an incon- 

I testable right to the widow ; in many other places, as among 
the Thonga, the woman is permitted to choose from among 
a considerable number of her husband's kinsmen: in still 
other regions the arrangement appears to be in no sense 
obligatory. Indeed, the aboriginal attitude is sometimes 
almost antithetical to what might be conjectured off-hand : 
the woman is not so much claimed by way of prerogative 
as she is inherited as an obligation. That is, the brother-in- 
taw is required to furnish protection and support to the 
widow and her children. This is often the nature of the 
relationship among the Chukchi and apparently also among 
the Goumditch-Mara of southwestern Victoria (.A.ustralia). 
Where there is so much difference in conception and so 
little exact information, it would be vain to concoct a theory 
for all the known cases. The one general remark that may 
safely be offered is Tylor's view that the levirate results 
from the notion of marriage as a compact between groups 
rather than individuals. From this principle it follows that 


when a union terminates by the death of one of the mates, 
a substitute is automatically supplied by the group of the 
deceased. Beyond this point we shall have to inquire into 
the specific conditions of the social environment, the status 
of woman in the cwnmunity examined, the accepted methods 
of acquiring a spouse. 

For a large number of cases we can account by the rules 
prevalent as to the acquisition of a wife. Where the woman 
is definitely purchased in the strict sense of the term, she 
naturally forms an inheritable chattel. Thus among the 
Kirgiz a younger brother inherits the widow even if he is 
a minor. Similarly, a Kai widow becomes the property of 
an unmarried brother of her deceased husband ; a man from 
another family wishing to marry her is obliged to offer pay- 
ment. The underlying conceptions appear with great clarity 
in Shasta law. Since a man's brothers and kinsmen prac- 
tically always contribute to the bride-price in this Califor- 
nian tribe, they establish a secondary claim to the woman, 
and on the husband's death she naturally passes into the 
custody of a brother or, failing one, of a more remote male 

That property concepts often lie at the root of the levi- 
rate appears from other forms of preferential mating which 
coexist with the levirate or supersede it. In a polygamous 
Thonga household of five wives the principal widow is likely 
to fall to the lot of that one of the husband's younger 
brothers who becomes master of the estate, the second and 
third wives go to two other brothers, the fourth to a nephew 
(sister's son) of the deceased, the fifth to one of his sons, 
who of course must not be her own. That is to say, those 
kinsmen who inherit part of a man's wealth also are entitled 
to inherit a widow. Similarly we find in the Melanesian 
Banks Islands and on the Northwest Coast of North Amer- 
ica in addition to the levirate the rule that a wife may pass 
into the possession of the deceased husband's sister's son. 
It can hardly be an accident that in both these regions the 


sister's son is reckoned the heir-apparent to his uncle's 

Though this principle explains much, it obviously does 
not explain everything. Why do we often encounter the 
levirate in the restricted form? As Jochelson points out, 
both elder and younger brothers inherit a deceased man's 
possessions, yet only his juniors are permitted to wed the 
widow. A common sense explanation suggests itself, but it 
should not be taken as more than a guess. Other things 
being equal, the elder brother is likely to marry before the 
younger, who may sometimes be hard put to it to acquire 
a mate, either because of an exorbitant bride-price or because 
available women are scarce. Under such conditions the 
junior levirate may have arisen on the view that to him who 
has not shall be given, and this tendency may have been 
standardized into customary law. 

Another limitation to the property conception of the 
levirate lies in the fact that there are peoples practising it 
who do not purchase wives and do not regard women as 
property in the strict sense of the term. In not a few of 
these cases, however, we may reasonably fall back on Ty- 
lor's general principle of primitive marriage as a family 
contract : since from the aboriginal point of view the union 
of individuals is often largely symbolic of an alliance of \ / 
groups, a deceased mate is naturally superseded in the / 
matrimonial relationship by a member of the same group. 

This assumption gains in weight when we find it also 
accounting admirably for the complementary custom of the 
sororate. The Shasta levirate has been described above. 
It is coupled with the sororate in an illuminating manner. 
Just as the man's brothers unite to pay for his bride, so the 
bride's family are jointly responsible for the services nor- 
mally to be expected from a wife. If she fails to bear 
children, they gratuitously furnish a sister or cousin as a 
supplementary spouse; and the same rule obtains after the 


first wife's demise. There is here involved not merely a 
right but an obUgation on the husband's part : he may marry 
outside his wife's family only by their specially granted 

On the basis of Tylor's theory we should expect the levi- 
ratc and the sororate to coexist, and in very large measure 
they undoubtedly do, while contrariwise the Pueblo In- 
dians who were found to lack the levirate likewise do not 
practise the sororate. This intimate correlation is rightly 
insisted upon by Frazer, who has collected instances of the 
sororate from all regions of the glolie. The connection 
would undoubtedly appear to be even closer were not much 
of our information on the marriage rules of primitive tribes 
of rather haphazard character. That is, it may safely be 
assumed that in not a few instances it is sheer negligence 
or defective observation that Has made writers report one 
of the two customs without the other. There are neverthe- 
less some noteworthy cases of negative correlation that must 
be accepted at their face value. While the Koryak practise 
both customs, the neighboring Chukchi have only the levi- 
rate ; and the same applies to the Masai of East Africa, who 
expressly prohibit marriage with two women between whom 
there is any blood-relationship. Such exceptions, however, 
are not frequent enough to interfere with the conception 
of the levirate and the sororate as two closely connected 

The sororate, like the levirate, exists in two main forms, 
though the principle of differentiation is not the same. A 
man may be entitled to marry his first wife's sisters during 
her lifetime; or he may be restricted to marriage with a 
deceased w'ife's sister. A precise statement as to the dis- 
tribution of these two types is hardly possible at present, 
but in North America the restricted sororate seems to flour- 
ish west of the Rockies, while simultaneous wedlock with 
sisters is common to the east of them. A parallel to the 
junior levirate is afforded by the probably universal rule 


of the sororate that a man is merely entitled to wed his wife's 
younger sisters. This limitation is easily understood when 
we remember that in primitive society girls are almost in- 
variably married off at or soon after puberty, so that a 
marriageable girl's elder sister would already be the wife 
of another man. 

Like cross-cousin marriage, levirate and sororate tend to 
produce a definite terminology of kinship. As Sapir has 
pointed out. their influence may be exerted in two distinct 
ways. On the one hand, since these forms of marriage lead; 
to the identification of the stepfather and the paternal 1 
uncle, the stepmother and the maternal aunt, it is natural l 
to designate each pair of these relatives by a single term. 1 
Conversely, a brother's child becomes the stepchild of a \ 
man; a sister's child, the stepchild of a woman. These ' 
features were actually found by Sapir among the Wishram 
of southern Washington. More interesting still is the 
second method of formulating in language the social usages 
under discussion. Since the paternal uncle may come to | 
marry one's mother and thus occupy a father's status, he is 
called father without qualification; and for a corresponding i 
reason the mother's sisters are called by the same term as' 
the mother. Further, it will be natural For a man to class 
his brothers' children with his own, and for a woman to 
treat in similar fashion the children of her sisters. More- 
over, since a man often marries his wife's sisters, it is not 
surprising that a single word suffices for these sisters-inr 
law and the wife ; while 2 woman will have but one appella- 
tion for her husband and her potential husband, his brotheh 
These designations actually occur among the Yahi of north- 
ern California. Now this Yahi method of designating rela- 
tives has an enormous distribution throughout the world, 
and inasmuch as the levirate and sororate are also very 
widespread institutions they offer a satisfactory explanation 
of what from our point of view seems a puzzling phenome- 
non, — ^to wit, that a man should have perhaps a dozen 


'fathers* and a dozen 'mothers.' Of this matter we shall 
have occasion to speak more fully later on. 

Cross-cousin marriage, levirate, and sororate are by no 
means the only forms of preferential mating. In fact, in- 
cidentally we have already met several others, — ^the inherit- 
ance of a widow by a sister's son or stepson (Thonga), 
the marriage of a man and his wife's brother's daughter 
( Mi wok) . The last-mentioned variety is interesting because 
it has appreciably affected Miwok kinship terminology. As 
Mr. Gifford shows, not less than twelve terms reflect this 
institution. For example, the word wokli is applied not only 
to a wife's brother or sister, but also to the son or daughter 
of her brother ; for since a man marries his wife's brother's 
daughter, the siblings of this second wife become his sib- 
lings-in-law. It is because so many terms of kinship reflect 
this type of marriage while none suggest the cross-cousin 
marriage that Mr. Gifford convincingly argues for the 
greater antiquity of the former among the Miwok. 

Though no attempt is made here to exhaust the extant 
varieties of orthodox marriage, one more additional type 
may be cited. It is characterized by the marriage of a man 
not with his mother's brother's daughter, but with the 
daughter of his mother's mother's brother's daughter. This 
form of marriage suggests the cross-cousin marriage but 
differs in diminishing the closeness of relationship by one 
degree. Restricted to Australia, it occurs both in the cen- 
tral and western sections, its area of distribution adjoining 
that of the cross-cousin marriage.' 


Note. All titles arc fully quoted in the Bibliography, where authors 
are listed alphabetically and their several publications chronologically; 
titles of the same year are distinguished by letters. The chapter refer- 
ences cite the author's name if he is represented by a single title; his 
name and the date if two or more papers or books are listed; and if 
there are two in the same year, the letter is added. The pages are set 


off by colons. Examples: Brown: 156. Jochelson, 1908: 759. Rivers, 
1914 (b) : I, 123. 

*Hobhouse: 145. Wissler, 1911 : 19. Teit, 1900: 325; id., 
^909: 591- Spinden, 1908: 250. Hopkins: 45. Boas, 1916 
(a): 498. Rivers, 1906: 34 seq. 

"Tylor, 1889: 253. Brown: 156. Rivers, 1914 (b) : i, 123. 
RadlofF: 476-485. Spieth: 120, 182-198, 61-66. Keysser: 
85-92. Junod: i, 102-125, 194, 232, 258-266, 480. Lowie, 
1917 (a) : 46, 74 seq.; id., 1912: 220 seq. Krause: 220 seq. 
Jochelson, 1908: 739 seq. Roth, 1915: 315. WhiflFen: 
163. Heame: 104 seq. Boas, 1907: 466. Hobhouse: 153, 

'Brown: 190-194. Rivers, 1914 (b) : i, 48, 184, 257, 270, 
294; II, 24, 121 seq.; id., 1906: 512 seq. Thomson: 182-201. 
Seligmann: 64, 75. Stack and Lyall: 17. Frazer, J. G., 
1910: II, 188; IV, 141-149. Czaplicka: 89, 98 seq., 107. Boas, 
1916 (a) : 440. Swanton, 1905 (a) : 50 seq., 63, 68. Gifford, 
1916; 187 seq. Morgan, 1871 : 265. Rivers, 191 5. Schinz: 
177. Junod: 1,200,207,243. Weule, 1908: 96. Tylor, 1889: 
262 seq., 253. Franciscan Fathers: 432. Jochelson, 1908: 
748 seq. Man: 71. Brown: 158,190-194. Reports, v: 245. 
Tdt, 1900: 325. Bogoras: 608. Howitt: 250. RadloflF: 485. 
Keysser: 88. Dixon, 1907: 463. Merker: 47. Sapir, 1916: 
327-337. GiflFord, 1916: 190. 



THOUGH popularly polygamy is understood to mean 
marriage with two or more wives, it properly desig- 
nates marriage of either a man or a woman with more than 
one mate. What is commonly reckoned as polygamy is 
accurately called polygyny, the complementary institution 
being polyandry. In addition must be considered the union 
of a group of men with a group of women, a custom known 
as group marriage. 


Polygamy is one of those dangerous catchwords that re- 
quire careful scrutiny lest there result a total misunder- 
standing of the conditions it is meant to characterize. In 
every human society the number of male and of female 
individuals bom is approximately equal. Hence in order 
to have either polygyny or polyandry as a fairly common 
practice it is obviously necessary that some non-biological 
factor should disturb the natural ratio. The first thing to 
do on hearing of a polygamous people is to demand a cen- 
sus of the marriageable members of both sexes. Among 
the Eskimo such are*"the rigors of an Arctic sea-hunter*s 
life that the adult male population is seriously reduced, so 
that polygyny becomes arithmetically possible. Holm re- 
ports a settlement in southeastern Greenland with a popu- 
lation of 21, of whom only 5 were males. But the general 
ratio encountered by this traveler was only that of 114 
women to every 100 men. Of the Central Eskimo the Kini- 



petu (in 1898) numbered 35 men, 46 women. 38 boys, and 
27 girls; the Aivilik 26 men, 34 women, 27 boys, 15 girls. 
West of Hudson Bay Captain Comer in 1902 found 119 
men, 123 women, 138 boys, and 66 girls among the Netchil- 
lik; and 46 men. 58 women, 41 boys, 33 girls among the 
Samniktumiut. That is to say, in none of these instances 
save Holm's first-mentioned settlement is even bigamy pos- 
sible as a universal institution. Indeed, in Cranz's day 
hardly one Greenlander in twenty had two wives, Captain 
Holm never found a man with three, and even an unusually 
influential Aivilik contented himself with two. In short, 
even among the Eskimo, who constitute an a fortiori case, 
monogamy is the rule in practice, though polygyny is per- 
mitted: and marriage with more than two women is un- 
doubtedly exceptional. 

It is true that from Africa there are reported instances 
of an extraordinary multiplicity of wives. Even disre- 
garding such anomalies as the Dahomi court, where all 
the Amazons are by a fiction considered wives of the king, 
we find well-authenticated cases of men with five, ten, 
twenty and even sixty wives, and these at least so far as 
the first-mentioned figure is concerned are described as 
fairly common. Unfortunately none of the authorities I 
have seen on the subject deigns to furnish us with data as 
to the relative numbers of the sexes. From remarks inci- 
dentally dropped by them it seems certain that only the 
wealthy and tlie eminent men have polygynous households. 
Thus, among the Kikuyu of East Africa Mr. and Mrs. 
Routlcdge found monogamy "quite usual" : two or three 
wives were common; and the rich had six or seven. It is 
dear that even so moderate an indulgence in polygyny on 
the part of the socially distinguished would make it very 
difficult for many young men to acquire a mate at all. But 
the consequent hardship is mitigated by two conditions. 
In the first place, there is the chance of inheriting a wife 
through the levirate or one of the other orthodox methods. 



Secondly, there is a widespread tendency to connive at 
what we should consider irregularities among young people 
prior to wedlock. A Thonga is thus in a position to gratify 
his sexual appetite long before his kin have amassed the 
amount paid for a legitimate wife. 

The African data show that in addition to the biological 
limitation of polygamy there enter the restrictions imposed 
by economic conditions. Where the bride-price is of con- 
siderable value, even bigamy is practically out of the ques- 
tion for the average man, though it may be sanctioned by 
theory. The Kirgiz, though converts to Islam, cannot as 
a nile afford to buy a second wife, and a man hardly ever 
avails himself of his legal privilege unless his first mate is 
barren. Similarly, for the vast majority of the Kai the 
practice of even bigamy is impracticable, though permitted, 
and it remains largely confined to the chiefs. 

Another purely social factor limiting polygyny requires 
(attention. Some peoples practise what is known as matri- 
Uocal residence, i.e., the bridegroom settles with his wife's 
parents. Unless the sororate is in vogue, the espousal of 
a second wife thus becomes dependent on the permission of 
the parents-in-!aw. Thus, the 2uni and Hopi, who prac- 
tise matrilocal residence but not the sororate, are strictly 
monogamous. It cannot be said that this custom absolutely 
bars polygyny, but it certainly strongly tends to limit it. 
The Yukaghir of northern Siberia tell of instances where 
a man lived part of the year as son-in-law with one house- 
hold and the remainder of the year in the same capacity with 
another; but monogamy was decidedly the prevalent form 
of marriage. 

In seeking to understand the psychology of primitive 
polygyny we must first of all eliminate the conventional 
preconceptions on the subject. Polygyny is not by any 
means a sign of feminine inferiority or felt as a degradation , 
by the women concerned. The husband may be prompted j 
to take a second wife not by an excessive libido but by his j 


first wife's eagerness to shift part of her household duties 
on other shoulders. "Why have I to do all the work ; why 
do you not buy another wife?" querulously asks the Kikuyu 
wife. In the same spirit, a Kai chief's consort will have 
so many social obligations to fulfill that she gladly welcomes 
the arrival of a helper ; and similarly a Chukchi woman may 
even insist that her husband acquire an additional worker. 
With the Kai, indeed, the possibilities are so ample for 
gratifying one's sexual desires in adultery that in legal 
marriage with a second wife the sexual motive is elimi- 
nated. In general it may be said that the economic and \ 
related factors are far more potent. Among the Thonga 
it is only the well-to-do that can afford to buy several 
wives, but the investment yields ample return through the 
services rendered by them, which not merely suffice to sup- 
ply the husband's wants but enable him to become a lavish 
entertainer of outsiders and thus raise his social prestige. 
In this way polygyny becomes a badge of distinction. In 
a very different environment, the Mackenzie River basin of 
northern Canada, the Athabaskans had their women trans- 
port goods, and the chief Matonabbee had as many as seven 
or eight of these servant-wives. Another motive for taking 
additional wives lies in the universal longing for progeny. 
When the first wife is barren, it is thus a widespread prac- 
tice for the husband to espouse a second woman in the hope 
of gaining issue through her. The sexual factor pure and 
simple is of course not to be wholly ignored in the discus- 
sion, but everything goes to show that its influence on the 
development of polygyny is slight. 

The analysis of polygynous marriages found in a particu- 
lar tribe will prove illuminating. Among the Reindeer 
Kor3rak Mr. Jochelson found that only six per cent of the 
men had two or more wives each, a single one having three. 
In the last-mentioned case the first wife had borne children 
but had been disfigured by illness, and the second wife 
proved barren. In some of the remaining cases bigamy 


was resorted to because of the first wife's sterility; in oth- 
ers she had been inherited through the levirate and was 
considered too old. 

It remains to discuss the relation to one another of the 
several wives in a polygynous family. In Africa, where 
their number is frequently considerable, each commonly oc- 
cupies a separate hut with her children and manages an 
independent household ; the Thonga arranges these huts in 
the arc of a circle and his ideal is to acquire enough wives 
Tiplete the ring of habitations within his enclosure. As 
to the mutual sentiments of fellow-wives, accounts varj'. 
M. Junod, possibly from a missionary's bias, draws a dark 
picture of domestic bickerings among the women, hut no 
such scenes were observed by Mr. and Mrs. Routledge in 
East Africa and, as they rightly remark, the separation of 
" 1 independent establishments makes for peace and 
"places the whole on the footing of a village under one 
head man." Sporadic instances of jealousy must, of course, 
be expected to occur everywhere, but when an additional 
wife is taken at the request of the first the danger is mini- 
mized. The same result may be effected by the sororate; 
at least among the Hidatsa the natives have developed the 
theory that sisters are less likely to quarrel in this relation- 
ship than unrelated women. Among the Koryak and Chuk- 
chi our authorities generally found harmony in polygynous 
families but record occasional instances of ill-temper, and 
this probably represents the most typical condition wher- 
ever polygyny is practised. 

Doubtless an important factor in producing harmony lies 
in the definite superiority all but universally accorded to 
the first wife. Thus in the Siberian tribes just cited the 
second wife is to all intents and purposes her predecessor's 
maid. Precisely the same relationship obtains among the 
distant Kai in New Guinea, where the first wife sends the 
other women for firewood or water and orders them to pre- 
pare meals for the guests. Similar conditions are repOTtwj 


from the Masai. Here, too, the first wife superintends the 
others, receives a larger portion of her husband's cattle for 
use, and is distinguished by the number and value of his 

Altogether a study of the facts leads to a rather different 
view of polygyny from that which might be assumed on 
tfie basis of modem prejudice against the institution. But 
die one fact it is most important to remember is that while 
probably a majority of primitive tribes permit polygamy, 
biol(^cal and in some measure social conditions prevent 
the majority within any one group from availing themselves 
of their theoretical prerogative.^ 


Polyandry has a far more restricted distribution than 
polygyny. Indeed, well-authenticated cases may be counted 
on the fingers of one hand. It occurs in some (by no means ; 
all) Eskimo communities and as an occasional device among / 
the Wahuma (Bahima) of East Africa, while its highest 
developme n t is seen in Tibet and southern India. For 
diose who incline to a purely economic interpretation of 
social life it may be interesting to have pointed out the dif- 
ferences in economic status among the peoples in question. 
The Eskimo are maritime hunters, the Wahuma and Toda 
are pastoral, while only the agricultural, not the nomadic, 
Tibetans have been found to practise poljrandry. In an- 
other sense, however, the economic factor enters among the 
Wahuma and the Eskimo. 

Wahuma polyandry is an altogether unique pbenomenoa 
While Intimate, it is not a dominant institution but occurs 
only under special circumstances and for a restricted period. 
When a man is too poor to buy a wife alone, he is assisted 
by his brothers, and these share his marital rights until ih 
woman's pr^;nancy, when they become his exclusive prr 



In this form polyandry does not require a disturbance of 
the natural ratio between the sexes, but where it is the gen- 
eral custom it presupposes an artificially produced prepond- 
erance of the marriageable males. This may be effected 
in different ways. In certain Eskimo communities the con- 
ditions of life are so arduous that female children are 
considered a burden and are frequently killed shortly after 
birth; and thus the polygynous tendency due to the perils 
of masculine life is more than checked. Female infanti- 
cide, though apparently not founded in economic necessity, 
is likewise at the bottom of Toda polyandry. But the agri- 
cultural Tibetans do not practise infanticide except when 
directly influenced by Chinese example; yet they are poly- 
androus and the Chinese are not. Unfortunately the Tib- 
etan data on this point are far from clear. 

Among the Tibetans polyandry is of the fraternal variety, 
several brothers share a wife. In cases of barrenness 
it is interesting to note that a second wife is chosen, who may 
be a sister of the first. Though our information is not so 
precise as we might wish, it seems that some economic con- 
siderations are potent in the moulding of Tibetan marriage 
customs. Why, e.g., is polyandry restricted to the agricul- 
tural natives and to the fraternal type? Rockhill assumes 
that the cause lies in the desire to transmit an estate un- 

Our data on the Toda are far and away the most satis- 
factory and permit us to gain an insight into what poly- 
androus life is like. First of all, we find that as far back 
as trustworthy records extend there has been a marked 
excess of men over women, coupled with the practice of 
female infanticide. But this custom has been abandoned in 
ever increasing measure as a result of Caucasian influence, 
and accordingly there is a progressive diminution of male 
preponderance. "In 1871 there were 140.6 men for every 
100 women; in 1881, 130.4 for every 100; in 1891, 135.9, 
and in the census of 1901, 127.4 men for every 100 women." 


These <^cial census reports are confirmed by Dr. Rivers' 
independent genealogical records. For three successive gen- 
erations these show that the numbers of males for every 
lOO females were 159.7, 131.4, and 129.2 in one of the Toda 
divisions, and 259, 202, and 171 respectively in the other 
and more conservative group. The motive for female in- 
fanticide among the Toda remains obscure, for there is 
nothing in their present or past history to suggest that they 
were driven by economic necessity. Its obsolescence has 
affected marriage customs in a most interesting manner, 
which will be described below. 

Most commonly, but not always, Toda polyandry is of 
the fraternal variety. That is, when a man marries a woman 
it is tmderstood that she becomes the wife of his brothers, 
who normally live together. Even a brother subsequently 
bom will be regarded as sharing his elder brothers' rights. 
In cases of fraternal polyandry no disputes ever arise among 
the husbands, and the very notion of such a possibility is 
flouted by the Toda mind. When the wife becomes preg- 
nant, the eldest of her husbands performs a ceremony with 
a bow and arrow by which legal fatherhood is convention- 
ally established in this tribe, but all the brothers are reck- 
oned the child's fathers. 

The situation becomes more complicated when a woman 
weds several men who are not brothers and who, as may 
happen, live in different villages. Then the wife usually 
lives for a month with each in turn, though there is no abso- 
lute rule. In such cases the determination of fatherhood 
in a legal sense is extremely interesting. For all social pur- 
poses that husband who performs the bow and arrow cere- 
mony during the wife's pregnancy establishes his status as 
father not only of the first child but of any children bom 
subsequently until one of the other husbands performs the 
requisite rite. Usually it is agreed that the first two or 
three children shall belong to the first husband, that at a 
later pregnancy another shall establish patemal rights, and 



so forth. Biological paternity is completely disregarded, 
for a man long dead is considered the father of a child pro- 
vided no other man has performed the essential rite. 

The statistics cited ahove show recent approximation to 
the normal ratio of the sexes owing to the diminishing of 
female infanticide. It might be supposed that this develop- 
ment would lead directly to monogamy, but that would be 
failing to reckon with the force of conservatism in the ad- 
justment of social relations. What the Toda have done is 
to cling to polyandry and temper it with polygyny. Where 
formerly three brothers shared a single wife, they now tend 
to share two, in this way adapting themselves to the excess 
of women as compared with their former scarcity. 
j Altogether the facts relating to polyandry are instructive 
f in illuminating the weakness of the unilinear theory of evo- 
lution, the theory thai an inherent law causes all societies 
to evolve the same customs in a uniform sequence. Toda 
and Eskimo polyandry are both causally related with female 
infanticide; so far, then, there is parallelism, the same cause 
leading to the same effect. But what lies back of female 
infanticide? In the Eskimo case, the rigors of economic 
existence in the Arctic ; among the Toda the cause of female 
infanticide is obscure, but we know positively that it bears 
no relation to the economic life. Again we may compare the 
ancient Toda and the Tibetan conditions. In both tribes a 
paucity of marriageable women renders polyandry possible, 
but that paucity is produced in different ways since infanti- 
cide is not practised by the polyandrous Tibetans. In de- 
veloping their polyandrous usages the Eskimo, Toda, and 
Tibetans have not been impelled to follow the same series 
of stages, though one stage — scarcity of women — naturally 
leads to polyandry as its sequel. The fact that the Toda 
have come into contact with a foreign culture which sup- 
presses infanticide has exercised a greater influence on the 
history of their marriage customs than any inherent law of 
social evolution. These foreign influences may ultimately 


force Eskimo, Toda, and Tibetan alike to adopt compulsory 
monogamy, but if that result be achieved it will be because 
all three tribes have borrowed the same custom from the 
same cultural center not because of some mystical tendency 
of polyandry to pass through like stages into obligatory 

Before leaving this type of marriage, it is necessary to 
discriminate true polyandry from the customs by which men 
may temporarily waive their marital rights in favor of 
others. This usage proceeds from the proprietary claim of 
a man to his wife's favors, which he may therefore yield at 
his pleasure, either to conciliate a superior or as a token of 
friendship. Thus, among the Crow a young man would 
temporarily surrender his wife to a comrade or to an older 
man whose supernatural powers he desired to share ; indeed, 
such surrender was a normal part of the transaction by, which 
various Plains Indian tribes acquired certain ceremonial 
privileges. As a matter of simple hospitality this custom 
is reported from the four quarters of the globe. A Masai 
visiting a strange settlement at once calls on a member of 
his own age-class, who forthwith abandons his wife and 
hut to the visitor ; and to mention but one other instance, in 
various Australian tribes the men consider it a duty to fur* 
nish their distinguished guests with bed-mates/ 

Sexual Comhux 

If we conceiv e die recent tendency of the Toda toward 
combined polyandry and polygyny developing into the d^>m- 
inant form of marriage, we shall have many frr^Atjt^ of 
brothers eadi united to a cr/rrtsffnAmz group of two f^ 
more wives. The units involved in what ha^ l^^m ^alWl 
group marriage may. however, vary con^id^aMy arrz/fd- 
ing to the size of die group*, their rr/r,\uuifu/r). and tlvr 
restrictions on marital intercoar** -Ahxh ^r^. ^iV/r^rA ff 
there were a co mp lete lack of :nce$t r>:le^ in a c/Argmmthy, 




so that not merely brother and sister but even parent and 
child would mate without incurring reprobation, we should 
have a condition of perfect promiscuity. At the other end 
of the scale would be the definitely regulated marriages of 
the modern Toda, Since the term 'marriage' is hardly ap- 
plicable to some of the conditions labeled group marriage, 
I will follow Dr. Rivers' suggestion and substitute as a 
generic equivalent sexual communism. Deferring a theoret- 
ical discussion of this condition, let us first consider some 
of the concrete data. 

In the first place we must recognize that far-reaching 
sexual communism may exist side by side with individual 
marriage. That is to say, one portion of the community 
may live according to the former principle, the remainder 
according to the other. Our own civilization with its con- 
nivance at prostitution presents as clear an example as pos- 
sible. Primitive societies differ mainly in that sexual com- 
munism is openly sanctioned within the corresponding lim- 
its. The Bororo of the Mato Grosso are divided into the 
older men regularly married and living in separate huts, 
and the bachelors inhabiting a special dwelling, where they 
jointly possess such girls as they capture frc»n the village 
and for whom they pay to their mistresses' brothers or ma- 
ternal uncles either arrows or articles of personal adorn- 
ment. While these Brazilian data are unfortunately inade- 
quate for a full comprehension of the social regulations 
involved, the Masai situation is perfectly clear. Here, too, 
there is a segregation of the unmarried warriors, all men 
below approximately thirty, who cohabit freely with the 
immature young girls. Each brave has his favorite mis- 
tress, who tends his cattle and manufactures objects for his 
personal decoration. This mistress is never identical with 
the girl betrothed to a man in childhood, for his fiancee is 
obliged to dwell in another warrior's camp. So long as the 
warrior remains in his kraal, his sweetheart remains faith- 
ful; but if he absents himself for a single day, his exclusive 


claims upon her lapse and she may choose another lover. 
In all these relations, however, the tribal incest rules are 
strictly obeyed. When a bachelor has had his fill of the 
warrior's life, he leaves the companionship of the kraal and 
settles down in a separate establishment with his fiancee, 
provided she has succeeded in avoiding pregnancy, which is 
considered disgraceful. 

Bororo and Masai usages, like the practice of prostituticm 
among ourselves, obviously in no way conflict with the in- 
stitution of individual marriage, which on the contrary is 
the normal condition after the period of youthful profligacy. 
There are, however, tribes from which sexual communism 
is reported without any such limitations. 

The most authentic case is that of the Chukchi. It is 
important to note first of all that among these people sexual 
communism is a general practice embracing practically all 
families. Second or third cousins, or even unrelated men 
desirous of cementing a firm bond of friendship, will form 
a group exercising marital rights over all the wives of the 
men concerned. Brothers do not enter such agreements. 
Bachelors are rarely admitted into the union since this is I 
based primarily on reciprocity. At times sexual commun- 
ism extends to as many as ten couples. When we scrutinize 
the concrete data cited by Bogoras, it becomes obvious why 
the term 'group-marriage* which he used in common with 
other writers is really inapplicable. The Chukchi 'com- 
panions in wives' do not dwell together with their spouses 
in a communal household. They are members of distinct 
camps and the obvious object of the institution is to provide 
travelers with temporary bed-mates. A Chukchi thus has 
but rarely the opportunity to exercise the potential right 
acquired by the mutual agreement. "The inmates of one 
and the same camp are seldom willing to enter into a group- 
marriage, the reason obviously being that the reciprocal use 
of wives, which in group-marriage is practised very sel- 
dom, is liable to degenerate into complete promiscuity if 


the members of the group live too close together." In otlier 
words, the institution has nothing to do with unrestricted 
i sexual license but is founded on aboriginal notions of recip- 
' rocal hospitality. It is true that sometimes a 'companion' 
takes another's wife, lives with her for several months, 
and then returns her; or that an exchange of wives may 
become permanent. But these very facts, while clearly 
demonstrating that Chukchi notions of conjugal fidelity 
differ from ours, establish beyond a doubt the individual 
nature of Chukchi marriage. Bogoras records isolated in- 
stances of polyandry, but never did he find several com- 
panions simultaneously sharing their several wives' services. 
The exchange of wives does not imply group marriage but 
merely the succession of one individual marriage after 
another. Chukchi marriage is individual marriage tempered 
with the occasional and temporary extension of the hus- 
band's purely sexual rights to his fellow-contractors. 

Sexual communism as a normal condition, thus excluding 
individual marriage, has been confidently ascribed to the 
Urabunna and Dieri. two Australian tribes inhabiting the 
vicinity of Lake Eyre. Owing to the fragmentary nature 
of the Urabunna evidence, it will be ignored in favor of 
that from the Dieri. 

Among the Dieri the orthodox form of marriage for a 
man is union with his mother's mother's brother's daughter's 
daughter or with his mother's father's sister's daughter's 
daughter. When a boy and a girl stand to each other in 
this relationship, they are potential spouses and a childhood 
betrothal may be arranged by their mothers and maternal 
uncles; normally there will be an exchange of girls by the 
two contracting parties, so that a boy in each family is 
provided with a mate. ?7o woman is ever the affianced 
wife of more than one man. However, after the marriage is 
consummated, it is possible for the wife to become the con- 
cubine of several other men, married or single. Precise 
statistics showing to what extent and between whom sudl 




ital relations obtain are unfortunately lacking, but a 
number of specific statements by Howitt enable us to form 
some picture of the resulting condition of affairs. It should 
be noted that in every case the man and woman indulging 
in sexual intercourse must stand to each other in the ortho- 
dox relationship as defined above. In perfect consistency 
with this rule we find that brothers who have married sisters 
may share their wives and that a widower in return for 
presents takes his brother's wife for his concubine. More- 
over, a visitor of the proper relationship may be offered his 
host's wife as a temporary concubine. Normally, however, 
concubines seem to be assigned through formal allotment 
by the council of elders, which confers rights of concubinage 
on individuals who are potential spouses. In practice, it 
seems that only men of distinction are likely to have a num- 
ber of concubines: others will be advi,sed by the dominant 
elders to confine themselves to a single one. A further 
check to excessive concubinage lies in the mutual jealousy 
of the subsidiary mates, each of whom discountenances new 
relations of concubinage, being permitted to pour hot coals 
over the mate suspected of contemplating a new liaison. A 
bachelor's concubine is especially prone to exercise sur- 
veillance over his sexual life. 

In all this the two most significant facts are: (a) that a 
wife invariably takes precedence over the concubine when 
both occupy the same camp; and (b) that the husband — 
the duly affianced spouse — enjoys an undisputed preemptive 
right over his wife. No concubitant can lawfully abduct his 
concubine from her husband except at periods of general 
license; be may merely exercise his subordinate rights in the 
husband's absence or with his consent. Again, a wife may 
indeed take the initiative and ask her husband to select a 
properly related man for her concubitant; but if her hus- 
liand refuses, she has no redress, and contrariwise she has 
no power of veto when allotted as a concubine. 

Inadequate as are our data, which suggest various queries 



that remain unanswered, it is clear that what Howitt de- 
scribes lis 'group marriage' does not represent a uniform 
psychological or sociological phenomenon. It is surely one 
thing for a man to yield marital privileges to a widowed 
brother, and something quite different for him to concihale 
an honored guest by surrendering his bed; and neither 
practice bears even a remote resemblance to the formal al- 
lotment to one another of potential spouses by a council of 
elders. 'Group marriage" might rightly be predicated of 
a community in which groups of men shared marital rights 
on equal terms over corresponding groups of women. No 
such condition obtains among the Dieri : the husband is the 
well-nigh absolute overlord over his wife's sexual life, the 
concubitant a mere substitute. Even 'sexual communism' 
seems to be a very misleading term for what actually occurs, 
since communism hardly suggests the complete overshadow- 
ing by one partner of the other 'communists.' Moreover, 
everything we can gather on the subject suggests that while 
marriage among the Dieri is permanent the actual state of 
concubinage is ordinarily of quite temporary duration. 
Finally, the population of the Australian local group is so 
small that the number of properly related individuals who 
might become concubitants is extremely restricted to begin 
with. When we consider the additional restrictions of con- 
cubinage by sexual jealousy and the admonitions of elders, 
both of which factors are stressed by our authority, it is 
obvious that in the everyday life of the average Dieri man 
concubinage cannot possibly play the part suggested by the 
pretentious terms 'group marriage' or 'sexual commun- 
ism.' There is assuredly a certain amount of fraternal 
polyandry mixed with polygyny ; some surrender of marital 
prerogatives on the score of hospitality; and still more in 
deference to men of social prestige. But that the majority 
of Dieri men live in individual wedlock for the greater part 
of their lives is obvious. Communism on the Toda plan 
there may be when two brothers dwell with two sisters ; but 



when a concubitant assumes an absentee husband's place 
there is at best merely one individual relationship supersed- 
ing another. Altogether we have seen before that primitive 
marriage cannot be regarded solely or even predominantly 
from the sexual point of view ; and to leap from the fact 
that more than one man may have access to a woman to 
the conclusion that there is an institution of group marriage 
is little short of absurd, as Dr. Malinowski correctly re- 

Besides the Dieri and the Chukchi, a few other tribes, 
such as the Gilyak of the Amur region, have been reported 
as practising sexual communism to the exclusion of indi- 
vidual marriage. The data, however, are of so inadequate 
a character that they may be ignored until additional infor- 
mation is available. Considering the extreme paucity of all 
the reported cases of 'group marriage' and the results of 
our analysis of the sexual communism found among the 
Chukchi and Dieri, we are justified in concluding that 
hitherto no evidence has been adduced to show that any 
people in the world have in recent times practised sexual 
communism in a manner destructive of the individual 

Hypothetical Sexual Communism 

However, it is possible to harmonize this verdict with the 
theory that though primitive tribes no longer practise group 
marriage they have risen to the practice of individual mar- 
riage after passing through antecedent stages of sexual 
communism. This has in fact been the dominant view 
amoi^ modem sociologists and its historical significance 
requires a brief examination of the reasons for its vogue. 

When evolutionary principles, having gained general ac- 
ceptance in biology, had begun to affect all philosophical 
thinking, it was natural to extend them to the sphere of 
social phcooQiena. Among the first to embark on this veil* 


ture was Lewis H. Morgan, whose ethnographical treatise 
on the Iroquois had estabHshed his reputation as an accurate 
and sympathetic observer of primitive custom. Under the 
influence of evolutionary doctrines Morgan outlined a com- 
plete scheme for the development of human marriage. It 
was eminently characteristic of the intellectual atmosphere 
of the period that Morgan's first stage should be a condi- 
tion of perfect promiscuity, in which sexual lust was unre- 
stricted by any incest rule. Complete lack of regulation of 
sex life is manifestly the diametrical opposite of obligatory 
monogamy, and the evolutionary theorist of the day was 
bent on connecting the most diverse phenomena by a graded 
series of intermediaries. For the mid-Victorian thinker it 
was a foregone conclusion requiring only statement not 
proof that monogamy is the highest form of marriage in 
the best of conceivable universes; and it was equally axio- 
matic that early man must have lived under conditions in- 
finitely removed from that ideal goal. So Morgan made 
no pretense at producing empirical proof of pristine promis- 
cuity, which in fact he assigned to the period when man was 
still hovering near the border line between humanity and 
a lower organic stage. He advanced promiscuity as a logi- 
cal postulate precisely as some evolutionary philosophers 
advance the axiom of spontaneous generation; and thereby 
placed it beyond the range of scientific discussion. 

It was otherwise with Morgan's second stage, that of the 
'consanguine family,' based on the intermarriage of 
brothers and sisters but barring that of parents and childreti. 
For this stage, while nowhere observable, as a general 
tribal usage, was inferred by Morgan as the only possible 
cause of certain empirical phenomena. Tn other words, he 
was here no longer indulging in logical axioms hut proceed- 
ing in the spirit of the scientists who invented the atom to 
account for the liehavior of chemical substances. The fact 
j which Morgan adduced as conclusive proof of the former 
intermarriage of brothers and sisters was the Hawaiian 


method of designating kin. That method is of a simpler I 
character than the one usually found in savage tribes. I 
While many primitive peoples carefully distinguish between 
maternal and paternal relatives, the Hawaiians not onlyl 
draw no such distinction but apply their kinship terms so as I 
to include all relatives of the same generation regardless oil 
propinquity. For example, makua designates both the par-l 
ents and all their brothers and sisters, sex being indicated 
by qualifyHng words meaning 'man' and 'woman.' Mor- 
gan argues that the maternal uncles were called by the same 
term as the fathers because all were fathers in the sense of i 
having free access to their sisters: that similarly all of a! 
man's nephews and nieces were called sons and daughters 
because all his sisters were his wives, as they were the wives 
of his brothers; and so forth. It is Morgan's contention 
that while the customs reflected in kinship nomenclature 
ha\T a tendency to pass out of existence the terminology 
itself is more conservative and thus furnishes a sort of 
palaeontological record of social institutions. 

In the first place, while Morgan's inference as to the 
prior existence of the consanguine family has an empirical 
foundation, this does not hold for the place he assigned to 
the inferred stage in his scale. Even admitting that his data 
prove the former intermarriage of brothers and sisters, we 
are not compelled by the evidence to assign to that practice 
o«jr particular age. If Morgan does claim a hoary antiquity 
for this condition, placing it immediately after the reign of 
utter lawlessness, it is because of the tacit assumption per- 
vading his entire scheme that a unilinear series may be 
postulated bridging by degrees the gap between promiscuity 
and monogamy. Only on that hypothesis does it follow that 
the inferred stage of the consanguine family must come 
directly after one of antecedent promiscuity and before other 
tj-pes of the family. Yet had Morgan not been smitten with 
purblindness by his theoretical prepossessions, he might well 
have paused before ascribing to the Polynesians the part they 


play in his scheme. For the aboriginal civilization of Poly- 
nesia, instead of suggesting by its crudeness an extreme an- 
tiquity for any and all of its constituents, must rank among 
the very noblest of cultures devoid of the metallurgical art. 

I When Morgan assipned to this settled, politically organized 
and marvelously aesthetic race the lowest status among sur- 

1 viving divisions of mankind he attained the high-water level 

\oi absurdity, which accounts of Oceanian exploration acces- 
sible even in his day would have sufficed to expose. It is 
true that missionary reports had described marriages of 
brother and sister in the uppermost social stratum of Hawaii, 
but this merely indicates that in Hawaii, as in ancient Egypt 
and Peru, such unions resulted from pride of blood evolved 
in an inordinately sophisticated civilization. 

Morgan, however, not merely assumes the relative chro- 
nology of the consanguine family and his other stages with- 
out the slightest empirical warrant, but lays himself open 
to the still more serious charge of drawing wrong inferences 
from the existence of the Hawaiian system. Some of the 
objections against his logic have been forcibly urged by 
Herr Cunow, whose strictures are all the more noteworthy 
because of his appreciation and partial acceptance of Mor- 
gan's work. To begin with a specific point, Morgan over- 
looks the fact that the Hawaiian system not merely embraces 
blood-kindred but also distinguishes from them relatives 
by affinity: there are thus distinct terms for brother-in-law 
and sister-in-law and even a specific word to denote the 
relationship of the husband's parents to the wife's. If the 
Hawaiian nomenclature represents the consanguine family 
stage, Cunow acutely argues, then such terms of affinity 
have no place in it. For with intermarriage of brothers and 
sisters my wife's brother is my brother, while her parents 
are my own parents or at least my parents' siblings. 

The really fundamental error, however, lies in Morgan's 
assumption that a native term translated 'father' is synony- 

I motis in the native mind with 'procreator.' He cannot 


conceive that a Hawaiian could ever have called the mater- 
nal uncle 'father* unless at one time the uncle cohabited 
with his sister and was thus a possible procreator of her 
children. But this is to misunderstand the evidence, which / 
does not teach us that the mother's brother is called father ' 
but that both mother's brother and father are designated by 
a common term not strictly corresponding to any in our 
language. That such linguistic identification must have for 
its basis conjugal intercourse with the same mate is an arbi- 
trary assumption, which in fact leads to nonsensical conse- 
quences. For as Mcl^ennan observed before Cunow, the 
theory that all 'fathers' are potential begetters involves the 
parallel view that the 'mothers' whom a Hawaiian reckons 
up by dozens are believed to have all conceived and borne 
him. To be sure, Morgan lamely sidesteps the fatal diffi- 
culty by asserting that here the native intends to denote a 
marriage connection rather than a blood-relationship; he 
calls his mother's sister 'mother' because she is the wife 
of his reputed father, hence after a fashion his stepmother. 
This, however, is sheer subterfuge. The extensions of the 
terms translated 'father* and 'mother' respectively are 
strictly parallel; they form part of a single system and 
demand a single interpretation. If the notion of actual 
parenthood underlies the system at one point, it must do so 
uniformly; and since this supposition leads to a monstrous 
conclusion, it must be discarded. The simple explanation of 
the Hawaiian system lies in Cunow's suggestion that it 
represents the stratification of blood kindred by genera- 
tions. Our own nomenclature is not so far removed from 
this t3rpe as might at first blush appear. We group all our 
parents' siblings under the terms 'uncle' and 'aunt'; the 
essential difference lies in our segregation of the immediate 
family circle by using distinct terms for father and mother. 
It is not difficult to understand how in some societies stress- 
ing the age factor, as many primitive communities do, terms 
of consanguinity might come to indicate merely generation 





to the extent of mer^ng the next of kin in the group of 
their contemporaries. 

In short, Morgan fails to prove that the Hawaiian nomen- 
clature must have had its origin in the intermarriage of 
brothers and sisters ; and even if it had arisen in this fashion, 
there would be no proof that either the terminology or its 
hypothetical cause is of great antiquity. 

On the latter point we can go somewhat further. While 
the number of primitive tribes following the Hawaiian sys- 
/tem of nomenclature is limited, a far greater number follow 
(the Dakota and Iroquois plan of bifurcating blood-kindred 
I according to whether they are maternal or paternal. The 
Dakota, like the Hawaiians, have a single word for father 
and father's brother, and another for mother and mother's 
sister ; but the mother's brother, instead of being classed with 
the father, and the father's sister, instead of being classed 
with the mother, are both designated by specific terms. Now 
in scrutinizing nomenclatures in general conformity with 
the Dakota plan, we discover details of distinctively Ha- 
I waiian complexion. A priori these might l)e accepted as 
I survivals of an older purely Hawaiian system, but specific 
circumstances prove conclusively that the opposite inter- 
pretation is the only possible one. For example, a Crow 
addresses his father's sister as mother, just as does the 
Hawaiian. Now the Crow tongue is a specialized repre- 
sentative of the Hidatsa branch of the Siouan family. All 
the other Siouan languages, including the Hidatsa, dis- 
criminate between mother and father's sister; nay. Crow 
speech itself does so whenever the paternal aunt is not di- 
rectly addressed. Hence it is quite clear that Crow vocative 
usage is not a survival but an innovation. Similar recent 
changes are reported from the Iroquois, the Torres Straits 
Islanders, the Gilyak of Siberia, and the Timne of West 
Africa. It is therefore justifiable to consider Hawaiian 
features as frequently the result of secondary development; 
and when these specific data are combined with the high 



cultural status of the Polynesians, they constitute a cnishing 
argument against the priority of either the Hawaiian termi- 
nology or of any social customs supposedly linked therewith. 
After the discussion of the consanguine family, we may 
deal briefly with Morgan's evidence for his next stage, which 
represents what in common ethnographic parlance is called 
group marriage, viz.. a condition in which "the group of 
men were conjointly married to the group of women." 
Morgan considers particularly the institution of several sis- 
ters sharing a group of husbands not necessarily kinsmen of 
one another; and of several brothers sharing a group of 
wives not necessarily related to one another. Group mar- 
riage might of course be conceived somewhat differenlly. 
though always involving a combination of polyandry with 
polygyny. Thus, Professor Kohler seeks the origin of the 
Dakota kinship nomenclature in the custom by which the 
brothers AAA marry the sisters bbb, and the brothers BRB 
tfie sisters aaa. It is, indeed, again the kinship terminology 
that furnishes the main argument for the speculative eth- 
nologist. As in the previous case of the Hawaiian system, 
he ignores obvious alternatives and associates our concepts 
of parenthood with primitive terms bearing a wholly diverse 
significance. Social phenomena already described amply ' 
account for the Dakota nomenclature. In the levirate and | 
the sororate we find usages explaining fully why father and i 
father's brother, mother and mother's sister should be 
classed together. These phenomena show that kinship ter- 
minology is not necessarily expressive of actual sexual rela- 
tions. A man may never come to inherit his brother's 
widow, cither because his brother survives her or because 
die is married by another brother. Quite regardless of this 
fact, he is called father by his brother's children, and cor- 
responding considerations hold for the sororate. The fact 
Ihat conjugal relations witli one's mother are theoretically 
possible for a number of individuals is sufficient to label 
tfieni all with a common designation. There is no reason 


for assuming that the natives ever meant to imply more 
than a like social status when applying like kinship terms. 
It is true that Morgan interpreted the sororate as a relic 
of group marriage, and Frazer has extended the interpre- 
tation to the levirate as well. But these are empty guesses, 
which may be disregarded. Levirate and sororate are real 
institutions intelligible in their context; they are not rend- 
ered one whit more intelligible by conceiving them as sur- 
vivals of a condition that has never been observed. 

To sum up. Sexual communism as a condition taking the 
: place of the individual family exists nowhere at the present 
' time ; and the arguments for its former existence must be 
'■ rejected as unsatisfactory. This conclusion will find con- 
firmation in the phenomena of primitive family life.* 


^Thalbitzer: 15, 67. Boas, 1907: 7, 115, 378. Cranz: i, 
209. Routledge: 134. Hollis, 1905: 303. Junod: 1,97,125- 
128, 274. RadloflF: 484. Keysser: 90, 44. Jochelson, 1910: 
no seq. ; id., 1908: 752-755. Bogoras: 598-602. Heame: 
124 et passim. Merker : 27 seq. 

* Annual Archaeological Report: 112. Roscoe, 1907: 105. 
Rockhill: 211 seq. Tafel: 11, 124 seq. Rivers, 1906: 477- 
480, 515 seq. Lowie, 1917 (a) : 63, id., 1913: 228 seq. Hol- 
lis, 1905 ; 288. Frazer, J. : 34. 

■ Von den Steinen : 388. Hollis, 1905 : xvi. Merker : 44, 
84. Bogoras: 602-607. Howitt: 163-167,177-187. Malinow- 
ski: 100-123. 

* Morgan, 1877: Pt. iii, especially Chapters 11, iii, vi. Riv- 
ers, 1914 (b) : I, 275 seq. Cunow, 1894: 54, 127 seq.; id., 
1912: 50 seq. Lowie, 1917 (a): 118, 162. Kohler: 266. 
Frazer, J. G., 1910: iv, 139 seq. 



BIOLOGICALLY every community must rest on the 
family, — ^the group comprising a married couple and 
their children. But biological and sociological necessity 
need not coincide. It does not follow that the Uological 
family must exist as a unit differentiated from the rest of 
the social aggregate of which it forms part. Indeed, in 
such a stage of sexual communism as is pictured by Mor- 
gan's school the family would be wholly submerged in a 
wider group. The matter is thus one not for a priori argu- 
ment but of empirical fact. 

Before undertaking the inquiry suggested by thiH rr/n- 
sideration, we had better briefly scrutinize the family r^m- 
ccpt as it appears in our ovm civilization. The first [•;int 
to be specially noted is its bilateral character, which indeed 
is involved in our definition. That h to say, th#i {hmWy h% 
a social unit includes both parent- and in a v^y/nda ry vnvr 
the kindred on both sides. This appears in th^ ^ufi^A of 
parents to their children and alv> in our lav/^ of inh^r it;*rir#r, 
which recognize the bond with borh mat^trnal and j/at/T nal 
relatives. The desirability of crr.pha^fzinjf *hh f^fur^, //ill 
become manifest later. In ^/rjt =:jrr.:f;<;ir,t r^,;j^Ai, ^xfnt^^'ttr, 
the bilateral principle is ah^r/ior.-f^rj :r. favor of ^r*^/f»/i': 
our family is patrocyrrx. i^ x::* ^zA ^.\ *h^ ^\/Mr^^ ful^- 
ing the fadier's name In •>.:« x^y •>>: r/:vAT/i, W:x v/f;t 
and thdr male dtsosrAirzi v.rv:^. rr.^iV^ *//y/^f.^7 y/At 
wives and immarnerf 'fa.-rirrvrr', ir* vryr-j^^^v/I itt ^r^;♦K^ 
or BroinB from the rE=:a.^jC(tr 'xf *i;«:r ^;r<, '/'v f/t virt, 



this is a point rather of comparative than of practical im- 
portance. It would be otherwise if all the Smiths, however 
remotely related, formed a definite social unit set over 
against the rest of the community, e.g., if in the inheritance 
of property the most remote kinsman of the same family 
name took precedence of such close relatives as married 
daughters or the sons of sisters. Since one-sided empha- 
sis on the paternal branch of the family is not in vogue with 
us apart from the transmission of the name, we are justi- 
fied in describing our family as an essentially bilateral one. 
The question, then, that concerns us above all others is 
whether primitive tribes similarly recognize the bilateral 
principle in their conception of family life. Whenever they 
do, we shall be justified in holding that they recognize the 
family as a social unit regardless of whatever other units 
may coexist with it. Let us then first consider the evidence 
for the presence of the bilateral principle and next pass in 
review some of the more important factors that tend to 
mould primitive family life, often causing it to deviate ap- 
preciably from the West European norm. 

The Bilateral Kin Group 

Objective testimony of quite incontrovertible character is 
furnished on behalf of the universality of the family unit 
by the recorded systems of kinship terminology. As even 
Morgan pointed out in a discussion with McLennan, every 
tribe has terms of relationship for both the paternal and 
the maternal lines and in so far acknowledges bilateral kin- 
ship. But to limit this attitude to the matter of nomencla- 
ture would be to understate the case beyond all reason. In 
t by far the majority of primitive tribes both sides of the 
family are reckoned with not only in vocabulary but in cus- 
tomary law, definite functions being commonly associated 
with definite types of relationship. Thus, the Hopi unlike 
ourselves are matronymic since what corresponds to our 


Ffamay naroe is transmitted from mother to child ; but the 
personal name is invariably bestowed In- a woman of the \ 
father's kin and s>TnboIicalIy suggests that group. Among 
the Kkewise matronj-mic Hidatsa a variety of social usages , 
bear w-itness to the importance of the paternal kindred. 1 
Thus, sacred objects descend from father to son; the 
father's relatives are entitled to gifts on all occasions : nick- 
names are frequently given not for a man's own pectiliari- 
ties but for those of a father's kinsman : and it is the father's 
kin that conduct the funeral proceedings. On the other 
hand, we find the patronj-mic Thonga assij^ing a very re- 
markable position to the maternal uncle. Here the mother's 
brother laj's claim to a portion of the bride price and plays 
an important part in his nephew's ceremonial life, while 
the sister's son may appropriate his uncle's food and claim 
part of his legacy, at times even inheriting one of the 
widows. To cite but one other instance, the patrnn\Tnic 
Torres Straits Islanders permit a boy or man to take his 
maternal uncle's most valued possessions, while the nephew 
immediately obeys his mother's brother's injimction against 

The subject of kinship usages is a large one and cannot 
be exhausted in a paragraph. In the present conncclinn it 
is simply important to note that both paternal and maternal 
kindred are regularly recognized and that such a thing as 
taking the family name of one parent in no wise precludes 
important social relations with the kin of the other side. 

Such social usages as have been cited aliove involve an 
bnplicit recognition of the parent. Both parents are of 
course also directly recognized by virtue of the sentimental 
bcmd connecting them with their children, and further !«- 
cause husband and wife, together with at least their younger 
diildren, form an economic and imlustrial unit. Marriage. 
as we cannot too often or too vehemently insist, is only to a 
limited extent based on sexual considerations. The primary 
motive, so far as the individual mates are concerned, is pre- 




/cisely the founding of a self-sufficient economic aggregate. 
A Kai does not marry because of desires he can readily 
gratify outside of wedlock without assuming any responsi- 
bilities; he marries because he needs a woman to make pots 
and to cook his meals, to manufacture nets and weed his 
plantations, in return for which he provides the household 
with game and fish and builds the dwelling. In Queens- 
land the father supplies the family with larger game and 
fish, the mother with yams, grass-seed, fruits, molluscs, and 
smaller fish. In central Australia there is a simitar division 
of labor and from Dr. Malinowski's compilation of facts it 
is clear that throughout the continent the individual family 
on this basis normally constitutes a definitely segregated 
unit. As Mr. Brown remarks regarding the West Aus- 
tralian Kariera, "the unit of social life in the Kariera tribe 
was the family, consisting of a man and his wife or wives 
and their children. Such a unit might move about by itself 
without reference to the movements of the other families 
of the local group. In the camp each family had its own 
hut or shelter with its own fire. The family had its own 
food supply which was cooked and consumed by the fam- 
ily. The man provided the flesh food and his wife provided 
the vegetable food and such things as small mammals or 
lizards." The economic and industrial relations of the Ewe 
mates are regulated with equal definiteness. It is the hus- 
band's duty to furnish meat and fish, and the wife's to sup- 
ply salt ; both share the horticultural work ; the woman 
spins, while the man weaves and mends the clothing. 

Such facts might be multiplied indefinitely. On the 
strength of this universal trait we are justified in concluding 
Ithat regardless of all other social arrangements the indi- 
Ividual family is an omnipresent social unit. It does not 
matter whether marital relations are permanent or tempo- 
rary ; whether there is polygyny or polyandry or sexual li- 
cense ; whether conditions are complicated by the addition of 
members not included in our family circle: the one fact 



stands out beyond all others that everywhere the husband, 
wife and immature children constitute a unit apart from the \ 
remainder of the community. In primitive society it is in- 
deed usually the case that an individual owes certain duties 
to a whole class of individuals from all of whom he in turn 
expects a definite mode of treatment. But as Mr. Brown 
admirably points out in the article quoted, there is no 
confusion as to the intensity of the obligation, which varies 
with proximity of kinship. Though two dozen paternal 
uncles and fathers' cousins may be addressed by the same 
term as the father, it is the real or putative father that 
preeminently supplies his wives and children with such neces- 
saries as ought to be furnished by the man in accordance 
with primitive custom. So we have seen that though a 
man's nth cousin may be called his brother, it is his own 
brother that inherits the widow through the levirate. and 
only in the absence of brothers does a more remote kinsman 
function as a substitute. 

The only possible escape for adherents of the theory that 
the bilateral family is unknown to primitive man is to flee 
from the patent phenomena of the cruder contemporaneous 
societies to the obscurities of a remote past. The h>'pothesis 
that the family is everywhere a relatively late product of 
social evolution has already been touched upon from one 
point of view and will be reexamined later in another con- 
nection. For the present it suffices to establish the present 
universality of the bilateral family concept. 

But this does not necessarilv involve the thesis that fam- 
ily life must therefore everj-where assume the same form it 
does among ourselves. Indeed the fundamental changes ' 
brought about within a centurj' in our own family life ^ 
through econcHnic developments and an altered conception 
of woman's status would reduce any such supposition to an 
absurdity. Usages like polygn^ny and pol\-andr>' are bound 
to affect the character of the family, as has already been 
indicated. Recalling some data presented in previous chap- 


ters and anticipating facts to be more fully treated below 
while postponing still others for later consideration, I will 
briefly indicate some of the factors that vitally afEect primi- 
tive family life.' 

Looseness of the Family Unit 

, Even in the higher cultures the individual family is a 
/conspicuously unstable unit. When daughters marry and 
/ take up their abode with their husbands or when sons estab- 
Ush independent households, the intimacy of the bond that 
' united them with the parental family is almost inevitably 
weakened if not wholly destroyed. Among primitive 
peoples who rarely if ever interpose religious scruples 
against divorce all sorts of disruptive forces must be reck- 
oned with. Sheer bravado often tempted Crow men pub- 
licly to discard their wives on festive occasions by way of 
exhibiting their strength of soul, and apparently it mat- 
tered little whether they had children or not, infants natu- 
rally accompanying their mother. Again, two rival mili- 
tary organizations of this tribe indulged in licensed wife- 
stealing at the beginning of every spring, the sole qualifi- 
cation being that a man might abduct only women with 
whom he had once been on terms of intimacy. In such a 
case the husband was without redress and any attempt to 
resort to force would permanently injure his social prestige. 
Notwithstanding such usages, it is important not to con- 
found the actual frequency of divorce with its theoretical 
possibility. Even among the Crow a chaste woman would 
be exempt under the accepted restriction of kidnapping, 
while others would be liable to capture only if married to 
the member of one of two societies and if a former mis- 
tress of a member of the other. The public 'throwing away* 
of wives was indeed unlimited by such rules, yet in practice 
a man would hesitate a long while before divorcing a virtu- 
ous and industrious wife. Here, as elsewhere, practical 


considerations interfere very largely with the exercise of an 
abstract prerogative. A Kirgiz who has paid an enormous 
price for his wife very rarely expels her. regardless of 
Mohammedan sanction. Similarly, a Kai husband is un- 
willing to surrender his wife even in cases of elopement. 
He has bought her economic services and demands a resti- 
tution of her person or the equivalent of her price; and 
unless her lover furnishes the requisite property, the woman's 
kin restore her to her purchaser-husband. Even where 
both sexes are equally free to separate from the conjugal 
roof it does not follow that divorce will be proportionately 
common. In the Amazons country a Witoto woman is 
never blamed for leaving her husband because such un- 
natural procedure can be due only to gross maltreatment 
since under the existing conditions a woman without male 
protection is sure to die. On the other hand, the reproba- 
tion meted out to a husband who rids himself of his wife 
without adequate cause acts as a deterrent on the other 

The presence or absence of children, though sometimes I 
'lisregarded, usually exerts a profound influence on the sta- 
Wity (if marriage. Barrenness is very widely accepted as an | 
adequate reason for the repudiation of the wife. Con- 
"trsely. as with us. children tend to unite parents. This is 
wty clearly exemplified by Eskimo conditions. Before the 
^irtii of children divorce is countenanced by Greenland so- 
ciety upon the slightest provocation: Captain Holm en- 
touniered a woman barely turned twenty who had just 
I *paraied from her sixth husband. But after children are 
I Mm the conjugal relationship becomes more stable, and in 
f Iwig-continued unions there is loyal attachment and even 
(leep affection. The latter remark holds true for the 
Chukchi and according to my own observations for the 
Crow, though both of these tribes display a strong tend- 
ency to sever the bonds of marriage for meager cause. 
Difficult as it is to generalize, we shall not go far wrong 



in stating that while the primitive family is not nearly so 
loose a unit as the theoretical power to divorce might sug- 
gest it is nevertheless on the whole considerably looser than 
our own, though its instaljiUty diminishes markedly after 
the first few years of matrimony.' 

Matrilocal and Patrilocal Residence 

J Rules of residence exert an incalculable influence on the 
life of the family, for physical propinquity affects not 
merely sexual love biit all human sentiments. A newly 
married couple may settle, penTianently or temporarily, with 
the wife's or the husband's family, or they may set up a 
household of their own. In order to gain a provisional 
picture of the conditions resulting from these factors, we 
may begin by comparing the family life of two tribes, tho 
patrilocal Hupa and the matrilocal Pueblo Indians, 
I Among the Hupa a man looked for a mate in some other 
/settlement and regularly took his wife to his own village. 
Hence a man and his sons, with his and their wives, as well 
as the unmarried daughters, were united in one locality, 
while the daughters on marriage followed their husbands 
to another village. Thus, a man was born, lived and died 
in the same place, while a woman spent the greater part of 
her life away from her native village. This rule of resi- 
dence inevitably established a unilateral grouping of kin: 
there was a local segregation of individuals related through 
their fathers. Nevertheless this paternal line, while ob- 
jectively distinguished from other kinsfolk through a com- 
mon residence, was not specifically recognized as a distinct 
unit by the Hupa. Thus it might come to pass that a man 
unable to pay the bride-price was obliged to serve in his 
father-in-law's village and the children of the marriage 
belonged to the wife's people. In such cases, then, the 
lapse of the usual patrilocal rule carried with it a quite dif- 
ferent association of kindred from that normally produced. 


This would of coarse have been impossible had the Httpa 
recognized die local segregation of patrilineal relatives as 
not merely customary but zs reflecting the abstract prin- 
ciple that in redconing kinship there shotild be a miiform 
stressing of the paternal side. 

A distinctive alignment of kin is effected by the matri- 
local rule of the Poeblo Indians, combined as it is with 
female ownership of the house. The nucleus of the house- 
hold consists of the maternal grandmother, the mother and 
maternal aunts, the unmarried brothers of the mother, and 
all the children of the adult women. The husband of a 
woman lives in his wife's home bat without safe tenure of 
residence rights : in case of divorce he must leave and ^-ill 
return to the house of his childhcoi. Ac one owned bv his 
mother or one of his sisters. This being so. a man con- 
tinues even after marriage to regard his mother's rather 
than his wife's house as his h jrr.c. In this wav the chil- 
dren of anv familv are brought xntjF constant association 
with their maternal uncles, whose status is a'imirablv de- 
scribed by Miss Freirc-llarreco : **They take their places 
at meals here as a matter of c'tirse. invite visitors to cat. 
behave as hosts and masters of the house: though thcv do 
not (if they are married; contribute ar.^-thing t.^ the ma- 
terial s u pp o r t of our household sirxe thev have to stipply 
com, meat and wood to their wives' h-,' Tr.ev keeo 
their xxxis and finerv tmder the r-.aterr^ z'jrA and zive 
advice and reproof to their sisters' chilcren, from whom 
they have a right to exact o?>c<f icr.ce. 

Thus we find that the mie of residence Trjzrr oro^ucc a 
Stressing of one side of the familj and in =0 far : :rth inter- 
fere with the bilateral svn-.ntetrv of fanii'.v relations. 
Among the Hupa the mat*ma! un':>. \vr.r.z as he 'i'e; 
normally in another village, car.n'-.t yAyrk'j inn-ence the 
education of the children, which will ine-/:t:ibtv -jc n::*i!ded 
by patrilineal influences. In the Pue>l> hoii-Teh'/.i. though 
the fadier cnnliinirs to form an economic 'jnit with his wife 



and her offspring, his authority over the children is at least 
shared by the men belonging to the house in which he him- 
self lives as a visitor. The status of the spouse himself is 
thus profoundly affected. Obviously a man occupies a dif- 
ferent position under his own roof as regards not only 
parental but conjugal status. In a matrilocal community 
he cannot be master of his wife's person in an absolute 
sense; in any dispute the husband has to reckon with her 
kin and is liable to lje expelled. Further, matrilocal resi- 
dence naturally limits po!ygj-ny except in the form of the 

However, we must not forget that matrilocal and patri- 
local residence represent merely the extremes of a series of 
fluctuating conditions. The Pueblo Indians are in the fullest 
sense matrilocal; not so perhaps a majority of the people 
usually so classed. Very commonly we find that a husband 
begins married life with his parents-in-law, fulfilling to all 
intents and purposes the functions of a servant, but sets 
up an independent household at a later stage, say, after the 
Ibirth of children. This applies to the Hidatsa. the Ovambo 
of South Africa, the Khasi of Assam. In such cases the 
influence of the maternal kinsfolk is of course less pro- 
nounced than in permanently matrilocal arrangements. 
Again, there may be no definite rule, the young couple living 
at will either by themselves or with the wife's parents. 

In order to understand the phenomena involved we must 
resolutely decline to rest content with such classificatory 
catchwords as 'matrilocal' and 'patrilocal' and study the 
data both statistically and with reference to correlated 
u.sages. For example, in northern Siberia both the Koryak 
and the Yukaghir suitor serve for the bride, but the former 
takes her to his own family, while the latter resides with 
his parents-in-law. There thus seems to be in this respect 
a clear-cut, unbridgeable distinction between these tribes. 
Yet the demarcation is not nearly so definite as a bald state- 
ment of gross results would suggest. In 1 1 out of i8l 

recorded Koryak marriages the son-in-law settles in his 
father-in-law's house, viz., when there are no sons in the 
bride's family and her father invites him to take the place 
of one. On the other hand, amon^ the Yukaghir it occa- 
sionally happens that two households exchange daughters 
and retain their sons. Further, a bride's father who has 
sons may waive his claims on the husband's residence if 
he is an only son. Finally, it is customary with the Yuka- 
ghir that the youngest son should stay with his parents. 
The Eskimo data are equally illuminating. Here we en- 
counter local differentiation: the Greenlanders are patri- 
local. the tribes of Labrador and Baffin Land at least begin 
with matrilocal marriage. Indeed, even among the Central 
Eskimo differences have been observed, some communities 
following the patrilocal, others the matrilocal rule. Since 
the former practice on the whole predominates, we may 
regard it as the more fundamental Eskimo custom. The 
question then arises what caused the deviations. Here we 
may fall back upon the general reason that when a suitor is 
unable to furnish adequate compensation for his bride he 
naturally becomes her parents' servant. More specifically, 
we leam from Holm that when there are many sons in a 
family sometimes only the older ones bring their brides 
under the paternal roof, while their younger brothers go to 
reside with their parents-in-law. 

By substituting the whole range of observed data for the 
misleading catchwords, we gain a better insight into the 
nature of matrilocal and patrilocal residence, nay, we are 
able to picture the processes that might transform the rele- 
vant marriage customs of a tribe. General impoverishment 
could at any time have made tlie patrilocal Hupa matrilocal 
by standardizing their now anomalous makeshift. Con- 
trariwise Professor Kroeher has shown that even in the 
Etxi^crally matrilocal communities of the Pueblo area signifi- 
t deviations develop. Incompatibility between a man 
his wife's housemates sometimes leads Zuiii spouses to 



jea at the traditional rule and a wife will" 

I lo his motlier's home. This migration 

e consequences, for since the husband may 

SBSters or only childless ones and the 

fi» dmays owned by women a house will thus come 

die possession of one family into that of 

I mat a^ The mode of residence must in any indi- 

^ pnxhice a profound influence on family life 

e tbc aEgmnent of kin, the status of the spouses and 

of the children to maternal and paternal reta- 

hsiU wary with the matrilocal and patrilocal rule. But 

ler that it makes all the difference in the 

I wiicdtei the rule is followed throughout married life 

r few a. limited period at its commencement : whether 

arly absolute or admits of modification; and 

r the motives that operate in anomalous cases and 

r proper conditions rise to ascendancy.' 

Sexual Division of Labor 

t X commonplace of modem sociology that increasing; 
c independence has transformed the status of womatt^ 
T the character of the family. Accordingly, it is^ 
sing that the sexual division of labor should color 
■ life of simpler cultures. This division is very 
' conventional, i.e., in no way connected with the 
I characteristics of the sexes, as may often be 
ptrasting the regulations of different and even 
Iribes. Thus, the Southern Bantu rigorously 
1 from their herds, while the Hottentot women 
: the cows. 

► the widespread popular notion that primitiv) 

ariably a drudge, we find on the whole a rathi 

nment of tasks. Among hunting tribes th) 

e game brought by her husband wild rool 



berries, and shell-fish. At a higher level man remains a 
hunter, while woman takes the important step of not merely 
gathering but planting and harvesting seeds. In technical 
ethnologic parlance it is customary to distinguish between 
agriculture or plough-husbandry and horticulture or tillage 
with more primitive implements. In Africa and in most 
horticultural American and Oceanian tribes, gardening with 
the hoe is woman's distinctive economic employment, as 
Eduard Hahn was probably the first to point out. On the 
other hand, the domestication of such animals as the ox 
was undoubtedly achieved by men. Generally speaking, 
the care of the herds has remained in the hands of men, 
who have sometimes jealously guarded their prerogatives. 
The Bantu taboo against women's entering a corral has 
been mentioned, and the Toda go so far as not to permit 
their wives to cook food of which milk is an ingredient. 
In connection with the domestication of the ox men also 
developed the use of the plough in agriculture, thus dimin- 
ishing the relative importance of woman's contribution to 
the larder. 

In addition to economic activities we must consider in- 
dustrial occupations. Here there is, as already suggested, a 
Si'^tdeal of variation even within the same general region. 
For example, with most of the North American alx)rigincs 
ftc dressing of skins is reckoned a distinctively feminine 
task, but in the Southwest this work is done by the men. 
^ northern Arizona the Hopi men do all the spinning and 
^caving, while these tasks are invariably performed by 
^omcn among the neighboring Navaho. With respect to 
primitive ceramics we are indebted to Dr. Laufer for a 
S^Qeralization comparable to Hahn's: wherever earthen- 
^"^ is manufactured by hand, it is produced by the women, 
^^Wle the wheel-turned pottery is made by the men. 
^t The position of woman in society forms so imix>rtant a 
^1 pfoidem that a special chapter will be devoted to it. In the 
^ Pittent conoecticm it suffices to note that each people has its 



traditional conceptions of masculine and feminine employ- 
ment and that differences in this regard cannot fail to 
affect the course of the family Hfe. A polygynous Thonga 
becomes a parasite supported by his gardener-wives; a 
Kirgiz wife performs the household tasks, while the hus- 
band not merely tends the herds but also supplies firewood, 
tills the soil, and manufactures all household vessels; the 
Toda woman has hardly any duties besides pounding and 
sifting grain, cleaning the hut and decorating clothing. It 
is not a question of woman's theoretical status, for that is 
doubtless lowest among the Mohammedanized Kirgiz, and 1 
probably lower among the Toda than with the Thonga; it 
is simply a question of what labors are conventionally allot- 
ted to each sex. Dr. Laufer has forcibly pointed out how < 
at a higher level of civilization "the forms of Chinese fam- 
ily life and the psychical relations of the members" are 
radically different from our own because woman never 
superintends nor even approaches the kitchen, which Is al- i 
ways far removed from the center of the house and thus 
never serves as a family rallying-point,' 

Segregation of Unmarried 

Among the customs often giving to primitive family life 
a very peculiar cast as compared with ours is the segrega- 
tion of unmarried young men and women from the re- 
mainder of the community, frequently at adolescence, some — t 
times even at an earlier period. Thus, among the Dravid— 
ians of southern India the youths no longer sleep with theii 
parents but in a separate club house, and the girls in a dor—' 
mitory of their own, superintended by a matron. Ever^ 
Kariera camp is divided into the married people's and th< 
bachelors' camp, the latter including widowers, the formei 
single women and widows. The Masai asage has alreadj^ 
been described by which the bachelor braves reside in £ 
special kraal with the immature young girls, while all mar- 
ried men have settlements of their own. 

Sexual Segregation 


_f These customs introduce us to the prinriple of dividing a 
community on the basis of age, with or without a farther 
recognition of a sexual segregation. The relevant prob- 
lems of distribution and interpretation will receive detailed 
discussion. Suffice it for the present to call attention to 
the inevitable rending asunder or at least serious weaken- 
ing of the family ties where the adolescent children are 
^bparated from their parents by these fixed institutions.' J 

Still more drastic in its effects on the family as a social 
unit is the separation of husband and wife either by the 
segregation of men in a club house of their own or by ex- 
clusion of the women from those forms of public activity 
which especially engross the attention of the men. This, 
tw. is a subject for ampler treatment further on, but one 
Jr Iwo characteristic illustrations must be cited here by way 
of anticipation. 

Among the Hupa the women lived in the family house, 
where their husbands caine to eat meals before and after 
'heir daily tasks. In the evening the men retired to the 
I iweathouse, which served not only as a Turkish liath and 
■duhbut as a dormitory as well. This, however, does not 
wipare with the isolation of the women in parts of Melan- 
i, such as the Banks Islands, where the men and indeed 
« adolescent boys not merely sleep hut eat apart from the 
inen. membership into the men's club being early pur- 
d to shorten the ignominy of having to feed with the 
pomen. Finally may be mentioned the well-nigh universal 
pilstralian custom of barring women from attendance at 
(sacred rites about which most of masculine thought j 
?»rfves in its more serious moments." 


The verv constitution of the family may be 
' 1^ fiction throu^ which parents rtar 


the children of another couple. In many cases the children 
are related to their foster parents, but this is by no means 
prerequisite. A common motive for adoption is lack of 
issue. Thus, a Chukchi couple without offspring will adopt 
the child, preferably the son. of a relative, and the boy 
then becomes the principal heir. The sentimental relation- 
ship comes to approach very closely that based on the natu- 
ral tie. With the Crow Indians it is common for men and 
women to adopt a sibling's child, and if am-thing there was 
exaggerated demonstration of affection as if to compensate 
for the subconscious feeling that after all the tie was fac- 
titious. But probably nowhere is adoption so prevalent as 
in Murray Island of the Eastern Torres Straits group, 
where children for no manifest reason are adopted even 
before birth and brought up entirely as members of the 
adoptive parent, often remaining in ignorance of their real 
parentage till adult life or even till death/ 


Although the character of the primitive family is appre- 
ciably altered by the usages sketched above, these modifica- 
tions do not invade the bilateral principle. A man may 
spend the major part of his working and sleeping hours 
away from his wife, but for all that he is linked to her by 
the common interest in the children of the household, really 
or putatively his own. and by their economic and industrial 
partnership ; and similar considerations apply to the other 
conditions mentioned, which often strangely affect the 
dynamics of family life from a Caucasian point of view. 
In short, the bilateral family is none the less an absolutely 
universal unit of human society. 


» Lowie, 1917 (a) : 40 seq., 51. Junod : i, 44. 212, 226. 253, 
262. Reports, v: 144 seq. Keysser: 45,85. Roth, 1906: 6. 
Spencer and Gillen. 1899: 18. Malinowski: 158-167. Brown: 
147. Spielh: 191. 



•Lowie, 1912: 223; id., 1913: 169. Kcysser: 86. Whif- 
f en : 165. Thalbitzer : 65, y2. Bogoras : 596. 

• Goddard, 1903 : 56-58. Freire-Marreco : 269-287. Lowic, 
191 7 (a): 46. Schinz: 304,311. Gurdon: 78. Jochelson, 
1908: 744; id., 1910: 92. Cranz: i, 215 seq. Boas, 1888: 
579. Thalbitzer: 59. Murdoch: 410. Kroeber, 1917 (a): 

*Hahn. Rivers, 1906: 567. Laufer, 1917: 148; id., in 
Amer. Anth., 1918: 89. Radloff: 462. 
•Baden-Powell: 172. Brown: 147. 

• Goddard, 1903 : 57. Rivers, 1914 (b) : i, 63. 
^Bogoras: 556. Lowie, 1912: 219. Reports, vi: 64, 177. 



IN PROVING the bilateral character of the family, I 
have called attention to the social relations that ob- 
tain between an individual and the relatives on both his 
father's and his mother's side. As a matter of fact, primi- 
tive law usually goes much further and establishes definite 
functions for every relationship not only by blood but by 
marriage as well. In our society no fixed conduct is pre- 
scribed towards a maternal uncle or a sister^s son or the 
husband of a father's sister. In primitive communities, 
on the other hand, a specific mode of behavior may be 
rigidly determined for each and every possible form of 
relationship. From the point of view of any individual 
this means that his tribesmen are classified into certain cate- 
gories, each one of which implies an altogether special set 
of social rules to be observed by him. He is bound to render 
' services to an individual of one class; with a member of 
another he may jest and take liberties; with persons of a 
third category he must have nothing to do except through 
intermediaries; and so forth. Proximity of relationship 
may or may not count ; usually, as Mr. Brown has explained 
for the Kariera, a savage owes the same type of conduct to 
a more remote as to a closer kinsman addressed by the same 
relationship term, but the intensity of the obligation is 
greater for the nearer relationship. As this author further 
remarks, a native may be at a complete loss how to treat a 
stranger who falls outside of the established rubrics. What 
most frequently happens is that by a legal fiction, or it may 




by marriage with a member of the community, the new 
arrival comes to occupy a definite status. Thus, in a Plains 
Indian myth a young boy finds a strange girl whom he 
adopts as his sister; automatically she becomes the sister of 
his brothers, who accordingly are prohibited from marrying 
her. In real life these implications are consistently carried 
out. so that the stranger would be a daughter to her adop- 
Jkrs" parents, a sister-in-law to their wives, and so forth. 

short, she would be classified for the entire family circle 
id her social relations would be regulated thereby. 

It is largely the character of these kinship usages that dif- 
ferentiates family life among different tribes and divides 
its operations in primitive society from those of our own; 
and they are so numerous and diversified that a special chap- 
termust be devoted to the matter. They involve both duties 
to relatives and claims on their help and property; both 
strict prohibitions as to intercourse and sanctions of ex- 
travagant forms of intercourse. The systematic study of 
the subject, which owes much to the energy of Dr. Rivers, 

still in its infancy; yet something of value may already 

extracted from the vast array of detail. 

Mother's and Father'.s Kin 

[ Certain pcailiar relations with the maternal and paternal 
must profoundly affect social intercourse. Fnr example. 
; a mother's younger sister is likely to become the 
her's second wife through the sororate, the initial atti- 
fc of the children towards her is bound to be influenced 
y the circumstance, and vice versa. Correspondingly, the 
rate creates a bond between a father's brother and his 
tuber's son to which there can lje nothing analogous in 

J .society. There are functions connected wj " 
Batemal and paternal relatives equally far-reachilU 
I Ethnologists describe under the heading of ( 




the customs regulating in an altogether special way the re- 
lations of a nephew to his maternal uncle. These relations 
often have humorous features to which attention will be 
paid later. In their more serious aspect they involve an 
unusual authority on the uncle's part and the inheritance of 
property not by the son but by the sister's son. Some ex- 
amples have already been furnished; the Kai suitor must 
obtain the consent of the girl's maternal uncle, and in the 
inheritance of Thonga widows it has been seen that a 
nephew may acquire the wife of his mother's brother. 
Phenomena of this sort are common. Among the Winne- 
bago of Wisconsin. Dr. Radin informs us, the nephew acts 
as a servant to his mother's brother and formerly accom- 
panied him to battle as a sort of squire. On the other hand, 
he was permitted to take liberties expressly forbidden with 
his paternal uncle, e.g., he might appropriate his uncle's 
belongings. Among the Omaha the maternal uncle had full 
control of orphaned children and even during the parents' 
hfetime showed a parent's zeal in defending them or aveng- 
ing an injury to which they were subjected. In the Hopi 
household the mother's brother instructs the children in 
their ceremonial duties and in the traditional lore. On the 
coast of British Columbia the nephew goes to live with his 
maternal uncle, works for him, marries his daughter and 
becomes his legal heir. From Oceania similar customs are 
reported. The Torres Straits Islander obeyed his mother's 
brother more readily than his father, and it was his mothers 
eldest brother that guarded him at his initiation into the 
status of manhood. Here, as among the Winnebago, a man 
might take ari)-thing belonging to his maternal uncle. This 
latter feature is carried to excessive lengths by the Fijians. 
In Africa the avunculate is also fairly common. Among the 
Makonde of East Africa the maternal uncle must consent 
to his niece's marriage and receives part of the bride-price, 
while it is the sister's son that is entitled to a man's legacy. 
In Upper Guinea the Anglo-Ewe grant to a maternal unde 



tcater authority over the children than to their father. The 
nephew, being a man's heir-apparent, must work for him 
and accompany his uncle on his travels. Among the prob- 
ably Hamitic Nandi of East Africa the mother's brother 
must consent before a boy is circumcised; he is entitled to j 
a cow when his nephew has made a successful raid; andfl 
nothing seems more terrible than to incur his wrath. 

That some of these resemblances can hardly be due toJ 
mere chance, is obvious: but the avunculate is so closely J 
bound up with certain other phenomena of primitive life" 
not yet described that a discussion of its meaning must be 
postponed. What we are here interested in is the unex- 
pected shifting of what we consider paternal authority on 
avuncular shoulders and the equally remarkable tendency 
'omake a nephew his maternal uncle's companion and heir. 
That family life must in targe measure assume a different 
sspect under such conditions, requires no proof. 

There are usages equally definite connected with the pa-l 
lemal kin. To Dr. Rivers we are indebled for data on the " 
fxiraordinary importance assumed in Oceanian communities 
liyiiie father's sister. In the Banks Islands a man not only 1 
'reats his maternal aunt with great respect, greater than ] 
'hat accorded his mother, Ixit it is she who arranges his ' 
marriage and may definitively veto a projected match. A 
laiher's sister may take her nephew's property so far as he 
has derived it from her brother, and he may appropriate 
^yof her possessions. Her power to forbid or effect mar- 
riage is common in Melanesia and even extends to Poly- 
"«ian Tonga, where this relative is viewed with greater 
™neration than father and paternal uncle. Concerning 
"lis kinswoman among the Thonga of South Africa we hear 
little, but she is treated with great respect, while among the 
Toda she bestows a name on a newborn girl. In Hopiland 
™s function is regularly assumed for all children by the 
pstemal grandmother. The Crow have a variety of usages 
associated with the father's siblings and his more remote 


kindred or even strangers figuring as his brothers and sis- 
ters. All these are viewed with respect; a person would not 
walk in front of them, regardless of their age or sex. They 
were preeminently the individuals to receive gifts when the 
nephew had captured booty from the enemy, and in turn the 
father's brother would chant his nephew's praises through- 
out the camp. Names of honor were derived from a pater- 
nal kinsman, and nicknames too were based on his rather 
than one's own deeds. In addition to the foregoing the 
related Ilidatsa had the rule that a person's funeral must 
be conducted by the paternal kindred. 

Vitally as these rules respecting one's attitude toward 
blood kin affect social relations, they are eclipsed by equally 
significant and more spectacular regulations of behavior to- 
wards the relatives by marriage, notably those connected 
with a person's parents-in-law.' 

Parent-in-Law Taboos 

Among a great many primitive peoples the husband, and 
more rarely the wife, assumes an altogether peculiar social 
j relationship with regard to the parents-in-law. There is 
I either complete rupture of all direct intercourse with one 
I or both of them, or intercourse is hedged about with restric- 
'tions that may or may not be relaxed either with prolonged 
matrimony or through the performance of a special act. 
A series of concrete statements will make the matter clear. 
A Yukaghir daughter-in-law must not look into the face 
of her father-in-law or husband's elder brother, nor must a 
son-in-law look into his father-in-law's or mother-in- 
law's face. In giving orders to the son-in-law. who 
it must be recollected lives with his wife's family, 
the father-in-law speaks impersonally or by hints. A 
daughter-in-law must not uncover her body before her 
husband's father and vice versa, and a similar rule holds 
for the wife and her husband's elder brother. Other Si-' 



berian tribes possess almost identical customs. No married 
Ostyak woman may appear before her father-in-law. nor 
the bridegroom before his mother-in-law until he has chil- 
dren; at a chance meeting the face is muffled, and a woman 
must continue to cover it throughout her lifetime. Before 
the full payment of the bride-price the bridegroom visiting 
his sweetheart must turn his back or cover his face if he 
accidentally meets her father. The Buryat wife never ad- 
dresses either parent-in-law by name, her face must never 
be uncovered in the presence of her husljand's father or 
elder kinsman, she must not remove her dress in their 
presence, nor sleep in the same tent or cross their path or 
ride in the same wagon. They, on the other hand, must 
not dress or undress in her presence or utter obscene lan- 
guage before her and must signal their approach so as to 
permit a decorous adjustment of her dress. The Kalmuk 
1 observe similar restrictions, as do the Altaian Turks and 
I the Kirgiz. The Kirgiz woman does not look into the face 
I of her husband's father or elder kinsman and must never 
I utter their names even if these contain designations of com- 
I mon objects. There is an anecdote of a Kirgiz woman who 
I was prtrfiibited from employing the usual words for lamb, 
I wolf, water and rushes because they formed part of the 
B names of her relatives by marriage. Accordingly, in tell- 

■ ii^her husband of a wolf carrying off a lamb tlirough the 
B lashes on the other side of the water, she was obliged to 
H paraphrase: "Look yonder, the howling one is carrying the 
H Heating one's young through the rustling ones on the other 

■ Rde of the glistening one!" 

H That a group of tribes occupying adjacent territories in 
, ■ Siberia and with intimate cultural relations should share 
, I Ais set of taboos, is at once intelligible through diffusion. 
, ■ But what shall we say when similar usages turn up in dis- 
iV&nt Ceylon ? There no Vedda may so much as approach. 
[^H|I alone, touch his wife's mother. If he meets her in the 
^Hngle, he moves aside off the track. He will not enter a 


rock-shelter occupied by her alone nor take food from her 
except through a third party nor speak to her save in the 
presence of others. Quite similar taboos obtain between a 
man and his son's wife. Furthermore, all these restricted 
relatives avoid each other's names, using kinship terms in- 

But this particular type of avoidance extends its sway 
over the four comers of the globe. In the Banks Islands, 
Melanesia, the son-in-law must not utter the name of either 
parent-in-law nor the daughter-in-taw that of her husband's 
father; indeed, any word entering their names is discarded 
from the vocabulary to be supplemented by makeshift ex- 
pressions. Further, a man will not jest with his wife's 
father, or address him familiarly, or take anything from 
above his head. As for the mother-in-law, he wilt not even 
enter a house if she is near the door, and if he meets her in 
the bush he will turn off the path and make a detour tn 
avoid her. She. on the other hand, must not pass a tree he 
has climbed, nor drink water from any bamboo he has car- 
ried, and if she requires his assistance she must ask for it 
through her daughter. Transgression of these rules is 
expiated by money payments. Similar regulations apply 
to the relationship between a woman and her father-in-law. 

Passing to other parts of Oceania, we find that the Bukaua 
of Huon Gulf, New Guinea, do not permit parents-in-law 
and sons-in-law to touch each other or utter each other's 
names. The father-in-law must cover his face if he eats 
before his son-in-law: should the latter see his mouth open, 
the father-in-law feels ashamed and runs into the wood. 
If the older desires to give the younger man a present of 
betel lime, he may not place it in his hand but deposits it on 
a leaf. In the Western Torres Straits a person of either 
sex never mentions the name of the parents-in-law; a man 
holds no conversation with them except through his wife 
or in cases of absolute necessity, when he will speak very 
tittle and in a low voice; a woman does not give food di- 


rectly to her father-in-law but only through her niolhcr- 

Probably throughout Australia parallel restrictions occur. 
Mother-in-law and son-in-law must avoid each other and 
in some localities she is not even supposed to hear his name 
spoken. Accidental contact between the two may lead to 
divorce of the young couple; infraction of the talxio might 
lead to the man's banishment and in some trilx:s even the 
death penalty was inflicted. Among the Karicra a hut or 
brush is interposed between them as a precaution against a 
man's looking at the wife's mother, Ixit the talx^o breaks 
down with the lapse of years. Here and probably in Auv 
tralia generally a woman need not shun her fathcr-in-lav/. 

Xo less striking are the parallels from Africa. A Zulu 
covers his face with his shield if he accidentally rf/mt\ uym 
his mother-in-law. throws away the mouthful h-s i- t'dX'my^ if 
she chances to pass by. and must never prono^jn':^ h':r rr^rur 
With the passing of time, however, the -/:v*:rity of th« :^ 
rules is considerably mitigated. .Sirr.ilar ^ry-v/rrr. -^r*: '!»"I 
by Frazcr for varicni? Eartu iri'^-, zrA a:-^ y,r ♦>;" M:i:;ii 
Among tbc West Airicsir^i iTAty co r^A '/rfrrr. ♦o ri'/nri-f-. 
though a Ma.^>c-Ewe rer^f/'-r. yr'/r::':-:*-. t.-^r*" v. ;*. i;, /. 
from raring in ibe s-iorn-li^v't r..-,»'-v^ ^r/. . '* .«:•:.- 

'i * • 
ri I I 


venting tiic xirih of d}::J-:r*rr. 

American cj2t=X''j*:r ^V-cr.'-: 


•/• , i" 

M ' 

to his THfc'r CicTtrji* cTi*: ""I'^t "^'-t V-^* •:■•*• .• :.i ,, 
taboo is Jtr? eT^irtrriT- '-»^- '-' : •••'r.'t^ • ^ . - f * .: 

rigidly oheCTTt:!. A tT;*.-. —;* ",t^r'..r '.'. ' '* ...,..,, 

nor ainr Torf : :m::T:r 'Ui-'r •. ■ '* -.» i »• . r^-, 

die use of ^■'•■'■ M"rr rr-r .-r i„- i:— .-- v -,1 • /,. 

a kniie 3IX2T iart* 11 *Jt •t'*"^^' •. ^ .-r-.»* • • y 
a hcirsc 2^ "tbt mirrr-'c- v^ -.:.* "•.».-.*' 
mav lit TjraQ'jniii^ inr * •- :. - •»- ... 


formal presentation of a substantial gift to the parents-in- 
law; among the Hidatsa and Mandan by bringing them an 
enemy's scalp. Further, a Crow mother-in-law may remove 
ail restrictions after her daughter's death by addressing her 
son-in-law as her son. There is no corresponding taboo 
between a woman and her father-in-law among the Crow 
and Hidatsa. but it occurs among the Dakota, Assiniboin, 
Kiowa, Arapaho, and Omaha in conjunction with the taboo 
between son- and mother-in-law. 

Contrary to what might be supposed, wherever we obtain 
data as to the subjective aspect of avoidance, there is no 
suggestion of hostility between the tabooed relatives, the 
stress being entirely on the mutual respect shown. An 
Hidatsa interpreter had married a woman from the Arikara 
tribe, which does not observe these customs. Accordingly, 
his Hidatsa friends once saw his mother-in-law speaking to 
him and exclaimed in horror. "What's the matter with your 
mother-in-law, Joe? She does not seem to have any respect 
for you at all !" 

From the extremely wide range of parent-in-law avoid- 
ance, the absolute universality of these rules might be con- 
jectured on the ground that where unrecorded the customs 
have merely eluded notice. It is true that a mere absence 
of statement even in otherwise excellent accounts cannot be 
taken as decisive on this subject. However, in North Amer- 
ica the distribution of the taboo has been systematically 
investigated of late years, and it appears conclusively that 
a considerable number of tribes completely lack the custom. 
Among these are the Nootka, the Arikara, Zuiii, Hopi, vari- 
ous Plateau Shoshoneans, and a number of Californian peo- 
ples. On the other hand, avoidance flourishes among the 
Plains Indians and occurs in the Southeast, among the 
Southwestern nomads, a number of Californian tribes, and 
in northern British Columbia. 

The first problem that presents itself for solution is one 
of distribution. How do customs so similar happen to be 


so widdy spread ? That we are to some extent dealing with 
diffusion cannot be questi<Hied for a moment. The Siberian 
data, eg., display so far-reaching a resemblance in detail 
that a single source of origin is the only possible assumption. 
Again, when w*e find that of all the Shoshonean peoples of 
the Plateau area only those in contact with the Northern 
Plains tribes practise the taboo, the inference is sound that 
they have borrowed it from their neighbors. But how shall 
we interpret the similarit>*^ of the name taboo of the Kirgiz 
of Central Asia and the Assiniboin of Montana, with con- 
sequent use of paraphrase for words of everj-day speech? 
To my mind, this case is instructive in proving that resem- \ 
blances may develop independently. For while the taboo ' 
itself is marvelouslv similar, it obtains between different 
individuals. With the Kirgiz it is the daughter-in-law that 
must paraphrase words in her father-in-law's name : among 
the AssinibcMn it is the son-in-law who must not utter the 
father-in-law's name. But so far as the possibility of bor- 
rowing goes, this makes all the difference in the world. 
For by what mechanism can usages of this tj-pe be supposed 
to be disseminated? They surely are not imposed by a 
conquering chief on a vanquished tribe in the way in which 
the Chinese were made to wear pigtails. Further, they arc 
of far too intimate and recondite a character to be under- 
stood by a random visitor: such a one might note that cer- 
tain of his hosts shun one another without the faintest 
notion of their relationship: hence without the possibility 
of transmitting such a custom to his own people. Certainly, 
if he observed a woman cutting a male relative by marriage, 
he would not be stimulated thereby to concoct an innova- 
tion for his own people by which a 'nan shoul I avoid hi^ 
mother-in-law or fathcr-in-Iaw. or tran -.fer the name taW^ 
to a quite new relationship. The cj-.tom cannot f^i Vi mtich 
as comprehended without ir.t:n:atc CjT^.^rt: an^l if if in nrA, 
set down as merely a \at\at\^z\ \^y/-r/r.rrk\j\ if will lie 
adopted as it is found. Most commonly, I hav^ no douU, 


its propagation must have been the resuh of intertribal mar- 
riage : brought up with the notion that the wife's mother 
or, for a woman, the daughter's son, must be tabooed and 
that contrary conduct is ridiculous if not outrageous, a for- 
eigner may by his personal influence come to afEect tribal 
custom. Imitation of his example will thus establish the 
taboo where it had not been found before but it could not 
establish what to the concrete mind of primitive man is 
an utterly distinct practice. Hence I unhesitatingly reject, 
quite apart from geographical considerations and others 
based on the prot>abIe meaning of tRe Siberian usage 
(p. 103), the hypothesis that the Kirgiz and the Plains 
Indian taboos are historically connected. 

The case is somewhat different when we compare, say, the 
African and Australian, or Melanesian and American data, 
for here the rules relate to the same individuals and are 
really remarkably similar. As to certain striking details, 
however, we must remember that if there Is stringent 
avoidance it is bound to take certain forms : e.g., a man then 
must make a detour if he chances upon his mother-in-law, 
Similarly, if the Banks Islander and the Crow must not use 
words entering the parent-in-law's name, paraphrase is an 
inevitable consequence. The specific coincidences are thus 
not nearly so cogent as they might at first appear to be. In 
other words, the question is whether the bare fact of avoid- 
ance between individuals in the same relationship is neces- 
sarily an indication of a single source of origin. The reply 
will partly depend on the interpretation of the custom, for 
if it is derived from conditions that may plausibly be re- 
garded as existing in many localities the assumption of in- 
dependent origin will be greatly strengthened. Waiving 
this point for the present, I hold that both the probable 
mechanism of the borrowing process for this trait and its 
ascertained absence in certain regions negative the proba- 
bility of diffusion over disconnected continents. Trans- 
mission of the usage has been seen to involve an untisual 



imacy of contact such as cannot be readily assumed, even 
if some contact be admitted, between Oceania and Africa 
or between Melanesia and America. It is surely not very 
probable that a custom which failed to traverse California 
or to pass from the Hidatsa to the neighboring Ankara and 
from the Omaha to the neightwring Pawnee should have 
leaped across oceans. My conclusion, then, is that diffusion . 
has played its part in the history of the parent-in-law taboo i 
but that independent development must be assumed for dis- [ 
tinct geographical areas. 

Turning next to the problem of interpretation, we find a 
theory advanced by Frazer which with all its deficiencies 
cannot be readily ruled out of court entirely. Frazer rightly 
points out that rules of avoidance are not restricted to 
parents-in-law but also may apply to such blood kindred as 
brothers and sisters. All relevant regulations, he argues, 
must be put under a single head and must be explained as 
"precautions designed to remove the temptation to sexual 
intercourse between persons whose marriage union is for 
any reason repugnant to the moral sense of the community." 
The explanation, he recognizes, suffers from a serious, 
though in his opinion not fatal, difficulty, to wit, the taboos 
restricting the social relations of individuals of the same 
sex. These, according to his contention, are due to a second- 
ary extension of rules that once applied only to relatives of 
opposite sex. It is impossible to do justice to Frazer's argu- 
ment without anticipating what must be said about various 
other kinship usages. One remark, however, may be offered 
at this point. Granting that taboos restrain individuals 
whose union would be incestuous, it does not follow that 
their purpose is to prevent sexual intercourse between these 
individuals. It is possible to admit the empirical correlation 
but to reject the causal interpretation given. To this topic 
we must revert later. — . 

An explanation of parent-in-law taboos similar in trend 1 
but with psycho-analytic motivation has been given by Dr, 


Sigmund Freud, whose views merit consideration not only 
on their own account but as typical of any psychological 
interpretation of social facts. Freud applies to the data 
of mother-in-law avoidance the concept of 'ambivalence,' 
that is, he conceives them as based on a blending of affection 
and animosity. Some of the hostile motives in the case, he 
argues, are manifest: the woman's reluctance to surrender 
her daughter, the suspicions directed against the stranger, 
her desire to maintain the dominant position created in her 
own household; the man's resolute aversion from subjection 
to an alien will, his jealousy of all who preceded him in his 
wife's afifections, his resistance against having his sexual 
illusions disturbed by the personality of a woman who re- 
calls his wife by many common traits yet lacks the charm of 
youth and beauty. To these elements Freud adds latent 
factors of specifically psycho-analytic nature. The aging 
mother-in-law is prematurely cut short in her own psycho- 
sexual life and is able to satisfy her emotional needs only 
by identification with her children's psyche. But identifi- 
cation with her daughter may readily lead to love for the 
man her daughter loves, and in the resulting conflict of senti- 
ments the hostile, sadistic component of passion is directed 
toward the son-in-law so as to suppress with greater cer- 
tainty the talxjoed incestuous emotion. On the other hand, 
the son-in-law is stirred by similar impulses. He has con- 
quered, so psycho-analytic theory will have it. the infantile 
passion for his mother and substituted an unrelated woman 
conceived in her image. With the appearance of his mother- 
in-law there is a tendency to relapse into the juvenile state, 
which shocks his incest feelings since these demand that 
the incestuous source of his bride-choice remain barred from 
consciousness. Inasmuch as the mother-in-law's personality, 
unlike the mother's, has not been known from the earliest 
stages, so that her image has not been for years slumbering 
unaltered in the subconsciousness, it is relatively easy to 
conquer temptation, which nevertheless remains a realihr. 


The motive for the avoidance rule is accordingly the pre- 
vention of incestuous intercourse. 

The first stricture that must be directed against Freud's 
explanation relates to a simple matter of fact. He paints 
the subjective state of mother-in-law and son-in-law with 
the lurid colors that tinge our modern family life but are 
wholly lacking in the savage relationship. To repeat what 
has already been said : whenever we gain a glimpse of what 
the connections by marriage really feel, there is never a 
trace of hostility : respect is invariably the dominant note in 
the mutual sentiments, which are thus of a totally different 
character from the ones that so persistently figure in our 
comic weeklies. 

The data concerning other taboos have of course the 
same bearing on Freud's as on Frazer's views. But Freud's 
psychological motivation suffers from a fatal defect shared 
with all psychological interpretations of cultural data. The"^ 
facts of ps}xhology to which Freud appeals possess avow- 
edly universal validity, they must accordingly act with equal im . 
force in the most diverse, in all communities, except Sf) far / 1/ 
as there may be racial differences. But the parent-in-law 
taboo is found to have a most capricious distribution, rnj 
North America the Navaho avoid the mother-in-law. while 
the neighboring Hopi \new the custom merely as a Navaho 
pecofiarity. The Lemhi Shoshoni regard a man as insane 
if he q)caks to his wife's mother: among the Comanche, 
who are not merely of the same stock but even sjienk prac- 
tically the same language. I had great difficulty in making 
my infcnnazits so much as grasp the notion of th^r talKK>. 
Shall we assume that the infantile sentiments of ih^ M^/f/i 
mak divei^ so i»*idely from those of the Navaho? That 
the cmodonal reactions of Hop: and Navaho mMb^rs in- 
law win regularly be quite distinct in chara'i/j-r? lud^H, 
in ofdcr to ajdapt the thcorj- to the facts v,#- must u^yMtta: 
one type of psychology- for the Banks I*larjd«rrs. AuMrah'anij, 
ZaisL Navaho and T/mhi Shcr^honi and a ^Jiff^rr^^it ]/>./' h^4^ 



ogy for the Hopi, Comanche, and Arikara. But to conceive 
this assumption is to reduce it to an absurdity. The psycho- 
analytic theory falls to the ground because it is a psycho- 
logical theory, and because we are not dealing with simple 
psychological facts but with psychological facts socially de- 
termined. The reason why a Navaho mother-in-law avoids 
her son-in-law is not because she individually feels this way 
or that way about her son-in-law but because she is a mem- 
ber of a society which taboos intercourse between certain 
relatives by marriage. Any conflict that might conceivably > 
arise in her situation would be a conflict not between one 
set of feelings and another set of feelings for her daughter's 
husband but between some personal reaction and the senti- 
ment of blind obedience to an accepted social norm. The 
(question is why social norms differ, and that can be an- 
Bwered solely by correlating the social differences with other 
Viifferences of a social order. 

In this respect Tylor's interpretation accords much better 
with modern scientific requirements, for he derives parent- 
in-law avoidance from the rule of residence, i.e., one socio- 
Ic^ical feature from another. In matrilocal marriage, he 
explains, the husband is regarded as an intruder and is 
simply not recognized, corresponding treatment being meted 
out to the wife in pafrilocal communities, while both kinds 
of taboo occur in the intermediate condition of temporary 
matrilocal residence. On statistical principles he shows that 
the matrilocal residence and mother-in-law avoidance ac- 
tually are combined more frequently than they would be if 
mutually independent, thus establishing a causal connection 
between the two phenomena. 

I Tylor's attempt to introduce rigorous methods into an- 
thropological inquiries must ever rank as an heroic pioneer 
lachievement of the very first order but his statistical results 
cannot be accepted un scrutinized. Unfortunately the data 
on which his conclusions are based have never been pub- 
lished, and it is therefore impossible to check them satis- 



tactorily. It is clear, however, from his statements that 
Tylor takes for statistical units the several tribes for which 
relevant facts are reported. But this is hardly a defensible 
method. For example, there may be a dozen cases of the 
daughter-in-law taboo among Siberian tribes. If in each 
one of them there has l^een an independent association of 
patrilocal residence and avoidance, then the case for a causal 
nexus is tremendously strengthened. But we cannot take 
such independence for granted. It is entirely possible that 
the avoidance rule was a feature already characteristic of 
certain ancestral Siberian tribes, that in other words it orig- 
inated but a single time so far as each stock is concerned 
and has merely persisted in the several branches into which 
the ancestral tribe has broken up. In addition, it is more 
than probable that this applies strictly to only one stock 
from which the tribes of other stocks have merely borrowed 
the usage in its entire setting. But this alters the logic of 
the case completely. Let us assume, for the sake of sim- 
plicity, that we have a single contradictory case elsewhere 
to pit against the dozen Siberian cases; let us take some 
American tribe, like the patrilocal Blackfoot, who lack the 
Siberian rule and practise the talxio proper to a matrilocal 
people on Tylor's scheme. If the Siberian cases represented 
twelve instances of the taboo arising independently from 
antecedent patrilocal residence, we should admit at once 
that they completely outweighed the negative testimony of 
the Blackfoot data. But if there has been historical con- 
nection, the twelve Siberian units are reduced to a single 
one for our purposes and we have one case of connection 
harmonizing with Tylor's theory and one case contravening 
it ; in other words, the theory then remains unproved. 

This is merely to show that Tylor's results, while based 
on mathematical principles, may nevertheless be lacking in 
validity because of erroneous premises, viz., a faulty choice 
of units. Indeed, if we take larger units, the correlation is 
hardly favorable to the hypothesis in an unqualified form. 



Siberia, to be sure, has both patrilocal residence and the 
taboo between daughter-in-law and father-in-law; but 
neither the Australian nor the South African data harmonize 
with the theory. In both areas the wife goes to her hus- 
band's people yet not only is the Siberian prohibition lack- 
ing, but the reverse rule holds, viz., the son-in-law taboo, 
which ex hypothesi should develop only in a matrilocal com- 
munity. Further, it is rather remarkable that such distinctly 
matrilocal tribes as the Zuni and Hopi lack the supposedly 
correlated avoidance rule, while peoples only temporarily 
matrilocal like the Hidatsa rigorously observed it as did the 
patrilocal Blackfoot, who are definitely known to lack the 
daughter-in-law taboo, which on Tylor's theory should flour- 
ish among them. 

There is still another oversight in Tylor's interpretation. 
He explains why both of the parents-in-law and the son-in- 
law would avoid each other among matrilocal, and why both 

,of the parents-in-law and daughter-in-law should avoid 
each other in patrilocal tribes. But in many of the recorded 
instances the taboo is restricted to individuals of opposite 
sex. In some Australian tribes there is no obstacle raised 
between the intercourse of father-in-taw and son-in-law nor 
in Siberia between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law ; and 
on the whole these cases are too frequent to be ignored. 
Nevertheless, when all deductions are made, I still telieve 

|that Tylor's theory contains a valuable element. Residence 
is not, clearly enough, the sole efficient cause of the parent- 
in-law taboos but it may well be one of the determinants or 
act as a cause in the absence of deterrent factors. A finer 
analysis than any yet attempted may to that extent qualify 
the negative conclusion reached above. Here a mere sug- 
gestion must suffice. The patrilocal Siberian tribes enum- 
erated were shown to enjoin avoidance of the husband's 
father or male kinsman older than the husband's. But the 
Yukaghir who are matrilocal not only share the taboo of 
the patrilocal Siberians, a fact quite intelligible as the effect 



■of diffusion, but also differ practically from all the rest in 
adding the son-in-law taboo. It is difficult to evade the in- 
ference that there is a connection between the unique mode 
of residence and the unique taboo. 

In view of Frazer's reasonable suggestion that parent- 
in-law avoidance represents but one species of a wider 
jius, its interpretation is best deferred until we shall have 
reyed prohibitions affecting other relationships,' 

Other Taboos 

. Since it is impossible to deal with all the recorded kinship 
iaboos, we had better limit our attention to a few thor- 
oughly studied tribes and the restrictions on social inter- 
course imposed in each case. The consequences of these 
rules for the everyday family life will be readily imagined. 
Probably no people has gone further in this respect than 
the Yukaghir. In addition to the son-in-law and daughter- 
in-law prohibitions as met elsewhere we find rules barring 
speech between the elder brother or male cousin and the 
younger brother's or cousin's wife : between the elder 
brother (cousin) and the wife of the younger brother's 
(cousin's) son; between the elder brother and the wife of 
his younger sister's son ; between the elder brother and the 
younger sister's husband. But blood-kindred are likewise 
subject to restrictions: brothers should not converse unre- 
strainedly with one another, nor brothers with sisters, nor 
sisters with one another, and this rule extends to cousins. 
Persons in any one of these relationships must not uncover 
their bodies in one another's presence, not even if of the 
same sex, and they must refrain from discussing anything 
relating to cohabitation. They must not address one an- 
other directly nor look at one another, must neither call one 
another by name nor by a kinship term. 

In the Andaman Islands I do not find the parent-in-law 
taboo recorded but its place is taken by a similar rule. 


Until middle age a man evinces great shyness in tlie presence 
of his younger brother's wife, never communicating with 
her except through an intermediary. There is no such pro- 
hibition of social intercourse with the elder brother's wife. 
The Melanesians prescribe circumspectness of behavior 
for a number of varying relationships. There is a fairly 
widespread prohibition of intercourse between brother and 
sister. In Lepers" Island they never see each other after 
the girl's puberty tattooing, for she leaves the house to take 
up her abode with a maternal uncle. If they meet subse- 
quently, the girl gets out of the way and both avoid looking 
at each other, They never speak of each other or utter 
each other's names. If the man wishes to see his nephews. 
his married sister will leave the house before he enters. 
Anciently the Fij ians observed analogous regulations : 
brother and sister might not speak to each other or play 
and eat together, and communication was through an inter- 
mediary; neither pronounced the other's personal name. In 
New Ireland, where cross-cousins of opposite se.x are classed 
with siblings, the same restrictions apply to them. In the 
Banks Islands the sibling taboo is weakened into a rule 
against mutual jesting, but a host of other regulations are 
reported. Father and son must not eat together. A man 
must not take something hanging above his maternal uncle's 
head but must wait till his uncle is gone. The father's sister 
is not only treated with distinguished respect as previously 
explained, but her name is not uttered nor will she pro- 
noimce that of her nephew. A husband may call his wife by 
name but it is considered highly disrespectful on her part 
to address him correspondingly (see p. 109). Brothers- 
in-law refrain from uttering each other's names, and so do 
sisters-in-law; jesting between two individuals in this re- 
[ 'onship is considered objectionable. 

take a final example from America. The Crow in- 
lO the son-in-law taboo, as commonly happens among 
ive tribes, not only the mother-in-law's and father- 




in-Iaw's sisters and brothers respectively, but also the wife's 
grandmothers; and the husband's own brothers are subject 
to the husband's taboos. That is to say. there is a tendency 
to extend the restriction to individuals addressed by the 
wife as if they were her parents, and to inviduals occupy- 
ing the husband's status. Further, a man is obhged to shun 
his wife's brother's wife, and vice versa. The relations of 
brothers-in-law are pecuHar. They are on terms of the 
greatest friendship and may indulge in good-humored rail- 
lery, but anything savoring of obscenity with a personal 
application is out of the question between them, and if a 
man transgresses the rule his brother-in-law may strike him. 
A man may not speak obscenely in his brother-in-law's 
presence even if he is conversing with other individuals. 
Brother and sister are not indeed prohibited completely from 
conversation, but after puberty they no longer speak freely 
to each other nor are they supposed to be tt^ether alone. 
A man entering a tent and finding only his sister indoors 
will depart forthwith. A Crow interpreter once twitted me 
with the indecency of the Caucasians who dare reproach the 
Indians with looseness of morals while themselves so shame- 
less as to speak freely with their own sisters. Finally, hus- 1 
band and wife generally avoid calling each other by name 
except after years of marriage.' 

Privileged Familiarity 

Representing the opposite pole of social intercourse are 
the series of customs that permit and all but prescribe vari- 
r ous forms of often but not always reciprocal familiarity, 
I such as chaffing or billingsgate between individuals stand- 
ling in a specific relationship. These usages, like others con- 
tiected with kinship, did not attract systematic inquiry until 
recent years, and there is little doubt that a far greater 
amount of information remains to be garnered. At present 
I most of our data come from Melanesia and North America. 
The avunculate, despite its more serious aspect, demands 


consideration from this angle also. In Fiji the sister's son 
not merely treats his uncle's property as if it were his 
father's, but recklessly and wantonly kills his pigs and de- 
stroys his plantations for the fun of it. On the other hand, 
when he seizes stuff at an exchange between his uncle's tribe 
and another group, he gets a drubbing from his uncle's 
sons; they are at liberty to beat him but may not recover 
the property. Among the Winnebago Indians, too, it will 
be recalled, the nephew may appropriate the belongings of 
his maternal uncle. With the Thonga the sister's son takes 
his uncle's food and among the Hottentot the unde may 
seize his nephew's property if damaged, while the nephew 
freely indemnifies himself with his uncle's uninjured pos- 

One of the best-authenticated instances of privileged 
■ familiarity is that between brother-in-law and sister-in-law 
among the Blackfoot and Crow Indians. There is no limit 
to the obscenity of language that may be bandied back and 
forth by these connections. As to behavior. I have myself 
seen a middle-aged Crow romping with his wife's sister in 
a manner that would strike us as transcending all limits of 
decency, yet both were quite unconcerned at the presence 
of the man's wife and adult son. 

Of a distinct character is the joking-relationship of the 
Crow and Hidatsa. The people involved are not neces- 
sarily kindred at all but merely children of fathers belong- 
ing to the same tribal subdivision (see p. il6). Within 
this group license runs riot : any member may play tricks 
on any other and enjoy complete immunity. But the rela- 
tionship has a more serious function. A man's jokers are 
also his moral censors. If he has in any way transgressed 
the tribal code of ethics or etiquette, a joker will suddenly 
confront him on a public occasion and twit him with it 
aloud so that he feels like sinking into the ground with 
shame. Yet he has no redress but to await a chance for 


Privileged license is repcrled frojri Melanesia for a dif- 
mt relationship. In Fiji one cross-cmisin may Impu- 
itly appropriate another's possessionv. just" as a nephew 
sa maternal uncle's; the despoiled cousin mnv chide his 
bcr but must not attempt to retrieve his property, tor 
1 would be a sign of low breeding. Even if of opposite 
K cross-cousins may take liberties with each other, and 
wrmerly sexual intercourse between them was condoned. 
Abusive language among cross-cousins is sanctioned asl 
proper and is accordingly not resented. In the Banks ' 
Islands there are lixalities where brother-in-law and sister- 
in-law indulged in horseplay, though not to the extent noted 
for the Plains Indians, definite sexual references lieing 
avoided. A Banks Islander, however, may heap ahnost i 
any indignity on his father's sister's husband, threateninga 

Iliitn and mocking him continually.* 
I Taboo and License 

The examples of taboos and of license cited from variotis 
parts of the world abundantly justify Frazer's contention 
fet it is unwarrantable to discuss parent-in-law restrictions 
apart from all others. Evidently these prohibitions repre- 
sent but one special ty;>e of a broader class of usage? regu- 
lating the social behavior of relatives by bloof! and mar- 
ri^. That all of the taboos or all of the cases ot privilege 
should have a common psychological basis, is a highly im- 
probable assumption on the face of it. It is clear without 
affWnent that the Crow custom permitting familiarity with 
^ sister-in-law differs fundamentally from the phenome- 
"M of the jc4cing- relation ship with its blending of serious 
^"J comic elements. Hence it is desirable to renounce once 
and for al! a theor\- that shall embrace all the <lata dted. 
"^ regulations in a particular locality should rather 1« 
I^TCWed in conjunction with the whole culture, and what- 
T interpretations appear from such an inquiry may then 


be compared with corresponJing results from other regions. 
Since our data are sti'l so' inadequate, definitive explana- 
tions can hardly be .expected at present; nevertheless some 
inferences may be stated with considerable assurance. 

In seeking a guiding principle for the maze of detail we 
had best begin with a simple case, one where we are not 
obliged to contend with a multiplicity of regulations pos- 
sibly based on a variety of motives but where the taboos 
are few and can readily be correlated with some coexisting 
usage. Such an instance is furnished by the Andaman 
Islands. From there a single taboo is reported, that against 
social relations between a man and his younger brother's 
wife ; and we are expressly informed that there is no restric- 
tion on intercourse between a man and his elder brother's 
wife. This rule, then, is directly connected with the co- 
existing form of marriage known as the junior levirate. 
For this people, at least, we may enunciate the principle 
that social and sexual restrictions go hand in hand, a con- 
clusion adopted in more general form by Dr. Goldenweiser 
on the basis of Sternberg's unpublished Gilyak data and by 
Dr. Rivers as a result of his Oceanian re.'searches. I would 

!■ supplement this statement with another, viz.,- that licensed 

' familiarity generally obtains between potential mates. 

[ Let us now test these propositions by the evidence from 
several distinct regions. The Crow restrict intimacy be- 
tween siblings, whose union is of course out of the question: 
and they permit excessive liberties between a man and his 
brother's wife, whom he may inherit by the levirate, and 

j also between a man and his wife's sister, whom he could 
until recently take for an additional wife through the soro- 
rate. In Melanesia a similar correlation, positive and nega- 
tive, has been noted : siblings of opposite sex shun each 
other, brother-in-law and sister-in-law are on terms of fa- 
miliarity. From South Africa there comes corroboratory 
testimony not yet cited. A Thonga woman is free in hi 
relations with her husband's younger brother, whom sh* 


ay some day wed. but distant reserve characterises her 
itercourse with the husband's elder brother, who can never 
' her. This is simply the Andaman Island case re- 
sted. But a wife may also be inherited by the sister's 
m, and we verily find that this nephew may take all sorts 
f liberties with his maternal uncle's wife even during her 
d's lifetime. Finally, a Thonga man shuns his wife's 
(Her sisters, who are not among his possible mates, an( 
feats with the utmost freedom her younger sisters, whi 
ay become subsidiary wives. 

To these examples I will now add the Siberian parent-in- 
ff taboos. The peculiarity of this set of restrictions lies 
Ithe inclusion of the husband's elder brother together with 
e husband's father: a woman must shun or reverence 
Kh m the same fashion. Further, there is (except among 
: Yukaghir) complete absence of the taboo between 
ther-in-law and son-in-law and virtual absence of aw 
fatriction on relations between daughter-in-law 
lother-in-law. These facts are at once intelligible if we 
ccive the 'parent-in-law' taboo as essentially a brother- 
l-law taboo based on the junior levirate. which many Si- 
Wan tribes stiare with the Andaman Islanders. The 
Wenaon of the prohibition to the father-in-law is readili 
'plained from another Siberian trait, the emphasis 
ttr seniority in the classification of kin, to the point of 
lisregarding a difference in generation. Thus, the Votyak 
»ve a single word for any male kinsman older than the 
, and the Yukaghir denote by one term the hus- 
^^Mij's father and the husband's elder brother. On my 
i^TOthesis it is clear why the Siberians, with the single 
■ttception noted, lack the taboos so frequently found else- 
"'liere. For the mother-in-law is not concerned in the 
daughter-in-law's inheritance by her husband's kinsmea 
"or does the levirate affect the relative status of son-m- 
Mid father-in-law. 
The Silurian example is interesting from another 


;en ^^1 

er- ' 


■he I 

sme o; J 



jiirtr TWjirntifcnrTfnrith-rririhrnf ItirrnrrThfinn ititri 
Aqhc; nc, benvcen Mod aas aesBBil MboWj asd between 
•tfSC fieoHe awl the foaribaitr o< 1^ RbbocK Bat the 
ea«EM« Qif t^oo* benvecn DnHfaen of Ac suie sex tndi- 
^Be» Ait iSn* pnndpl c by bo mcafH ea ip h m s all the phe- 
■MMfl* with whidi wc an rfraling. It » permissible to 
aryv Aat a mle has been extended frocn ooe relative to 
aieAtr when, as in the Siberian case, there is ^lecifk evi- 
4aee to snpporl the assumption. We caimot, however, 
OMfent oanehrts with Frazer's labor-saving assumption 
Am crery taboo between members of the same sex has 
puma oat of a taboo affecting persons of opposite sex, 
M hvpotbesis rightly repudiaicti by Dr. Parsons. Such 
^ o fej aJe intt-rpretalions will be eschewed by the sane 
■iiinriiTi in favor of an intensive study of all the taboos of 
^ particular tribe in their normal cultural setting. 

At this Btapc a i>oint temporarily dismissed before again 
aisti its head. If there is an empirical correlation be- 
■ M^al and sexual tatxxjs, why not follow Frazer's 
I interpretation of the correlation so far as it 
r not assume that social relations are tabooed 
prevent sexual intercourse between the restricted 
|»? My answer is that incestuous relations are 



^pnth ; 

Imply prevented by other factors of a far more basic nature 
than the taboos in question. If the horror of incest be- 
tween brother and sister is instinctive, as I assume with 
Hobliouse, then no social restriction is required to enforce 
an innate aversion. But even if that hypothesis be repudi- 
ated, there are fundamental social laws that preclude incest, 
InAustraha we find matrimonial laws of which the trans- 
nssion was punished with death even where nothing we 
jard as incestuous was involved: a man might mate only 
_ . member of a specified class, say, his mother's 

brother's daughter. Again, in many parts of Melanesia, the 
tribe is divided into exogamous units, all siblings belonging 
to the same unit. Under such conditions a man and his 
sister cannot possibly be mates. 

I must confess that in the cases mainly discussed hitherto, 
VIZ., those affected by the junior levirate and sororate, the 
psychological interpretation seems simple. Convention has 
dicholomized biologically desirable mates into those who 
sre and those who are not sociologically possible. Hence 
tliere naturally follows a difference of altitude, which in the 
oiie ease may degenerate into license, in the other assume the 

Hpotesque prudery of avoidance. That is, with certain re- 
gtions once definitely established as incestuous, I believe 
pit taboos are no longer required to enforce continence 
Kit that they are the spontaneous outgrowths of the arti- 
'i'Jially extended incest horror. Anything that even re- 
"loiely suggests sexual relations produces a feeling of re- 
pulsion and this frame of mind leads to complete severance 
of iniercourse. 

But I am not at all convinced that the parent-in-law 
Wboos are always or even frequently to be considered in. 
"^^ same category with the talxios affecting members of th< 
■^posile sex and the same generation. For example, 
_Cr()w restrict intercourse not only between mother-i' 
^i son-in-law but also between father-in-law and 
■ttw and between two brothers-in-law. It is 




remarkable that a people far from averse to grossiicss in 
their mythology and everyday conversation should exhibit 
such delicacy in the conduct imposed on a man in the com- 
pany of his wife's brother. This trait has also been ob- 
served among the Blackfoot and Arapaho and may turn 
out to be of far more common occurrence than might be 
imagined from our meager records. So far as this region 
of North America is concerned, then, we may ultimately 
find that the basic sentiment is one of respectful reserve to 
be maintained towards members of the wife's family re- 
gardless of age: but that a difference in both generation 
and sex has naturally intensified the feeling in the case of 
mother-in-law avoidance. 

The necessity of viewing all the taboos of a region jointly 
is especially manifest with regard to name taboos. Consid- 
ering the superstitions clinging to names in savage com- 
munities, where they are usually supplanted by kinship 
terms in daily intercourse, the existence of such prohibitions 
in connection with kinship presents no great puzzle, but it 
is essential to note whose name is tabooed. Among the 
Toda a man never utters either parent-in-law's name but 
neither does he pronounce that of either grandparent, and 
only reluctantly does he mention his wife's. Hence tliis 
taboo cannot be regarded as a specifically parent-in-law 
taboo, and it certainly cannot be connected with sexual re- 
strictions. This interpretation applies equally to the Crow, 
among whom spouses normally avoid uttering each other's 
' names. Among a Melanesian people the husband is per- 
mitted to call his wife by name, but not vice versa; Dr. 
Rivers' informant plausibly explained this as a sign of 
female inferiority. The avoidance of the name of a par- 
ticular relative is thus liable to complete misinterpretation 
if we connect it merely with a corresponding taboo on the 
other side of the globe instead of correlating it with cor- 
responding restrictions on the use of names of other rela- 
tives in the same society. It is only from this thorough- 


ring investigation of particular regions and subsequent 
omparison of different areas, not from random running of 
parallels, that we can expect light on the meaning of avoid- 
ince rules. 

This intensive type of inquiry, if anything, will also 
iBominate the absence of taboos iliat might reasonably be 
expected. Why. e.g., do the Karicra lack a laboo between 
Nn-in-law and father-in-law? I do not profess to know 
hn the direction in which an explanation may be sought is 
•orth indicating. It is possibly to be found in the fact that 
B man's father-in-law is normally his maternal uncle and 
liat the Kariera conception of the avuncular bond precludes 
midance. This explanation would of course be limited to 
he Kariera and such tribes as share their notions of kin- 
tip. At all events, it is clear that if we desire to gel at the 
bottom of taboos we must get to the bottom of the culture 
' the tribes observing them ; and since they may have bor- 
wed their taboos the culture of the entire area must be 
bjected to careful examination. There is no royal road 
the comprehension of cultural phenomena.* J 

Teksonymy ■ 

WTien an Ewe child is bom, the parents are hencefortli 
> longer addressed by their own names Init arc designated 
ithe infant's father and mother, e.g.. "Rather fMother) 
'■ Komla." This practice of naming the parent for other 
lative) from a child was first conceptualized and inter- 
preted by Tylor, who coined a Greek derivative, tebnonymy. 
to label this curious phenomenon, .^pplying the statistical 
method noticed above, he inferred that tekmniymy wai 
Oiisally connected with the institution of matrilocal resi- 
dence and also with the son-in-law talxx). The son-in-law, 
lie reasoned, is at first cut as a stranger by his wife's family 
but juhsequently gains status in the houwhold as t' 
of the child born there, whereupon he is acidn 
Wffe, in terms of the chikL 


1^. ti«<|a» 



Tylor knew of some thirty peoples who named the parent 
from the child, though he cites only three, — the Bechuana 
of South Africa, the Khasi of Assam, and the Crce of 
western Canada. It has since become clear that teknonymy 
is far more widely disseminated over the earth. Thus 
Frazer's compilation proves its occurrence in Australia and 
New Guinea, in Malaysia, China and northern Siberia, 
among various Bantu tribes of Africa, in northern British 
Columbia, in Guatemala, and Patagonia. Even so his list 
is remarkable for omissions that can be supplied from avail- 
able literature. For example, in the Andamans, among the 
peasant Sinhalese and the Henebedda Vedda, the custom 
has attracted notice, and among the Gold of the Amur a 
woman always calls her husband "Father of So-and-so." 
Teknonymy has been found in Fiji and other sections of 
Melanesia and in various parts of America. Among the 
Zuiii and Hopi its vogue is unparalleled. A Hopi woman 
I addresses her mother-in-law as "Grandmother of So-and- 
I so" and her father-in-law correspondingly: a man will use 
I corresponding appellations for his parents-in-Iaw. My in- 
terpreter never spoKe of his wife except as "So-and-so's 
mother," mentioning the name of any one of her children; 
she, in turn, referred to him teknonymously. Sometimes 
a man having no children is called "Uncle of So-and-so." 
In the light of our present knowledge Tylor's interpreta- 
tion appears untenable. For one thing it fails to take into 
account that the mother, as well as the father, is often re- 
ferred to in terms of her children. As for the supposed 
correlation with matrilocal residence, the Australians, the 
Melanesians, and the Gold, to cite only a few instances, are 
patrilocal. On the other hand, among the matrilocal Ziini 
and Hopi it is impossible to conceive teknonymy as sup- 
planting the son-in-law taboo, because no .'uch taboo exists 
and also because various relatives l>eside the father are 
named from the child. Thus neither of the two assumed 
correlations holds. 


^n a more reasonable hypothesis be advanced? We 
Siall again do well to renounce a generic theory and to 
attach ourselves to the correlates of teknonymy in its par- 
ticular manifestations. It is first of all essential to know 
who refers to whom teknonymously. Among the Gold it 
is the wife who must so address her husband, while he 
may call her by name; prior to the birth of her first child, 
the woman has no way of designating her husband at all. 
Correlated with this phenomenon we find that a brother 
may call his sister by name, while she lacks the correspond- 
ing privilege, and that among the Gold the female sex is 
held in very low esteem. It follows that in this tribe tek- 
nonjTTiy is a result of the wife's inferior status; it is a 
natural solution of the difficulty that a woman may refer to 
her husband neither by name nor by a term of relationship. 
Obviously an entirely different explanation must be sought 
in the case of the Hopt. There the abundant use of tek- 
nonymy is especially evident in the case of relatives by 
affinity: and it is hardly an accident that the Mopi vocabu- 
lary reveals a surprising paucity of words for precisely 
these relatives. Here, then, teknonymy may have developed 
frwi the necessity of referring to individuals for whom 
olhcr designations were lacking and may have been secon- 
lisrily transferred to some additional cases. In short, tek- 
noni-my again furnishes a case of convergent evolution, and 
its multiple sources must be looked for in specific condi- 
lions. Still another interpretation wilt be offered in con- 
nection with a phenomenon to be described below." 


'Lowic, 1919 (a): 35-40: id., 1912: 201; id., 1917 (a): 
40. Rivers, 1914 (b) : i. 38, 367; 11, 160; id., 1906: 332. 
junttd: I. 223. 

'Jochelson, 1910: 75 seq. Czaplicka: 120, 122, 127, 12R- 
Radloff: 314.480. Seiigmann: 68. Rivers, 1914 (b) : 1,4 
Lehner; 426. Reports, v: 142. Howitt: 199,208,256,3" 



Brown: 157. Junod: i, 230. Frazer, 1912: 77-81, 84, 95. 
Spieth: 744. Lowie, 1912: 213; id., 1917 (a) : 48,91. Freud, 
1912: 30 seq. Ty lor, 1889: 246. 

* Jochelson, 1910: 75. Man: 68. Rivers, 1914 (b) : i, 35- 
43, 213, 291; II, 508. Lowie, 1912: 213 seq.; id., 1917 (a) : 

69, 71 » 74. 
*Hocart, I9i5;64i ; id., 1913: loi. Lowie, 1912: 204, 215; 

id., 1917 (a) : 42, 79. Rivers, 1914 (b) : i, 40, 45 seq. 

• Goldenweiser, 1910: 251. Rivers, 1914 (b) : i, 223 et 
passim; id., 1906: 494. Junod: 1,228-236. Parsons: 282. 

•Tylor, 1889: 248. Spieth: 217. Frazer, J. G., 191 1 : 331- 
334. Man: 61. Seligmann: 65. Laufer, 1900: 320. Rivers, 
1914 (b) : I. 230, 279. Lowie, 1917 (a) : 92. Kroeber, 
1917: 72. 


BESIDES the omnipresent family group wc frequently 
find in primitive societies a type of unit that resem- 
bles the family in being based on kinship but otherwise . 

differs fuiidamentallv from it. Following Professor Phil- 
brick, I will call this unit by the good old Anglo-Saxon 
tenn sib, for the hopeless confusion of nomenclature in this 
department of our subject imperatively calls for a new word 
md the one chosen is recommended alike by its alluring 
brevity and phonetic suggestiveness. 

The sib f'clan' of British anthropologists) is most 
briefly defined as a unilateral kinship group. The family 
!-'. bilateral: to say that an individual belongs to a certain 
family implies that he recognizes relationship with a certain 
man as his father and a certain woman as his mother. 
The sib traces kinship through cither parent to the total if 
ni'gject of the other. If a tribe is organized into mother- 
lihs ('clans' of most American anthropologists), every 
child regardless of sex is considered a member of its 
modier's sib and takes the maternal sib name if there is 
one. If the tribe is organized into father-sibs ('gentes", 
"f most American anthropologists) every child follows the 
lather's sib and takes the father's sib name. The other 
larent, for sib purposes counts for nought, just as in Euro- 
Tiean countries outside of Spain the mother is neglected as 
regards the transmission of the family name. If all men 
ind women inheriting the name Smith were united by their 
twimon patronymic into a definite social group set apart 


from all Browns and Joneses, we should be justified in say- 
ing that they formed a sib. If we deny to them that desig- 
nation it is because in our society there is no bond whatso- 
ever connecting even all those Smiths who are related by 
blood ; in inheritance a closely related Brown takes prece- 
dence of a more remote Smith. But for purposes of illus- 
tration we may assume a Smith sib founded on actual blood 
relationship. Such a sib would include the ancestral Smith 
with all his sons and unmarried daughters, his sons' sons 
and unmarried daughters and so on ad infinitum. In order 
to convert this unit into a typical primitive sib only one 
change is required, viz., making affiliation (except for cases 
of adoption) wholly dependent on birth and unaffected by 
marriage. The father-sib thus embraces a male ancestor, 
his children male and female, and the children of his 
male descendants through males. Correspondingly, the 
mother-sib includes a female ancestor with her children 
and the children of her female descendants through 

From the foregoing there develops at once a significant 
distinction between family and sib: the former is a loose, 
; the latter a fixed unit. Divorce and migration rend the 
\ family asunder: but the sib bond is permanent. This trait 
is well exemplified by the Hupa phenomena described in a 
previous chapter. It was shown that through patrilocal 
residence the children grow up in the paternal village, which 
the daughters leave only on marriage. Until that time, 
then, a number of brothers with their children would form 
the core of a patrilineal sib. held together by a common resi- 
dence. But owing to local exogamy the very rule that 
cements the union of the group leads to its partial dissolu- 
tion when the girls marry. The married woman, whatever 
her sentiments, is no longer a member of the same social 
unit when she has settled in her husband's locality. Om 
the other hand, in the anomalous case of a man's serving' 
for his bride the children are counted as belonging to her I 


_ lage, contrary- to the normal course of events. But if the 
Hupa were organized into father-sibs, neither the married 
woman nor the children of men serving for their brides 
would lose affiliation with their father's sib, the facts of 
residence being then irrelevant. Any individual would 
automatically take the patronymic on birth, preserve it till 
death, and if a male transmit it to his children. 

As a corollary it follows that the sib, while eliminating 
half of the blood-kin. is far more inclusive than the family/ 
with respect to the relatives who are recognized. With us' 
a third or fourth cousin hardly ever functions as a member 
of the family at all; but by the fixity of the sib bond even 
tbe most remote kinsman is still known as a member of the 
same unit, which is most commonly designated by a name 
borne by all members, thus leaving no doubt as to sib affilia- 
tion. The feeling of community thus established is reflected 
in the terminology of kinship : sib-mates of the same gener- 
ation usually call one another siblings, and from this, given 
the primitive attitude towards names, it is but a step to the 
leding that marriage between sib-mates would be inces- 
I'mus. Hence we find as one of the most common traits of ) 
he sib the law of exogamy. The intensity of the sentiment 
■liat marriage should be outside the sib varies considerably. 
'n .Australia it was so pronounced that a man or woman 
;uilty of transgressing the rule would have been promptly 
put to death ; and a stranger would not marry into the simi- 
larly named sib of a tribe hundreds of miles away even 
[_lhongh actual blood connection was out of the question. In 
1 America, on the whole, the native reactions were of 
h milder cast. The Crow would mock offenders, com- 
bng ihetn to dogs, but they took no steps in the direction 
tpunishment. Similarly, the Iroquois evince no horror 
■sib incest, pimishing transgressions with nothing more 
mful than ridicule, while the Miwok content themselves 
'n'A pointing out the impropriety of marrying within the 
iib, But disregarding the character of the reprobation that 


I non-exogamous unions evoke, we may say that exogamy 
I is one of the most common characteristics of the sib. 

As already stated, the sense of kinship among sib-mates 
is associated witli a special tjpe of kinship nomenclature, 
the most remote relatives of one generation frequently re- 
garding one another as siblings. The kinship terminology 
(of tribes organized into sibs conforms indeed with extraor- 
dinary frequency to what I have called the Dakota type 
(p. 60). The correlation was pointed out by Tylor and 
more particularly by Rivers, who has shown how well such 
a system of kinship accords with a sib scheme. Given exog- 
amy, a man must marrj' a woman of some other sib, and 
his brothers and certain of his cousins are equally eligible 
mates for her, her sisters, and certain of her female cousins. 
But brothers and sisters, as well as far more remote kins- 
folk of the same sib, are barred from marriage by sib exog- 
amy. Hence it is quite natural that the father and father's 
sib-mate be grouped together and differentiated from the 
mother's sib-mates. The alignment of kindred in sibs goes 
hand in hand with their alignment in terminology. It is 
therefore plausible to convert the functional cnnnection 
into a causal one and to say that a sib organization produces 
3. Dakota terminology. 

Before, however, accepting this view, we must inquire: 
whether there are not other possible causes that could 
fashion such a classification of kin. And here we may re- 
call that the Dakota alignment is also singularly in harmony 
with the levirate and snrorate (p. 37). There is thus an 
alternative hypothesis; or possibly sib exogamy and these 
two modes of preferential mating may be themselves caus- 
ally connected. To this point we must revert later. But 
whatever qualification may be made as to interpretation, 
the empirical fact remains that tril)es organised into exog- 
amous sibs have a Dakota type of nomenclature, — one in 
which collateral and lineal kin on the paternal or maternal 
side, respectively, are merged regardless of propinquity. 

THE SIB 115 

Stimulated by Rivers, I have tested his viev.s in the light 
of North American data and found that practically all tribes 
with exogamous sibs have a system of the Dakota type ; 
that some sibless tribes, whether through borrowing or 
other influences, share such a nomenclature ; but that many 
sibless tribes distinguish collateral and lineal kin. It also 
appeared from personal investigation that the Hopi. the 
orly Shoshonean people organized into sibs, are likewise 
the only one with a Dakota terminology, The generaliza- 
tion that the Dakota nomenclature is connected with the 
sib organization thus stands firmly established, though its 
meaning cannot be determined without further inquiry into 
the influence of the levirate and sororate. 

To revert to other aspects of the sib unit. The rule of 
'once a sib member, always a sib member,' suffers hardly 
my exceptions as a result of marriage. I know of no case 
whatsoever in which a man enters his wife's sib; and of the 
'"ntrar>- possibility the only good illustration seems to be 
':ial of the Toda, where the wife adopts her husband's sib. 
l! is true that the ancient Athenians enrolled a woman in 
itr husband's phratria, but the Greeks were hardly primi- 
"ve and their regulation seems to anticipate our modern 
.1-'.-, On the other hand, adoption plays a more important 
■ art. When a man adopts a child, then in a patrilineal com- 
niunity it becomes automatically a member of his sib, and 
n a matrilineaJ community of his wife's sib. just as would 
j real child. 

However, it is not these individual adoptions that have 
most deeply influenced the constitution of the sib. When 
we investigate by genealogical methods the average sib, 
we generally find it impossible to derive all the members, 
;!e ancestor. What we discover is a series of 
ident lines of descent merely theoretically united by 
fcommon ancestry. It is of course possible that the native 
i^fomiants have simply forgotten the bond connecting an- 
cejtors of the more remote generatio ' ' 'hja explanation 






cannot apply to all cases. Thus, in taking- a census of the 
Hopi I found that several very small mother-sibs were not 
composed wholly of individuals related to one another by 
blood but could be separated into two or three distinct matri- 
hneal groups which regarded themselves as related only by 
a legal fiction. What we know of primitive logic makes 
such wholesale adoption quite intelligible. If two men co- 
operating in a ritualistic performance adopt each other as 
brothers, their respective sisters would likewise be brought 
into the mutual relationship of sisters, and ipso facto the 
descendants of the "sisters' would be viewed as though they 
were connected through real sisters and theoretically classed 
as descendants from a single ancestress. 

Before closing this preliminary consideration, it is well 
to solve what may otherwise appear as a puzzle. If the 
bilateral family is ubiquitous, how can the sib ever coexist 
with it? Does it not contravene the law of identity to pic- 
ture societies which simultaneously recognize both parents 
and yet ignore one of them? Of course, recognition and 
neglect refer to distinct phases of social life. As we recog- 
nize the mother but ignore her with respect to the family 
name, so primitive triljes may recognize both parents in a 
variety of ways yet disregard either for specific purposes. 

Hitherto the sib has been considered mainly from a. 
morphological angle ; we must now turn to the functions of" 
the sib. These are best illustrated by describing a selectee 
series of sib organizations.' 

Types of Sib Organization 

To begin with a simple case. The Crow Indians are Ai.-. 
vided into thirteen exogamous mother-sibs. These units an 
designated by nicknames: one is called 'They-bring-game 
without-shooting,' another 'Bad-War-honors.' a third 'Bad- 
Leggings,' and so forth. Sib-mates not only addrcs: 
one another as though they were blood-kindred even 

THE SIB 117 

t related but actually act towards one another as such, 
^adly giving help when an opportunity offers. Their re- 
lations are. however, restricted to the social sphere and do 
not in any way touch the field of religious activity. The 
Crow were locally divided into a northern and a southern 
branch, but in each were found members of all the sibs. 

Wlien we turn from the Crow to the Hopi of northern 
.'mzona. we at once meet a very different series of traits. 
The Hopi, like the Crow, have exc^iamous mothcr-sibs and 
there is a close social bcmd uniting the members of a sib. 
There, however, analogy virtually ends. The very names 
of the sihs are of a wholly different character ; they are in 
no case nicknames but are derived for the most part from 
utonl i^nomena. the Snake, Sand, Lizard, Cottonwood 
i'bs ftimishii^ typical examples. Property, which anxxig 
these sedentary people plays a greater part than with th6 
rfmag Crow of buffalo-hunting da>'s, is to some extent 
held by the sib and tnberited in the sib: Thus, each sib has 
its ( Hs t inctj ye territory for hunting eagles: and the most 
unponant preroga tiv e of assaming certain cemnontal of- 
Sees descends in the sib. being held bjr acttal blood-letuaicn 
thm^ tbe motfaer. This imrolTes wfaat to ns Mem am 
fintrage en eifntaUt inbentanoe rtdes. For since the Hopi 
^:bs are uuUuujimc and exogamoos. iaAer and son are 
nner in tfac grae sib; henoe a ta&tr r*—^ fftnt oa U* 

than to BBS nofcst sn ruatiic^ Ins I 

he SidK fcun ai ty iiObm i to he ■*! liliiit 
eadons i&t <d rilnB^ ,mi,im^ Ihe Bepi that 



Wisconsin. Here we encounter, in the first place, what is 
known as a dual organisation; that is to say, the entire 
tribe is divided into two sibs, which in this case are patro- 
nymic. These two father-sibs are exoganious like the more 
numerous sibs of the Crow and Hopi. They are symbolic- 
ally connected with the sky and the earth, one group being 
called 'Those above,' the other 'Those on earth.' Besides 
regulating marriage through the rule of exogamy, these sibs 
play a part on the warpath, in ball-games, and in one of the 
tribal feasts, for on all these occasions individuals are 
grouped according to membership in the two sibs. 

An important complication, however, results from the 
fact that among the Winnebago the two father-sila are sub- 
divided, — the one into four, the other into eight lesser 
groups. These are no less father-sibs than the dual divi- 
sions. Since nomenclature is of subordinate significance, 
we might without detriment call the subdivisions sub-sibs, 
or sections of sibs, or invent a special term for them. I 
will now, for convenience' sake, call the lesser units 'father- 
sibs' and give to the larger Winnebago groups the self- 
explanatory designation of moieties, — an old Shakespearean 
word derived from the French moitic, 'one-half.' 

The sibs into which the patronymic Winnebago moieties 
are divided present a numlier of interesting features. Th^ 
are exogamous, but in a different sense from the Winne- 
bago moieties or the Hopi and Crow mother-sibs. Thest 
latter units are exogamous in their own right, so to speak 
the Winnebago sibs are derivatively exogamous, i.e., they 
are exogamous because the larger units embracing them are 
exogamous. The exogamous feature is really not distinc- 
tive of them but of the greater moiety. On the other hand, 
a number of novel conceptions appear. Each sib not orAf 
bears tbe name of an animal, such as Snake. Eagle, Thun- 
derbird, Bear, but further postulates descent from the ani- 
mal species in question; and its members carve, weave, or 
engrave representations of the sib animal, though there U 

no evidsiBf ir air- nit n ts nmur. 7*mher issnrare*] 
«in: cazr sxi- s s. ar n: dHmcn'-e jerKni-iii TJinc^ Ji '-ins 
resjgL. lie iMitiii^r T-itx :tie jther :r-btts nircu:?-->«*i s ^r-k- 

\ss^^\f[mi i2nc ir 1 niici uiii uiv -Tib ::it: 'raIm^* 
bsnnjrnHiea: Triicsnan. nil^ ±e -"hilti jv i ramc 
mimiK— n: a: ns- is— us ir i^ice-enirss. ': le lus ic nie 
time a^ ii: r -nms -n-mes n larrie. Trie ::iil»: vn^rrts" X'v 
or girl '^z^ ut isaxiei fcrkes-fnri--^!TerTTiti<. " '« "ci fie 
Hop: ine lazxn iisc^^L-fc uaisiiLs m ±e Tjine— ^-ffr -f*: ilso 
oc iic su.. vTiia. s le-'ir :iie zniifi n n:s :rii[::":ir"Tnc 
trie; iar sic i^pusr:'" jciinnr? i: :3e r^zTer ? f;i: m\: ysr 
Stoics a ismfr J*di^- m;: irrei n ir-'rnc :i:?i!:in:. 7j "ler r^T 
fibi Wmnax^ inacics iiifirr n :i:;u i-.iirli ni;:-"i::ial 

o«T aL. f5xi:i xsniKr r^nimti'' riiir^snn^r -^e ^.t^ :f "'^ 
niQiir anrrii- l-ks lie H:ri. ±e "" 'nrecii:!^: ir::ii2: :■: 
Act siK rErsnanai iiimrninir. Zai± imr : vts i rr^zrfi 
boodk and iig-Jj-iiir ins mal issrirxj*: rrerrv-i. 7^- 
ndhr unsr ie iiEiniaicL is i rev -r*:': "rre i^^;«rir:t: \z 

Qoc aD3!3icr. Tina "Se Zisr lercie iictrr^e ino:* rrrr- 
tiocs. Tie iriiaL aief ir nrxru^i" zT'iser fTrr irr-'-ns' Tr* 
ThnaddTiirca, 'v^^iic "ne iucjUii rritr ^ lI'vt.'^ :f -i^ i.:?- 
Qac mar!: AnerirEr Hismrrn tt::?: :"•'-♦ Tr:*: 

Ud Lane 'CirKr iVlZXtJ^ VtJ'iT* ITi^ ''iriTjrtr'-Jc.}:". •"';:*-* >^ 

Aosc M lie IJlrw'ut a: ti:t: nrr^r-.f^t 'itir':.*^ ■ > ' ■' r-^'u 
ruber a riiiUart r^ym^ jirii iri.r i:i^:r^"_ v< i ':.'// /?.'./ of 
of penoDSj iiaxiKi. Tii*i=t* L.-t rir':e-''4:c.v^ ' '•?«??:?.;' ?i'/ 



the Hopi or Winnebago stbs. Nevertheless in funerals and 
( puberty performances the alignment follows that of the 
' dual division. 

Turning to western Siberia, we find the Ostyak divided 
into a considerable number of exogamous father-sibs. each 
constituted of a number of men and their descendants. Al- 
though the sibs frequently comprise not only hundreds but 
thousands of individuals and though many of the members 
are unable to trace any blood- relationship among them- 
selves, there is a distinct belief in an ultimately common 
origin. The male sib-mates keep together in their migra- 
tions and there is a spirit of brotherliness that makes the 
rich share their produce with the poor as a matter of course. 
The sib is not merely a social but also a political unit ; each 
has a headman of its own, whose office descends to his son 
or next of kin and whose main function is to arbitrate dis- 
putes. Several sibs are combined into a sort of league 
presided over by a prince. Over and above the socio- 
political aspects of the Ostyak sib there remain its religious 
functions. Each has its distinctive idols kept by a seer oc 
shaman, and the members join in rendering sacrifices and 
performing other ceremonies. 

Passing to still another region of the globe, we encounter 
a highly developed sib system in Melanesia. In Buin, Solo- 
mon Islands, Dr. Thurnwald discovered eight exogamous 
matrilineal sibs, each definitely associated with some bird, 
such as the owl or parrot, which members of the sib neither 
kill nor eat. Indeed, the Owl sib would resent the slaying 
of an owl by men of other sibs to the extent of precipitat- 
ing a blood-feud, hence none of the sacred animals is hunted 
by any member of the tribe. The natives do not trace 
their descent from the birds but conceive the mystic kin- 
ship in a different way: the Parrot sib. e.g., tell of a human, 
ancestress who wedded a parrot and gave birth to a bird 
of that species. In the Admiralty Islands, the obligations 
between the sacred animal and its sib are expressly recog- 


_ i mutual, so that men of the Alligator sib a 

lievcd to be safe from attacks by alligators. In contrast 
the Winnebago system that of Buin is quite dissociated fn 
the political organization of the people. To mention 
aie fact, the succession to the chieftaincy is from father' 
to son in direct contravention of the matrilineal scheme^ 
follcwed by the sib. 

To content ourselves with just one more illustration for 
this provisional survey, the Kariera tribe of Western Aus- 
tralia is subdivided into moieties and some twenty patri- 
lineal sibs lacking distinctive names, but each holding a defi- 
nite territory by an inalienable right. Further, each sib is 
associated with a varying number of animals, plants and 
natural phenomena. Thus, one sib is connected with the 
rainbow, the white cockatoo, the March fly. two species of 
fish, and a conch shell. Each of these species or objects 
has a ceremonial ground of its own within the domain of 
ihe correlated sib, and it is there that special ceremonies are 
perfomied by both male and female members for the pur- 
pose of multiplying the animals and plants in question.^ 
Most of these are edible, and it is noteworthy that there is 
not the slightest restriction as to the killing of the animals 
or the eating of either animals or plants by sib-mates. As 
usual, the sibs are exogamous: residence being patrilocal, 
iboy grows up in his father's sib territory and since he is 
wpected to marry his maternal uncle's daughter his bride 
wllcome from another stb and another locality. 

These examples should suffice to elucidate the diversity of 
fiinction that may be associated with a sib system. The 
sib thus appears as an extraordinarily changeable social unit, 
h is commonly exogamous but is sometimes only dcriva- 
'tvely so ( Winneliago). It may be linked with animals and 
plants towards which a definite attitude is prescribed (Buin) 
""i it may be wholly divorced from any such connection 
(Crow), It may be a local (Kariera) or a non-local 
(Crow) unit, a political (Ostyak) or non-political (Buin) 





division of society. This variability suggests an important 

Unity or Divebsity of Origin 

To Morgan the sib organization appeared to rest on so 
abstruse a concept that he felt obliged to assume a single 
origin of all recorded sibs. That is, he supposed that the 
institution had sprung into existence in one place and 
thence spread over immense areas. This is especially re- 
markable because Morgan's theory of a !azu of social evolu- 
tion according to which all mankind must progress from 
one stage to another favored the assumption of many inde- 
pendent inventions of like institutions and customs. It 
may be conceded that if primitive man had evolved an arbi- 
trary and elaborate scheme for separating certain of his 
kindred to the exclusion of others, it would be improbable 
for such a grouping to be repeatedly re-invented. Below, 
however, we shall see that the classification of relatives 
characteristic of the sib is a very natural one under certain 
conditions, so that the improbability of parallel and inde- 
pendent sib formation does not hold. Waiving this point 
for the present, we may inquire whether the resemblances 
of sibs in different parts of the world are sufficiently far- 
reaching to call for the hypothesis of a single origin. The 
variability noted above is hardly favorable to that assump- 
tion. The argument would be clinched if we could show 
that even in a restricted area, such as North America, there 
are several independent centers of sib diffusion, for then a 
fortiori one origin for the whole world would be out of 
the question. 

In North America there are four, or possibly five, dis- 
connected areas in which a sib organization flourishes, — 
the Woodlands east of the Mississippi, the Northwestern 
Plains, the Southwest, and the Northwest Coast, to which 
Central and Southern California should possibly be added 




as a distinct re^on, though some are inclined to consider 
the sib scheme there merely a ramification of the South- 
western system, We are, then, confronted with the prob- 
lem whether these several organizations have evolved inde- 
pendently — whether possibly even within each continuous 
area there have been several distinct foci for the develop- 
ment of sibs^ — or whether all the sibs of the continent have 
sprang from one source. i 

East of the Mississippi and even incUiding the southern 
Plains to the west there is an immense continuous area 
peopled by tribes of varj'ing stock, some of them matro- 
nymic, others patronymic, but practically all sharing the 
institution of sibs, Passing from the Iroquois to the Meno- 
mini and Omaha or Choctaw, we cannot fail to note that 
the sib scheme is largely fashioned after the same pattern. 
The sibs are commonly named after animals, the same spe- 
cies often recurring in different tribes; each sib has a set 
of distinctive personal names for its members ; and almost 
every sib system is bound up with a moiety grouping of 
which the most constant function is the alignment of men 
in athletic games. Even remote tribes within the region 
defined share highly specific traits. Thus, the Osage in 
Missouri have moieties associated with peace and war, re- 
spectively, and so have the Creek of Alabama. Exogamy 
is universal, sometimes as a function of the lesser, then 
again in association with the major (moiety) sib. The 
resemblances are too numerous and specific to be explained 
by chance, but must be explained by diffusion. On the 
<^er hand, the rule of descent divides the sib systems of 
ihe area into two categories, which also correspond closely 
to the geographical grouping of tribes if we accept the ap- 
proved theory that the Iroquois were originally a southern 
people. Thus the Iroquois may be conceived to occupy one 
connected territory with the matrilineal Creek, Choctaw, 
Chickasaw and Yuchi, while the Central Algonkians and 
Southern Siouans represent another definite geographical 





nificant modification; corresponding to the band there 
is a full-fledged sib with deBnitely patrilineal descent and 
rigid exogamy. The three other tribes, all members of 
the Siouan family, regularly trace descent through the 

Now, if we assume that all the Eastern sib systems had a 
single origin and make a corresponding hypothesis for the 
Northern Plains systems, the two composite photographs 
of the sib concepts in the two areas reveal hardly the faint- 
est resemblance to each other. The Eastern sibs are almost 
invariably named after animals and are sometimes con- 
nected with their eponyms by descent or definite religious 
obligations. In the Northern Plains animal names hardly 
ever occur and never in connection with the notion that 
there is a mystical Ixmd between the eponym and the sib 
members. By far the most common appellations of these 
sibs are of the nickname variety ; members are dubbed the 
Ugly-ones or Those-who-do-not-give-away-without-retum 
or Bring-game-without-killing. Equally important is a dif- 
ference already alluded to: while all the Eastern sibs have 
distinctive sets of personal names, such sets are never found 
in association with the sibs of the Northern Plains. Fi- 
nally, the moiety frequently found in the East as a cere- 
monial or exogamous unit and in connection with athletic 
games occurs only among the Mandan and Hidatsa, and 
there only as a relatively unimportant aggregate of sibs 
with hardly any serious function. It is thus clear that the 
sib systems of the East and of the Northern Plains repre- 
sent two wholly distinct patterns and there is not the 
slightest reason for deriving them from a common source. 

But by applying established ethnographic knowledge it 
is possible to go a step further ; more particularly can we 
trace with some assurance the history of the Gros Ventre 
system. The Gros Ventre are a recent and relatively small 
offshoot of the more southern Arapaho, a people lacking 
anything in the nature of sibs. In their new home the 



Given the resemblances mentioned, we certainly can 
more than one center for the notion of unilateral 
descent in either region. It is simply a question whether 
the difference in descent requires two separate inventions 
of the sib or only one for the entire area. In either case we 
should have to allow for diffusion. This is obvious if only 
Mie center is assumed. But even if, say, the matrilineal 
Iroquois sib and the patrilineal Omaha sib represent two 
ultimately independent inventions, there must have been 
subsequent borrowing, directly or indirectly, because of the 
character of the shared features. To take but one, sets of 
individual names distinctive of sibs do not occur for hun- 
dreds of miles to the west of the area under consideration, 
hence their distribution among both the paternally and ma- 
ternally organized peoples east of the Mississippi and on 
the southern Plains is a sure sign of borrowing. For my 
present argument it is not essentia! to decide whether the 
Eastern sib area corresponds to a single or a double evolu- 
tion of the sib, so I will leave the question open. 

This question may be waived because the theoretical 
point involved is settled with ample decisiveness by a com- 
parison of the Eastern sibs with those of the Northwestern 
Plains. In this region five tril>es require consideration, — 
the Hidatsa and Mandan of North Dakota, the Crow of 
Montana, the Gros Ventre and Blackfoot of Montana and 
Alberta. Of these the Blackfoot have an incipient rather 
than a fully developed sib organization ; they have nick- 
, named localized bands with predominantly patrilineal de- 
' scent, but without a fixed rule, so that a man may change 
' his band affiliation and that of his children as well. Exog- 
amy also is not absolute and rests on the suspicion that band 
mates are probably related by blood. In the winter the 
tribe broke up into the several bands, which scattered from 
economic motives, while in the summer they united for 
the chase or ceremonial purposes. This organization is al- 
most duplicated among the Gros Ventre but with one 5^- 


lilt modiflcation : corresponding to the band there 

i full-fledged sib with definitely patrilineal descent and 

rigid exogamy. The three other tribes, all members of 

the Siouan family, regularly trace descent through the 


Now, if we assume that all the Eastern sib systems had a 
sini^e origin and make a corresponding hj-pothesis for the 
Northern Plains systems, the two composite photographs 
of the sib concepts in the two areas reveal hardly the faint- 
est resemblance to each other. The Eastern sibs are almost 
invariably named after animals and are sometimes con- 
nected with their eponj'ms by descent or definite religious 
obligations. In the Northern Plains animal names hardly 
ever occur and never in connection with the notion thati 
there is a mystical bond between the eponym and the sil 
tnembers. By far the most common appellations of the: 
sibs are of the nickname variety : members are dubbed the 
Ugly-ones or Those- who-do-not-give-away-wi thou t- return 
or Bring-game-without-killing. Equally important is a dif- 
ference already alluded to: while all the Eastern sibs have 
distinctive sets of personal names, such sets are never found 
in association with the sibs of the Northern Plains. Fi- 
nally, the moiety frequently found in the East as a cere- 
monial or exogamous unit and in connection nith athletic 
games occurs only among the Mandan and Hidatsa, and 
ihcre only as a relatively unimportant aggregate of sibs 
with hardly any serious function. It is thus clear that the 
sib systems of the East and of the Northern Plains repre- 
sent two wholly distinct patterns and there is not the 
slightest reason for deriving them from a common source. 
But by applying established ethnographic knowledge it 
is possible to go a step further : more particularly can we 
'race with some assurance the history of the Gros Ventre 
system. The Gros Ventre are a recent and relatively small 
offshoot of the more southern Arapaho. a people lacking 
anything in the nature of sibs. In their new home the 



is answered, but it may be well to envisage the re- 
North American areas. 
litions in the Southwest have been clarified to an 
dinary degree by Kroeber's acute analysis, one of 
rterpieces of ethnographic research, which I will fol- 
^umming iip the essential facts. The Zuiii sibs are 
©us and derive their names from animals, plants, 
Mral phenomena, but there are no taboos after the 
of Buin nor is any veneration extended to the 
Descent is matrijineal. The sibs are associated 
remonies, not in the sense that they perform rites 
but rather inasmuch as specific ritualistic offices 
filled by persons of a particular sib. These essen- 
racteristics are shared by all the Pueblo Indians, 
" mainly in the presence or absence of moieties 
d above the lesser sibs: while on the Rio Grande 
3 dual organization not associated with exogamy 
h important ritualistic and political functions, in 
tern section of the area no such division occurs, 
lerence, however, pales into insignificance in view 
iXtremely complicated scheme of sibs shared by all 
Wo tribes and first brought to light by Kroeber's 
All the four linguistic groups of the region link 
sibs in larger aggregates after the identical and 
xmventional plan. Thus, the Hopi class together 
ger and Bear sibs, and so do the Zuiii, the Keresan 
Tanoan villages. Similarly the Fire and Coyote 
everywhere coupled. The identity is as far-reach- 
could possibly be expected ; where a modification 
it is usually of an obvious character involving the 
;ion of a Horn for a Deer sib, or of one bird sib 
ther. As Professor Kroeber puts it, "a single pre- 
leme per\-ades the . . . organization of all the 
," Nothing comparable is found outside this region, 
le system of this area stands out as a distinct histori- 
from the sib organizations hitherto considered. 


It is, however, possible though by no means certain that 
the sib organization of southern California is an attenuated 
outpost of the Pueblo system, as Mr. GifFord has suggested. 
The geographical concentration of sibs in that part of the 
state more or less adjacent to Arizona favors that view, 
and it is supported by another fact. This is the very region 
of California that is culturally linked with the Pueblo area 
in other respects, notably through the occurrence of pot- 
tery. Nevertheless, there is one serious difficulty in the 
way of Mr. GifFortrs hj-pothesis: the Califomian sibs are 
uniformly patrilineal, those of the Pueblo tribes are matri- 
lineal. Were there clear evidence that the Calif omians pos- 
sess the unique Pueblo scheme of arranging sibs, we should 
of course be obliged to assume historical connection and a 
change in the rule of descent. As things stand, the evi- 
dence is suggestive rather than conclusive and the question 
must for the present remain open. 

Far to the north, extending from the southern tip of 
Alaska to the northern coast of British Columbia and con- 
tiguous districts, lies the last sib center, represented most 
characteristically by the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian. 
The Tlingit are divided into exogamous Raven and Wolf 
(or Eagle) moieties; the Tsimshian into exogamous quar- 
ters, two of which are named Eagle and Wolf, while the 
remaining two bear names not referring to animals, though 
they are connected with the Ijear and raven respectively. 
Descent is throughout matrilineal. Associated with each 
of these tribal divisions are series of highly-prized cere- 
monial privileges conveniently comprised under the heraldic 
term 'crest' and involving among other things the exclusive 
right to use designs representing certain animals or objects. 
The importance attached to the crests gives to Northwest 
Coast organization its distinctive character. Often a super- 
natural relationship is alleged with the animals in question, 
but taboos and religious veneration are noticeably lacking. 
Nor is it always the eponym from which the principal crest 

THE 5; 

of a moietT or aoait e i ' s •inrrved. Tims, rie Haiiia r< 
bzre rirc kfHer-wtExIe f:r :fner Tram irssc. inii irmmi^ fie 
Eagles ot tfee same irie ±e bearer rmls -fie ea:r'e r^sc in 
importsace. Aonniingty. in rruTrng zie i:^:rxal r^£ai:»nis 
of Ae ea LueTunir irriaiziis :c rie rrrse :r--I:«s fie :r:s3 ji.ue 
tg^iirTi <«ir ZQxi fre oesi:rTar"i:iis fie T-nnxsoiaxi 
tEO^ oat jz- be fie CTri"nIen: :c ±e Hiitia. Ea:r-esv 
Fuithrf .'iDcre. ace il fie TTerTr4er? :t x frr!s«:T: *e--i srar- 
die sanxe crest Tiers ar* T7ar*'T^t*:i!' idco-rLsurns :acfr :f 

A5 3. •^.17"^*' :f fiin. ir is 

ZTjods nrner rsin ne ^jiufnerr :r 

blood km, wrrfZie fre 'stt^ -aiigirrTTC zrrcnrf ir^ nir i er: "y i 
from 2 cocsmxi arrryg'.r -szsct intrnir fre riji^ii 
subcIIvuuGd c-r 55> is i j:c22zs*i rmn:. tr^s.r.'.iLTt^ n 
a matnKracal T^ags c: t:.i::u i : r^ bc!: nnr fi:icer?ei tt^t ie^- 

cnl TEQages. 

The crzasfsaircc :f f:e y:c fi l *^?^ r:s.=e r^^^ermbie? "±i 
STSlczns of ta:ce :f fee :t±er irss. I: ::? ffrfrerfc r?!r^ 
frooi ffir- su?;f! :t fn* }* irfrem rTiiznf. "vbi'fi :r : 
bad ooozrred ofsjic: n r»s«rf:u* r mrs: rL:^— Kn:!; -: :,^ 

gujgi jpf ! w ^nv rygT?£ru. 


How batrymiziz rridii bsr* ruLor- ^iiiir* irifer ?a:^ rnr- 
Aioos passes azjczmtssiso'r, ^x-r :.i — -iisK-bile :: 
pose dcat rfue sS- Sfiei in i xxmz f :r=: ti.? :ar* r?rer 



fast focnr taocs En K:r± Anitn::! ltjI iirr:r~;rvT hs.f hni 
a muhip le <0C5g5:i r: "fit "n-irii Z«tj:*Tr I sirnZ T»:»rn ?m 
Aere are screaraZ -initsprecil ^:QfrD:1^.^ fxT-.c 

SiBS OF Higher Order 

The survey of sib systems given above demonstrated sibs 
of different order in the same tribe. The Winnebago were 
found to be divided into two father-sibs, each of these 
moieties being further subdivided into lesser fathcr-sibs. 
In British Columbia the Thngit and Tsimshian exogamous 
groups comprise each a number of matrilineal sibs and 
by an allowable extension of the term may themselves be 
called sibs since there is an undoubted sense of kinship 
though without a distinct belief in common ancestry. Fre- 
quently the higher unit is of a rather colorless character. 
The thirteen Crow sibs are Jinked together into five couples 
and a trio, but the functions of the larger groups, all name- 
less, are quite insignificant. They are not exogamous, the 
constituent sibs being regarded as not related but merely 
as friendly. Similarly, the Zuni aggregations have no in- 
fluence on marriage and little effect on social life apart 
from ritualistic activity. 

Where such lesser and greater units coexist, the question 
inevitably arises as to their relationship. It is conceivable 
that the greater evolved from an original sib by subdivision, 
the fragments still preserving a sense of their former unity 
and cohering as the sibs of a sib-aggregation, which may 
or may not be a moiety. It is equally conceivable that 
social groups once distinct should have come to unite for 
certain purposes yet preserve a sense of their pristine sepa- 
rateness. Again, it is possible for two radically distinct 
plans of organization to be coordinated in such fashion that 
the unit of one system shall embrace several units of the 

Morgan pronounced exclusively in favor of the first- 
mentioned course of development ; and it must be confessed 
that there is a good deal to be said on behalf of his theory. 
It has considerable a priori plausibility; nothing seems 
simpler than that an increasing sib should split up into seg- 

THE SIB 131 

nmts retaznm^ z, certain ocoiesicti. Further, as ^I'?rgas 
poinred occ there are in^cacces of the larger aggregate 
bearic^ rfic carae of i-ce :f its jciciivisi^ti? and also of 
several lesser sibe recres^r™;? -iirerent frecies of <3nc 
gemxs desigr-arfng the greater ifvisi-rn. F-yr exar=rle. in 
the tripartite crz^nizaii'zn of ie ILicegar cce thiri L? 
caOed Tcrfcey azd cc-cprlies lesier si'r*? caZei T-rrkey. 
Crane, and dicken, rescectivelv : anc^er thiri ii caZei 
Turtle and crroraces the Little T:iri[e. ir::»i Turtle. Great 
Turtle, arxl YeZcsr Eel sib?. 

StiH more cxrerrcrrT;;' in vieTr of ±e great in::t>:rance 
whidi the Eastern In-iians arsch ::• ±e series :f rersocal 
names peculiar zz sibs, the On-rrjliza-Irzc::'::? hive a Big 
Snipe and a LittLe Snfpe sf^, whf'i n:: :dv sn^r^st nsstcn 
It the smilarhr ; f iesisnar: :c :c: bv the cicnni-x: tJ-DS- 

cxplaxzati-ins. Ther* is n: r-e-ir-r- -h^is-rever v/hv S:ch 

bate occurred in cintren: ;!i:^ sr.f 1: iir-irm rer!:*!?. 
The evidecce for Acrr*t::n is :n n::r» v-2.r. rne mse r:n- 

vmcmg. 31 Oder zrszzrj:::^ a: .es-st snzre^":"'t. .» : :-n; 
doubl that the Cr::sr sfr-s 5.rt :ht f-r. im-.-sr.til "r.::s :: ±-*:r 
soaal organizati'ic n: "re"?^ :: "L"* 2-m-*': rrrr. *:-';:■; mn-:- 
tionlessness of the larrer irrr^ritr- Ve: •.: :s rf:if.'y rrc- 
tttvable t^^7 in ci'-rse :f Tinz-e th* *:•:-': : zeTT.-ren !:nk-?d 
sbs woa!d have zT"r. r.rrytr zr.'t :.irr:::r_ :: th* sf:) 
*tter another ^---di hsve teer."nT.ri *:v :ht s'r rrcrles 
indtrio. In the rtrre^'i.r.lir.r H:': n=-t I v ^f rrrrn-r-e-ily 
told that certain s:':?s ~ tre ::r_r_fr:ri *:eM-se •J".ev '11 i rote 
omifid for cerem:rJ=.I '-—•:=-^s Her* :.-: -iit -ttt :>:m 
PtdanTca! azcrezs.:t :: ir. :rrir.:: r-:!"tr:r :: •::•? ir.::> 
sik of higher :rt-rr ::-': V rti::!y v^.tr. 
tOanew greet :: v.^ Jiir-hit :Tr-r.- .z'zr. 
aBjr inigta coctri if-t* 1: "ihe T.:rk :: ::r_s«:l:ii:::n- 


In short, a generic solution of the problem must be re- 
jected, and each case of coexisting sibs of greater and 
lesser order must be discussed on its merits. 

The third possibility, while of gfreat interest, is largely 
so in an academic way. It is easy to apply the principles 
used in comparing sibs of different tribes to sibs of differ- 
ferent order in the same tribe and prove that they are units 
of quite distinct character. Take exogamy, for example, 
as one of the most important and widespread functions. If 
the greater unit is exogamous, any of its parts must be so 
by logical necessity; hence it is possible to argue that the 
lesser unit is not really exogamous, accordingly differs in 
essence, hence in origin, from the larger group. Contrari- 
wise, the large unit might be found wanting in point of 
exogamy and be ruled out as a phenomenon distinct from 
the exogamous sib. Such arguments cannot in the nature 
of the case be frequently refuted but neither do they estab- 
lish the historical diversity of the lesser and the greater sib. 
For, if. say. the process of segmentation were to take place 
in accoMance with Morgan's view, the result would inevi- 
tably be lesser sibs only derivatively exogamous. 

There is another factor that should be considered in this 
context as tending to obscure the historical relations of the 
lesser and the greater sib: functions may be transferred 
from one to the other. Thus, Dr. Goldenweiser holds that 
the Iroquois moieties were once exogamous, while to-day 
this function is restricted to the much smaller sib. Con- 
trariwise, a function of the smaller may be extended to the 
greater unit, and if m full force it would be impr)ssib'ft to 
reconstruct the actual history of the case 

By far the most interesting type of major sib is the 
moiety, though it also occurs as a simple undivided sib, as 
among the Miwok and Yokuts of central California. Again 
it is necessary to remember that the moieties need not be 
exogamous. Those of the Hidatsa have nothing to do with 
marriage, and the Toda moieties are even positively en- 

Kcvcrtheless it is the exogamotts dual organi- 
;t occnrs most freqaently and aocordn^ly deiimids 

•. there are onlv tvco exc^amoas dhrisians. there 
r by logical necessity certain conscqaences that sharply 
^fferentiatc a moMty organizatioa from one with moce 
than two exogamoos sibs. Wliere the mtmber of ernvga- 
moas sibs b greater (unless special roles arc saperimposed) 
a man may mair^' a woman from any sib not his own. 
Thns. a Crow may marry a «-o<nan from any one of twehre 
sibs; tweive-thirTcentfas oi the marriageable wooten of his 
tribe are bis possible spouses. But with only two exoga- 
moos divis>on5 a Wtmidngo is restricted to half the women 
of his people, a tctt oonsideTable difference. There is still 
ancther implication of social significance. Among the Crow 
a man has ^lecial relations n-ith members of two sibs, of 
bis own (i.e.. his roocher's') and his father's: but the msn- 
bcr of individoals in both relatively to the total popolaticai 
is sntaH Given a moiety system, a man may hare speciSc 
reUtioas with all tribesineD. for one half of than bdoc^ 
"his own rooie^, dhe remainder to the nwie^ of dot 
F>drent ihrot^ whom descent is doI traced. 

A striking feature of moieiies H the derdofanatf of 
fftipnical services. Ai an Iroquois bnrial the fonctiaciarics 
are always selected fwt from the deceased person's bat 
hixn the opposite moiety, and the same hobb for Ae remote 
CahuiHa of sontbem Cahfomia. On the coast of northern 
i'rtti^ Colombia certain festtvals are ocrer arrai^ed ex- 
(^tpt in honor of the complcroentary moiety. It is a p*"j*ng 
ItH^ion bow this reciprocity is to be interpreted. Is it 
lundamentall}' a matter of the moiety or merdy tncidentally 
y' (ecause etlher moiety indodes one of the parents ? The 
Ki<iat5a case ts ithgninating because there we find that in 
Ivrial it is not the noo-exoganiotts moieties that function 
till the sib of the deceased person's father. It t4 lb 
iiUc that the Iroquois and Northwest Coast pba 



belong in the same category, and that in these matrilineal 
tribes reciprocity merely signifies social recognition of the 
father. Other functions of moieties have already been 
cited. Those of the Iroquois are characteristic of the East- 
ern Indians. At such games as lacrosse members of oppo- 
site moieties are pitted against each other. At feasts and 
ceremonies there is a corresponding spatial grouping; one 
moiety faces the other, each being represented by a speaker. 

It was shown above that there is a peculiar fitness in the 
association of the Dakota type of kinship nomenclature with 
a sib organization. But that fitness is especially marked 
when the sibs appear in the form of moieties. Certain 
features of the Dakota terminology would harmonize in 
equal degree with any sib system regardless of the number 
of units. For example, that father's brothers and even the 
most remote of his male cousins, if of the same sib, should 
\x called by the same term as the father might happen as 
readily in a tribe with fifty sibs as where there are only 
two. But other features cannot be so well explained from 
a multiple sib organization. Take, for example, the com- 
mon classification under one head of the mother's brother 
and the father's sister's husband. With exogamic moieties 
and, say. maternal descent I belong to my mother's moiety 
A, and so does her brother; my father, on the other hand, 
and his sister are of moiety B, and the latter is obliged to 
marry a man of moiety A. Thus, the father's sister's hus- 
band and tlie maternal uncle are bound to belong to the' 
same moiety, and if the nomenclature reflects primarily the 
social organization it is proper that both should be called 
by a common term. 

Still more common is the classification of cousins into 
parallel and cross-cousins. As Tylor pointed out, this, too, 
is admirably consonant with a dual organization. Assum- 
ing the same conditions as before, we find that if a man 
belongs to moiety A, his brother will also belong to that, 
group; both must marry women of moiety B, and their 



jldren will all be B. Correspondingly, two sisters of 
moiety A must marry men of moiety B. and their children 
will all be A. That is to say, parallel cousins, the offspring 
of several brothers or of several sisters, will always be of 
the same social group. Not so with cross-cousins. For 
though a brother and a sister of moiety A must both marry 
individuals of the opposite moiety, the brother's children 
l^ maternal descent become members of B while the sister's 
retain their mother's affiliation. Thus, cross-cousins are 
bound to belong to different moieties. 

But if we add only one sib, the situation changes. A 
man of sib A may then marry either a woman of sib B or 
of C: hence the wives and consequently also the children of 
several brothers will belong partly to sib B and partly to 
sib C, and there will be no reason in- the sib alignment for 
classing them together. Thus, the presence of more than 
two sibs does not explain the most common form of the 
Dakota terminology nearly so well as does the dual organi- 
zation. For this reason, among others, some scholars hold 
that moieties represent the earliest type of sib. 

This theory is extremely captivating. Besides explaining 
the Dakota nomenclature, a dual organization is certainly 
the simplest that can be conceived. Nevertheless there are 

iportant objections to this assumption. In the first place, 

le distribution of moieties is by no means so extensive as 
■tiie type af kinship terminology consistent with them. The 
absence of a dual organization with exogamy m most, 
possibly in all, parts of Africa, and among many American 
and Asiatic tri1>es bids us tiesitate before committing our- 
selves to the hypothesis of a dual division as the earliest 
form of all sib organizations. It may hold tor Austraha 

id Melanesia, but that proves nothing for the rest of ihe 
Of course it is possible to assume that moieties once 

:isted where there are now more numerous sibs. but that 
bitrarily to complicate the theory with a baseless auxil- 
hypothesis in order to save the simplest interpretation 




from the onslaug:ht of cniel facts. Then, too, we may rea- 
sonably doubt whether a dual organization is really the sim- 
plest for primitive man. Logically it undoubtedly is; and 
historically it would \x if a primitive triije always developed 
i by fission. But if, as we may with great likelihood 
I assume for many cases, exogamous organizations evolved 
by the fusion of originally distinct bodies, then it is far 
more probable tliat matrimonial relations should not be re- 
stricted to a single external group but should be established 
with a number of them, the coalescence of all of which 
would yield the characteristic community organized into an 
indefinite numlter of exogamous and intermarrying sibs, 
which might subsequently be arranged in opposite halves. 

This is not an altogether hypothetical condition of affairs. 
Among the Toda the moieties are endogamous but subdi- 
vided into exogamous father-sibs, so that each Toda moiety 
corresponds to the whole of an exogamous tribe. Now 
within the Teivaliol moiety, which embraces six sibs, the 
one named Kuudr is numerically preponderant to such an 
extent that in order to observe exogamy its members have 
married nearly all the available members of other sibs, leav- 
ing very few of these to intermarry with one another. Dr. 
Rivers recorded i6i marriages between Kuudr people and 
the rest of the Teivaliol as against i6 between members of 
the other five exogamous groups. "Owing to the enormous 
development of one clan fsib), the Teivali division has 
almost come to be in the position of a community with a 
dual marrying organization in which every member of one 
group must marry a memlwr of the other group, but there 
is no reason whatever to think that this is due to any other 
reason than the excessive development of one clan (sib) 
in numbers." 

The condition approximated by the Toda, viz., a second- 
ary arrangement in two complementary units, was according 
to Dr. Boas attained by the Haida of the Northwest Coast 
of America. Dr. Boas suggests that several tribes of this 

THE SIB 137 

I were formerly cliaracterized by a tripartite organiza- 
tion. Thus, the Tlingit in some localities are not strictly 
organized into moieties but have a third exogamic unit 
freely intermarrying with the other two. It is therefore 
possible that the moieties of the Tlingit and Haida are the 
result of a reduction in the number of original units, leaving 
two equivalent tribal divisions. 

Finally may be cited the data for the Masai. In British 
East Africa Mr. Mollis discovered four sibs, the Aiscr. 
Mengana. Molelyan. and Mokesen; with the exception of 
the last-mentioned these were also found by Captain Mcrker 
on German territory. There, however, the Aiser and Molel- 
yan are after a fashion united in opposition to the Men- 
gana, whom they nickname 'Gluttons' because of their 
kgendarj' transgression of a dietary taboo. Apparently 
the grouping is not basic and has not affected marriage law. 
Nevertheless it does illustrate how a dual division may arise 
not as a pristine form of organization but as a later dc- 

Such concrete data, coupled with the more general con- 
^derations given above, lead us to reject the theory that 
nXMtics were necessarily or e\'en frequently the most 
inooit representati\'es of a sib oi^anizatton. That the dual 
wsuuzation accords better with the Dakota terminology 
■l>an odicr forms of sib organizatioo. is no reason for a»- 
^"miag its ttmfonn priority in contravention of the facts 
°f ilistTibatioa and definite evidam of the secoodary oiipn 
of mn^frifS* 

TonansM ' 


practices revolving about the eponym. Sometimes, as in 
Euin, the animal is held sacred and there is a strong sense 
of kinship with it on the part of the sib. Elsewhere, as 
among the Kariera, groups are not named after plants or 
animals but are nevertheless definitely associated with them, 
say, through the performance of rites for the magical mul- 
tiplication of the correlated fauna or flora. Frequently 
there is a belief in the descent of the sib from the eponym. 
All these and similar usages are brought together under the 
head of totemism and the animal, plant or object in ques- 
tion is called a totem. Among the Arunta the group as- 
sociated with an animal or plant is not a sib since member- 
ship depends not on that of either parent but on the mother's 
behef that such and such a child is the reincarnation of a 
particular totemic spirit. Thus siblings are often members 
of different groups. Nevertheless, the group activities so 
closely resemble those of neighboring tribes where the totem 
group is a sib that it would be unwarrantable to exclude the 
Arunta manifestations from the category of totemism. 
I Totemism has a very wide distribution, being found in 
f America, Australia. Melanesia, Africa, and parts of Asia. 
This extensive diffusion deeply impressed the scholars who 
first investigated the relevant data, and following the theo- 
retical bias of their time they assumed without further in- 
quiry that all the phenomena labeled totemism represented 
identical psychological processes and had originated inde- 
pendently in different areas through the psychic unity of 
mankind. Latterly it has become fashionable in some quar- 
ters to deny the possibility of independent cultural inven- 
tions, and accordingly we find Professor Elliot Smith 
broaching the hypothesis that totemism developed in or 
about northeastern Africa and thence spread to the four 
comers of the globe. 

Opposed as these interpretations appear at first blush, 
they are united by a common basis, viz., the conviction that 
totemism everywhere is essentially the s^e. It was this 





naive assumption that led to a series of hypotheses purport- 
ing to explain how toleniism in general originated, the modi- 
fications fuimd here and there being treated as negligible. 
For example, there was a theory that totemism developed 
from the practice of animal nicknames. Such appellations 
were supposed to lead to explanatory legends making the 
men who had adopted the sobriquet the descendants of the 
eponym. whence there followed the taboo against killing or 
eating a member of the species. On the one hand, it was 
these prohibitions that aroused interest and led to the view 
that totemism was a form of religion, or even a necessary 
stage in religious evolution; on the other hand, it was the 
exogamous character of the totemic sib that was stressed as 
the 'social aspect' of the phenomenon, which, however, was 
directly dedncible from the belief of the sib-mates In a 
common totemic ancestry. 

It was in 1910 that Dr. Goldenweiser approached totem- 
ism from a quite distinct point of view. Professor Boas 
had repeatedly shown that apparently simple ethnological 
phenomena were as a matter of fact the result not of pri- 
mary unity but of secondary association. Thus, when prim- 
itive tribes call geometrical designs by animal names it does 
not follow that their artists attempted to represent animals, 
and that their sketches were subsequently conventionalized 
into lozenges or triangles. These patterns can sometimes be 
proved to have had an independent origin and to have re- 
ceived a convenient designation at a later period. Further, 
Boas had proved that the resemblances noted between re- 
mote tribes were often illusory: they represented no basic 
likeness comparable to the homologies of the anatomist but 
rather correspond to his superficial analogies. That is to 
say, ethnologists had erred in the same sense in which the 
untutored mind errs when it classifies the whale as a fish 
aju] the bat as a bird. 

Applying these principles to what had been regarded as 
uniform complex of features, Goldenweiser discovered 





that totemism, instead of being everywhere alike, differed 
to an extraordinary degree. For example, Central Aus- 
tralian totemism with its emphasis on ritualistic perform- 
ances for the magical increase of the totem differs toto coelo 
from that of British Columbia, where artistic representa- 
tion of the totem and the guardian spirit idea are in the 
foreground of aboriginal consciousness. Passing in review 
one after another of the alleged criteria of totemism, this 
author found every one of them wanting in even approxi- 
mate universality. Exogamy may or may not be coupled 
with the other features, totemic taboos may be dissociated 
from .a totemic name for the group practising them : descent 
from the totem may or may not be postulated ; and so forth. 
Thus no feature or set of features was found to be neces- 
sary or characteristic of totemism, hence none was regarded 
as essentially primary in either a psychological or an histori- 
cal sense. If. then, there be any bond linking the totemic 
manifestations of various peoples, it cannot lie in the com- 
mon possession of certain traits but only in the mutua! 
relations of these traits. Here Goldenweiser reverted to 
the earlier distinction of a social and a religions phase of 
the phenomenon. But his inquiry had demonstrated that 
the religious factor was often of a most attenuated kind; 
hence in his final formulation a less pretentious term was 
substituted and totemism was defined as "the tendency of 
definite social units to become associated with objects and 
symbols of emotional value" ; or as "the process of specific 
socialization of objects and symbols of emotional value." 
The socialization of emotional values within groups tracing 
descent in definite fashion saved totemism from becoming 
a catchword not corresponding to any reality whatsoever. 
While the psychological unity of the phenomenon was thus 
vindicated, its historical diversity was insisted upon. 
Owing to the heterogeneous character of the totemic com- 
plex and tlie complexities of historical evolution. Dr. Gold- 
enweiser concluded that such resemblances as occurred are 


■ the result of convergent evolution. That is to say, in one 
regiOTi one feature had been the starting-point, in another 
a different one; and only through later combinations of 
these elements had the complexes come to present the ob- 
served similarities. A ready explanation for the frequent 
combination of certain particular elements was found in 
the wide distribution of such traits as taboos, animal names, 
etc., which made their coalescence a matter of mathematical 

Before commeming on these views, we had better refer 
briefly to a far bulkier contemporaneous publication by Dr. 
J. G. Frazer, in which a painstaking compilation of rele- 
vant data is followed by a quite different theory of totem- 
ism. With respect to some specific conclusions, to be sure, 
both authors are in accord. Frazcr no less than Golden- 
weiser dissociates exogamy as a non-essential part of the 
loteraic complex. It is when Frazcr derives the totemic 
complex minus exogamy from a single psychological source, 
the Central Australian belief that every child is the rein- 
carnation of the totemic spirit supposed to haunt the spot 
where its mother first becomes aware of conception, that he 
displays a fundamental departure from the method of his 
felloH'-stuilent. For while the belief mentioned seems to 
Frazer a sufficient explanation for the taboos, belief in 
descent, and so on. Goldenweiser regards these residual 
{dienafnena as not less independent of one another than is 
exogamy from any aitd all of them. Frazer, in other worrli, 
does assmne an inner nexus among the several xymptnm* 
of toleniism f^art frcxn exogamy) and regards one of 
them, the identification of totemJte and totem as the basic 
otie. Goldcnwctscr considers none of the symptoms ai 
fandameotal and tlieir combination ts to him a conjunctkKi 
in Hmae's sense of the tenn, an empirical union of trait*. 
rather diaa an organic synthesis. His ure^itif^ of the 
mere trletum of the elements to eadi other i> diametrically 
opposed to Fiazei's adbeiaioe to a particolar tymptom. 


Further. Frazer's selection of a Central Australian notion 
as the core of all totemism would impress Goldenweiser as 
the height of absurdity. He might concede that Frazer's 
conceptional theory had some application in Central Aus- 
tralia but certainly not that it could hold for other areas 
whence comparable beliefs have never been reported. 

Our random selection of totemic data in the survey of 
sib organization suffices to corroborate the destructive re- 
sults of Dr. Goldenweiser's acute analysis. What connects 
the totemism of the Kariera with that of the Bnin? The 
Kariera totem groups are nameless local sibs with multiple 
totems, which are neither worshipped nor tabooed but only 
magically increased. The Buin totemites hold their ani- 
mals, one for each sib, sacred to the point of avenging an 
injury inflicted on them by other sibs and have no rites 
for the propagation of the species. In the one case there 
is no kinship between totem and sib, in the other a legend- 
ary basis exists for the sense of relationship, though there 
is no belief in descent. The Winnebago, on the other hand, 
have totemic descent, totemic names for groups as well as 
persons, artistic representations of the totems, but no taboos 
or cult. There is not the slightest reason for assuming that 
phenomena so heterogeneous have had a common origin 
either historically or psychologically: and if all of them are 
to be labeled as totemic it will not be for any community of 
specific traits but for some such highly abstract formal re- 
semblance as that defined by Goldenweiser. 

But is Dr. Goldenweiser's definition of the totemic con- 
tent, attenuated as it is, sufficiently so to cover all cases? 
I am not persuaded ihat it is. The Buin totems certainly 
represent emotional values; those of the Winnebago pos- 
sibly: those of the Kariera only by a stretching of terms 
that would convert black into white. Why not content 
ourselves with noting that the several social groups of one 
tribe are commonly differentiated by distinct names often 
borrowed from the organic kingdoms, or by heraldic devices 

THE STB 143 

of similar origin, or by distinctive taboos, or what not? 
Why not abandon the vain effort to thrust into one Pro 
cnistean bed a system of naming, a system of heraldry, and 
3 system of religious or magical observances? Each of 
these might with profit be studied separately and where con- 
nections occur their rationale must of course be likewise 
investigated. But the fact that they represent diverse phe- 
n(»nena should not be obscured by the deceptive caption of 
'emotional values.' 

In a later paper Dr. Goldenweiser has greatly clarified 
the problem by a searching analysis of Iroquois totemism 
so-called. The Iroquois sibs are named after birds and 
beasts and are the exogamous units of today, though for- 
merly this function was probably characteristic of the 
greater sib or moiety. But there is no taboo against kill- 
ing the sib animal, indeed the very notion of such a prohibi- 
tion impresses the Indians as absurd. Nor is there a trace 
of any belief in descent from the eponymous species or of 
any sense of kinship with them. One of the most prominent 
features of the Iroquois system is the existence of sets of 
individual names, each sib having its distinctive series; but 
these names are in no way connected with the animals. It 
is true that carvings of the eponyms were placed over the 
doors of houses in which the correlated sibs predominated; 
yet there is no proof that the right to such carvings was 
confined to members. Are. then, the Iroquois sibs to be 
regarded as totemic? Do the Iroquois possess a toteraic 
complex? Goldenweiser's answer is in the negative. Ani- 
mal names are too common a feature in primitive society, 
he argues, to permit the inference of a special relation be- 
tween a species and the group merely deriving from it its 
name. Only when the name involved a "psychological as- 
sociation with the animal in the minds of the givers or the 
receivers of the name, or of both," or when the exogamy is 
traceable to this association, is it desirable to speak of totem- 
ism. Otherwise sibs with animal designations have no more 


claim to be considered totemic than silis with nicknames, 
local names, or appellations derived from a human ancestor. 

As Dr. Goldenweiser rightly insists, the question is tK)t 
a purely terminological one. It is at bottom this, whether 
merely naming groups after animals is tantamount to defi- 
nite beliefs and practices associated with the eponyms. The 
importance of names for the aboriginal mind is undoubted; 
but whether it necessarily results in a totemic complex is a 
matter for empirical incjuiry. Dr. Golden weiser's negative 
seems eminently reasonable and indeed might properly be 
supplemented with a refusal to class together the various 
beliefs and performances. To go through rites for the in- 
crease of an edible species is not the same as to regard an 
animal or plant with superstitious awe, and that in turn 
differs from a mere taboo. 

In a still more recent contribution to the subject Dr. 
Goldenweiser assumes the position that totemism is after 
all a specific phenomenon, being characterized by "the as- 
sociation of the totemic content with a clan (sib) system." 
This is said to be a conclusion based on the introduction 
of an historico-geographical point of view : Dr. Golden- 
weiser now argues that the sib and the totemic complex are 
almost indissolubly linked, complexes without sibs and sibs 
without complexes being 'very rare.' 

I consider this argument to be singularly infelicitous and 
to contravene some of the most valuable results of Dr. 
Golden weiser's earlier studies. It is utterly inconceivable 
to me how in the light of data, many of which were cited by 
himself in his critical study. Dr. Goldenweiser can claim an 
historico-geographical sanction for his astounding gener- 
alization. The Crow, Hidatsa, Gros Ventre, Apache all 
have sibs without even totemic names; and since Dr. Gold- 
enweiser does not repudiate his conclusion that the name 
by itself does not establish totemism, we may add the Iro- 
quois and at least some of the Pueblo Indians. What Si- 
berian tribe is known to be organized into totemic sibs? 

THE SIB 145 

And m what sense are the Amnta totem groups sibs? The 
condiiskm that totemism is an *'all but universal ad jtmct** of 
the sib organization is reached simply by ignoring awkward 
contradictonr facts. It is regrettable that so keen and 
erudite a thinker should have deviated so far in his latest 
discussion from the straight and narrow path of historico- 
ethnographical investigation. 

To sum tip my own position on the subject of totemism. 
I am not convinced that all the acumen and erudition lav- 
ished upon the subject has established the reality of the 
totemic phenomenon. Assuredly Professor Boas is right 
when he points out the tendency of kinship groups to be- 
come associated with "certain t^-pes of ethnic activities.** 
But this is merely saying what seems self-evident, to wit, 
that definite social groups do not exist in zvcuo, so to speak, 
but must be characterized In' some function or other. The 
qtiestion is whether the nature of the associated activities 
does not matter so long as sotmihing is associated, and 
this view I cannot accept as justifiable. For me the prob- 
lem of totemism resolves itself into a series of specific 
problems not related to one another. The association of 
animal names with sibs is one problem and where it ap- 
pears in a contiimous area as in the Eastern United States 
its historical implications are obvious : there has been bor- 
rowing of a mode of sib designation. This has nothing 
whatsoever to do with the Kariera and Amnta custom of 
multiplying the supply of edible plants and animals, but 
that such a usage is shared by Central and West .Australian 
tribes is an important fact with similarly clear historical 
implications. That sibs fairly often taboo the eponj-mous 
animals is a phenomenon of great psychological interest 
well meriting study. But only confusion can result from 
envisaging what is disparate under a single head.^ 


^Philbrick: 114. Rivers, 1914 (a1. Lowie, 1915: 223 
.; id., 1917 (b). Chap. v. 



*Lowie, 1912: 182-246. Radin, 1915. Gifford, 1916: 140- 
148. Castrdn, 1853: 286 seq. Thumwald, 1912: 316, 327. 
Brown: 145, 160. 

•Morgan, 1877: Pt. 11, Chap. xv. Skinner: 8-21. Fletcher 
and La Flesche: 38, 134-198. Dorsey, J. O. : 252. Swanton, 
1912: 593 seq. Lowie. 1912: 186-207; id., 1917 (a): 7-22. 
Wissler, 191 1: 18. Kroeber, 1908: 147 seq.. id., 1917 (a): 
91-150. Gifford, 1918: 155-218. Boas, 1916 (a) : 478-530. 

*Goldenweiser, 1912: 464 seq. Gifford, 191 8: 187. Rivers, 
1906: 507. Boas, 1916 (a): 478-530. Hollis, 1905: 260. 
Merker: 16-18. 

* Smith: 33. Goldenweiser, 1910; id., 1913: 370; id., 1918: 
280. Boas, 191 1 : Chap, viii; id., 1916 (b) : 319. Frazer, 
J. G.. 1910: IV, 3-71. 



THE bilateral family is an absolutely universal insti- 
tution; on the other hand, the unilateral sib has only 
a restricted though wide distribution. It is true that many 
of the more highly civilized nations of the world, like the 
Greeks, are known to have passed through a period in which 
they were organized into sibs. But this may simply indi- 
cate that at a certain level the sib svstem tends to decav. 
leaving the always coexisting family in possession of the 
field : it does not by any means prove that the sib is older 
than the family. A sur\-ey of the data clearly shows that 
the family is omnipresent at every stage of culture : that at 
a higher level it is frequently coupled with a sib organiza- 
ticm ; and that at a still higher level the sib disappears. 

Priority of the Family 

This simple statement of fact, however, runs counter to 
one of the most generally accepted and least warrantable of 
Morgan's speculations. For Morgan held that the family 
was a late product which had been almost uniformly pre- 
ceded by the sib. In his scheme the exogamous sib repre- 
sents a remarkable reformatory movement that retrenched 
the intermarriage of blood relatives, gained a foothold 
through the biologically beneficial results produced thereby, 
and spread in consequence over an enormous area. In this 
theory two elements require examination, — the alleged ef- 
fects of the sib system, and its pretended distribution. 



repudiate it as sheer nonsense. Hence if we really find 
the family present and the sib lacking in the lowliest cul- 
tures almost without exception, we shall ohey the dictates 
of reason in concluding that the family is an earlier and 
the sib a later development. This inference is of such fun- 
damental importance that its empirical basis must be fully 
set forth. 

The first who threw down the gauntlet to the current 
dogma by a trenchant application of the principle of cul- 
tural appraisal was Dr. John R. Swanton. He confined his 
discussion to North American data, and I am not aware of 
a single student in this field who has failed to accept his 
position. Swanton showed conclusively that virtually all 
the ruder Indian cultures lacked the sib scheme: while the 
sib appeared among tribes with a far richer, economic, in- 
dustrial, ceremonial and political equipment. Thus, the 
immense sibless region of northern California, Oregon. 
Washington, Idaho, Nevada. Utah, with all of northwestern 
Canada save a narrow coastal strip and its immediate hin- 
terland, represents uniformly the lowest grade of human 
existence on the continent. The Paviotso roaming over the 
Nevada desert in search of edible roots cannot be compared 
for a moment with the settled Iroquois, Hopi, or Tlingit in 
point of general cultural condition. 

It may be asked why the complete lack of sibs throughout 
so vast an area remained unnoticed for so long a time and 
is still unknown to Morgan's disciples. The reason is an 
astonishingly simple one. Morgan was a New Yorker and 
accordingly commenced his researches among the Iroquois, 
thence proceeding westward through the zone in which the 
sib organisation is dominant. In his time the Indians of 
the Far West were almost completely unknown for ethno- 
graphic purposes, hence his generalization that all North 
American tribes had sibs was pardonable. Had he 1)eguni 
work in Oregon or Idaho, his entire scheme would ore— 
sumabty have been different. But what was excusable ir3 


1877 is no longer so fortv years later : and whik a prema- 
ture oondnsion as a rcsnh of partial ignorance is but a 
venial blot on the master's esctxtchec-n. its tenacious cham- 
pionship today must Might the scientific reputation of the 

But the North American data do not necessarily agree 
with the phenomena observed elsewhere: we must conse- 
quently look for corroboratory testimony in other conti- 
nents. Turning first to the southern half of the Xew 
World, we find that the lowest culture, that of the Fuegians. 
is again characterized b>' the lack of a sib organization. In 
Asia the evidence is especially suggesti\*e. Sihs are tj-pical 
of the Turkic peoples, who possess a highly developed sys- 
tem of stock-raising and are renowned for their skill as 
metallurgists; but they are wanting among the Chukchi 
and Koryak, whose marginal culture has only recently and 
partly embodied the feature of reindeer-breeding and was 
formerly on the level of the seal-hunting Eskimo. The 
Khasi of Assam, horticultural and tinctured with the politi- 
cal notions of a higher ci\nlization. have sibs: not so the 
crude Sakai and Semang hunters of the Malay Peninsula. 
Most convincing of all, the Andaman Islanders of Negrito 
stock, isolated in the Bay of Bengal, untouched by the waves 
of enlightetunent that carried iron and horticulture even 
to the remote Philippines, are devoid of the sib insti- 

Our knowledge of African sociolog>' is still sadly de- 
ficient, but there is no eridence. so far as I am aware, that 
Contravenes my general proposition. Sibs occur in Bantu 
and Sudanese tribes, often in conjunction with complex 
political organizations ; and they are reported from jxistoral 
peoples like the Masai, who probably mingle Haniitic with 
other strains and occupy in many ways a relatively high 
plane. The cruder Hottentot, non-hortiailtural and rep- 
resenting the last dwindling ramification of Old World 
nomadism, apparently lack sibs. At least, the reported 


transmission of the father's name to the daughter and the 
mother's to the son is completely at variance with the uni- 
lateral tracing of descent, by which all the children take 
the name of one of the parents. Finally. I have found no 
mention of sibs in accounts of the still more primitive hunt- 
ers, the Bushmen and Pygmies. 

There remains Australia. In the island continent the 
sib is a widely diffused institution and presumably an old 
one. But this does not involve the admission that it is 
older than the family: for here, as elsewhere, we do not 
find the sib without the family but both institutions side 
by side. Hence the utmost that can be conceded is that in 
Australia the problem of priority remains indeterminate. 
Even were it otherwise, the Australian data would prove 
nothing for the sequence of stages in other regions, for the 
Australian culture is by no means more primitive than that 
of the Paviotso or Andaman Islanders. 

In short, with the one notable exception of the Austral- 
ians the simplest cuhures lack the sib and possess the family, 
and even in Australia there is no evidence that the sib is 
more ancient than its invariable concomitant. 

But here we are once more confronted by a hostile ob- 
jection. What if the trilies enumerated as sibless are really 
organized into sibs that have merely escaped observation? 
To the field-worker the suggestion savors of the closet. 
There is nothing especially recondite about a sib organiza- 
tion; where it exists it penetrates the social life to such 
an extent that an inquirer is bound to stumble across it at 
every corner. An intelligent visitor cannot spend many 
weeks with people like the Crow or Hopi and fail to note 
the presence of hereditary and unilateral divisions. When, 
therefore, prolonged inquiry fails to elicit a trace of such 
institutions, the only permissible inference is that they are 
not there. This conclusion attains practically absolute cer- 
tainty when corroborated by a number of independent in- 
vestigators. Thus, the Northern Athabaskans have been 


visited l^ Sannid Hcarne — an incomparaWe observer — and 
among^ modem students by Drs, P. K. Goddard. Frank Ras- 
5cU. J. .\- Mason, and the present writer; yet not one of 
them has recorded an>lhing resembling a sibi 

But it may be urged that failure to note a sib sj-stcm is 
no imputation on the recorder's intelligence, that tlie sj-stem 
may escape detection simply because it is no longer there, 
ha%'ing been destroj-ed by the impact of civilization. This 
argument, too, smells of the study-lamp. It assumes gra- 
tuitously that sibs have a tendency to pass out of existence 
readily upon contact with Caucasian ideas. But this docs 
not hold true. The Hopi came into contact with the Span- 
iards in 1540 but they arc still organized into molher-sibs: 
so the old social system of the Iroquois has weathered 
French. English and American influence in the heart of 
New York State; so the handful of survix-ing Mamlan of 
North Dakota preserve a knowledge of their sibs and the 
old matrilineal tradition. Califomian data are likewise il- 
luminating. The same observers have found sibs in one 
region and failed to find iheni in others, so that here at 
least personal bias is barred. Moreover, it is not at all 
true that the tribes recorded as siblcss have lost all cog- 
nizance of ancient custom. The Hupa still maintained the 
curious division of the sexes by which husbands never slept 
in their wives' houses in the winter : and the Maidu of 
twenty years ago still had a great deal to say about cere- 
monies and their secret society. On the assumption that all 
Califomian peoples formerly shared a sib system, the pres- 
ent limitation of that system to certain regions of central 
and southern California is not at all clear. Why such nice 
adherence to geographical continuity when modem condi- 
tions are supposed to usher in a period of chaos? On the 
contrary alternative, however, we can readily conceive the 
more southern Calif ornians as the extreme outposts of the 
highly elaborate social structure distinguishing the native 
tribes of New Mexico and Arizona; or we can assume a 



local development of sibs in California that has spread only 
to a moderate extent. 

The position that cases of lacking sibs are not due to 
recent disintegration of native custom can be rendered im- 
pregnable with the aid of the heavy artillery of kinship 
nomenclatures. As an empirical result there has been de- 
termined a correlation between the sib organization and the 
Dakota type of kinship terminology, — that which distin- 
guishes maternal and paternal relatives in the parents' gen- 
eration but merges kindred regardless of degree of relation- 
ship. It has been pointed out that in different regions there 
is a tendency for the Dakota classification to become even 
more inclusive so that relatives are grouped regardless of 
anything but generation. This fact is favorable to the 
theory I am now attacking. Thus. Dr. Rivers thinks that 
in Oceania the Polynesians once possessed the sib organiza- 
tion and the Dakota system still found in many parts of 
Melanesia, and that these features gave way to a sibless or- 
ganization with a Hawaiian nomenclature. Accordingly 
the Hawaiian terminology, though not consistent with a sib 
institution, might be interpreted on the hypothesis that a 
sib organization once existed in the tribe under consider- 
ation; and naturally this view will suggest itself also when 
a sibless tribe is found with a Dakota nomenclature. It is 
not by any means a stringent demonstration of the former 
existence of sibs since there are alternative explanations, — 
the terminology' may have lieen borrowed, or it may be due 
to other social causes (p. 37I. Nevertheless the argument 
has the semblance of plausibility. 

But what recourse is left to the disciple of Morgan where 
the terminology, instead of merging collateral and Uneal 
kin, carefully discriminates the parent from the parent's 
sibling? Such a result is exactly what we should expect 
from a family organization, in which the father and mother 
would take an exceptional position sharply differentiated 
from that of more remote kin. Here there can be no ques- | 


tkm of recent breakdovrn of axxncnt cnstom or of innova* 
tioo doe to white inflaeiice. For it is one of the cardinal 
doctrines of l^Iorgan's philosophy that kinship teims are 
more staUe than the social fabric in which they originated 
and may persist for ages after it is rent asunder. Hence 
if the kin^ip terminology linked \inth a sibless organization 
yields no evidence of former sibs, then there is not the 
slightest reason for assuming that the tribe was ever organ- 
ized into sibs since ex hypothesi the terminology* would van- 
ish later than the correlated social structure. 

I am not urging this point in order to gain a dialectic 
victory. For in this matter I am of opinion that Morgan 
was on the right track. Kinship terms represent a linguistic 
phenomenon, and language is notoriously conservative. We 
speak of the setting of the sun, though we no longer belie>'e 
that he moves round the earth. The impact of new condi- 
tions may vitally transform and e\-en shatter aboriginal 
society without ruffling the traditional mode of addressing 
relatives. A colonial administrator or Indian agent will 
abrogate human sacrifices and impose impro\-ed methotis 
of tillage, but he is not interested whether his wards have 
one word or a dozen for the father and the paternal uncle. 
Accordingly, the distinction of lineal and collateral kin 
would fortify the evidence of observers as to the absence 
of a sib institution. 

Turning now to the concrete data, we find repeated reali- 
zation of the condition suggested above as merely hj'potheti- 
cal. In California, among various Salish and Shoshonean 
peoples, and in Eskimo territory, we encounter relationship 
systems differentiating the lineal and collateral kin. Out- 
side of America there are the Andaman Islanders, the 
Chukchi and Koryak. In all these instances, then, which 
could doubtless be multiplied were relevant data on sibless 
tribes more abundant, the recorded absence of the sib re- 
ceives the stamp of finality. The dogma of the universality 
of the sib in primitive communities thus lies shattered. 


There is still another hne of argumentation that may be 
advanced on behalf of the view that is here set forth. In 
consonance with the important role which names assume in 
savage thought the inclusiveness of primitive kinship terms 
is usually far more than a mere matter of terminology: like 
designations involve like social relations. It is a miscon- 
struction of this fact that has often favored the mistaken 
notion that the individual family and individual relationship 
were non-existent where there were a dozen 'fathers' and 
'mothers,' scores of siblings, and so forth. The error lay 
in assuming that in this connection likeness meant identity. 
But we have already found that in various contingencies it 
is the closest relative of the appropriate class that takes 
precedence. By the provisions of the levirate an own 
brother inherits the deceased man's widow, other kinsmen 
being merely substitutes. Cross-cousin marriage in the 
best-recorded cases means marriage primarily with the real 
mother's own brother's daughter or with the father's own 
sister's daughter. Among the Crow Indians all men called 
brother-in-law are entitled to a peculiar form of respect : 
but in this regard the real brother-in-law enjoys an unchal- 
lenged preeminence. Considering the wide dissemination 
of the sib concept in Australia, it is especially gratifying to 
find these results so emphatically corroborated by the most 
competent of Australian investigators. Mr. Brown, too, 
finds that while social functions are the same in kind, as 
he happily puts it, they are not the same in degree; and the 
difference in degree varies with the degree of propinquity. 
In short, it is the relations of the narrow family circle that 
are primary, and there has simply l>een a secondary exten- 
sion in attenuated form to wider and wider circles of real 
and putative kin. The Australian phenomena, whose import 
has hitherto been left indeterminate, thus fall in line with 
the data from other regions. In Australia, as elsewhere, 
the family is basic and primary, the sib relatively unessen- 
tial and a secondary development. Th? reversal of the 

(traditional sequence 
modem ethnology.' 



one of the safest conclusions of 

Origin of the Sib 


How. then, did the sib originate on the basis of the 
earlier family concept? In setting out to answer this query 
we must recollect what the sib really is. The sib is a group 
of selected kin. and the problem is whence comes the prin- 
ciple of selection. Why are certain relatives put together 
to form a social unit to the exclusion of other kin? In at- 
tempting a solution we must scrutinize the social conditions 
found among sibless tribes in the hope of detecting factors 
favorable to the development of the unilateral principle; 
and we must also examine the correlates of sib organiza- 
tions in search of agencies that may have produced them 
and tend to maintain them in operation. In my opinion / 
the transmission of property rights and the mode of resi- / 
dence after marriage have been the most effective means/ 
of establishing the principle of unilateral descent, and If 
will endeavor to show how they might originate both a 
patrilineal and a matrilineal community. 

Let us recall once more the data from the Hupa (p. 70). 
With them residence is patrilocal but not quite definitely so. 
That is to say. in the majority of cases the paternal grand- 
father, father, son and son's son of a man are natives and 
occupants of the same village, taking their wives from 
without. In other words, the Hupa system actually unites 
by residence those male relatives who are united in a father- 
Mb. We have here the germ out of which a father-sib 
"might readily develop. Only two modifications are re- 

isile. The patrilocal rule must be made stringent, so that 
family shall follow the same principle of segregation; 
and secondly, there must be a means of fixing the affiliation 
of the female no less than of the male members of a family. 
Xh? latter end is most readily effected by the use of 9 


of kimh c d mUdi approximates that of the diaracte ri st k 

The cxplaiialioa offered for the segregation of patrilineal 
kin may in o u ric sp oodii^ fashion be applied to the assem- 
blage of matrilineal kin. In this oc^nnection Tylor has 
abeady m^ged the importance of matrilocal residence, Ob- 
vionshr. whenever the bridegroom comes to reside per- 
mancnthr in die honse of his parents-in-law. the children 
will as a matter of course be associated with his wife's 
radier than with his people. It has been shown that this 
is the natural correlate of anomalous matrilocal unions 
even among a predominantly patrilocal tribe like the Hupa. 
But the influence of matrilocal residence appears most 
clearly in such cases as those of the Hopi and Zuni. where 
there is not merely matrilocal residence but hereditary 
transmission of the house from mother to daughter. 
Grandmother, mother, and daughters are thus united into 
the core of a social unit, and all children bom in the house 
are naturally linked with this permanent group. 

But aldiough matrilocal residence in this form adequately 
accounts for the evolution of a matrilineal kinship group, 
there are two serious obstacles to this interpretation as a 
general theorj-. For one thing, not a few matrilineal peo- 
ples are patrilocal. This is true of the Australians and 
Melanesians, and also of some African and .\merican 
tribes. Of course, it is possible to prop up the hj-pothesis 
with the auxiliar}^ assumption that all matrilineal peoples 
were formerly matrilocal but that would be idle conjecture. 
Secondly, matrilocal residence is often not a permanent 
condition. If at the expiration of a year or so the young 
couple set up house for themselves, what motive is there 
for affiliating the issue, or at least the issue after the first 
child, with the mother's kin rather than with the father's? 

It is therefore desirable to supplement the factor of matri- 
local residence and female house ownership with some ad- 
ditional factor that might effect a similar alignment of 

nre may csiaDiisn a prop 
scend from mothers to daughters, and i 
lineal set of female kin is defined. T} 
which formerly prevailed with the Hida 
were jointly tilled by a woman, her da' 
daughters, and where the title descend* 
The female descendants of sisters were t 
by common property rights and assoc 
activities. Had there been a corresponc 
patrilineal kin, say through descent of 
as among Dr. Speck's Algonkian tribes, 
the patrilineal principle would have su 
clash of systems would have prevented : 
descent from originating. But among 
were no individual hunting prerogatives 
sons and the residence rules were neithe 
nor matrilocal. Hence there was no p 
to counterbalance the active matrihneal 
the garden-owners formed the most defi 
natural for any child to have its affiliati( 
birth by reference to the garden group 
thus developed matrilineal descent and t 
It may be asked how successive gene 
I could be united in a palrilocal group. 


lowed a girl to go to her husband's house but hardly ever 
to another settlement, and in many other instances the 
majority of marriages were between members of the same 
local group. Hence, though the domiciharj- arrangements 
in such cases must react on the family life, as pointed out 
in a previous chapter, they would not affect the segregation 
of matrilineal or patrilineal kindred in the manner sug- 
gested. A Kai woman, though living in a different house 
from her daughters and granddaughters, has no difficulty 
in associating with them in her daily emplojinents since 
they are all residents of one village. 

The succession of events outlined for the Hidatsa must 
not of course be taken to represent a verified historical fact 
but only an interpretation, which, however, seems to me to 
enjoy a high degree of probability and to merit examina- 
tion wherever there are matrilineal tribes in which women 
perform the work of husbandry. Even in other cases simi- 
lar considerations apply. The Australians are patrilocal 
and at least often in the sense that a wife removes to her 
husband's band. While her husband roams over the band 
territory to hunt, she gathers vegetable food within the 
same district. Now in a part of Queensland she is recog- 
nized as individual proprietor of certain patches of planf; 
and transmits her prerogative to her daughters. If, as 
sometimes happens in Australia, the men had only com- 
munal rights over the territory while the women established 
individual ownership over definite sections, we should have 
a. condition favoring matrilineal descent among a patrilocal 

From the point of view here assumed it is intelligible. 
why a considerable number of tribes should lack a sib sys- 1 
tern since unilateral reckoning of kinship is found to de- V 
pend on certain special usages, such as a definite rule of 1 
residence, which are common but not universal : and fur- I 
ther because there may be a conflict of mutually exclusive *■ 
unilateral principles, yielding the palm to neither. On the 


other hand, the frequency of the sib institution seems 
roughly to correspond to the wide distribution of the causes 
here reckoned with. Finally, the muhiple origin of the 
sib, which was pre\-iously suggested on other grounds, is 
rendered still more likely if underlying the sib are phenom- 
ena such as the residence rule or inheritance law. For in 
these rules lay the possibility for an indefinite number of 
independent developments of patrilineal and matrihneal 

The Sib and the Dakota Terminology 

As noted previously, the empirical correlation between 
an exogamous sib system and the Dakota terminology is 
sometimes interpreted in causa! terms: the sib is repre- 
sented as producing the characteristic grouping of kin. 
There can be little doubt that when a sib organization is 
once firmly established it will react upon the method of 
designating relatives: all persons of one's generation and 
sib will be reckoned siblings, all males in the father's sib 
are addressed as father, and so forth. But what is true 
of the sib scheme in full swing cannot possibly be true of 
the nascent sib. For that is simply a peculiar alignment of 
kindred : and if it coincides with the Dakota system of align- 
ment, the relation between the two is one of identity, not 
of cause and effect. Consequently, if we desire to under- 
stand that alignment we must not rest content with uttering 
the word 'sib' as though it were some peculiarly illumi- 
nating abracadabra, but must penetrate beyond the concept 
it represents. In the preceding section I have shown how 
under some conditions a father and his brothers with all 
their sons and sons' sons may be segregated into a definite 
social group; and how under other conditions there may 
arise a corresponding assemblage of a mother and her sis- 
ters with all their daughters and daughters' daughters. But 
for alt I have said a father and his brothers, while members 

oi the same social group, might be discrimiiuted in desig- 
nation. — a verj- rare occurrence among tribes dirided into 
sibs. Hence it is desirable to show how this and come- 
spooding classificaiioos of kin came into being. 

First of all. it may be worth while to point out that a 
separation of paternal and maternal kin is just as natural 
for a family as for a sib system. The mother's brother, 
e.g., is as decidedly the representativ-e of a different social 
group from the paternal uncle's in one case as in the other. 
We find accordingly that this distinaion is clearly drawn 
b>' a number of sibless tribes. WTiere their nomenclature 
often differs from the Dakota pattern is in maintaining the 
distinction between father and paternal uncle, mother and 
maternal aunt. If we can show how this distinction may 
vanish, we show how the sib-mates not merely becc«ne 
united into a group but how they come to assume the 
mutual relations so characteristic of a sib organization. 

I am of the opinion that the levirate and the sororate are 
older institutions than the sib and that by their joint action ' 
they can produce and often have produced that very classi- 
fication of relatives characteristic of the sib and following 
the Dakota pattern. That they veritably can effect this 
result, has already been explained: but the chronological 
sequence I am postulating demands proof. For it would 
be possible to suppose that levirate and sororate are the 
consequence rather than the cause of the sib: that funda- 
mentally any fellow-member took the place of a deceased 
spouse, the brother and sister functioning not by virtue of 
their family relationship but only as sib-mates. But in 
the first place this assumption is refuted by the known facts 
concerning the levirate and sororate, These rules, as in- 
dicated above, apply primarily to the real brother or sister. 
Their precedence is unchallenged among sib-members, who 
are only substitutes for own siblings. Secondly, the dis- 
_tribution of the levirate and sororate is far wider than the 
istribution of the sib, and what is more they occur among 


not a few of the sibless tribes of ruder culture. This fact 
not only suggests their relative priority but also explains 
why some sibless tribes share the Dakota terminology of 
the tribes with sibs. If that nomenclature, though con- 
sonant with the sib institution, is not its product but the 
result of older marriage customs, then where these custcwns 
exist the terminology may also arise, whether the sib co- 
exists or not. 

My theory does not involve the dogma that all Dakota 
terminologies are the result of these two forms of mar- 
riage. In special cases quite different principles of inter- 
pretation are admissible and indeed necessary. For ex- 
ample, the Hopi practise neither the sororate nor the levi- 
rate, yet they have both the sib institution and an interesting 
variant of the Dakota kinship nomenclature, characterized 
by the frequent overriding of the difference of generation. 
Thus, a father's sister's son is not distinguished from the 
father, and the father's sister's daughter and her daughter's 
daughter are classed with the father's sister. But these 
deviations from the Dakota norm and the norm itself are 
deducible from those antecedent conditions of Hopi life 
that gave rise to the sib. Matrilocal residence and the fe- 
male tenure of dwellings amply account for the phenomena. 
The father's sister's son comes from the same house as the 
father; the father's brothers are one and all original in- 
mates of the same household. Similarly, all sisters are 
house-mates; and so are the father's sister, her daughters, 
and their female descendants through females. The ter- 

I minological equations of the Hopi are thus based on com- 
mon tenancy and are intelligible without the levirate and 

' sororate. The principal point is that in every case we must 
look for some correlated usage, whether it be a rule of 
marriage or of residence, that may have consummated the 
observed nomenclature so far as it is at all dependent on 
social custom, 

There is an important point that becomes intelligible 

I ^^ 



in the light of the principles expounded above. It can be 
readily understood why marriage between parallel cousins 
should frequently be tabooed. Given the classification of 
fathers' brothers with fathers and of mothers' sisters with 
mothers, parallel cousins logically call one another siblings 
and with primitive exaggeration of the meaning of names 
they generally eschew intermarriage. But except in a 
dual division of society only half of the parallel cousins 
are prevented from marrying by the rule of the sib. As 
Morgan clearly showed, in a matrihneal society only the 
children of sisters belong necessarily to the same unit, yet 
all parallel cousins are called siblings. This indicates that 
after the levirate and sororate or other conditions had 
brought about the kinship nomenclature found with sib or- 
ganizations there must have been a sifting of parallel cous- 
ins by which only half of them were segregated to form 
part of the sib. But this process has already been explained 
in the discussion of the origin of the sib. The Amazons 
case is typical : by patrilocal residence there is a dichotomy 
of parallel cousins, the children of brothers are united in 
one house, those of sisters are not. Here we even find the 
marriage rules profoundly affected by the fact of physical 
contiguity; brothers' children may not marry, while those 
of sisters may. However, whether this effect be produced 
or not. the separation of parallel cousins into two groups 
of sib-mates and memlwrs of different sibs. respectively, is 
abundantly accounted for by the Hupa, Northeast Algon- 
kian, and Pueblo phenomena. 

To sum up. The sib grows out of the older family by a 
number of processes that naturally lead to the characteristic 
classification and unilateral segregation of kin. The as- 
sociated Dakota nomenclature is probably in large measure 
due to the prior action of the levirate and sororate. But 
this would not suffice to produce the differentiation of par- 
allel cousins that accompanies a multiple sib organization. 
This does, however, naturally result from those facts of 

residence and transmission of property rights which estab- 
lish unilateral lines of kin,' 



There is still another historical problem of the utmost 
theoretical importance to be considered. What is the chro- 
nological relationship between raatrilineal and patrilineal 
descent? A number of abstract possibilities suggest them- 
selves. Mother-sibs may have grown out of father-sJbs or 
vice versa; either type of sib may be of later origin than 
the other without developing from the earlier form ; or 
there may be no regular sequence whatsoever. 

This last possibility is one naturally repugnant to those 
who seek the establishment of sociological laws; and ac- 
cordingly Morgan and his followers postulate an invariable 
order of development. According to them, the archaic sib 
was necessarily always matrilineal because marriage be- 
tween single pairs was unknown in ancient times, rendering 
paternity doubtful. Affiliation was thus with the mother's 
group and such property as existed was transmitted within 
the maternal sib. from brother to brother or from maternal 
uncle to sister's son, but never from father to son. But 
with the increase of property a natural antagonism arose 
against this form of inheritance that excluded the owner's 
children from the legacy, and this motive together with the 
increasing certainty of fatherhood sufficed to overthrow 
matrilineal descent and to establish the father-sib. It is 
an essentia] part of this theory not merely to assume that 
matrilineal passes Into patrilineal descent but that all father- 
sibs without exception have grown out of mother-sibs. For 
example, the historic genos of the Greeks and the gens of 
the Romans were patrilineal : but applying the principle of 
uniform chronological succession. Morgan infers that these 
institutions were anciently mother-sibs. 

Everyone of the basic points in this line of argumentation 



may be dismissed as contrary to ethnological evidence. In 
the first place, marriage between single pairs is not absent 
but common among the simplest tribes and no ground what- 
soever exists for assuming a condition of ancient promis- 
cuity. Indeed, on the very lowest cultural plane we 
frequently encounter matrimonial relations that would be 
rated exemplary by a mid-Victorian moralist. Among the 
Andaman Islanders "conjugal fidelity till death is not the 
exception, but the rule" and corresponding reports are ex- 
tant for otiier extremely rude tribes. But even were pa- 
ternity doubtful, it would prove nothing as to the necessity 
of matrilineal descent. Biological paternity is one thing, 
sociological fatherhood another. The polyandrous Toda 
do not trouble themselves about the former but establish 
the latter by a purely conventional rite (p. 47). Where 
adoption plays the part it does in the Andamans and Torres 
Straits Islands, biological paternity counts for little and 
the foster-father fulfills all the obligations of a progenitor. 
The connection between sexual intercourse and conception 
is, according to competent authority, unknown to various 
Australian groups, yet at least some of these are patrilineal 
like the Toda and Torres Straits Islanders. 

Further, some correlation assuredly exists between the 
rule of inheritance and the rule of descent, as follows from 
the part the transmission of property played In establishing 
a unilateral group of kin. But this correlation is 3 partial 
oae. On the whole it is more likely that matrilineal not 
Blial inheritance will be found in a matrilineal society, and 
6IiaI succession with paternal descent ; but the exceptions 
are too numerous to be ignored. There are matronymic 
tribes like the Crow and Hidatsa. where some kinds of 
pr<^rty are transmitted matrilineally. others patrilineally; 
there are patronymic tribes like the Warramunga among 
whom the legacy goes to the maternal uncles and daugh- 
ters' husbands of the deceased, i.e., to his mother's moiety, 
not his own. These data can of course be twisted into 

1 Diagc-Hi 

ramunga are in a nascent stage of ma 

Finally, what evidence is there that the 
prc^rty may cause not merely the establi 
lineal descent substituted for a sibless or 
myself have contended, but the change fro 
patrilineal descent? The possibiHty exists 
number of historically known cases show 
automatic necessity. For example, the Nai 
AriztHia profited by the introduction of 
Southwest some time in the seventeenth c 
develop into a prosperous pastoral people, 
their thriving flocks, tended by the men, the; 
obstinately matrilineal. Similarly, the intr 
horse surely revolutionized the property ' 
Hidatsa and Crow, but they still reckon ■ 
the mother, and it was not a spontaneou 
Government edicts that effected patriline 
of real estate when I first visited the lattei 
the possessions of some primitive tribes are 
Morgan himself shrank from attributing 
descent to the father's sohcitude for his ■ 
mony and invoked the power of recent Cauc 

Hr.tvf-vpr tin's. -t^'^.. .-^^^.^ r-^-i- -■ ■■ 

In short, Morgan's theory is untenable from various 
points of view. For its demolition it suffices to show that, 
,L> among the Crow and Hidatsa. it is quite feasible to 
transmit certain kinds of property from father to son with- 
out any change of descent. 

Nevertheless to refute Morgan's scheme is not yet to 
refute the sequence it is meant to establish. His conclu- 
sions might be right for all the wcEikness of his evidence; 
and other arguments must be subjected to examination. 

In an article that remains one of the classics of anthropo- A 
logical literature Tylor, among other things, essayed to 
show that patrilineal tribes had passed through a matri- 
lineal stage. Advancing what he himself designated as a 
geological argument, he maintained that "the institutions 
of man are as distinctly stratified as the earth on which he 
lives. They succeed each other in series substantially uni- 
form over the globe, independent of what seem the com- 
paratively superficial differences of race and language, but 
shaped by similar human nature acting through successively 
changed conditions in savage, barbaric, and civilized life." 
TTiis principle he applies to the case under discussion. 

Tylor begins by postulating three layers corresponding 
respectively to the maternal, the maternal-paternal and the 
paternal system. In the first "descent ... is reckoned 
from the mother; authority is mainly on her side, the 
mother's brother being habitually guardian of the children : 
succession to rank and office, and inheritance of property, 
follow the same line passing to the brother or to the sister's 
son." In the paternal stage "descent is from the father; 
he has the power over wife and children; succession and 
inheritance are from him to his offspring." Connecting 
these two there is a "transitional stage in which their char- 
acteristics are variously combined." Tylor cautiously 
admits the vagueness of the classification and at the same 
time boldly proceeds to build upon it as though it provided 
a firm foundation for historical inference. Before ex- 


potinding his argument it will be well to regard this point 
somewhat more closely. 

From a logical point of view Tyler's classification is im- 
peccable. The question is merely whether historical veri- 
ties correspond to his logical categories, and this can only 
be admitted with such qualifications as to render the whole 
scheme of little value. Tylor, it should be noted, substitutes 
for the simple, unmistakable, discrete difference between 
matrilineal and patrilineal descent the complex, admittedly 
vague and fluctuating difference between a matrilineal and 
a patrilineal complex. He assumes, that is to say. that 
inevitably or at least usually linked with the rule of descent 
there are certain correlated customs, all of which jointly 
form an organic whole; and where only some of the fea- 
tures occur, he postulates an intermediate condition. Now 
it may be admitted that there are some instances of peoples 
with a genuinely paternal system, e.g., the ancient Romans 
and the Chinese. But by far the majority of the known 
peoples of the world are clearly in what Tylor calls the 
maternal-paternal stage, as might be expected from the co- 
existence of the bilateral family with the unilateral sib 
unit. The Khasi father is respected even during his tem- 
porary residence in his wife's household and later gains an 
undisputed ascendancy: the Tsimshian father is found 
actively promoting his son's interests regardless of matri- 
lineal descent; the Pueblo father is recognized as the pro- 
vider, and it is his kin that bestow a name on his child, 
reflecting their and not the child's sib affiliation. Yet these 
are extreme cases of 'maternal' status ; a fortiori we may 
infer that virtually no purely maternal tribes exist. 

There is another and even more fundamental question 
that obtrudes itself. How does Tylor derive his matrilineal 
complex? Is it an empirical fact that the phenomena he 
cites as characteristic of maternal societies are regularly 
united or is this merely a logical deduction, plausible but 
not based on the concrete data? The truth is that both 


motives are at work. There ari' some tribes in which, say, 
avuncular authority is linked with matrihneal descent, and 
from the point of view of abstract logic this seems in har- 
mony with the eternal fitness of things. Accordingly these 
particular tribes arc selected as maternal trilies par excel- 
lence, as norms of what a self-respecting matrilineal tribe 
should be. But, as I have shown elsewhere, this is an inad- 
missible procedure. When matrilineal descent was first., 
discovered l>y Bachofen, it seemed very plausible that such I 
a usage imphed the former sovereignty of the female sex, I 
yet this notion is now gracing the refuse heaps of anthrop-l 
^ olog^cal science. Consequently we must not reiy too much 

on abstract probability: if we desire to determine whether, \ 
' or to what extent, the avunculate and matrilineal descent '1 
. cohere, we must take either custom as the pivotal one and 
I ascertain to what extent the other occurs in conjunction 
I Tfvith it. But such an investigation is fatal to the assump- I 
I tion that the avunculate is a safe criterion of matrilineal ' 
I descent: first, Ijecausc there are matrilineal tribes without 
I the custom; secondly, because there are patrilineal tribes 
I which practise it. 

It has been customary on the part of the older school of 
anthropologists to treat all of the second group of cases as 
survivals from a prior matrilineal condition; and recently 
Dr. Hartland has again advocated this interpretation with 
much skill and learning. Adherents of this view thus con- 
I vert what at first seems a fatal objection into an argument 
favorable to their theory. Of course, they will say, the 
Omaha are patrilineal now ; but their having the avunculate 
proves that they once traced descent through the mother, 
for on no other hypothesis can such a usage he explained. 
It is this last assumption that delivers them into their op- 
ponents' hands, for the avunculate can be readily conceived, 
' as due to other than matrilineal conditions. First of all, wel 
, have to reckon with the possibility of diffusion. Grant that 
I the avunculate arises naturally in conjunction with a matri- 


^Vfi^^mssi tatiisranS 
Mr. liTTwm'i 

iSBIplT' « ^pedficty^of k 


motives are at work. There are some tribes in which, say, 
avuncular authority is linked with matrilineal descent, and 
from the point of view of abstract logic this seems in har- 
mony with the eternal fitness of things. Accordingly these 
particular tribes are selected as maternal tribes par excel- 
lence, as norms of what a self-respecting matrilineal tribe 
should be. But, as I have shown elsewhere, this is an inad- 
missible procedure. When matrilineal descent was firstA 
discovered by Bachofen, it seemed very plausible that sucn 
a usage implied the former sovereignty of the female sex, 
yet this notion is now g^racing the refuse heaps of anthrop-l 
ological science. Consequently we must not rely too much 
on abstract probability; if we desire to determine whether, \ 
or to what extent, the avunculate and matrilineal descent 
cohere, we must take either custom as the pivotal one and 
ascertain to what extent the other occurs in conjunction 
with it. But such an investigation is fatal to the assump- 
tion that the avunculate is a safe criterion of matrilineal I 
descent: first, because there are matrilineal tribes without 
the custom; secondly, because there are patrilineal tribes 
which practise it. 

It has been customary on the part of the older school of 
anthropologists to treat all of the second group of cases as 
survivals from a prior matrilineal condition; and recently 
Dr. Hartland has again advocated this interpretation with 
much skill and learning. Adherents of this view thus con- 
vert what at first seems a fatal objection into an argument 
favorable to their theory. Of course, they will say. the 
Omaha are patrilineal now ; but their having the avunculate 
proves that they once traced descent through the mother, 
for on no other hypothesis can such a usage \ye explained. 
It is this last assumption that delivers them into their op- 
ponents' hands, for the avunculate can be readily conceived 
as due to other than matrilineal conditions. First of all. weji 
have to reckon with the possibility of diffusion. Grant that 
the avunculate arises naturally in conjunction with a matri- 



though possibly in lesser degree. They, too, cannot be re- 
garded as absolutely correlated with the rule of descent 
when we find on the one hand patrilineal tribes recognizing 
the rights of the sister's son and on the other side matri- 
lineal tribes in which, as at Buin, office is inherited in the 
male line, or where as among the Crow some kinds of 
property are transmitted from father to son. In short, the 
classification into maternal, maternal-paternal and paternal 
systems, while not devoid of an empirical foundation, rep- 
resents far more nearly a series of abstract logical possi- 
bilities than the normal actualities of primitive society. 

But let us return to Tylor's geological argument. Apply- 
ing his triple stratification, he collates with these layers cer- 
tain primitive usages and draws from their presence in 
some and absence in others the far-reaching conclusion of 
matrilineal priority. Two examples will suffice to explain 
his method. Tylor finds that the levirate occurs in all three 
of his strata, but in tlie maternal-paternal a new feature is 
superadded, viz. the son's inheritance of widows except for 
his own mother. That is, filial widow-inheritance as an 
accompaniment of the levirate is limited to the mixed and 
the purely paternal stratum. Hence, argues Tylor, the 
maternal must have preceded both, for otherwise there 
would be found vestiges of filial succession in the maternal 
layer. Another custom to which the same argument is 
applied is the couvade, — the strange fashion observed in 
scMne countries of confining the father rather than the 
mother on the birth of a child and subjecting him to a 
series of rigorous taboos in order to safeguard the infant's 
welfare. The couvade, also, fails to appear in the maternal 
layer : it is most strongly developed in the matemal- 
patemal, and dwindles considerably in the paternal. From 
this distribution Tylor draws a conclusion identical with 
that based on the previous case. Summing up, he writes: 
"Jnst as the forms of life, and even the actual fossils of 
the CarbcHiiferous formation, may be traced on into the 


Permian, biit Permian types and fossils are absent from 
the Carboniferous strata formed before they came into 
existence, so here widow-inheritance and couvade, which, 
if the maternal system had been later than the paternal, 
would have lasted on into it, prove by their absence, the 
priority of the maternal." 

It is hardly unfair to object that for an adequate proof 
of Tylor's proposition a somewhat wider basis for induc- 
tion would have been desirable. The inheritance of widows 
and the couvade are only two of an indefinite number of 
usages that mi^ht be selected to test the theoretical se- 
quence, and what warrant is there that other features 
■would not yield contradictory results? But this considera- 
tion may be waived in favor of another. What, after all. 
are Tylor's immediate data? Not a chronological succes- 
sion, not a stratification in the sense of the geologist's ob- 
served superimposition of layers, but merely a positive and 
a negative correlation. The paternal features are linked 
■with filial widow-inheritance or the couvade; the maternal 
are not. Direct observation does not extend beyond the 
perception of a simultaneous relationship. The dwindling 
(jf the couvade in the purely paternal stage might be taken 
as direct indication of the course of social evolution, but 
erroneously so. If the couvade is more common in the 
intermediate status, this directly suggests no more than that 
certain features of the full paternal system tend to coun- 
teract the influence of certain other paternal features that 
favored the evolution of the custom. There are func- 
tional relations between the phenomena but nowhere is 
a chronological order to be discerned. That order is in- 
ted only if we accept as an axiom Tylor's and Mor- 
's belief in uniform laws of social evolution. Only on 
,t assumption is every difference at once invested with a 
sequential significance. Obviously if all peoples pass 
through the same stages, then a matrilineal people has 
either left the patrilineal stage behind, or is developing 





toward it. Tylor's evidence thus merely tends to demon- 
strate that if there be a definite sequence the matrilineal stage 
is the earlier one. 

Now in regard to this basic postulate we may first urge 
Maitland's caution that the extensive spread of cultural 
traits by borrowing is bound to play havoc with any hypo- 
thetical tendency of communities to traverse certain stages 
in fixed succession. Under a powerful alien influence a 
people with cultural elements naturally promoting the evo- 
lution of patrilineal descent may be led to adopt matrilineal 
descent: and vice versa. A number of striking ethno- 
graphic instances lie at hand. By far the majority of the 
Northern Athabaskan tribes are sibless, but so far as au- 
thority and inheritance go they conform to Tylor's pater- 
nal pattern. However, those Athabaskans in immediate 
itiguity to the coastal tribes have modeled their organi- 
I zation on their neighbors', borrowing the rule of matri- 
lineal descent. The Hopi are known to be of the same 
linguistic stock as the Shoshoneans of Utah and Nevada, 
all of whom are sibless and all of whom lack even the 
germs of a matrilineal scheme. Accordingly, the ances- 
tors of the present Hopi probably derived their present 
organization by borrowing either matrilineal descent or the 
conditions favoring it from their predecessors in the South- 
west. The Gros Ventre as a recent and numerically weak 
offshoot of the sibless Arapaho came into contact with the 
Blackfoot and by assimilation and further development of 
Biackfoot ideas evolved father-sibs. Thus foreign influ- 
ences will sometimes produce a change from sibless to 
matrilineal and in others from sibless to patrilineal status 
without either condition being antecedent to the other. The 
history of a people's social organization will vary with its 
intertribal relations. 

The suggestions made as to the origin of sibs likewise 
indicate that apart from borrowing either matrilineal or 
patrilineal sibs may evolve directly from a sibless condition. 





This view obviates a serious difficulty, viz., that of account- 
ing for the hypothetical change from one rule of descent 
to the other. As already shown, Morgan himself balked 
at applying the property principle to tribes among which 
property is infinitesimal. Moreover, it is not easy to see 
why a traditionally sanctioned inheritance rule should sud- 
denly rouse antagonism, especially since a man is as likely 
to benefit as to suffer by inheriting from a maternal uncle 
rather than from his father. If certain Algonkian tribes"! 
actually developed patriHneal sibs from the patrilineal trans- 
mission of hunting-prerogatives, while the Zimi evolved! 
mother-sibs from the mode of matrilocal residence with! 
feminine house-tenancy, the difficulty vanishes since neither! 
rule of descent then appears as a necessary antecedent of' 
the other. I am strongly of opinion that in a large num- 
ber of cases, whether through borrowing or spontaneous 
evolution, both mother-sibs and father-sibs have gjrown 
directly out of a sibless organization. 

Siberia is now so well known that it supplies an ideal 
field for the testing of any sociological doctrines. What, 
then, does this region suggest as to the history of sib or- 
ganization? It is remarkable that throughout this vast 
area there is not a single tribe that is matrilineally organ- 
ized. The Chukchi and Koryak, who represent the simplest 
culture, are sibless: so far as inheritance rules may be 
taken as indicative of potential development in either direc- 
tion, they suggest the germs of a paternal organization. 
We may assume that the introduction of reindeer as a 
H highly prized form of property strengthened the importance 
^B of patrilineal kin but this was not carried to the creation 
^K of definite father-sibs. The history of Chukchi and Kon^ak 
^ft society is thus an extremely simple one. representing 
^H throughout a sibless status with paternal bias. 
^H At the other end of the cultural scale in Siberia are 
^H peoples like the Kirgiz and Yakut, expert cattle and horse- 
^Bltreeders distinguished for their metallurgic skill. These 




tribes, like the Tungus, Ostyak and Sanioyed, are organ- 
ized into definite exogainous paternal sibs. Furthermore 
we find among all these populations the functionally related 
customs of clear-cut bride-purchase and patrilocal resi- 
dence, further correlated with extremely uniform treat- 
ment of women, who are everywhere regarded as inferior. 
That this complex should have developed over and over 
again in a continuous area is unthinkable. In other words, 
the paternal and indeed detinitely patrilineal features 
evolved and spread over their present range of distribu- 
tion. Of anything even remotely suggesting maternal traits 
there is no trace here. We shall not go far wrong in in- 
ferring that the father-sibs of this group of aborigines 
developed directly from a sibless condition of the Chukchi- 
Koryak pattern. 

But intermediate between the Chukchi- Koryak and the 
Yakut and Tungus are the Yukaghir, who are surrounded 
on all sides by the latter trilie. The Yukaghir differ from 
all other peoples of the region in Ijeing matrilocal. The 
Koryak serve for the bride and in exceptional instances 
settle permanently in her household, and these practices 
seem to have culminated among the Yukaghir in normal 
matrilocal residence. Nevertheless, this feature has not 
created a matrilineal kin-group; property is transmitted 
from father to son and the blood-feud is waged by the 
paternal kindred. Indeed, the Yukaghir. doubtless owing 
to Tungus influence, have developed father-sibs, though 
without the exogamous rule. What is most interesting, 
however, is the assimilation of Tungus customs by some 
Yukaghir bands, and vice versa. The Yukaghirized Tun- 
gus no longer practise exogamy; the Tungusized Yukaghir 
have adopted the custom of purchasing the bride with patri- 
local residence and greater recognition of the sib. Thus, 
the development of society instead of following the same 
stages among all peoples may even within the same area 
pursue its course in opposite directions; in one band cott- 


tact with a noo-cxogamoiis peopk vnll \ooscn the sib bonds, 
while in another contact with patrilineal sibs will fasta 
indicate germs of a paternal organization. 

In shcxt, Siberian data lend no support to die doctrine 
of inherent laws of social progress. They show that matri- 
local residence may fail to produce matrilineal descent: 
they show sibless tribes with no vestige of a fonner sib 
system, whether maternal or paternal, and no apparent haste 
to develop a definite patrilineal system by spontaneous de- 
velopment. Above all, they show the extraordinary level- 
ing influence of contact with alien cultures. 

Of course, it would be dogmatic to deny that a change 
of descent according to Tylor s and Morgan's scheme is 
possible. For example, a fair case can be made out for 
the relative priority of mother-sibs in at least parts of 
Oceania. First of all, there is no question that in various 
Melanesian tribes matrilineal sibs are observed phenomena : 
accordingly, the assumption that related peoples now patri- 
lineal mav at one time have been matrilineal is admissible 
as a working hj'pothesis, which gains in plausibility in view 
of certain conditions of Melanesian life. The Melanesians, 
like many matrilineal groups, are horticultural and gar- 
dening often devolves on the women, — ^a situation previ- 
ously recognized as favorable for the development of 
mother-sibs. The avunculate, though not by itself decisiw 
for reasons explained, can be used as corroboratory evi- 
dence in this case because soffie correlation may be assumed 
to exist between it and a matrilineal system and also be- 
cause in certain Oceanian tribes the avuncular power ap- 
pears in exaggerated form. Thus, among the patrilineal 
Western Torres Straits Islanders a man would instantly 
cease fighting at his maternal uncle's behest while he might 
override the wishes of his own father. Further, when we 
pass in review the matrilineal tribes of the area, we find a 
series of conditions precisely of that type which would 
tend to establish patrilineal descent in a sibless community. 



Patrilocal residence is universal ; and while the ancient 
hereditary gardens are transmitted to the sister's son the 
land cleared by a man's individual efforts is inherited by 
his children, as are also his trees, which rank as a distinct 
form of property. The Kai data are especially noteworthy. 
Here the children belong unequivocally to the mother's kin 
and inheritance is within the maternal line; however, suc- 
cession to the chieftaincy is from father to son and only 
secondarily from uncle to sister's son. Residence is indeed 
patrilocal in the sense that the bride follows her bridegroom 
to his home; but, as pointed out, the Kai wife, though liv- 
ing in her husband's house, is not permitted by her kin to 
move to a distant village because they wish to retain part 
of her services. Given such facts, I see no reason for 
rejecting as impossible the theory countenanced by Dr. 
Rivers that in parts of Oceania a change from matrihneal 
to patrilineal descent has taken place. What I maintain is 
that this does not prove the priority of matrilincal descent 
anywhere else, say, in Australia or Siberia or America; and 
even in Oceania the matrihneal condition may in turn have 
been superimposed on an earlier paternal one. 

Hitherto the question has not been broached whether 
matrilineal or patrilineal descent is generally coupled with a 
higher form of civilization. The traditional view naturally 
assig;ns mother-sibs to a lower plane, and even so sane a 
writer as Professor Hobhouse. who declines to accept the 
universality of a matrilineal stage, finds that broadly 
speaking maternal descent occurs among the uncivilized, 
and paternal descent among the civilized stocks of man- 
kind; and that within the range of the uncivilized races 
maternal descent is coupled most frequently with the lower 
cultures. It is of course a fact thai the highest known 
civilizations, while devoid of sibs, are essentially paternal 
in type; and we know that the ancient Greeks and Romans 
were at one time organized into father-sibs. Nevertheless 
it does not follow that patrilineal descent is the uniform 


uptom of a higher civilization. In Australia there is 
' not the slightest indication that matrilineal peoples like the 
Dieri enjoy a poorer cuhure than the patrilineal Arunta. 
Negro tribes with mother-sibs match their patrilineal con- 
geners in industrial activity and political organization. In 
America north of Mexico, as Swanton has pointed out, 
the tribes with mother-sibs are on a generally hi^er level 
than those with father-sibs, A decade before Svvanton. 
Herr Cunow. whose puerile pugnacity must not blind us 
to his merits as a painstaking scholar and independent 
thin'-er, bad already shown tliat the North American na- 
tives who cultivate the soil intensively are mainly matri- 
lineal, while the tribes reckoning descent from the father 
represent a lower economic condition. Further, if we em- 
t>nice in our survey not only communities with definitely 
oi^anized sibs but also sibless tribes, which have been shown 
to possess a simpler culture, we find that in the vast major- 
ity of cases such germs of ufiilateral descent as exist are of 
the patrilineal variety. That is to say. the lowest sibless 
cultures, so far as they tend to segregate one line of kin- 
dred by the processes previously noted, segregate the pa- 
ternal kin. Thus, the Bushmen had the site of settlement 
descend from father to son and son's son : not only the 
reindeer-breeding Chukdii but also the maritime division 
representing the pristine condition of this people practise 
filial inheritance of property; the Thompson River Indians 
of British Columbia and the Shasta of California recog- 
nize patrilineal descent of the title to fishing-stations : and 
the influence of patrilocal residence on Hiipa and North- 
eastern Algonkian life has been sufficiently discussed. No 
doubt instances of matrilocal residence occur among sibless 
tribes: but they either alternate with patrilocal residence or 
are restricted to the commencement of matrimony, so that 
they fail to lay the basis of a unilateral sib, whence the 
rarity of mother-sibs among hunting tribes. 

In short. Professor Hobhouse's generalization is by no 

means in accord with the facts. It is true that the highest 
known civilizations, like those of the Chinese, the ancient 
Greeks, and our own, are predominantly patriHneal. But 
this also holds for the lowest known cultures so far as 
either side is stressed at all, while the position of matri- 
lineal peoples is intermediate. Contrary to my intention 
and previous declaration, this statement might be misin- 
terpreted as favoring a fixed sequence of stages. I there- 
fore hasten to dispel this possibility by sketching what I 
conceive a possible line of evolution in a concrete hypo- 
thetical case and then showing that the accepted correla- 
tion between certain economic and sociological phenomena 
is quite consistent with the view that maternal descent does 
not represent a universal stage in the history of mankind. 
I can imagine the Andaman Islanders, a sibless people 
without any noticeable partiality for either side of the 
family, rising by successive borrowings to any stage of 
civilization without necessarily developing either father- 
sibs or mother-sibs. Whether under the assumed circum- 
stances they would evolve such units, would depend very 
largely on the nature, intensity and prolongation of alien 
contacts. I do not mean to assert that such industrial ad- 
vancement as I am assuming would have no effect on the 
social organization, but simply that it need not produce 
unilateral kin groups. If, e.g., the Andaman Islanders bor- 
rowed the blacksmith's art, this industrial advancement 
would imply or at least favor the social evolution of a pro- 
fessional guild. This might develop into an hereditary 
caste, as has actually happened among the Masai, but there 
is no necessity for such a development. There might be 
simply a segregation of those having an individual aptitude 
in this direction, producing indeed a trade guild and conse- 
quent complication of society, but not an hereditary sib. 
Besides, even if the profession became hereditary, it would 
not need to create a sib organization so long as the entire 
remainder of the population failed to organize along simi- 




lar lines. In other words, the Andaman Islanders could 
make the leap from the Stone Age to the Iron Age not in- 
deed without some social readjustment but without adopting 
the principle of unilateral kinship. 

In picturing the social history of mankind as a whole it, 
is well constantly to keep in mind the phenomena connected [ 
with the sexual division of labor. I have already shown I 
how matrilineal descent might evolve in a sedentary com- I 
raunity where women till the soil with the hoe. It should ] 
be noted, however, that where tillage is practised inten- 
sively, though still with primitive implements as in the / 
higher American cultures, man usually assumes at least the ' 
major part of the work. Accordingly it is quite intelli-i 
gible that under such conditions father-sibs should have 
developed. The matrilineal descent of the Pueblo Indians 
cannot possibly be explained on the same principles as that 
of the Hidatsa because the male Pueblo plants and tends 
the com; it is based on the very different factor of matri- 
local residence with feminine landlordship. Without this 
element the Hopi would presumably either have remained | 
without unilateral kinship groups or would have organized 
into father-sibs. That is to say. the gardening stage does 
not necessarily imply maternal descent : for since men may 
share or perform altogether the labor of cultivation (as 
thev do in parts of America and of Melanesia), the con- 
ditions for the segregation of matrilineal kin may be 

Now, as Hahn has taught us. the agriculture of advanced 
civilizations rests on the use of the plough with the domes- 
ticated ox (or its equivalent) and these cultural possessions 
are certainly linked with the male sex. Domestication is 
undoubtedly a masculine achievement and it is interesting 
to note the rigid taboos which sometimes separate women 
from the herds and the still more important fact that in 
the most highly developed pastoral tribes woman occupies 
a position of definite inferiority. That agriculture and do- 



mestication appeared at a later period than horticulture is 
unquestionable and if they grew out of horticulture we 
should again have a fixed sequence of stages to which there 
would presumably correspond a parallel sequence of ma- 
ternal and paternal descent according to the time-honored 
scheme. But the assumption is not essential. Apart from 
the fact that intensive gardening, as noted above, sometimes 
constitutes man's share of work, there is no proof that 
agriculture, so different in its methods from horticulture, 
developed out of the latter. It is entirely possible that the 
agricultural complex as evolved in Western Asia evolved 
independently of the horticultural complex through male 
effort : and accordingly there is no reason to suppose that 
the bearers of the great historic cultures ever passed 
through a maternal stage. This is not a dogmatic denial 
that any of them ever reckoned descent from the mother. 
which might in special instances have occurred as a result 
of foreign influences, but merely a denial of the dogma that 
they must once have traced descent from the mother. For 
example, I see no reason why the ancestral Greeks should 
not have passed directly from a sibless condition with pat- 
ernal bias into the definite patrilineal condition represented 
by the genos and the phratria. 

In viewing the phenomena from all parts of the world 
we cannot fail to note that while definite patrilineal descent 
is often lacking an asymmetrical stressing of paternal in- 
fluences is extremely common. In comparison the hyper- 
trophy of matrilineal factors appears as a highly special- 
ized event superadded to rather than substituted for the 
paternal traits. That is why even in distinctly matrilineal 
societies the father and his kin usually figure more promi- 
nently than do the mother and her kin in such distinctly 
paternal societies as those of China and of the Turkic 
nomads. From this point of view we can also comprehend 
the instability of matrilineal institutions in specific cases, 
e.g., in Oceania. It is not so much that the maternal 


laCtOf^ have an inherent tendency to vanish in favor of the 
paternal ones, but rather that the paternal factors, never 
Sdppressed but merely in abeyance under specific conditions, 
reassert themselves when those conditions no longer hold 
sway. This development, however, like all others, is not an 
inevitable one and will be affected by the influence of 
neigfaboring cultures. 

To sum up. There is no fixed succession of maternal 
and paternal descent; sibless tribes may pass directly into 
the matrilineal or the patrilineal condition: if the highest 
civilizations emphasize the paternal side of the family, so 
do many of the lowest : and the social history of a particular 
people cannot be reconstructed from any generally valid 
scheme of evolution but only in the light of its known and 
probable cultural relations with neighboring peoples. ^ 


* Morgan, 1871: 484, 490; id., 1877. Swanton, 1905 (b) : 
663 ; id., 1906 : 166. Martin: 861. Skeat and Blagden : 1,65; 
n, 62, 258. Man: 58 seq., 202. Schultze: 305. Rivers, 
1914(a): 67-70. Lowe, 1915: 231. Bogoras: 538. Jochel- 
son, igoS: 759. Brown: 157. 

*WhiflFen: 63, 66. Speck, 1918: 143; id., 1915 (a) and 
(b). Tylor, 1889: 258; id., 1896: 81. Wilson: 9 seq., 
113 seq. 

» Lowie, 1919 (b) : 28. Moi^n, 1871 : 475. 

* Morgan, 1877: Pt. 11, Chaps. 2 and 14. Man: 67 seq. 
Spencer and Gillen, 1904: 524. Tylor, i^: 245. Lowie, 
1919 (a) : 29. Hartland : i seq. Reports, v : 144. Rivers, 
1914 (b) : I, 55: II, 126. Keysser: 42, 85, 100. Hobhouse: 
162. Cunow, 1894: 138 seq. Bleek and Lloyd: 305. Bogo- 
ras: 679. Teit, 1900: 293. Dixon, 1907: 452. 




DIAMETRICALLY opposite views are current among 
the educated laity regarding woman's place in primi- 
tive society. On the one hand, she is conceived as little 
better than a slave or beast of burden, condemned to per- 
form the hardest drudgery, bought as a commodity, and 
without redress against her master's brutalities. But those 
who have read of tribes reckoning descent from the mother 
and have imbibed the shopworn anthropological doctrines 
of half a century ago are Hkely to view primitive woman 
as undisputed mistress of the family, if not of communal 
life as well. Both conceptions, so far as the overwhelming 
majority of peoples are concerned, fall ludicrously wide of 
the mark. However, there Is so much variability in the 
relations of woman to society tliat any general statement 
must be taken with caution. It will be best to approach 
the subject through a number of different avenues before 
venturing on even a qualified dictum. 

Theory and Practice 

First of all, it should be noted that the treatment of 
woman is one thing, her legal status another, her opportuni- 
ties for public activity still another, while the character and 
extent of her labors l>elong again to a distinct category. 
Whatever correlations exist between any two of these as- 
pects are empirical ; conceptually they are diverse, and only 


confu^ofl can result from ignoring the fact This is at 
tmce made clear when we consider certain well-known 
phenomena. The harem beauty is not compelled to perform 
the drudgery of a menial, yet her position is not consistent 
with our ideals of human dignity, and the same applies in 
only slightly lesser degree to the European lady of quality 
in the age of chivalry'. In a verj' different environment the 
Toda women, while well-treated, rank as inferior and are 
excluded from the ritualistic observances that occupy the 
foremost place in Toda culture; they are indeed left with 
very little employment on their hands, being prevented 
even from cooking, at least whenever the food contains 
milk as an ingredient. On the other hand, the Andaman 
Island woman is virtually on a plane of equality with her 
husband, though a somewhat larger share of the work may 
fall upon her shoulders. In Central Asia a comparison of 
Kirgiz and Altaian conditions is especially instructive. 
Both tribes assign to woman a position of distinct inferior- 
ity. The Kirgiz. moreover, possibly under the influence of 
I Islam, treat their wives with much greater severity than 
Kthe Altaian Turks, A superficial reading of Radloff 
loiight readily suggest that the legal status of woman is 
' approximately the same among both peoples, but that among 
the Altaians her lot is a decidedly easier one. Closer 
scrutiny, however, reveals the fact that in spite of legal 
conceptions reinforced by religious sanction, tlie Kirgiz 
woman is decidedly better off. Her Altaian sister is at 
work from early in the morning till late at night, being 
employed not only about tlie house but tending the cattle, 
bringing fuel, milking cows, sheep and goats, manufactur- 
ing all utensils, nay, even cultivating the barley plots. The 
tmen do little but chop firewood, milk mares, and give sub- 
sidiary help in the manufacture of household articles. 
Among Ihe Kirgiz the division of labor is a far more 
equitable one. for men tend the cattle, secure fuel, make 
containers, and till the soil. Possibly in consequence of 


this very fact the Kirgiz women enjoy a much greater 
freedom than is granted to their sex in the Altai : they 
participate at festive occasions, visit back and forth at 
pleasure, attend games and public assemblies, and take 
part in competitive singing contests. In short, there is 
ample compensation for the reported harshness of treat- 

This case illustrates the great caution required in sum- 
ming up the status of the female sex in a given society. 
The conditions involved in the relations of men and women 
are many-sided and it is dangerous to overweight one 
particular phase of them. Least of all should excessive 
significance be attached to theory. Theory may and 
does affect practice, but often only in moderate degree. 
Theoretically the Mohammedan Kirgiz may divorce his 
wife at will, practically he very rarely does so. Chinese 
metaphysics associates the female principle of the universe 
with evil, and the legal status of woman is one of abject 
inferiority. This has neither prevented a fairly large 
number of women from establishing their supremacy in the 
household by sheer strength of personality nor from playing 
an appreciable part in literature and affairs. If instead 
of taking so extreme a case we revert merely to recent 
periods of Caucasian civilization, we find that American 
women were not maltreated prior to suffrage amendments ; 
that disabilities as to holding or administering property 
have not involved subjection to a husband's will ; that at 
a time in which little was heard of emancipation the leaders 
of the Parisian salons exerted a social influence hardly to be 
overestimated. In other words, it is important to ascertaiti 
what customary or written law and philosophic theory have 
to say on feminine rights and obligations. But it is more 
important to know whether social practice conforms to 
theory or leaves it halting in the rear, as it so frequently 
does. The exaggerated weight often ascribed to abstract 
propositions and legal enactments is part of that perverse 

r^ooalism whidi has so often befuddled the , ander- 
sianding of students of human institutions and human 

The 'Matriarchate 

^V As noted, matrilineal descent was at one time in- 
^^erpreted to mean that women govern not merely the 
familj' but also the primitive equivalent of the state. 
ProbaWy there is not a single theoretical problem on which 
modem anthropologists are so thoroughly in accord as with 
respect to the utter worthlessness of that inference. The 
testimony of the ethnographic data is too clear to be swept 
aside 1^- a priori speculation. Of the Australians some 
tribes are niatrilineal. others patrilineal, but the lot of 
woman is not one jot better cr more dignified among the 
former. The same holds for Melanesia. In British Col- 
umNa the Tlingit and their neighbors trace descent through 
the mother, but such authority as her side exert ox^er the 
children is wielded not by her but by her brothers. Here 
property of certain tj-pes is highly prized; however, it is 
not held by the women but transmitted witli automatic 
regularity from maternal uncle to nephew. In Africa we 
hear of female rulers but their occurrence seems independ- 
ent of the rule of descent and no more affects the status of 
the average Kegress than the reign of Catherine the Great 
affected the position of Russian peasant women. 

There are a few instances of niatrilineal communities, 
so rare that they can be counted on the fingers of one hand, 
in which women either exercise unusual property rights 
or play a remarkable part in public life. Probably the best- 
known illustrations are furnished by the Khasi of Assam, 
the Iroquois, and the Pueblo Indians. 

Among the Khasi there is a well-nigh unique combination 
of female prerogatives. Here houses, real estate and the 
prized family jewels are not only transmitted in the mat- 


emal line, as is also the case in British Columbia, but are 
held by the womfn of the maternal line, i.e.. they descend 
from mother to daughter. In one locality even the position 
of pontiff is held by a woman, her successor being chosen 
from a group of her female kin. Yet it would be a griev- 
ous error to infer that man counts for nought in Khasi 
communities. In the household, in spite of feminine owner- 
ship, the woman's elder brother ranks as the head, and 
when the husband after initially matrilocal residence estab- 
lishes an independent domicile he is its undisputed lord; 
moreover, the husband's right to kill an adulteress taken 
in flagrante delicto is recognized by customary law. Politi- 
cally, the sovereignty is transmitted in the maternal line but 
from male to male member ; only where male heirs are want- 
ing does a woman succeed, and she in turn is succeeded by 
her son not her daughter. This system is assuredly called 
matriarchal only by courtesy. 

It is probably tlie Iroquois that furnish the closest ap- 
proximation to a matriarchal condition. Here the women 
arranged marriage and prol^abl)' owned both houses and 
land. Some of the most important ceremonial organizations 
were largely constituted and managed by women, from 
whose numbers there were also taken tliree of the six 
ceremonial officials of each sib. Women nominated a 
candidate for a vacancy in the council of chiefs and had the 
right of admonishing and impeaching an unworthy chief- 
elect. Nevertheless it remains a fact that even among the 
Iroquois no woman had a place in the supreme council of 
the league. 

In Pueblo villages the status of woman is decidedly 
less important than among the Iroquois. As Professor 
Kroeber has well put the case, "it is in the woman's owner- 
ship of tite house that the so-called matriarchate of the 
Zuiii centers and rests." Women have no voice in govern- 
mental affairs; they play a part. Iiut a subsidiary one. in 
ritualism; and even within the houses men, so long as they 


ait inmates, are Hie real masters. These observations 
coincide very largely with my own among the Hopi. 

The foregoing cases supply the a fortiori basis of the con- 
clusion that a genuine matriarchate is nowhere to be found, 
diough in a few places feminine prerogatives have evolved to 
a marked degree in certain directions. Surely the fact that 
such privileges are in a handful of cases linked with ma- 
ternal descent does not warrant the inference that maternal 
descent is the efficient cause, for the phenomena from Aus- 
tralia, Melanesia and British Columbia are decisive on that 
point. Since we have recognized maternal descent itself 
as the result of more fundamental conditions, such as resi- 
dence and economic perfomance it will be desirable to ex- 
amine whether these, rather than descent, have influenced 
feminine activity and rank. In other words, if there is any 
causal relationship, the sequence is likely to be not maternal 
descent, hence matrilocal residence and a certain improve- 
ment in woman's juridical status, but rather: matrilcxral 
residence, hence improved status and possibly also maternal 
descent ; and similarly with the other basic phenomena. * 

Matrilocal Residence 

The effects of matrilocal residence on woman's position 
have already been briefly expounded. Here, as every- 
where, we must not allow ourselves to be dazzled by catch- 
words or to draw extreme conclusions from a slender basis 
of fact The immediate result of matrilocal residence is 
not feminine superiority but only the superiority of the 
wife's Idn. There is a great difference between the Central 
Eskimo households in which a wife settles with her hus- 
band's family and those where the bridegroom goes to his 
wife's parents ; but the difference does not affect the status 
of woman as woman. In the former case she becomes the 
subordinate of her mother-in-law, in the latter she remains 
the subordinate of her own mother: and in both cases, the 


supreme ruler is a man, her father or her father-in-law. 
Naturally, when not surrounded by her own relatives, she 
is potentially more liable to abuse than where the husband 
is obliged to consider the sentiments of his parents-in-law 
and hosts. Among the Kai the consistency of matrilocal 
residence with decided female inferiority appears clearly. 
While the Kai are patrilocal in form inasmuch as the bride 
goes to her groom's dwelling, they have been shown to be 
substantially matrilocal since the wife's kin resist any effort 
to remove her beyond their sphere of influence. The result 
is that a man is responsible to them for excessive maltreat- 
ment of his spouse or for destruction of her belongings; 
but in any event she remains a ward under the tutelage of 
some male, whether it be her brother or maternal uncle or 
grandfather. It is further clear that matrilocal residence 
by limiting polygynous unions also tends to eliminate those 
difliiculties to which a woman is sometimes exposed through 
conjugal favoritism in a polygynous household. Alto- 
gether, then, there can be no question that practically woman 
profits from continued residence under her parents' roof; 
but this need not in the least emancipate her from the thral- 
dom of an alien will: and where, as among the Yukaghir, 
the husband may ultimately gain the mastery over the house- 
hold, she will then be In exactly the same position as though 
she had settled with him from the start. 

The situation must be radically different where the house 
is owned by the women. Under such conditions matrilocal 
residence veritably gives to woman the whiphand insofar 
as she may then banish her husband from the home, as hap- 
pens among the Pueblo tribes. This assuredly is an advan- 
tage in marital relations but it does not affect man so seri- 
ously as might lie supposed at first blush since he is always 
certain of a welcome from his mother or one of his sisters, 
i.e., he always finds shelter through a recognized claim on 
his house-owning female kin. 


The Economic Interpretation 

Economic factors have palpably moulded some aspects of 
latter-day civilization and in some schemes of interpretation 
they have come to play an exaggerated part. The problem 
how and how far they have fashioned the status of woman 
is one of extraordinary intricacy, and here we must be 
particularly careful to specify our precise meaning, A far- 
reaching economic change seems bound to produce a modi- 
ttcation of some sort in woman's life, in her share of work 
if in nothing else as an immediate consequence. Yet the 
Amur River fishermen, the Chinese agriculturists, the 
Turkic horsemen and cattle-breeders, and the Ostyak rein- 
deer nomads, all share essentially the same conception of 
the female sex. If it be objected that these peoples, how- 
ever diverse in their mode of life, are at one in the impor- 
tant feature that woman does not materially add to the 
food-supply, we torn to regions like South Africa and 
South America and find that while there women plant and 
harvest they are not indeed in a humiliating but still in a 
decidedly subordinate position. On the other hand, there 
are hunting tribes, like the Vedda and the Andaman Island- 
ers, where woman contributes only moderately to the com- 
missary department yet ranks as man's equal in society. 

There is one gross correlation, nevertheless, that has con- 
siderable empirical support and has been repeatedly em- 
phasized. Among stock-raising populations the status of 
woman is almost uniformly one of decided and absolute in- 
feriority. Thus Professor Hobhouse finds that the per- 
centage of cases in which woman occupies a low rung in the 
social scale is 73 among cultivators of the soil, but rises to 
87.5 among pastoral tribes. On economic grounds the mat- 
ter is readily explained. The domestication of animals was 
undoubtedly a masculine achievement and practically every- 
\where the care of the herds has remained a masculine occu- 
ntion. But such complete dissociation of woman irom 




ition argues an inherent fitness in the combination dif- 
fused and retained. That much may be conceded. On the 
jther hand we find that among the Hottentot pastoral life 
goes amicably hand in hand with sexual equality, while 
among the neighboring Bantu where the women till the soil 
they occupy a lower position. These facts are certainly 
favorable neither to the doctrine that economic activity 
automatically raises woman's status, nor to the theory that 
pastoral life as such prejudices her status. The economic 
factor is perhaps an efficient cause but at best it is only 
one of a series of determinants, so that its effects may be 
minimized and even obliterated by others. For example, 
a well-defined religious tenet might retard or even prevent 
Hottentot acceptance of the sociological inferiority of 
woman though the people might willingly adopt the utili- 
tarian essentials of the stock-raising complex. 

We have here touched the important principle that a 
lie may adopt part of a diffused complex. But it is the 
iological as well as the utilitarian constituent that may 
.d independently of the residue, and I am firmly con- 
iced that this has taken place so as to obscure the causal 
:us between economic life and feminine status. What- 
ir ultimate fitness there may be in the observed phenom- 
the immediate reason for the views held with regard 
women in a great part of Asia is that the people enter- 
ing those views have been in contact with other peoples 
ing the same views. This becomes obvious on discover- 
that we are not dealing with a vague but with a pcr- 
:Iy defined notion as to feminine inferiority. As the 
z case indicates, that notion does not involve seclusion 
in some other parts of the world. It does involve the 
iciple that woman is a dependent, a chattel that may be 
to the highest bidder, may be inherited by her husband's 
and being property is incapable of holding property. 
these identical notions occur among the Syryan, 
, Altaian. Kirgiz and other tribes occupying a con- 


tinuous area, it is manifest that we are dealing with a defi- 
nite ethnographic trait that has been diffused over the terri- 
tory in question. This becomes a certainty when we find that 
among the palaeo-Asiatic tribes of eastern Siberia woman, 
while still on a lower level than man, does not approximate 
the West Siberian woman in the humility of her station. 
Thus the Chukchi woman is not bought by her husband, 
may leave him on provocation, and is not debarred from 
owning property. Some changes have been brought about 
in her lot by the introduction of reindeer, as will be seen 
later, but she has not by any means been reduced to the level 
of her Ostyak sister because her status is fixed to a pre- 
dominant extent by the past culture of the Chukchi and 
their neighbors, and that status a new economic factor can- 
not simply blot out of existence. 

That woman's position in a particular tribe is indeed a 
function of the historical relations of the people under 
examination, becomes clear when we turn to Oceania and 
Australia. The outstanding characteristics of feminine in- 
feriority in this area are very different from those which 
impress us in Siberia, Throughout most of Australia, as 
well as in parts of Melanesia and New Guinea, we find a 
strong tendency to separate the sexes, sometimes even at 
meals and most emphatically on ceremonial occasions. The 
consequent exclusion of women from public life stands in 
striking contrast to her participation in Kirgiz festi\'ities 
and shows how variable may be the content of the catch- 
word 'inferiority.' But it cannot be mere accident that 
so sharply defined a conception is spread over the South 
Seas; the occurrence of the phenomenon in any specific 
locality of that area is undoubtedly due to the circumstance 
that the locality forms part of a geographical region over 
which the trait has been diffused. Whatever may be the 
origin of the custom, its secondary cause and accordingly its 
scientific explanation lies not in any economic factor but in 
historical and geographical relations. 


North American data furnish corroborative testimony. 
In hy far the greater part of the continent the Indians, 
whatever may be woman's position, do not maintain the 
sedulous separation of the sexes so conspicuous in the 
South Seas. The importance of the Iroquois women in 
rilualism has already been noted. Even in tribes where 
iheir status is much less exalted, they take part in cere- 
monial performances, and among some of the Plains In- 
dians the notion that husband and wife are one person cere- 
monially appears clearly in the transfer and care of sacred 
objects. It cannot be an accident that all suggestions of a 
sexual dichotomj- of society are reported from the vicinity 
of the Pacific coast. Only in Alaska have the Eskimo men 
a house from which women are excluded; only among the 
Northern Athabaskans are girls segregated from boys and 
women barred from attendance at any dances : only in Cali- 
fornia do we encounter men's societies comparable in the 
jealous exclusion of the female sex to the organizations of 
Melanesia. The reason why the Hupa men sleep apart 
from the women is probably that they have had cultural 
relations with other Califomian populations which favored 
that arrangement. For all triljes except the one which 
evolved the diffused phenomenon its efficient cause is not 
this or that economic factor but simply borrowing. In the 
usually unknown place of origin economic factors may 
conceivably have been at work ; everywhere else their func- 
tion must have been at most selective, i.e.. they may have 
favored or arrested diffusion without acting as a creative 
force. This view explains at once why tribes utterly di- 
verse in their means of sustenance have come to share the 
identical view of woman, a fact that remains quite mystify- 
ing on the economic theory. 

A gross consideration of the economic data thus fails 
to indicate a particularly close correlation between them and 
lan's position. To repeat some of the more significant 
In horticultural communities of Melanesia and 


breeding with the result that tliere are now living side by 
side two branches of the same stock with identical cultural 
traditions and differing solely in point of economic life. 
Hence the economic factor can liere be isolated from other 
causes with as close an approximation to completeness as 
possible. How, then, does the status of woman compare 
in Maritime and Reindeer Chukchi society? If we are 
willing to cover a wide range of facts with vague catch- 
I words, we shall detect no difference, for in both groups 
woman assuredly ranks as subordinate to man. The differ- 
ences are nevertheless interesting. The sea-expeditions of 
the Maritime himters are arduous and full of danger; nat- 
urally women undertake these masculine pursuits only under 
I extreme necessity. Among the Reindeer Chukchi it hap- 
[ pens more frequently that girls take the place of men as 
[■herders, being thus able to lead an independent existence, 
[ and the wife normally assists in tending the animals besides 
I doing all the skinning and butchering. To the Reindeer 
nomad marriage is a necessity : "no man can live a toler- 
I able life without having a separate house of his own and 
I a woman to take care of it." A man needs some one to 
'mend and dry his clothes, he requires assistance with the 
herd, and unlike his sedentary brother he must have a 
woman to take care of his traveling-tent. Hence it is not 
surprising to learn that celibacy is somewhat more common 
among the sea-hunters, but woman's indispensableness in 
the nomadic bands is coupled with a remarkable increase of 
her work. Her household duties have multiplied and eco- 
tiomic labors have been superadded. The Maritime hunter 
1 is hardly ever able to support more than one wife; among 
I the ncMnads polygynous families occur with relative fre- 
[quency, indeed, a wealthy breeder will aspire to have one 
[I'woman for each of his herds. Among the Maritime Chuk- 
[ dii a woman is almost Ixiund to be a dependent ; with the 
[.Reindeer people a widow has an opportunity of administer- 
■•ing her husband's herds during her children's minority and, 


supported by man ; with the Reinde 
iiomically active, is subject to a far 
age, but has a better chance to achic 
Chukchi case thus proves that ec 
efficient causes in the development of 
But in view of the current tenden 
nomic motives it is worth while ins 
constitute a co-determinant. If we 
Chukchi with the Ostyak, there are 
through economic conditions since 
alike. The Reindeer Chukchi does n 
acquires none of the absolute rights 
his wife may leave him or be carr 
notwithstanding his services befoi 
under Ostyak custom a widow can 
reindeer because no woman can ho 
women are necessarily life-long d 
words, it is the pre-existing culture t 
how a new economic factor shall i 
Since the Chukchi held no anter 
woman's inability to hold property, i 
new factor to bring about a result th 
ideology. If the Chukchi had conce 



idle assertion until it is supported by some evidence; and 
if the Chukchi women were scmie time reduced to the level 
of their Ostyak sisters, it would be a serious question 
whether the cause is to be sought in the common economic 
factor or rather, as would be my first assumption, in the 
gradual extension by borrowing of sociological notions 
found in the more western parts of Siberia, 

To sum up. The economic factor appears to have po- 
tency, but potency of a strictly limited kind, liable to be off- 
set and even negatived by other determinants.' 

I Correlation with Stages of Civilization 

Hitherto nothing has been said explicitly as to the cor- 
relation of a higher status of woman with a higher stage of 
civilization. However, from facts cited it is already clear 
what attitude the ethnologist must assume toward the popu- 
lar opinion that woman's status is a sure index of cultural 
advancement. That proposition is utterly at variance with 
the ethnographic data. In the very simplest hunting com- 
munities, among the Andaman Islanders and the Vedda, 
woman is to all intents and purposes man's peer. This does 
not hold for most of the higher primitive levels, say, for the 
average Bantu village, where woman, though hardly a mere 
slave, does not at all events rank as man's equal. Finally, 
on the still higher plane of Central Asia and China woman 
is definitely conceived as an inferior being. Or, to look at 
the matter from another angle, George Eliot and Mme. 
Recamier. in spite of their social influence, did not even re- 
motely approach the legal position of the average Iroquois 

This leads us back to the original proposition that the 
codified, or at least rationalized, customary law is not a 
nnifomily trustworthy criterion of social phenomena. It 

Etrue that in by far the majority of both primitive and J 

ire complex cultures woman enjoys, if we apply our most I 



advanced ethical standards, a less desirable position than 
man. But the frequent assumption that she is generally 
abused or enslaved as compared with her Caucasian sister 
is a travesty of the facts. In some regions, as among the 
Northern Athabaskans, women were imdoubtedly obliged 
to perform the heaviest tasks and in addition were brutally 
maltreated by their masters. But it cannot be too vehem- 
ently stated that well-authenticated instances of this sort 
are of extreme rarity. Much nearer to what may be con- 
sidered the average primitive condition is that reported by 
Spencer and Gillen for Central Australia: "Taking every- 
thing into account, . . . the life of one of these savage 
women, judged from the point of view of her requirements 
in order to make life more or less comfortable, is far from 
being the miserable one that is so often pictured." Usually 
the division of labor is an equitable one. Often, to be sure, 
the wife appears constantly occupied, while her husband 
enjoys prolonged periods of rest; but by way of compensa- 
tion'his work, as among the Eskimo, is of a more strenuous 
character and subjects him to frequent jeopardy of life and 
limb. As to property rights, even among bride-buying 
tribes the logical consequences of purchase have been sel- 
dom drawn in rigorous fashion. Except in rare instances 
woman holds property and disposes of it at will. In buying 
ethnographic specimens in North America I never encoun- 
tered an Indian who would part with one of his wife's pos- 
sessions or set a price for them prior to consultation with 
her, and South American travelers recount similar experi- 
ences. Apart from theory, primitive woman by force of 
her personality is probably as often the ruling spirit of her 
home as with us. This, as noted almve, is equally true in 
the sophisticated civilization of China, despite the abstract 
propositions as to feminine depravity concocted by native 

Regarding feminine disabilities, it is necessary to allude 
to one feature of primitive psychology, — the widespread 


horror of menstruation. This has often led to the segre- 
gation of women in separate huts during the period of ill- 
ness, — 2, usage so persistent that I was able to observe it in 
full vigor among the Idaho Shoshoni as late as 1906. I 
have little doubt that it is the fear of pollution from this 
cause that accounts for much of the debarment of women 
from activities invested with an atmosphere of sanctity. It 
is indeed sometimes avowedly the reason for dissociating 
women from certain sacred objects. Even educated In- 
dians have been known to remain under the sway of this 
sentiment, and its influence in moulding savage conceptions 
of the female sex as a whole should not be underrated. 
The monthly seclusion of women has been accepted as a 
proof of their degradation in primitive communities, but 
it is far more likely that the causal sequence is to be re- 
versed and that her exclusion from certain spheres of activ- 
ity and consequently lesser freedom is the consequence of 
the awe inspired by the phenomena of periodicity. 

That neither this superstitious sentiment nor man's physi- 
cal superiority has produced a far greater debarment of 
primitive woman, that she is generally well treated and 
able to influence masculine decision regardless of all theory 
as to her inferiority or impurity, that it is precisely among 
some of the rudest peoples that she enjoys practical equal- 
ity with her mate, — ^these are the general conclusions which 
an unbiased survey of the data seem to establish. If con- 
trary statements have been sometimes made with much 
vehemence, they relate either to exceptional tribes like the 
Chipewyan, or they are the result of misunderstanding, — 
most commonly of the observation that primitive man does 
not practise that sentimental gallantry which comes to us as 
a heritage of the middle ages and which progressive wc«nen 
themselves repudiate as prejudicial to their dignity as human 


OTIONS of property tinge every phase of social life. 
Marriage is in part consuniinated by the transfer of 
commodities and the woman acquired as a mate may her- 
self be regarded as a chattel, a conception that reacts on her 
status in the family. Polygyny was seen to depend on the 
husband's fortune ; and at least among the Wahuma tem- 
porary polyandry results from the lack of property for the 
purchase of an individual spouse. If the theory advanced 
in this book is valid, the transmission of property has been 
a potent factor in the creation of the sib organization; and 
in a subsequent chapter will be traced the influence that 
wealth exerts on the development of rank and castes. So 
a volume might easily be written solely on the functions of 
property in society. In the present chapter we are con- 
cerned more particularly with the manner in which it is 
held and inherited, and in the forms it assumes among prim- 
itive peoples ; and above all must be attacked a moot -prob- 
lem of long standing, the question in how far primitive 
tribes recognize individual ownership at all or merely prac- 
tise communism. 

Primitive Communism 

Those who set out with the evolutionary dogma that 
every social condition now foimd in civilization must have 
developed from some condition far removed from it through 
a series of transitional stages, will consistently embrace the 



hypothesis that the property sense so highly developed with 
us was wholly or largely wanting in primitive society, that 
it must have evolved from its direct antithesis, commimism 
in goods of every kind. This assumption is demonstrably 
false; nevertheless something may be urged in extenuation 
of those who deny to savages aJid to early man the notion 
of private ownership. 

In the first place, while full-fledged communism, to the 
exclusion of all personal rights, probably never occurs, col- 
lective ownership, not necessarily by the entire community 
but possibly by some other group, is common. As mar- 
riage was seen to be in certain respects an arrangement 
between groups of kindred, so property is often associated 
with a group rather than with an individual. That pro- 
found and in the highest sense historically-minded thinker. 
Sir Henry Maine, was so powerfully impressed with certain 
phenomena he had observed in India that he set forth the 
theory of collective ownership as the ancient condition gen- 
erally preceding personal property rights. "It is more than 
likely," he writes in Ancient Law, "that joint-ownership 
and not separate ownership is the really archaic institution, 
and that the forms of property which will afford -us instruc- 
tion will Ije those which are associated with the rights of 
families and of groups of kindred." Joint-ownership, as 
already stated, is by no means necessarily communal owner- 
ship. The co-proprietors may be a pair of partners, an 
individual household, a club, a religious fraternity, a sib 
or that fraction of a sib comprising only close kindred 
through either father or mother. But there are conditions 
where an entire village is settled by men of one father-sib 
who jointly own the arable and waste. In such a case the 
landowning corporation and the commune coincide and 
there is accordingly veritable communism within the pre- 
cincts of the village. 

Secondly, a legal state of communism Is often simulated 
by phenomena belonging to quite a different category of 



social thought. Even in our highly sophisticated civiliza- 
tion the law sometimes fails to prevail because jurors are 
swayed by ethical conceptions which public opinion exalts 
above the decrees of jurisprudence. Where law is uncodi- 
fied and possibly every tribesman is linked with every other 
by some personal bond, the practical effect of such senti- 
ments is proportionately greater. Nevertheless, though the 
juridical point of view may liecome bKirred, it is rarely 
effaced; and in many instances the line of demarcation is 
drawn with unmistakable clearness. Thus hospitality is a 
primary element of Plains Indian etiquette. A host who 
should not regale a visitor at any hour of the day or night 
with such provisions as were at his command would be set 
down as a churl and lose his standing in the community. 
But it IS a far cry from this generosity enforced by stand- 
ards of ethics and good breeding to a communistic theory 
that would permit the guest to appropriate food unbidden. 
No such theory is maintained or put into practice, hence the 
rights of private ownership remain unchallenged. It is 
true that many primitive societies assume an attitude toward 
the necessities of life which puts them into a distinct cate- 
gory of possessions, the theory being that in circumstances 
of stress no one shall go hungry so long as any one holds 
supplies of edibles. But that is a point of view intelligible 
from the precarious existence led by many of these peoples, 
and doubly intelligible since the European War has famil- 
iarized us with the issuance of ration cards. 

Another example may be cited to illustrate the reality of 
the difference lietween ethics and law among the same group 
of Indians. A Crow warrior who had organized a martial 
expedition and returned covered with glory was in strict 
theory sole master of the Ixioty captured, just as he was 
wholly responsible for any loss of men. A man who exer- 
cised his legal prerogatives to the limit of actually retaining 
everything for his own use would certainly be flouted for 
his greed and would hardly succeed in recruiting followers 



for a second venture. To hoard the spoils in miserly fash- 
ion is so repugnant to Crow sentiment that probaWy no 
captain ever thus laid himself open to universal reprtAa- 
lion. But it is quite clear from native statements that if 
he had chosen to do so. his soldiers would have been with- 
out redress. These men jeopardized their lives under the 
captain's leadership, yet there was so httle recognition of 
communistic privilege that they were bound to put up with 
their leader's disposition of the weaUh their joint efforts 
had accumulated. 

The reality of private ownership among ruder peoples is 
far too important to be established by a pair of random illus- 
trations. Indeed, the longer portion of this chapter will be 
devoted to this subject. For a preliminan,- orientation a 
few additional examples will prove serviceable. 

An excellent missionary observer mentions the Kai of 
New Guinea as a communistic people. Yet on the next page 
he writes that a thief caught in the act on another man's 
field may be put to death at once without fear of revenge by 
the slain culprit's kin, that men who have stolen such valu- 
ables as boar's tusks or dog's teeth must flee for their lives, 
that every fruit-tree has its owner, A native may indeed 
plant a fruit-tree on a stranger's soil but he is not permitted 
to erect his hut there without leave. Proprietary rights to 
game are established by the hunter who first sights it; simi- 
larly a man who discovers a bird's nest is reckoned its right- 
ful owner. When a Kai desires to cut a tree and is inter- 
rupted in his task, he may establish title to it by a property 
mark and no one seeing this will touch it. Add to these 
illustrations instances of intangible possessions to be de- 
scribed later, and it is obvious that the Kai have well-defined 
notions of private ownership. Their alleged communism 
is reduced simply to a sense not of communal but of family 
solidarity that prompts relatives to assist one another in 
the purchase of wives and to cooperate in labors transcend- 
ing the powers of a single individual. 



A still better case for critical scrutiny is furnished by the 
,rctic popularions precisely because many of their usages 
lally smack of communism. In Greenland a large whale 
is not considered the exclusive property of the harpooners 
but is shared by passive spectators though they number a 
hundred. A man was privileged to use a trap not for some 
time set by its owner and the latter had no claim to the 
catch. In BafHnland when food is scarce a seal's flesh and 
Wubl)er are distributed by the hunter among all the inhabi- 
tants of the settlement This indifference to individual 
property rights is also well exemplified by the Eskimo about 
Bering Strait: ". . . if a man borrows from another and 
fails to return the article he is not held to account for it. 
This is done under the general feeling that if a person has 
enough property to enable him to lend some of it, he has 
more than he needs. The one who makes the loan under 
the circumstances does not feel justified in asking a return 
of the article and waits for it to be given back voluntarily." 
The conceptions underlying such usages recur in almost 
identical form among those Asiatic tribes whose mode of 
life most closely approximates that of the Eskimo. The 
ideal hunter of ancient Koryak times "heaps the results of 
the chase on the shore, and bids the inhabitants of the set- 
tlement divide among themselves, and he takes for himself 
CMily what is left." With the Chukchi a man who has killed 
a walrus does not appropriate to himself the product of his 
labor but shares it with all passive bystanders. 

But a closer reading of the sources shows that even in 
these unusually communistic societies the indi\'tdualistic 
motive, while submerged, is not wholly lacking, and at the 
same time it supplies us with an explanation of the predom- 
inant communism. From superstitious or other reasons 
individual rights are in some cases acknowledged without 
^allenge. \\Tien a whale has drifted to the Chukchi shore. 
the meat is indeed shared by all present, but the whalebone 
[belongs wholly to the person, whether child or adult, who 


first sighted tlie whale ; appropriation by anyone else would 
be sinful and cause the death of the transgressor. Analo- 
gous notions have been recorded among the Central Eskimo 
and South Greenlanders. West of Hudson Bay the hunter 
who first strikes a walrus receives tlie tusks and one of the 
fore-quarters. The Koryak and Yukaghir recognize pri- 
vate ownership at least of clothing and omaments, while 
certain other possessions are neither personal nor communal 
but bound up with the household. A Chukchi custom 
brings us to the core of the matter. A man with an extra 
boat allows his neighbors to use it: "It is contrary to the 
sense of justice of the natives lo allow a good boat to lie 
idle on shore, when near by are hunters in need of one." 
Nothing is paid for the use of such a boat even in cases of 
extraordinary good luck. In other words, Arctic society 
recognizes two axioms, the ahruistic sharing of food sup- 
plies and the necessity for effective use of extant means of 
economic production. Arctic communism thus centers in 
purely economic considerations. Apart from tliera there is 
room for the assertion of individualistic motives. 

It follows from the foregoing that we cannot content our- 
selves with a blunt ahernative : communism versus indi- 
vidualism. A people may be commtmistic as regards one 
type of goods, yet recognize separate ownership with re- 
spect to other forms of property. Further, the communistic 
principle may hold not for the entire political unit of how- 
ever high or low an order but only within the confines of a 
much smaller or differently constituted class of individuals, 
in which case there will be indeed collectivism but not com- 
munism in the proper sense of the term. These points must 
be kept in mind when surveying successively the primitive 
law of immovable and movable property, of immaterial 
wealth and of inheritance.^ 

Tenure of Land 

Primitive real estate law is affected by a variety of cir- 



ctimstances. It is often correlated with the political condi- 
tion of a people and the conception of chieftaincy in vogue 
among them. The economic status is naturally of great 
importance, and geographical factors, impotent by them- 
selves, may in ccmibination with the culture of the occu- 
pants exert a considerable influence. It will be convenient 
to group tribes according to their means of sustenance and 
to examine briefly the regulation of land ownership among 
typical hunters, stock-raisers, and tillers. 

It is often assumed that when peoples support themselves 
by the chase there is of necessity communal ownership of 
the hunting-grounds. This proposition, however, has been 
not only seriously shaken but invalidated by testimony from 
a number of distinct regions. It holds for such areas as the 
North American Plains and for such tribes as the Maidu 
of California and the Thompson River Indians of British 
Columbia, but not generally. The last two instances are 
instructive because virtual communism for members of the 
tribe was coupled by these peoples with jealous exclusion 
of all aliens. That is to say. the tribe regarded a certain 
area as its hereditary grounds open to exploitation by any 
native, but resented trespasses by others. An intruder on 
Thompson River territory forfeited his life, and the Maidu 
safeguarded their boundary lines by an elaborate system of 
sentry ser\'ice. Tribal socialism was qualified only as re- 
gards certain improvements on the land; if a Thompson 
River Indian or Maidu had constructed a deer-fence or 
fishing-station, he was entitled to the exclusive use of what 
his individual efforts had produced and the right descended 
to his heirs. Thanks to Professor Speck's capital investi- 
'gation of northeastern Algonkian groups, it must now be 
regarded as an established fact that in parts of North Amer- 
ica not only such improvements but the himting-grounds 
themselves were the property of individual families. "The 
whole territory claimed by each tribe was subdivided into 
tracts owned from time immemorial l^ the same families 

pRrMmvE soaET*- 

Hi Dr. Spnk nmcdrd 
A baaSr. Oootxaoos 

irrx^ oUcr ■-^ '--■ i." —'t^-'- — .'. — -^t-: '-'- ?- f^ssor 
Soccx lo indkate a rather widespread re rop Mi oo of indi- 
Tvhsl Insodi^ prrrilegcs among dx Extent and Central 
<~j-g.'^an Indiaits. ^milar endence mar tr addnoed t roni 
tbe cTjoa oi BHtidi Cohmibca. wliere cadi hon<c group 
o-KTK-! 03 ga*""" creek or portioa tfaentrf. while indrridnal 
zarTZJt? held diesr ivirn faalibiil and AePfeA loiA^ berrr- 
'~:z ind rr>cA-&ggiog patrhrs 

A TTord of canika is here reqtdrtd. When speaking of 
rrjcf-rjct^a] famfhcs. our andtorities ofttn fail lo define their 
yrt^jt " vaning .\n indiridiia] fanDlr in the satse in 
v^^:^ 1 ba-ve faitfaerto ti~ed the ttrm would indade both 
ptT^rrrii- bm at Ita^l Professor Spcdi «bow« dcariy that the 
t::j^ >jt :? "iiiCiJtiTEs are nc4 afscciaied with the iMlateral 
zr.:: 'rr. wiii ru- raJe- head and his male descendants. This 
:- '.u:".t T^ivni. ^^Kzase binnjiig if a nofcnline anpkmnent 
h^i yrzr,:ii-i-^ vxiftiti lend to connect effective utilization 
-.■ih ■■y.'m^^hr.y. ■wind] :n ihi? ca?e antomatically excludes 
. rr-tT. Ani'ijtT qDe?TJon ari=*f a? to the po&siUy joint 
\ -•---r}.\- :' £ TTiic: V"- ?«Aeral brotheni. To what extent 
ci J ;■.'- -ha~r:2 'j1 prciprieiary rights conflict with individ- 
tia2 .rt7i^fh;j,r ^Miile oar data arc not ahogrtber coo* 


hisive on this point, so much appears clearly: territorial 
"rights were at most vested in a body of close blood-kindred 
through the father, never in a more inchisive Ixidy of real 
or putative kin, never in a larger political group. Com- 
munal ownership in any legitimate sense of the term is thus 
excluded. The only point that remains doubtful is whether 
the hereditarj- land belonged to one man individually or 
was shared with his sons or his brothers. My personal in- 
terpretation of Professor Speck's data is that Ixith conditions 
arose at different times, that joint ownership was simply 
due to joint inheritance from the father, but that there was 
al least a tendency to adjust matters on a purely individ- 
ualistic basis by occasionally assigning to each son a special 

The attitude of the Australian aborigines toward their 
land is extremely interesting. A local group, not neces- 
sarily the whole tribe but possibly the localized male por- 
tion of the father-sib, as among the Kariera, occupied a 
certain tract and was indissolubly connected with it. Wars 
occurred but the notion of expropriating the vanquished 
never even dawned upon the mind of the conquerors. It is 
not surprising, then, to learn that naturalization in some 
other group was likewise inconceivable. "Just as the coun- 
try belonged to him (the Kariera). so he belonged to it." 
Trespass was extremely rare and the white settlers in West 
Australia found it difficult to make black shepherds herd 
sheep anywhere but on their ancestral territories. Infor- 
mation on some of the tribes suggests that the intensity of 
[his attachment to a particular tract of country may be 
due to mystical reasons, more especially, to the localization 
of the individual's totemic ancestors; removal to another 
region would destroy contact with these mythical beings. 
.\part from the association of definite groups with special 
localities, there are important regional differences. The 
iariera exploited each tract of land in common, so that 
f member of a father-sib might at any time hunt over the 



common territory or use any of its products without limi- 
tation by special proprietary claims. Not so in Queensland, 
where individual families, in Dr. Speck's sense, hold the 
right of gathering roots or seeds and of hunting in particu- 
lar spots. Poaching is rare, though not regarded as a seri- 
ous offence if committed by a fellow-tribesman. Generally, 
the prerogatives mentioned descend to brothers and sons 
but in one district patches of edible plants are apportioned 
among the women and inherited by their daughters. 

Finally, the Vedda of Ceylon may be cited as a hunting 
people with a remarkably keen sense of ownership, which 
attracted the notice of the white observers as early as the 
seventeenth century, Each group, like the Maidu. meticu- 
lously guarded its boundaries by means of archers, and 
trespassing led to serious bloodshed. But unlike the Maidu 
the Vedda also recognized holdings of lesser scope, so that 
Dr. Seligmann was able to map the territories of distinct 
Henebedda families. A man would not hunt even on his 
brother's land without permission; and if game ran into 
an alien region the owner of the soil was entitled to a por- 
tion of its flesh. The conditions of transferring land give 
us an insight into the true nature of Vedda ownership. 
Such transfers of hills or pools were normally made only 
to children and sons-in-law, but not without the consent of 
everj' adult male member of the family. Whether this 
means merely every adult son or also includes the brothers 
whose birthright to hunt on the owner's land is denied, does 
not appear. At all events, there was a non-communal, 
though collective, interest in real estate on the part of close 
blood-kindred. To symbolize and ratify conveyance the 
donor gave to the new owner a stcaie or two, to which one 
of his teeth might be added. Usually the Ijoundary of an 
estate was defined by natural features, otherwise a mark 
representing a man with drawn bow was cut upon tree 
trunks alcng the line of demarcation. 

We thus find incontestable evidence that hunting tribes 



tt infrequently recognize non-comraunal, inheritable claims 
particular portions of the tribal territory. 
Among pastoral peoples, there is usually a highly de- 
veloped sense of private ownership as regards their live- 
stock but in the matter of land, which alone concerns us 
at present, there is frequently complete or nearly complete 
communism. A Masai shares pasturage with all the other 
inhabitants of his district and when the grass is exhausted 
there is a general exodus. In this region the steppe is ad- 
mirably adapted for grazing so that the herders have an 
abundance of territory at their command. Among the Toda 
likewise the local group, which here coincides with the sib, 
owns the pasture land collectively. The Hottentot prac- 

»tised tribal communism with regard to grazing land, but 
formerly intertribal warfare was often waged for tlie pos- 
session of suitable grounds. Nevertheless one form of im- 
movable property was associated with individual families, — 
the bushes from which the people derive the nara gourd, 
Trespassing on nara patches led to complaints before the 
headman if fellow-triljesmen were at fault, while poaching 
strangers were mercilessly shot down. 

Far more complicated arrangements obtain amtwig the 
Kirgiz, who own immense herds of sheep, goats, cattle, and 
horses. Camels are raised only on a small scale and in pas- 
turing them the communal principle is generally observed. 
But the natural requirements of the other species under the 
existing geographical conditions necessitate a careful par- 
tition of available territory. In the summer the herds need 
well-irrigated plains not infested by an excess of insect 
pests: the winter resort must afiford shelter against the 
rigors of the weather, an abundance of water and wood, and 
pastures free from heavy snowfalls. Since the prerequisites 
for favorable winter quarters are far less readily secured, 
the earlier history of the Kirgiz hordes consisted largely in 
squabbles over the best winter territories. These bicker- 
ings have long since ceased, and in the sixties of the last,' 


century each family was found in possession of an heredi- 
tary winter domain. Since the necessity for land varies 
with the size of one's herds, this system is inevitably con- 
nected with a transfer of territory in accordance with exi- 
gency. A breeder whose stock muUiphes must purchase 
additional pasturage ; if his herds diminish his land becomes 
partly useless and is to that extent sold. The winter quar- 
ters are usually marked off by natural boundaries, such as 
streams, hills or lakes; failing these, their confines are in- 
dicated by posts or rocks. The limits of each preserve are 
generally known, and every individual is assisted by his 
sib in warding off trespasses. In marked contrast to this 
apportionment of winter domains is Kirgiz practice relat- 
ing to the summer pasturage, which is not owned privately 
at all but shared by the whole community (aul). Here is 
once more a striking illustration of the futility of tossing 
about convenient but meaningless catchwords. The Kirgiz 
are neither communists nor individualists in an absolute 
sense as regards the ownership of land : they are the former 
in one season of the year, the latter in another.' 

Regarding the real estate law of tribes depending on 
tillage our information is often both scanty and, what is 

I worse, vitiated by time-honored preconceptions. This ap- 
plies with special force to North America, where our ig- 
norance is deplorable. This is partly due to the extinction 
of primitive usage over large portions of the continent but 
far more to the tefuddling agency of the sib dogma. Any 
statement in the literature mentioning the sib as the pro- 
prietary unit should l)e subjected to the closest scrutiny, for 
this is frequently not an observed fact but an unjustifiable 
inference from observed facts. Thus the retention of proj>- 
crty within the sib must not be confounded with ownership 
by the sib. When a Hopi woman dies, her house is inher- 
ited by her daughters, members of her sib by matrilineal 
descent; it does not become, as it never has been, the prop- 
'Brty of the sib. First of all, by Hopi law the men are ex- 

-edi- I 
iries 1 


^B duded I 



eluded from house ownership so that roughly half of the 
sib cannot possibly figure as owners. Secondly, there is no 
collective ownership of a house by all the women of the sib 
but at best by all the actual female descendants through 
females of the deceased. The law of inheritance may. as I 
have myself argued, lead to the notion of the sib. but that 
is very different from assuming that the fully developed sib 
including not only remote but also merely putative kin holds 
property as a corporate body. 

For the Zuiii there is unconlroverted evidence that the 
land was never held by the sib. Communal property exists 
inasmuch as the unused soil, the streets and wells are free 
to all the Zuni ; but the fields, corrals, houses and chattels 
belonged to individuals or household groups of blood kin- 
dred. This view of Kroeber's only corroborates Mrs. Stev- 
enson's earlier statement : "The fields are not owned by 
clans [sibs], and the Zunis claim that they never were so 
owned." Title is acquired by simple appropriation and 
tillage, and it is important to note that alienation may occur. 
The little gardens tended exclusively by women are trans- 
mitted to their daughters; this evidently has nothing to do 
with sib ownership but merely with the same principle that 
makes hunting territories descend from father to son. 

Where ancient conditions have suffered to a greater ex- 
tent from the influences of civilization positive statements 
cannot be safely made. Thus Dr. Speck leaves us in doubt 
whether particular portions of the arable Yuchi territory 
belonged to individuals or to sibs. Nevertheless, when he 
speaks of occupation and utilization establishing ownership 
and of comer stones with optional designs serving as prop- 
erty marks, the presumption is in favor of private proprie- 

For by far the most precise data on horticultural holdings 
in America north of Mexico we are indebted to Dr. G, L, 
Wilson's researches among the Hidatsa. His data have 
already been used to show how the notion of a mother-sib. 

' 1 


might naturally develop from the assignment of all horti- 
cultural labors and holdings to the women. There is no 
question that the sisters and their descendants who jointly 
cultivated a plot also shared the produce, and in this sense 
collective proprietorship may be ascribed to the Hidatsa. 
But Wilson's informants leave no doubt that it was invari- 
ably the actual blood kindred through the mother not the 
larger mother-sib that cultivated and owned the plot. In 
the rich bottom lands of the Missouri the women of a 
family, i.e., the grandmother, her daughters and daughters' 
daughters, made a clearing, which was subsequently 
bounded with wooden stakes, stones or little mounds. Dif- 
ficulties sometimes arose through conflicting claims, but 
there was a strong sentiment against quarreling about land 
and usually an amicable settlement was arrived at by offer- 
ing compensation for a ceded strip. There was. however, 
probably no sale of entire gardens. When a woman died, 
her relatives sometimes failed to appropriate her plot. In 
that case some other woman might use it but not before 
asking permission of the deceased owner's family. 

With regard to ancient Mexico Bandelier has lavished all 
the resources of his vast erudition on an attempt to inter- 
pret the historical sources in a sense favorable to Morgan's 
sib scheme. Rejecting completely the notion of a Mexican 
feudal monarchy that had been popularized by early Spanish 
annalists, he conceived central Mexico as a confederacy of 
independent tribes which had indeed subjugated other popu- 
lations but never to a condition of vassalage. That is to 
say, instead of acquiring dominion over the soil of the 
I vanquished, the conquerors contented themselves with ex- 
i acting tribute, certain plots being segregated for crops to 
be surrendered to them. As for the hereditary territory of 
I the dominant tribes, or indeed of any other native peoples, 
J the father-sib (for Bandelier identified the aboriginal term 
I calpuUi as a designation for the sib) formed the proprietary 
lit quite independently of other tribal suhdivisions. AHcq- 




ition was impossible. If a sib became extinct, its lands 
were added to those of another with inadequate territory or 
were distributed among the remaining stbs. The sib tract 
was parceled out among male members, who were obliged 
to cultivate their allotment or at least to provide substi- 
tutes if other duties interfered with horticultural labors. 
Otherwise their plots reverted to the sib at the close of a 
itwo-year period and were re-allotted. The function of 
ipervising the distribution of land belonged to the chief 
i the sib, as,sisted l>y a council of its elders. Bandelier 
strongly insists that even the tribal chiefs had no terri- 
torial domains in a feudal sense but merely held certain 
plots as sib members, while certain other plots were re- 
served for their official requirements without any notion of 
.wnership by the chiefs. In short, Bandelier's view is that 
le abstract notion of ownership by either chief or nation 
was foreign to the Mexican natives; that the sib had an 
inalienable possessory right in its territory; while the indi- 
vidual families merely enjoyed the hereditary usufruct of 
plots within the sib area. 

Unfortunately none of Bandelier's successors has re- 
examined the Spanish chronicles with equal thoroughness 
and accordingly the discussion cannot be considered closed. 
Bandelier's contention that feudal overlords were unknown 
in Mexico will probably stand, and the collective tenancy of 
land by the calpuJii with mere usufruct by individual fam- 
ilies is accepted by the latest writer on the subject. On the 
other hand, there is serious doubt whether the caipulH were 
father-sibs; Dr. Spinden interprets them rather as "military 
organizations taking into their membership all the men of 
the tribe." A complete reinvestigation of all the older 
sources without theoretical prepossession is thus indispen- 
sable for a satisfactory understanding of ancient Mexican 
[d tenure. 

Precise statements as to South American conditions are 
lot abundant. In a country practising a form of state 




■socialism like ancient Peru individual land ownership would 
'hardly be expected. By a tripartite division lands were set 
aside for priestly and governmental uses, the residue re- 
maining for the support of the population at large. Tracts 
were possessed by the father-sib (ayllu), and within each 
of them the several families received an adequate allotment 
for utilization. For the Chibcha we have an over-summary 
declaration that real estate was individually owned : "La 
propiedad indhndual dc las ticrras cxist'ia cntre los ChibcJtas, 
y los bienes rakes se transmit ian par hcrcncia A las mujeres 
y a los hij'os del difitnto." Somewhat greater detail would 
certainly be welcome. From the ruder tribes, both indi- 
vidual and communal ownership are reported. In the north- 
west Amazons the tribal plantations belong to the chief, 
apparently not Ijecause he exercises any abstract dominion 
over the soil but from the practical reason that since all the 
unattached females in the ccMnmunal dwelling belong to 
him he is best able to cultivate the fields. This in no way 
prevents individual Indians who have private lodgings in 
the bush from having their special patches of manioc. 
Tribal boundaries are often carefully maintained. Within 
them the Bakairi plant communally, though Schmidt ob- 
served that on the Kulisehu communal labor created a 
usufructuary and possessory right for an individual by 
making a clearing for him. 

Thus, so far as the scanty data permit any generalization, 
it appears that the New World aborigines followed a vari- 
ety of systems as to land tenure. Communal ownership cer- 
tainly occurs, especially in the south, non-communal though 
collective sib ownership has at least been vigorously as- 
serted, while ownership by close blood-kin through the 
mother occurs among the Hidatsa and individual ownership i 
in Zuni.' 

With relatively few exceptions American society was! 
organized on a democratic basis. As we pass to the remain-f 
ing continents, the effect of other polities on land ownerJ 


^ip often appears with great clearness, especially where 
in Africa and Oceania greater ami lesser degrees of 
onarchical power are found side by side. 
As a result of their political conceptions the African 
aborigines frequently consider the land the king's or chief's 
property. It follows that purchase of land becomes impos- 
sible. Nevertheless apart from restraint on alienation the 
man to whom territory has been allotted may become its 
absolute master. The method pursued by the Thonga may 
be used for illustration. A headman, having obtained from 
the king a considerable tract of land, apportions it among 
his fellow-villagers, who begin to till the most fertile sec- 
tions of their allotments. When a newcomer wishes to set- 
»tle on the territory, he is taken to an uncultivated plot, of 
which the boundaries are fixed by natural landmarks, such 
as trees, lakes or ant-hills. Henceforth he is rightful occu- 
pant of the premises, but if he leaves either because of 
dissatisfaction with the soil or some personal difficulty with 
his neighbors, the property cannot be sold, but escheats to 
the grantor. On the other hand, in the normal course of 
events possessory rights descend to the grantee's heirs. The 
headman's title would similarly be invalidated if he left the 
country, irrespective of the period of his occupancy. But 
so long as the tenant remains in possession, his control is 
undisputed and he may in turn parcel out his territory 
among his kinsmen. Strangely enough, the grantor sur- 
renders his interest to such an extent that he must obtain 
the tenant's leave for so much as picking up rotting fruit 
from the assigned tract. In this and other details there is 
naturally local variation among the Bantu, and much doubt- 
less depended on the powers of individual headmen and 
rulers, yet on the whole one derives the impression that 
tenure was relatively secure. Thus, among some of the 
southern tribes a chief might indeed expel a commoner from 
his estate and seize his standing crops on behalf of another 
chief, but it was illegal to dispossess the cultivator in favor 


of another commoner. An interesting deviation from 
Thonga practice is also noted for their southern congeners 
in case of abandonment. This did not void the title: the 
former occupant might recover the arable formerly used 
by him, though he had no claim to the grounds broken up 
and brought under cultivation by the newcomer. 

Among the Southern Bantu, then, the cultivator remains 
a tenant, though generally one in secure occupancy of his 
land, effective use of the soil by a grantee depriving the 
grantor or any one else of the right to interfere, except 
sometimes for political offences. So far as I am able to see, 
the possessory rights are held individually. 

Among the Ewe of Togoland chiefs are of rather less 
consequence than among the Zulu and their relatives. On 
the other liand, the individual seems to coimt for less as 
compared with the group of his patrilineal kindred. These 
two conditions give a different coloring to Ewe real estate 
law. Each tribe and each village has its distinctive domain 
carefully demarcated from that of neighlx)ring units of 
like order by boundary lines marked with a species of shrub 
generally used for this purpose. Within the village area 
each paternal family has its own land, which is again prop- 
erly bounded. Theoretically the title is l>ased on ancestral 
appropriation and prescription. So far as the tribal and 
village land is concerned, ownership is public The subdi- 
visions of the village area are owned by groups of patri- 
lineal blood-kindred with the heads of families acting as 
administrators. The head of a group is obliged to assist 
other members in times of stress, and any kinsman is per- 
mitted to till a portion of the hereditary soil. A family of 
diminishing numbers may cultivate only a relatively small 
portion of the land they own. nevertheless their title does 
not lapse through non-use. Other families are permitted 
to occupy plots in such cases without the necessity of pay- 
ing rent but they are required to observe local customs as to 
rest-days and to plant palm-seeds so that the owner may 


some day have a palm grove on his property. Within the 
paternal family group there is hardly individual owner- 
ship : occupation of a definite plot by one member is neither 
prejudicial to the interests of fellow-members in the land 
he tills nor does it interfere with the cuhivator's rights to 
the hereditary land outside his plot. So far as personal 
titles are recognized, they seem to hold only for the palm- 
trees planted. 

Since the very existence of the Ewe rests on the posses- 
sion of their fields, a sale of the ancestral property as a 
whole is out of the question and formerly it was deemed 
preferable in case of debt to sell or pawn members of the 
family who had contracted the obligation. It happens, how- 
ever, that special patches are sold with the consent of the 
administering head of the group. In such cases, there is a 
strong likelihood that the fellow-members will strain every 
effort to retrieve possession of the hereditary plot t^ re-pur- 
chase. Otherwise the transferred property is transmitted 
to the buyer's heirs according to customary rules of inherit- 
ance. Conveyance is not without its formalities. The pur- 
chaser pays the price agreed upon, then the seller brings a 
fixed amount of cowrie shells to be divided between him 
and the buyer. Next a string of cowries is divided into 
halves and torn in the middle, whereupon each party ties 
his half of the string with the shells to his stool or carrying- 
basket as documentary evidence of legal purchase. Finally 
both buyer and seller, accompanied by witnesses, repair to 
the transferred property, where three shots must be dis- 
charged. This counts as a public ratification of the sale 
and is the first point ascertained by judges in cases of sub- 
sequent litigation. If it can be shown that the customary 
shots were fired on the field, the title is established. Dissen- 
sions concerning land ownership have always been common 
»and were formerly adjudicated by the chief and a commis- 
sion of two expert advisers, before whom each litigant was 
obliged to recite the names of all the preceding owners and 




theory absolute owner of all the lane 
permitted or specially granted the 
cultivators. Accordingly it was his i 
was not normally exercised, to oi 
will and invest whc«ii he pleased wit 

In the highly organized state of I. 
tenure approaches, as in Dahomi, th; 
tern. The king is owner of all land 
will with the exception of sib burial gi 
ing. which are liable to taxation but 
proprietorship. The king grants lanJ 
the chiefs allot lesser tracts to the pea 
are obliged to work for them and rem 
No sale of land is possible since that w 
ment on the king's ownership, even tl 
maining inalienable. 

Thus in Africa the whole question ol 
a distinct aspect. It is inextricably bou 
and extent of royal dominion, which s 
possessory rights of the occupant in 
tenant at the master's will. Additiona 
enter, as in the case of the Ewe, whi 
. UrirpW —a---'^- — :•'- ■ --■ 



fel conception of woman has generally prejudiced her pro- 
prietary status.' 

In Oceania the Melanesians, except where influenced by 
Polynesian example, approach a democratic condition: the 
Polynesians everywhere prized nobility of descent but ex- 
cept in certain groups lived rather in a commonwealth of 
gentlemen than in an autocratically ruled state ; in Hawaii, 
however, and part of Micronesia a large body of the popu- 
lation groveled in the dust before the patrician caste. These 
differences inevitably affected the law of land. 

In Melanesia generally there is little indication of feudal 
tenure; nay, Codrington cites an interesting case of land- 
less chiefs. Even in Fiji, where under Polynesian influence 
chiefs attained an exalted position, responsibility to the 
ruler as an individual seems to have arisen only through 
special conditions. According to Mr. Thomson, the chief 
as tribal representative would assign plots to fugitives ask- 
ing for protection, and the tribute presented to him was at 
first divided up among his people. But by usurpation of 
prerogatives not originally vested in him he was able to 
make special levies and even to obscure the original form 
nf tenure to the extent of figuring as an overlord to whom 
the tenants were personally subject. 

Speaking again in a general way. the waste lands were 

ibal property in the sense that any tribesman was per- 
litted to possess, clear and cultivate an unappropriated 
part of tbe area. An important distinction is drawn in the 
Banks Island.^ and neighlx>ring sections of Melanesia be- 
tween the ancient hereditary land and that recently re- 
claimed. The former belonged to the mother-sibs or at 
least to the constituent maternal families, so that when a 
man died his gardens became the possession of his sister's 
sons, all of whom jointly owned the property and each of 

lom chose a plot within the inherited estate. On the 
r hand, plots recently brought under cultivation by a 
t's individual labor were his and descended to his sons, 



who did not hold in common, each becoming owner of 
a distinct part of the field. 

A very interesting detail of Oceanian real estate law is 
the proprietorship of fruit trees apart from the soil on 
which they grow, a circumstance that has led to much con- 
fusion on the part of colonial administrators. In Fiji, in 
the Banks Islands, and part of New Guinea the planter has 
an indefeasible claim on cocoanuts or other valuable trees 
even if he has not obtained leave to plant them on another 
man's soil, though permission is usually asked and granted. 
European settlers are accordingly obliged to indemnify not 
only the landowner but every native who has fruit trees 
standing on the property they are acquiring. 

Alienation of land was decidedly uncommon. In the 
Fijian state of Rewa there were nine methods of transfer 
but in six of them there was definite provision for redemp- 
tion by a special ceremony, though not for a spontaneous 
reversion of the property to the line of original owners. 
Thus, an estate might be given by the bride's family as her 
dowry to be used by her husband and her male children. 
Failing male issue, the donors could redeem it with a suit- 
able present, but until this formality was gone through the 
husband and his repre.'^entatives could till or lease the land, 
though without rights of transfer. There was no specified 
statute of limitations, but if the donors' kin allowed the 
matter to lapse for three or four generations the descend- 
ants of the grantee would be upheld by public sentiment in 
rejecting a subsequent offer of redemption gifts. 

Fijian land tenure varied enormously in different locali- 
ties and the statements of our authority, possibly reflecting 
tribal differences, are not wholly consistent as to the mat- 
ter of communism. It is, however, clear that at least in 
certain regions individual ownership was recognized. This 
was noticeably the case in Rewa, where every plot had to 
-eclaimed from the river or sea by individual effort, 
established personal proprietary rights. Indeed, it 




would seem that the so-called communism of Fiji dwindles 
into tHe dominance of moral over legal conceptions : the 
land cultivated by a man and the trees he planted were his 
by legal right but the ethical claims of his kindred in prac- 
tice went far to level the benefits accruing to the holder of 
an estate with those derived by his kin. 

Probably, there is no part of Oceania in which individual 
property rights as conceived by us are better developed than 
in die Torres Straits Islands. Every rock and waterhole 
had its owner, the only piece of common land being the 
village street. Gardens were leased, the first fruits con- 
stituting a sort of rent pajTnent. Contrary to widespread 
primitive usage, alienation and testamentary disposition 
were allowable. An irate father might disinherit his chil- 
dren or apportion his property among them at will, which 
proves that there was no inalienable birthright to land nor 
joint ownership even by blood-kindred. 

In sharp contrast to the democratic polity of Melanesia 
stands the caste system of the Marshall Islands. Here the 
upper and lower nobility held undisputed sway, looking 
down with supreme scorn upon their plebeian serfs and only 
granting to a middle-class of 'professional men' a sort of 
feudal tenure of lands in return for distinguished services. 
It is thus merely the limited patrician caste that exercises 
proprietorship of the soil and its control is an absolute one. 
A nobleman's title is based on inheritance or conquest; he 
may give away or sell his territory at will though the lesser 
chiefs yield tribute to those of higher rank. The estates 
are cultivated by serfs who are completely subject to their 
master's caprice. Some of these plebeian families are 
allowed to remain in the same spot for generations but such 
association establishes no claim to safe tenure. The serfs 
toil for their master, who is wholly supported by them and 
in addition exacts an annual tribute. 

In New Zealand, on the other hand, a general equality of 
political status proved consistent with high veneration for 



noble lineage. The mass of the population may be described 
as landed gentry, whose position in their tribe couM never 
descend to the level of degradation characteristic of the 
Micronesian serfs. The precise prerogatives as to land 
accorded to chiefs and reserved to individual tribesmen are 
not clear. Individual and collective rights, too, coexisted 
in a manner at times puzzling. Generally it seems that com- 
munal claims related to the trilal area not yet definitely 
occupied ; but as soon as a man marked as his property a 
tree which he designed for a canoe his title would not be 
disputed. Unlike the Australians, the Maori put into prac- 
tice the principle that the territory of the vanquished be- 
longs to the victor; it was in fact regarded as an indemnity 
for the lives lost by the conquering host. Whether tenure 
conformed to the feudal pattern remains a question. The 
esteem in which chiefs were held, and indeed the specific 
statement that unappropriated tracts were parceled out by 
them as they saw fit, would indicate that conquered land 
too would be divided up according to this system. On the 
other hand, we are informed that in settling land secured 
in warfare any one might acquire proprietary privileges by 
active possession and would come to own as much territory 
as he could travel round before meeting a rival prospector. 
The setting up of his spear would then suffice as an emblem 
of occupancy. It Is of course possible that these prospect- 
ing tours were among the prerogatives of higher rank. 

Title was allowed on a variety of contentions in addition 
to those of conquest and inheritance. For example, claims 
could be advanced on the ground that the litigant's ancestors 
had been buried on the disputed property, that his umbilical 
cord had been cut on it, that he had been wounded or cursed 
there, and so forth. Thus purely religious or even fanciful 
notions obtruded themselves into the real estate law of this 
complex culture. Though the Maori were predominantly 
tillers of the soil, land represented a variety of economic 
values, and accordingly specific privileges were owned by 

^^ or 


individuals or families. One might gather shellfish here 
or berries there, another had the exclusive right of hunting 
"(irds in certain localities. U is especially interesting to 
lote the occurrence of multiple seisin ; sometimes one fam- 
ily had the right of digging fem-roots in a certain place, 
while another hunted rats in the same area. 

In Samoa political conditions roughly resembled those 
of New Zealand. The information on land tenure, though 
meager, presents the points at issue with greater clarity. 
Each district guarded its boundaries against the encroach- 
ments of neighboring settlers. Within the district the in- 
dividual families, each represented by its head, owned the 
estates in severalty. The headmen, in spite of their honor- 

Iable position, could not alienate the land without consulting 
iheir kinsmen, who would otherwise depose an arbitrary 
^ministrator of what was evidently regarded as a family 
Joint ownership by the family is also highly character- 
istic of the real estate law of the Ifugao of northern Luzon, 
who may serve as a final illustration of land tenure among 
ruder peoples. To them, if to any people, may be applied 
Sir Henry Maine's notion that primitive individuality is 
swallowed up in the family, — the family in this case appar- 
ently including kinsfolk from both the father's and the 
mother's side. Rice fields and in some measure forest lands 
are here held rather by trustees than by absolute owners, 
"Present holders," says Mr, Barton, "possess only a tran- 
sient and fleeting possession, or better occupation, insignifi- 
cant in duration in comparison with the decades and per- 
haps centuries that have usually elapsed since the field or 
heirloom came into the possession of the family." When 
there is one field and a multiplicity of heirs, the first-bom 
takes it because apart from practical difficulties it is deemed 
better to have one powerful representative of the family 
to whom the rest of the group may repair for aid than to 
divide the estate into diminutive holdings occupied by men 



of !ittle consequence in the comniiuiity. As trustee the 
holder is by no means free to dispose of the property at 
will, but may do so only after proper consultation with his 
kinsmen. No transfer is ever attempted without urgent 
necessity, such as the need for sacrifices to secure the recov- 
ery of some member of the family whose life is endan- 
gered by sickness : and conveyance is solemnized in a man- 
ner to which there is no parallel in the sale of personal 

Two forms of transfer outside the family occur, pawning 
and sale. If a landholder requires a loan, say, to defray 
the expenses of a funeral, he may give his rice field as 
security to the creditor, who then plants and harvests the 
field until the amount is refunded. Whenever tlie borrowed 
sum, usually equivalent to about half the value of the field, 
is restored, the estate reverts to the pawner, with the quali- 
fication that the creditor remains in possession until the 
crop is harvested. The transferee may in turn pawn the 
property, but never for a greater amount than tliat advanced 
by himself, so that payment of the debt will restore the 
field to the original holder without undue friction, which 
might otherwise result. All pawning is witnessed by an 
agent through whom the loan is negotiated; his fee is ad- 
vanced by the creditor but it must be refunded with the 

Far greater solemnity is observed when a sale takes place. 
The price is divided into ten parts, each represented by a 
notch cut in a stick or a knot in a string. The first two 
payments are the heaviest and must be rendered within a 
set period while the time of the residuary payments remains 
unfixed. Possession is yielded after the receipt of the 
initial amount. The witnesses include the seller's remote 
kin and the indispensable go-betweens who have arranged 
the whole transaction and are entitled to a fee. The traiUh 
far of ownership is not possible without a ceremonial fej- 
and on the other hand the commencement of the ^ 


lulliBes all obligations on Ihe buyer's part to render further 

Lyments, so that he sometimes resorts to trickery to be- 

ile the seller into premature banqueting. 

If the landholder abandons a field and it is taken up. 

■epared and planted by another man without interference 

the part of the hereditary occupant, the latter forfeits 

right to the land for a length of time equal to that of 

lis neglect to utilize it. At the end of that period the field 

Itverts to its former possessor, but if he desires to regain it 

at an earlier date he is obliged to repurchase possession." 

A review of the systems of land tenure described in the 
preceding pages establishes beyond doubt the reality of that 
primitive joint ownership which so strongly impressed Sir 
Henry Maine. But it is by no means a fact that the co- 
trietors always constitute a social unit of the same 
Communal ownership, apart from the general tribal 
area, we have encountered only in that highly special case 
where a father-sib is localized and thus becomes coexten- 
sive with the commune. Far more frequently proprietary 
privileges are shared by corporations of another type, 
groups of close blood-kindred, unilateral as among the Ewe 
or bilateral as apparently among the Ifugao. That is to 
say, there is no communism in land so far as the territorial 
body goes but only within a strictly limited body of actual 
kindred. Further, joint ownership, while frequent, is not 
universal. We also find individual property rights as in the 
Torres Straits and in Rewa; nay, communism and indi- 
vidualism sometimes coexist; as in the case of the Kirgiz 
pastures. The biirflen of the proof surely rests with those 
who believe in a universal stage of communal ownership 
antecedent to individual tenure ot land. Let them advance 
evidence to show ■'-■ ' • 'niiunally owned in 

the Torres Straif - at some definite 

iter's domain ; 



Fortunately it is not necessary to assume altogether the 
attitude of a passive skeptic. Baden-Powell's researches in 
India permit us to take the offensive and to show that in 
all probability tliis region lias witnessed an evolution of 
real estate law diametrically opposite to that rashly assumed 
by speculative anthropologists. Baden-Powell points out 
that the area in which joint villages prevail is considerably 
less than half of that in which separate ownership of land 
predominates. Moreover, this latter condition occurs pre- 
cisely among the populations possessing a ruder civiliza- 
tion. The Kandh of Orissa furnish a capital illustration. 
Here the head of the family alone owns tlie h(«nestead and 
the land attached to it. The sons live with him after mar- 
riage but hold no property rights until their father's death, 
when the estate is divided equally among them. There is 
no trace of common ownership nor of the allotment of 
fractional shares of the village area to the several families. 
Each family clears and occupies a portion of the ample 
waste according to exigency. Once occupied in this fashion, 
land becomes heritable property that may be bought and 
sold. Upon this type of individual tenure by agricultural 
aborigines there was superimposed, in certain localities, the 
principle of the joint-village. — often in the form of a con- 
quering non-agricultural group assuming the dominion of 
the soil and degrading the native proprietors into mere 
tenants. In such cases the landlords formed a brotherhood 
owning the village area inclusive of the waste land as a 
unit estate. Shares might be assigned either on a per capita 
basis, each household receiving a number proportionate to 
its members: or the ancestral shares were calculated ac- 
cording to the pedigree table, so that the sole heir of one 
of the original assignees would hold a larger territory than, 
say, one of three heirs. In a strict sense, Baden-Powell 
finds, there is never a holding of the soil in common by any 
major group, though there is a sense of kinship and obliga- 
tion to mutual assistance: beyond a certain limit of blood- 


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Schmidt had a similar experience In attempting to pur- 
chase the mat of ah eteven-year-old boy, which his father 
refused to sell without the boy's consent. 

Often the title 'o movable property rests on individual 
effort; this is why women so commonly own the pottery 
they have manufactured. Another principle relates to what 
might be called effective utilization. Each Yukaghir owns 
his clothing, the hunter owns his gun, the woman her sew- 
ing implements. Nevertheless this very notion may lead 
to a collective rather than personal ownership: the Yuka- 
ghir consider boats, houses and nets as the joint property 
of the entire family. But these widespread principles may 
be completely overridden by the structure of political so- 
ciety. Where the caste system attains the rigidity charac- 
teristic of the Marshal! Islands, the laborer is utterly at 
the mercy of a chief, who may appropriate not only the 
produce of his horticultural lalx)r, but also all his movables. 
The organization of society in this case introduces a spe- 
cific type of property in the form of serfs or slaves, whose 
status will be discussed elsewhere. On the west coast of 
Africa servitude may be merely temporary, the slave func- 
tioning as a pawn or security for the payment of debts. 

Another categorj' of chattels is represented by live stock. 
Among pastoral peoples flocks and herds constitute the only 
or at least the most conspicuous form of wealth, the ready 
means to matrimony and prestige. There is accordingly a 
tremendous accentuation of the sense of individual prop- 
erty rights, attested by the branding systems current among 
such tribes as the Chukchi, the Kirgiz and the Masai. 
Among peoples who are predominantly stock-breeders in- 
dividual ownership is often vehemently asserted even 
against the claims of family ties. A Masai elder will assign 
some of his cattle to each of his wives, who must care for 
them in return for usufructuary possession, but they remain 
the husband's property. Only when she has a son of ten 
or twelve whose services are not required for the paternal 


herds, the boy becomes owner of the cattle hitherto en- 
trusted to his mother's care, but she and her son must 
forthwith leave the kraal and establish a small one of their 
own at a distance of several kilometers lest the father's and 
the son's herds intermingle to the former's detriment. The 
Chukchi who has become impoverished by the loss of his 
herds may indeed look to his brother or cousin for assist- 
ance that shall enable him to resume reindeer-breeding, but 
he has merely an ethical, no legal, claim against his kins- 
men; and an old herder jealously guards his full property 
rights against his own sons/ 

In short, with regard to chattels separate proprietorship 
is seen to predominate. 

Incorporeal Property 

Contrary to what might be supposed, the notion of pat- 
ents or copyrights is well-developed in the lower reaches of 
civilization, and its prominence among certain peoples re- 
duces the dogma of a universal primitive communism to a 
manifest absurdity. That this fact has not been adequately 
grasped by earlier writers is in part due to that rational- 
istic prejudice which is the bane of all historical* inquiry. 
To minds steeped in the spirit of an industrial era it is 
difficult to conceive that privileges without obvious utili- 
tarian benefits may be highly prized and sometimes dis- 
tinctly rank as wealth. 

Even in so humble an environment as that of the Anda- 
man Islands 'choses in action/ to use our legal phraseology, 
are not wanting. This is all the more remarkable because 
with reference to utensils, such as cooking-vessels, the abo- 
rigines display a large-mindedness actually approaching 
communism: "the rights of private property are only so 
far recognized that no one would without permission ap- 
propriate or remove to a distance anything belonging to a 
friend or neighbor." But no such latitude holds with re- 


! of a tribal 
kith applause 

^H gard to the songs composed for the occasioi 
^^ gathering. A song that has been received \ 

may be repealed by request at lesser gatherings, hut irre- 
spective of its popularity no one dare sing it except the 
composer himself. 

The Koryak believe that the course of events may be 
shaped by magic formulas, which serve to banish disease, 
lure game, consecrate charms, and exorcise evil spirits. All 
incantations originated from the Creator. They are now 
held by elderly women, who treasure them as trade secrets; 
indeed, there is a belief that to divulge the formula is to 
destroy its efficacy. For chanting a formula the owner 
receives from her client cakes of pressed tea, or several 
packages of tobacco, or a reindeer. "When a woman sells 
an incantation, she must promise that she gives it up en- 
tirely, and that the Ijuyer will become the only possessor of 
its mysterious power." 

On one of the Eastern Torres Straits Islands Professor 
Haddon discovered distinct ideas of proprietorship in local 
legends, for an informant never liked to tell a story con- 
nected with another locality. This type of experience has 
been shared by many investigators of the North American 
Indians, Additional examples of copyright are furnished 
by the Kai. Among them, as in the Andamans, a poet is 
the absolute owner of his ccwnposition. No one else may 
sing it without his consent, and usually he exacts a fee for 
granting it. Similarly, there is ownership of magical for- 
mulas, the instructor being entitled to compensation. Cer- 
tain carvings, too, must not be copied without special leave. 
Even personal names are in a sense a form of patented 
property, so that a young man adopting a name already 
held presents his elder namesake with a gift by way of 

Among the natives of British Columbia the Nootka are 
conspicuous for the numlter and variety of their intangible 
goods. From data kindly supplied by Dr. Sapir it appears 


lat the patent rights of these people are divisible into two 

)ries, those called topati which are necessarily trans- 
Itnitted from father to eldest son and those which a father 
I normally surrenders to his son but is not obliged to trans- 
I mit. That is. such a privilege as the knowledge of the 
} family legend could not be withheld from the eldest son 
[■ since it is his birthright. On the other hand, a father may 
exercise some discretion in regard to such a secret as the 
ritual for spearing fish; if he consider his son unworthy, 
he will refuse to give him the requisite instructions. The 
topati are exceedingly numerous. They include names, — 
I not only those designating the owner himself, but also those 
I he has an exclusive right to apply to his slaves, his houses, 
canoes or harpoons; the right to certain carvings on grave 
posts or totem poles; the prerogative of singing certaiti 
songs, including even lullabies, and of executing certain 
dances; and many other privileges. Some of these are of 
I an amazingly special character. For example, in the Wolf 
' ritual the particular coloring and decoration of certain per- 
formers are the inherited patents of the man who arranges 
the festival ; the right to set a trap to capture the wolf- 
impersonators is associated with a particular lineage ; one 
actor who limps and howls in a peculiar way does so by 
virtue of inherited prerogative. The same applies to solemn 
chants sung at particular junctures, to the lassoing of novi- 
ces, the loud and rapid beating of a drum at one point of 
the drama, the wearing of bear skins at another, the black- 
ening of all tile spectators' faces. Other ceremonies are 
marked by corresponding exhibitions of topati: thus, in the 
girls' puberty festival the right to receive a ceremonial 
torch was a jealously guarded hereditary privilege. 

While the Nootka stress the hereditary character of their 
immaterial forms of property, which is tantamount to mak- 
ing the privileges the joint property of a group, the indi- 
j vidualistic character of incorporeal property is on the whole 
I strongly marked among the Indians of the Plains. In 



order to understand the phenomena found in this region 
we are obhgcd to transcend for a moment the sphere of 
purely sociological data and enter the domain of religious 
belief. The center of Plains Indian religion is occupied by 
the conceptions and practices connected with visionary ex- 
periences. These sometimes come unsought to tlie fortu- 
nate man favored by supernatural Ijeings but was far more 
commonly stimulated by a several days' fast on a lonely 
hilltop. The tenor of the revelation would often determine 
the course of the successful visionary's future career. If 
he saw a buffalo recommending the use of a certain mix- 
ture of roots for the treatment of wounds, he would set up 
as a practitioner and success would gain for him fame and 
riches. If he was instructed to organize a new dancing 
society with a definite set of songs and regalia, he would 
forthwith become the founder of such an organization with 
a probable rise of prestige and possibly other benefits. If 
he saw a horseman carrying a peculiarly ornamented shield 
and escaping unscathed from a hostile onslaught, he would 
henceforth feel secure in any encounter and establish a 
reputation for reckless bravery. 

But the visionary experience might extend its beneficent 
influences to other individuals who had never ventured in 
quest of a revelation or had tried and failed to obtain 
supernatural favors; and they might come to share the 
benefits not merely in a subsidiarj- fashion, as patients 
cured by a visionary or as participants in the dance he 
founded, but in the fullest sense, as though they themselves 
had enjoyed the spiritual blessing. This was rendered pos- 
sible by the notion that privileges conferred by a spirit are 
transferable; and this conception became a source of gain 
to the visionary through the additional conception that they 
were alienable only through sale. Why certain rights 
should have come to be prized by the people of this or that 
tribe is not always obvious any more than in the case of 
the Nootka; the important fact is that they are highly 


esteemed and thus add to the social standing of the posses- 
sor; that no one ventures to infringe his patent; and that 
any one desirous of sharing it or buying it outright will 
sacrifice property to what we should consider an absurd 
amount. Transfer by gift is excluded even where the re- 
lationship of the negotiating parties is as close as possible: 
I know of a Crow who bought the right of using a special 
kind of ceremonial paint from his own mother, and the 
Hidatsa medicine bundles, uniformly derived from ances- 
tral visions and hereditary in certain families, must never- 
theless be bought by sons from their own fathers. In many 
instances, as in the one last mentioned, tangible commo- 
dities too may be transferred, but the principal thing is not 
the corporeal object — the pipe or feather or rattle — but in- 
variably the immaterial privilege with instructions about 
correlated songs and methods of handling the sacred ob- 
ject or warnings as to taboos indissolubly bound up with 
the visionary prerogative. Because of the comparative in- 
significance of the visible object a. replica may readily be 
substituted for the visionarj''s own emblem, nay, may be 
[ supplied by the purchaser himself. It does not matter 
whether he takes the seller's rabbit foot, ermine skin and 
eagle feather or secures them by his own efforts: what he 
I is buying is the right to use this particular combination of 
objects together with the right to the associated songs and 
I activities, but also with any coexistent duties and restric- 
I tions on conduct. 

The rules as to different ceremonial privileges naturally 
I vary somewhat, Sometimes the seller does not alienate his 
I ownership completely but merely [lermits the bu>'er to share 
I in its benefits in return: but sometimes there is the qualifi- 
I cation that the owner may not dispose of his rights more 
I than four times, the fourth partial sale terminating his own 
I proprietary rights. In other cases the buyer purchases the 
I privileges in question outright, a single transfer completely 
divesting the seller of ownership. 


These general principles are best driven home t^ con- 
crete illustrations. I will select two examples, the right to 
plant the sacred Tobacco of the Crow and the purchase of 
membership in the military organizations of the Hidatsa. 

In order to secure the right to join in the planting of the 
sacred Tobacco, it is necessary to be initiated by a member 
of the Tobacco society, to be adopted as his 'son.' This 
feature emphasizes the individual character of the proceed- 
ing. No man can be taken in by the society as a whole; 
he is fathered by his individual sponsor as he in turn was 
fathered by the person who introduced liini, and as the 
founder of the society was fathered by the supernatural 
being that bade him plant Tobacco for his own and the 
tribal welfare. The fact that the planting privilege is 
shared by a group is from the Crow point of view inci- 
dental : it has merely happened that in the case of the 
Tobacco those purchasing the same medicine have shown 
greater solidarity than those buying, say, the same war 
medicine, and that consequently they have come to form a 
society instead of a mere series of unassociated individuals 
with similar privileges. In addition to the generic right to 
plant Tobacco, each novice acquires specific medicines, 
which he is allowed to choose from those unfolded before 
him by ihe adopting section of the society. Further, there 
is a multiplicity of specific privileges recalling those of the 
Nootka but differing in their non-hereditary character. For 
each medicine object and each privilege separate payment 
must be made. Thus, a woman named Cuts-the-picketed- 
mule paid a horse for a Tobacco bag, another horse with 
otterskins for a breast ornament, a horse for the privilege 
of sitting next to the door. These payments were over and 
above the initiation fee given to the 'father' and were 
yielded to such members of his section as held the preroga- 
tives. Since the novice is aided by friends and relatives 
and because the main privilege he seeks is held jointly, an 
appearance of collective purchase is produced that is quite 




foreign to the essence of the transaction. Inasmuch as it 
15 a matter of pride to do things handsomely at an initia- 
tion, the candidate is more or less Uberally aided by his 
kin, his friends, and his club. On the other hand, the 
'father" who receives, say, fifty horses would incur the re- 
proach of avarice if he retained the fee without making ade- 
quate deductions on behalf of fellow-members of his sec- 
tion. These are, however, merely personal or ethical mo- 
tives intruding on a strictly legal procedure, by which an 
individual A yields a share in his planting privilege to an 
individual B, who is obliged to furnish compensation. 

A remarkable blending of the collective and the individ- 
ualistic element appears in the Hidatsa military clubs. 
Other features of these organizations will be noticed in a 
later chapter; here it is the conception of membership as 
property that alone requires attention. According to Htd- 
atsa theory, these societies with their songs, regalia and 
functions were revealed to visionaries who subsequently 
founded them in obedience to supernatural instructors: 
when an Hidatsa does not know the legendary vision on 
which a society is based, he at once suspects its alien origin. 
In other words, we meet again the notion of an individual 
revelation bestowing on the beneficiary transferable pre- 
rt^ptives. Since the visionary was instructed to found a 
society, the collective feature is inevitable under normal con- 
ditions. Yet in principle we are merely dealing with a 
proprietarj' right that may be shared by a group but may 
also be held by a single person. This is proved by the fact 
that at one time when all the owners of a certain society 
with a solitary exception had been carried off by disease, 
this survivor actually was sole proprietor and sold his mem- 
bership to a group of young men eager to acquire it. As 
compared with the Tobacco-planting privilege, the member- 
ship in a military club differs in that it is sold outright, so 
that the 'father* wholly abdicates his place in favor of the 



Normally the collective feature appeared in that a group 
of buyers jointly purchased membership from a group of 
sellers. A reason for the collective procedure will be sug- 
gested later. \V"hat concerns us here is that the transfer of 
property was essentially individual. There was an initial 
accumulation of goods by the 'sons' in a body, and through 
this property they sought to induce the owners to consider 
selling their membership rights. But with the commence- 
ment of the sale itself each buyer selected a seller belong- 
ing to his own father's sib as his individual 'father.' and 
henceforth the affair was an individual transfer. In pur- 
chasing certain of the societies it was customary to sur- 
render one's wife; but there was never a wholesale sur- 
render of wives by the buyers to the sellers as a group : 
each man took his wife to his individual 'father.' Again, 
if the 'father' held some s]}ecial office and regalia in the 
society, then they were automatically transferred to his 
'son.' The entire transaction was at bottom not the trans- 
fer of proprietary rights from one corporation to another 
but resolves itself into a multiple simultaneous transfer of 
individual ownership rights. 

Thus the individual character of proprietary rights 
founded on visionary experiences asserts itself even where 
the rights are shared by a company of individuals. A for- 
tiori, it will have to l;e accepted as unquestioned where, as 
in the case of many war medicines and medicine bundles, 
there is a negotiation l)etwcen only two individuals, the 
buyer and the seller. Certain incorporeal forms of prop- 
erty thus support beyond cavil the possibility of personal 
ownership at a rude stage of civilization. This is certainly 
quite unequivocal where a father cannot transmit a mode 
of painting the face nor even an hereditary set of rituals 
to his own son without receipt of compensation. Of course 
we must not forget that incorporeal property, as among 
the Nootka. may also descend automatically and in that 
sense be joint property. The point is that among the An- 


daman Islanders, the Kai, the Koryak and the Plains In- 
dians, regardless of any laws relating to material posses- 
sions, there are also patents and reserved rights which are 
held personally and upon which no one not duly qupjified 
dare encroach.* 

Incorporeal property, however, should not be considered 
merely from this angle. Its very existence among the 
simpler peoples is of the highest interest; and not less re- 
markable are the Protean forms it assimies under favor- 
able conditions. 


Nothing brings out more clearly the difference between 
individual and collective control of property than the vary- 
ing degrees of liberty accorded to the individual by differ- 
ent societies as to testamentary disposition. The contrast 
is marked between a Torres Straits Islander who may de- 
prive any of his children from a share in his estate and 
the Kai whose possessions are automatically disposed of by 
customary law, — whose pigs are slaughtered for the fimeral 
feast, whose boar's tusks and dog's teeth bags pass into the 
hands of his brothers or maternal uncles, and whose sons 
inherit the fruit-trees he has personally planted. 

This last-mentioned case illustrates an important princi- 
ple already envisaged by the penetrating intelligence of 
Maine. Archaic law often establishes a differentiation be- 
tween hereditary and acquired possessions, as has already 
been pointed out for Melanesia. Where this classification 
occurs, the tendency is to assign greater freedom with re- 
gard to the acquired belongings, a man being reckoned 
master of what his personal efforts have produced. This 
consideration may naturally be overruled by factors of a 
different order. A Plains Indian cannot simply transmit 
the rights acquired through fasting for a vision because of 
the principle that such rights can be acquired only by like 


visions or by purchase; and, as shown for the Hidatsa 
bundles, the feeHiig on this subject may be so strong that 
even an hereditary privilege can be validated only by for- 
mally buying it from one's father. 

Rules of inheritance are sometimes greatly simplified by 
the custom of burying or otherwise destroying all of the 
decedent's effects. Thus the Maidu bum practically all of 
the dead person's belongings, the meager residue being ap- 
portioned among the eldest son as chief heir and other chil- 
dren and relatives, and the right to fishing-holes and deer- 
drives descending in the direct male line. Among the 
Assiniboin the weapons, clothes and utensils of the dead 
were deposited with the corpse, as were sacred shields and 
pipes. Here and in other parts of the Plains area the dead 
man's best horses were sometimes turned loose or killed, 
leaving a very small remnant for distribution among the 
survivors. In addition we sometimes learn of the abandon- 
ment or destruction of the lodge in which the demise oc- 
curred, a custom resting on a morbid fear of death. Thus 
the Pima of Arizona not only kill and eat what live stock 
may remain and destroy personal belongings, but also bum 
down the householder's hut. 

Certain principles already described in connection with 
the titles to ownership necessarily apply to inheritance. 
Thus, a woman's articles of dress or artifacts made and 
used by women, such as earthenware vessels, generally pass 
into the hands of her daughters or other female kin because 
only they could make effective use of them, while a man's 
weapons are inheritable only by men. It is this principle, 
doubtless often in conjunction with others, that accounts 
for one of the most frequent rules of inheritance, viz., the . 
exclusion of the widow from the number of her husband's 
heirs. Her disabilities cannot be wholly explained by her 
lowly status, for they obtain also in regions where women 
occupy a fair position in society, and they are paralleled by 
the husband's inability to inherit from the wife. When. 




tiierefore, an Ostyak widow is described as incapable of 
owning her deceased husband's reindeer, the matter may 
be conceived as follows. The domestication and care of 
reindeer by the male sex established an empirical associa- 
tion between men and this form of chattel so that it ap- 
peared as unnatural for a woman to hold property of this 
type as for a man to inherit feminine apparel. Accord- 
ingly, the herds went to a man's nearest male relatives and 
women were barred from any share. This in itself need 
not affect their status since a priori they might have prop- 
erty rights offsetting their disabilities. Empirically, how- 
ever, no such compensatory privileges exist in pastoral 
tribes, hence the relative degradation of women among 

Another factor that must be considered in this connec- 
[ tion is the conception of marriage as a contract between 
distinct groups of kindred : husband and wife are allies 
whose individuality remains separate, i.e., merged in that 
of the groups they respectively represent, hence their prop- 
erty reverts to the group of their origin. Thus it happens 
that while a Kai man's heirs are his brothers and maternal 
uncles his wife's valuables are appropriated by her brothers 
and mother's brothers. This factor may appear very promi- 
nently where the groups are sibs, in other words, where the 
kindred group is defined with perfect precision. Among 
the Altaian Turks property is inherited by the sons or, fail- 
ing male issue, by the father's brothers or male kinsmen; 
oidy when all of these are lacking can a daughter becjDme 

■ the heiress. 
But in recognizing the potency of the sib factor in mould- 
ing inheritance rules we must be careful not to exaggerate 
its importance, In the first place, while a sib system once 
firmly established often reacts on property law, we have 
found reasons for assuming that fundamentally it is often 

I the rules of inheritance that lie at the bottom of the sib 
notion. What the sib organization can do is to make a 


other. The Hop! furnish a favorable i 
invariably belong to women and conseqi 
mother to daughter; the position of S 
remains within the sib but it is transmit 
brother, or from uncle to sister's son. 
leading to say that the sib owns the dw( 
monial office; the real co-proprietors ar 
in one case and male sib-mates in the o 
quently it cannot even be asserted tha 
female sib-mates are co-proprietors sinj 
are the blood-kin within the sib. Just a 
so in the case of other proprietary vighi 
nearest kinsman of the sib, not to any sit 
tinction. The sib organization, in shor 
elusion of certain close kindred from ii 
inclusion of remote or putative kindred, 
junction with existing notions as to se: 
the precedence of relatives on the basis ( 
Equally important is the circumstancf 
ties organized into sibs property is not al 
mitted within the sib. The Crow when i 
fronted with a new type of property u 
estate, applied their matrilineal scheme 


r transitional stage from one uniform rule of inheritance to 
[ another. But that is to assume that rules of inheritance 
[ must follow a consistent plan for all forms of property. 
The trouble is that historical processes are not shaped with 
' such logical nicety. Granted that a fixed rule of descent 
were followed by a people regarding one form of prop- 
erty, the borrowing of a new form of wealth might pro- 
duce an entirely new set of laws for its transmission. This 
new code could either originate spontaneously or be simply 
borrowed together with the property itself. Accordingly, 
I am not inclined to accept the theory, unless supported by 
concrete data, that mixed rules of inheritance are a sign of 
a change in the nile of descent, either from the maternal 
to the paternal or vice versa. For example, the Melanesian 
custom of transmitting fruit-trees patrilineally and land 
matrilineally may be due to the distinct history of these 
forms of property; and no unification has taken place sim- 
ply because the concrete mind of the savage jurist does not 
develop an abstract conception of real estate property, 
under which are subsumed both trees and land, but con- 
ceives trees as one thing and land as another. This mode 
of thinking was forcibly impressed on me when in an heroic 
attempt to render a nursery tale into classical Crow I spoke 
of a little girl who owned nothing but a loaf of bread in 
her hand and the clothes she wore. I was at once informed 
that the two possessions could not be coupled ; between food 
and raiment there was no connecting link for the Crow 
mind. It was not possible, accordingly, to express the Eng- 
lish thought in a single sentence, which had to be resolved 
into two distinct predications, the one relating to the limi- 
tation in the food supply, the other to the category of mov- 
ables represented by dress. 

I In other words, if we substitute a psychological and his- 
torical for the irrelevant logical point of view, the coexist- 
ence of different rules of inheritance for different classes of 
property is quite intelligible. Those inheritance laws which 


give rise to the sib concept will of course often persist in 
accord with the fully developed sib system ; but other laws 
of equal or greater antiquity may continue to apply to spe- 
cial types of property, and still other laws may be added 
in connection with novel possessions. 

I will now discuss more particularly certain rules of in- 
heritance, merely mentioning the avunctilate here because 
its implications liave already been discussed. 

Primogeniture occurs but is relatively rare in primitive 
society even where the eldest child enjoys a certain ascend- 
ancy over his siblings. Sometimes there is no discrimina- 
tion on the basis of seniority; the Vedda distribute property 
fairly among the adult children, the daughters' shares being 
often nominally given to their husbands. The Kandh of 
Orissa also have an equal division of land among the sons, 
though the office of headman descends to the eldest. The 
Ifugao allot to the first-bom the major portion of the 
estate, yet we have seen that he is virtually not more than 
its administrator for the benefit of the entire group of 
kinsmen. Among the Maritime Chukchi the eldest son has 
the best share of his father's weapons and implements, but 
all the brothers receive their portion, even the house being 
frequently divided Into parts. Primogeniture is further 
qualified in polygynous communities by the superior status 
of one of the wives, usually but not always the first one, 
regardless of the age of the sons. Among the Masai it is 
the eldest son of the principal wife who inherits the largest 
portion of his father's stock and assumes control of the 
girls in the family. However, all the other sons inherit that 
share of the herds which has been previously assigned to 
their respective mothers for usufructuary possession. In 
practice all sorts of complications may arise. The testa- 
mentary powers yielded to a decedent will modify the cus- 
tomary disposition of property, A dying Kikuyu may allot 
larger and smaller herds to his several sons according to 
their place in his affections. While the eldest adult son 

^Flakes poss' 


r takes possession of the legacy, he is merely an executor 
administering the estate according to the testator's bequest. 
If there are only infant children, the property goes to one 
or several of the dead person's younger brothers according 
to his will. But they, too, are merely trustees carefully 
watched by the wives of the deceased, whose sons claim 
their legacy on reaching maturity. Among some of the 
Kafir tribes of South Africa two wives were formally ap- 
pointed as taking precedence over other consorts, — "the 
great one" and the "right-hand one." The eldest son of 
the great wife inherited his father's rank and alt the prop- 
erty that had not been specially assigned to the son of the 
right-hand wife. A father could set aside some portions 
for the eldest sons of his minor wives, but if undue prefer- 
ence was shown to them his settlements were invalidated 
after his death. In the absence of issue, brothers inherited 
the estate: failing brothers, it was appropriated by the 
chief, daughters being barred from the legacy. 

The Kikuyu and Kafir tribes introtluce us to the rule of 
collateral inheritance, which in some other parts of the 
world attains a far greater importance, brothers being the 

•principal heirs, at least in a possessory sense, to the exclu- 
sion or disadvantage of sons. This custom is clearly 
brought out in the Thonga law regulating succession to 
crffice, which seeks to reconcile two disparate principles, the 
preeminence of one branch of the family and tlie collective 
ownership of property by brothers. When a headman or 
chief dies, the oldest son of the principal wife is viewed as 
the rightful heir, but he cannot succeed until all the de* 
ceased ruler's younger brothers have in turn held office and 
died. This system likewise regulated the succession of 
Aztec war chiefs in Tenochtitlan. The Maori case is like- 
wise of interest. As regards rank, primogeniture held 
^H sway: the priest-chief was the eldest son of the eldest son 
^K of the eldest son, etc., of the line claiming descent from 
^H the gods. But in tlie inheritance of land primogeniture was 



.tempered with collateral privileges: "If a father 
tiamed A, B, C, D, cm the death of the father the pi 
passed to A, but not on the death of A to A's son. It went 
to B, and on B's death to C, and so on to D, but at D's 
death it reverted to the son of A," Sometimes the claims 
of collateral heirs were still stronger. Among the Arapaho 
Indians the bidk of the property, which in recent times con- 
sisted largely of horses, was appropriated by the siblings of 
the deceased, the adult sons being to all intents and pur- 
poses disinherited. Similar practices obtained among the 
Crow as regards both land and horses. 

Where a matrilineal organization affects the rules 
inheritance both estate and office may descend by pi 
ence to a brother and only secondarily to the sister's 
either method of course assuring the retention of the prop- 
erty within the sib. From this fact some writers have 
drawn the conclusion that fraternal inheritance in a given 
tribe constitutes a survival from a former matrilineal 
scheme. The Arapaho, who are described as sibless. would 
by this school be classed as at one time matrilineal. It is 
difficult to advance a weaker argument in support of a hope- 
less case. Of course, brothers are members of the same 
mother-sib if descent is matrilineal, but it is equally true 
that they are members of the same father-sib where de- 
scent is patrilineal. The mere fact of fraternal inheritance 
is thus utterly inconclusive as to either maternal or pater- 
nal descent. On the other hand, the collateral rule has much 
to commend it on grounds of equity, in which respect it is 
certainly far suijerior to primogeniture. If a title is estab- 
fished on the basis of effective utilization, the mature 
j|t>ther must certainly take precedence of the adolescent or 
'OD. Again, if a unit estate is founded by a father 

?ns and partition is impracticable, it is assuredly 
fairest of conceivable plans to transmit the 

ency to the eldest son and then successivel 
je others. Collateral inheritance is ccmseqi 

lit the I 



not in the least mysterious when found within a patrilineal 

The antithesis of primogeniture is represented by a cus- 
tom that held sway in parts of Britain under the name of 
'borough-english' and is ethnologically known as junior- 
right because it makes the youngest child the principal, or 
at least the preferentiaJ, heir. India forms one center for 
this usage. The Badaga, neighbors of the Toda, have the 
sons of a family leave the parental roof on marriage and 
set up households of their own; only the youngest remains 
with his parents, supports them in their old age, and auto- 
matically acquires possession of their home when they die. 
To a lesser extent junior-right occurs among the Toda 
themselves. The father's buffaloes often remain the joint 
property of all the sons, but if the need for partition arises 
there is an equal division except that one additional animal 
falls to the share of the eldest and one to that of the 
youngest son. If there are only two sons, each would take 
half of the herd. With four sons and sixteen buffaloes the 
eldest and the youngest take four each, the second and 
third brothers take three apiece, and the remaining animals 
are either sold, the purchase money being equally divided, 
or taken by one of the brothers who indemnifies the others, 
dividing three-quarters of the value of the buffalo among 
them. The Naga of Manipur, while on the whole inclining 
to limited primc^niture, practise junior-right in certain 
localities, the youngest son inheriting both the father's 
house and the most valuable of his movable belongings. 
Most interesting are the inheritance rules of the Khasi, 
who blend feminine prerc^tives and junior-right. Here 
the youngest daughter performs the family ritual in pro- 
pitiation of ancestors, inherits possession of the house and 
contents, and receives the lion's share of the family jewelry ; 
however, she may not dispose of the house without the 
unanimous consent of her sisters. On her death she is 
succeeded by the next youngest daughter, and so on. Fail- 

^H^ unanm 



ing daughters, the inheritance passes to the sister's youngest 
daughter, who in turn is succeeded by her youngest daugh- 
ters. Failing sister's daughters, the estate reverts to the 
mother's sisters. But the laws regulating succession to 
office rest on a different principle. A chief is succeeded by 
his eldest uterine sister's sons in order of seniority, and, 
failing issue, by the sons of the next oldest sister. In one 
district where the pontifical position is held by a woman, she 
is succeeded by her eldest daughter. A trace of junior- 
right has likewise been noted in the higher levels of Hindu 
civilization, for the Laws of Manu, while assigning a larger 
share to the f]rst-lx)ni, also mention a special allotment in 
favor of the youngest son. 

This usage, so contrary to current legal notions, also 
appears farther north. During his lifetime a Kirgiz father 
seeks to establish his sons as independent stock-breeders. 
He will assign to his first-bom a large portion of his herds; 
if necessary, he buys new winter-quarters for him, other- 
wise he assigns to him a section of his own grounds. In 
similar fashion other sons are provided for, and the young- 
est remEiins heir of the paternal pastures and other posses- 
sions. If several sons remain, there is an equitable division 
of the herds and the winter quarters are used by them 
jointly or are divided up by common agreement; a division, 
however, rarely occurs as it would be to the disadvantage 
of the youngest son. For by Kirgiz law it is the eldest 
brother's duty to acquire new winter pastures as soon as 
the herds multiply beyond the capacity of the inherited or 
assigned territory, and if the increase continues after his 
separation tlie obligation still rests with the eldest of the 
naining brothers to find new grazing-land, until finally 
only the youngest remains in possession of his father's 
land. Among the Yukaghir a like result is accomplished 
by another cause. The prevalence of matrilocal residence 
brings it about that the elder brothers leave the father's 
house, which accordingly together with other property is 




lerited by the youngest son. It is doubtless an extension 
this basic custom that junior-right is applied to dis- 
tinctly feminine articles, which pass from the mother to the 
youngest daughter. Those tundra-dwelling Yukaghir who 
have borrowed the Tungus custom of bride-purchase are 
naturally patrilocal and in their case the bulk of the prop- 
erty is shared by all the brothers, their surviving mother 
administering the household and the eldest son controlling 
the reindeer herds. But ancient usage is sufficiently strong 
to preserve for the youngest son's share his father's gun 
and clothing. 

Eskimo inheritance rules are illuminating both as to 
junior-right and primitive property conceptions in general. 
At first blush a profound difference of principle seems to 
divide the practice of the Alaskans about Bering Strait, 
where the father's rifle and most valuable heirlooms de- 
scend to the youngest son, and that of the Greenlanders. who 
generally transmit property to the eldest. But a closer 
reading of the sources clarifies the situation. The Green- 
landers in reality modify the rule cited by the principle of 
ownership based on effective utilization. Now since no one 
can take care of two tents or two boats under Arctic con- 
ditions, the eldest son, if he already owns such property, 
will not take possession of his useless legacy. If his broth- 
ers are minors, he may abandon it to an utter stranger, and 
the sons growing up to maturity will have no claims on it. 
Accordingly, Greenland primogeniture, so far as it exists, 
does not imply any mystical exaltation of the first-bom, 
and we are not surprised to meet with the explicit statement 
that among the Central Eskimo it is the eldest son Iknng 
with his parents that figures as the principal heir, while sons 
and daughters with households of their own are excluded. 
We need only assume that the Alaskans of Bering Strait 
observed the Yukaghir or Kirgiz custom with respect to the 
separation of adult sons and the devolution of the paternal 
estate on the youngest follows as a natural consequence. 


:, like so many other cultural phenomena, sug- 
c more the problem of diffusion versus independ- 
It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that to 
t borrowing has taken place. The sporadic oc- 
wiiiWLC of jtmior-right among the Naga living in a coun- 
ty wfaere the usage attains fuller development indicates 
l&aft^ it ts merely with them the weak reflection of an institu- 
tu^ characteristic of neighboring tribes. Again, the dual 
BRfercnce for the eldest attd the youngest son found in 
tfte Laws of Manu and in the Toda inheritance law sug- 
^sts an historical connection. On the other hand, there 
ts mot the slightest evidence that the Asiatic custom is con- 
nected with borough-english; and since junior-right is so 
commonly associated with the departure of the elder broth- 
ers from the paternal roof any condition favoring such 
separation would tend to establish this mode of inheritance. 
That is to say, there is no necessity for deriving the Alas- 
kan from the Yukaghir, or the Yukaghir irom the Kirgiz 

The data are theoretically interesting from another point 
of view. Departure of elder sons as an antecedent con- 
dition may produce junior-right as a result in remote re- 
gions. To that extent, then, there is parallel evolution. But 
this parallelism is strictly limited. We need merely go back 
a single step in comparing the evolution of Kirgiz and 
Yukaghir junior-right in order to encounter quite different 
phenomena. Preceding and effecting the breaking up of 

I the Yukaghir family is matrilocal residence, while no such 
cause operates among the Kirgiz. Thus, back of the par- 
tial parallelism the lines of evolution lead to the distinct de- 
terminants, in other words, we are once more dealing with 
a case of convergence. 
In this extremely sketchy treatment of primitive rules of 
inheritance it has been impossible to do more than allude 
«ooie of the ramifications and intricacies of the subject, 
ision I must remind the reader that the operation 



of the customary laws may be far more variable and com- 
plex than this brief description would suggest, An unscru- 
pulous Thonga regent may seek to divert the succession 
from his elder brother's to his own line. Elsewhere failure 
of issue and extinction of the entire lineage in the presence 
of a valuable inheritance may stimulate the aboriginal jur- 
ists into novel arrangements, establishing original prece- 
dents. Finally, the examples quoted suffice to show that 
inheritance of different kinds of property may follow dis- 
tinct principles, that sacred objects may be transmitted from 
father to son while horses are appropriated by the dece- 
dent's brothers, that the chieftaincy may descend in the 
paternal line while real estate is inherited by the sister's son, 
that office may go to the eldest bom while movables and im- 
movables may be passed on by junior-right. Here, as every- 
where in ethnology, the obstacles to a clear understanding 
of reality lie in the bewitching simplicity of catchwords." 


Keysser : 92 seq. Cranz: 1.234. Boas, 1888: 582. Nel- 
KKi: 294. Jochelson, 1908: 769. Bogoras: 633. 

*Teit, T900: 293. Dixon, 1905: 224. Speck, 1915 (a); 
id,, 1915 (b) : 289. Swanton, 1908: 425. Malinowski: 150, 
Spencer and Gillen, 1899: 590; ei., 1904: 13. Fraser, J. : 36. 
Brown: 146. Roth, 193(5: 8 seq. Seligmann: 106-I15, Mer- 
ker: 28, 176. 2i2. Rivers, 1906: 557. Schultze: 197, 318. 
Radloff: 414-420, 452. 

'Stevenson: 290. Kroeber, 1917: 178. Speck, 1909: 18, 
Wilson: 9. 10, 108-114. Bandelier, 1878: 385. Spinden, 
1917: :84. Markham: 35. Restrepo: 121. Von den Stei- 
ncn: 285. Schmidt: 439. Whiffen: 103. 

*Junod: n, 6 seq. Maclean; 149. Spieth: 111-115. Ellis, 
A, B.: 162,216. Roscoe: 14,133,238,268,424. Routledge: 
121. Torday and Joyce: 91. 

' Codrington : 60. Thomson : 70, 354-386. Reports, v : 
284-291; vi: 162-168. Erdiand: 99-113. Tregear: 127-136, 
Turner: 177. Stair: 83. Barton: 39-60. 

•Maine: Chap. viii. Baden- Powell : 1-37, 171 seq, 398-423. 

lean: ii, ii6. Junorl: i, 303, 38, 
TreRear: iL'2-129. Kroeber, 1904: 
Rivers, 1906: 559 seq. Hodson: 103 
loff: 416. Jodielson, 1910: 109. Cr 
58a Nelson: 307. 



PRIMITIVE society as pictured by Morgan and his fol- 
lowers is an atomistic aggregate. The tribe consists 
of units fashicHied on a single pattern, the sib concept, all 
sibs being generally similar in function and of equal dig- 
nity; and within each sib the constituent members are on 
one level of democratic equality. In other words, if Mor- 
gan were right, individuals in lower cultures would differ 
from one another socially only as members of this or that 
sib. We have already seen that this scheme is inadequate 
because it ignores the bilateral family; but it suffers from 
an equally vital deficiency in failing to take into account 
principles of classification in no way dependent on kinship, 
whether unilateral or bilateral. Primitive tribes arc strati- \ 
fied by age distinctions, by differences of sex and of matri- 
monial status, and affiliation with one of the resulting I ^ 
groups may affect the individual's life far more powerfully ^ 
than his sib membership. Herr Cunow was perhaps the 
first theorist to recognize the part played by age discrimi- 
nations in savage society, but it is to the late Dr. Schurtz 
that we are indebted for a systematic treatise on all associ- 
ations, as I propose to call the social units not based on the , 
kinship factor. Somewhat later Professor Hutton Web- 
ster in a meritorious compilation described practically the 
same range of data, but to Schurtz above all others belongs 
the glory of having saved ethnologists from absorption in 
the sib organization and stirred them to a contemplation of 
phenomena that threatened to elude their purblind vision. 




Though like other pioneers he erred and erred pievously 
in many of his interpretations, his insistence on the theo- 
retical significance of associations must rank as one of the 
most important points of departure in the study of primi- 
tive sociology. 

In trying to give some notion of the types of association 
it would be easy to group the facts in a series of separate 
compartments. But these categories would hinder rather 
than promote a synthetic understanding of social organiza- 
tion. For example, we might deal with sex dichotomy 
under one head and with age-classes under another; yet 
such treatment would lead to all sorts of artificiaUty. It is 
true tliat in Australia tlie sexes are often rigidly divided in 
ceremonies, but feminine disabilities are shared t^ the 
younger males, so that in one sense the real division at a 
particular moment is into initiated males and the remainder 
of the tribe. Elsewhere there is a tripartite diviaon into 
the married couples, the bachelors, and the spinsters, so 
that sex dichotomy applies only to the unmarried. Again, 
there is little doubt that the bachelors' dormitory and the 
men's clubhouse are often genetically connected: the men 
after marriage continue to resort for pastime or work to 
the dwelling they occupied before wedlock. Yet a logical 
classification might easily lead to a separation of these re- 
lated institutions. In the present chapter, then, I will 
rather select a numljer of tribes from different gec^aphical 
areas and will describe in each case their social organiza- 
tion apart from sibs and families. In this selection I shall 
be guided partly by the quality of available literature, 
partly by the desirability of presenting at least all the main 
varieties of associational units. In the following chapter 
the treatment will be topical, embracing a number of points 
of theoretical interest.' 

Andaman Islands 

Since the Andaman Islanders are sibless, each of their 



P communities should, on Morgan's theory, resolve itself into 
an unorganized horde of individuals, but they perversely 
insist on dividing themselves into groups independent of the 
sib concept or indeed of relationship in any sense. In every 
encampment there is a triple arrangement of huts for 
bachelors, spinsters and married couples, the last-mentioned 
group intervening between the single men and the single 
women ; and even at the homes care is taken to segregate 
the unmarried of opposite sex and to have the married 
couples occupy the intervening space. This classification by 
matrimonial status and sex is not equivalent to a simple 
grading by age such as will be encountered elsewhere, since 
even elderly widows will dwell in one of the huts dedicated 
for the use of spinsters. Nevertheless, indirectly an appre- 
ciable correlation with the age factor is effected since amon^-- 
primitive tribes marriage as a rule is rarely deferred long 
beyond the girl's physiological maturity, while in the An- 
daman Islands the economic obstacles to early marriage 
for the men do not seem to exist. Indeed, the part played 
1 native consciousness by age together with its correlates, 
tonjugal and parental status, appears clearly from the full- 
! of the relevant vocabulary, which permits an unam- 
pWguous definition of any individual of either sex with ref- 
[ erence to age and matrimonial condition. Thus, an infant 
I is designated by one term during the first year, by another 
during its second, by still another during the third and 
fourth years, while special words define the period from the 
fourth till the tenth, and from the eleventh to the twelfth 
years. The husband of a few months' standing is distin- 
guished frcrni the man who has been married for only a 
few days, and the prospective is differentiated from the 
actual father of a child, corresponding refinement of nom- 
enclature obtaining for wives and mothers. Among the 
I socially most significant status terms, however, are those 
rdating to the initiation of boys and girls into the status 



of full-fledged members of the tribe, and the relevant cere- 
monies demand special notice. 

Beginning approximately with the eleventh year both 
boys and girls are subjected to a probationary period of 
fasting, during which turtle, honey, pork, and other delica- 
cies are forbidden food. Abstention from these luxuries 
is regarded as a test of the neophyte's self-denial and the 
period terminates only at the chief's suggestion. The total 
period is trisected, each lesser division closing with a for- 
mal ceremony that absolves from specific restrictions; in 
this way the taboos against eating turtle, honey, and kid- 
ney-fat of pig are successively removed. 

When a lad is permitted to break his turtle fast, the chief 
boils a large piece of turtle-fat, allows it to cool, and then 
pours it over the novice's head, those present rubbing the 
grease into his person, which he may not wash off until the 
close of the next day. He is then fed with turtle flesh, led 
to his hut and ordered to sit cross-legged in silence, a group 
of friends supplying his wants and keeping him awake by 
chanting. It is believed that he is now entering on an im- 
portant epoch of his life with its incident trials, hence there 
is great lamentation by his mother and female relatives 
generally. These paint and otherwise decorate his person, 
and with broom-like bundles of leaves in his hands he rises 
to dance vehemently to the accompaniment of the w<Mnen's 
time-beating, while the men look on or participate in his 
performance. Wlien worn out by his efforts, the youth 
ceases dancing and mingles with his friends as a member 
of what might be called the first grade of majority, A 
similar ceremony raises girls to an equivalent rank in 

After this performance, subsidiary taboos, say, as to the 
eating of ray-fish kidney-fat, may be removed by the chief 
without further ceremony than the necessity of strict silence 
on the part of the neophyte when first breaking his fast. 
It is otherwise with abstention from honey, which can again 




be tenninated only by formal procedure. The chief helps 
the novice to a large portion of the hitherto tabooed deli- 
cacy and anoints him with honey, which, however, is 
washed off in order to guard against the aggression of ants. 
Silence is again enjoined, but no other prohibitions are 
recorded. On the following morning the Ix>y. adorned 
with leaves, wades into the sea and splashes water on him- 
self and the spectators, also ducking his head, the whole 
performance being considered a magical protection against 
snakes. Young women passed through a similar proce- 
dure, but only after the birth of their first child. 

Generally a \-ear after the breaking of the turtle fast 
comes the final ceremony removing the taboo on pig kidney- 
fat. The novice's friends organize a pig hunt, a boar being 
killed for a youth and a sow for a young woman. The 
candidate receives of the hitherto forbidden food, the 
melted fat of the pig is poured over him, and he is obliged 
to hold his tongue, sit still, and remain awake. The next 
morning he dances as on the first occasion. 

For comparative purposes certain facts relating to these 
performances require attention. First of all, it is clear that 
in a rough way the Iieginning of initiation coincides with 
puberty. More accurately the maturity of a girl is indi- 

ICated by her assuming a 'flower name.' i.e.. a name derived 
^rom a flower blossoming at the time of her first menses. 
Oiis designation remaining in vogue till the l)irth of a 
child. Secondly, while it is not obligatory for a boy to 
jindergo the three ceremonies before marriage, many post- 
pone wedlock until they have passed through the several 
grades aJid it is a matter of honor to do so at an early 
opportunity after marriage. 

In viewing -Andaman society as a whole, we find its mem- 
bers classed in a number of varying ways. The most con- 
spicuous grouj^ng is that into married people, bachelors, 
and spinsters, since it has an objective equivalent in the 
Lspatial arrangement of the camp. Apart from this, it would 


be exaggeration to speak of sexual dichotomy of the tribe. 
Though such occupations as shaving, procuring water and 
fetching wood are reckoned as distinctively feminine, 
while hunting, fishing, and canoe-building devolve on the 
men, this division of labor does not imply the separation 
into practically distinct castes found in some other regions. 
On the other hand, the assumption of a flower name by 
mature girls creates a definite demarcation between the 
members of tlie female sex who have and who have not 
reached the age of puberty. The abundance of status terms 
yields evidence of a further classification of the community 
none the less real because men or women of the same cate- 
gory are not necessarily bound together by a common pur- 
pose but merely share the same more or less honorific ap- 
pellation. Retrospectively, pimctilio in this regard furnishes 
a plausible partial explanation of teknonymy, as has been 
previously suggested by Dr. Elsie Clews Parsons. Where 
the status of a person is appraised diflferently on his becom- 
ing a parent, designation in terms of parenthood ceases to 
puzzle. The probationary fasting period is of course cor- 
related with the status classification. Roughly it has been 
found to coincide with the age of adolescence, but the sub- 
divisions of the initiatory period are manifestly no longer 
correlated with any physiological condition. 

On the whole, the Andaman Islanders are less rigorously 
organized than many other peoples will be found to be' 
nevertheless, the segmentation of their communities accord- 
ing to definite principles not connected with kinship is an 
undeniable fact.* 


While the Andaman Islanders exhibit assoclational 

groups in a sibless society, Australia fumi'=hes one instance 
after another of the coexistence of associations and sibs, 
the former frequently playing at least as important a role 



as the latter. Since Australian conditions have been re- 
peatedly described in popular or semi-popular books, a sum- 
mary treatment seems pennis?ible. Several features re- 
corded for the Andainans are equally characteristic of the 
Australians, and in connection with certain additional prin- 
ciples, such as the hegemony of old men and a sense of 
feminine disabilities, they have produced a more conspicu- 
ous division of society along associational lines. 

First of all, the matter of sex dominates social activity in | 
a distinctive way among nearly all Australian tribes. Tq_/ 
be bom a girl not merely determines industrial and eco- 
nomic employment, nor is the import of womanhood ex- 
hausted by the theory of feminine inferiority. The Kirgiz 
women, as already shown, are both practically subordinate 
-and theoretically inferior to men, yet that does not bar 
them from tribal festivities, where they participate on prac- 
tically equal terms. But to the .Australian woman the pub- 
lic activities of the male are largely forbidden mysteries 
shrouded in fabulous tales ad tiiulicrcm. It is true that 
her disabilities are shared by the uninitiated tads, but since 
initiation is each male's birthright there is after all genuine 
sex dichotomy: the men form a secret society for which 
every woman is ineligible. This fact must be collated with 
[he data on sib affiliation. Sex dichotomy is Ixjund to 
rend asunder the bond that might conceivably unite all male 
and female members of the sib, for by grouping all the men 
in a tribal association it supplants sib solidarity with what 
Professor Webster properly calls 'sexual solidarity.' An 
Emu man who constantly associates in ritualistic perform- 
ances and political assemblies with Eagle-hawk, Bat, Crow 
and Frog men will develop for men of all sibs a sentiment 
of class consciousness that is simply impossible under the 
drcumstances between men and women of the Emu sib. 
True, all Emu individuals must abstain wholly or largely 
from the flesh of their totem, but parallel dietary restric- 
is hold for women as women. The Yualaroi, according 



^^m to Howitt, prevent females from eating emu and their eggs ; 

^H and among the central tribes no woman, irrespective of her 

^B sib, may eat a brown hawk. Thus, even in matters of 

^V food, sex figures as a rival of the sib motive; the fact that 

^B an individual is a woman is not less significant than that 

H she ^longs to a certain totem group. 

■ ,' But while sex is socially far more important in Australia 

■ than among the Andaman Islanders, age and status also 

■ "play their part. The Kariera and Kumai are typical in 
I segregating the bachelors from the rest of the camp, though 
f there is no corresponding separation of spinsters. Gen- 
erally, too, there is great nicety in distinguishing the stages 

I of social progress. The Kumai infant is called by one 
term, the boy of eight or nine by another, while the uniniti- 
ated youth living with his parents, the novice, the t>achelor, 
and the mature paterfamilias are each designated by a dis- 
tinct term. Elsewhere the several steps of the initiation 
are carefully discriminated. A noteworthy trait is the re- 
laxation of the food taboos for old women. 
The initiation ceremonies of the Australians resemble 
those of the Andaman Islanders in being performed about 
the time of puljerty, but othenvise the differences are rather 
remarkable. Among the Andaman Islanders every one un- 
dergoes the period of probationary fasting with its success- 
^L ive grades of freedom from dietary taboos, the per- 
^H formances are not reckoned an essential preliminary to 
^M |inarriagc. In Australia, however, no one is allowed to have 
^|[Va wife until he has passed through the corresponding rites: 
^m and in the central region there is even an analogous nubihty 
^M rite for the females. Among the Andaman Islanders the 
^M initiation rites are not conceived as mysteries never to be 
^1 revealed to women, as they are in most Australian tribes. 
^T/^n other words, the Australian initiation is definitely a rite 
( preparatory for matrimony and assertive of masculine 
_ ascendancy: even where the nubility ceremony occurs it Is 
conducted by men in the presence of male spectators, while i 


women are almost always barred from the more important 
proceedings of the boys' initiation. Finally, the character 
of the initiation itself is different. There are tribes like 
the Kariera who content themselves with decorating the 
neophyte in a conventional manner, say, by tying a string 
tightly round each biceps. But far more commonly the 
Australians promote lads to the status of manhood by air\ 
infinitely more severe ordeal, the knocking out of a tooth 1 
being characteristic of one area, circumcision and subin- I 
cision (additional operation on the genital organ) of aiVj/ 
other. In still another region the youths ready for initiation 
are segregated in a lonely spot, where they receive inade- 
quate food and are severely cuffed and kicked by the old 
men, a trial to be borne without wincing; besides which 
they are compelled to cut and roll heavy logs or perform 
other kinds of hard labor. When they have passed their 
examination satisfactorily, the old men in charge give to 
each novice a sacred stick ('bull-roarer') to be secreted in 
a safe place. In short, formally the Australian initiation 
is a severe test of the adolescent's self-control. But sub- 
stantially, too. it is a far more solemn affair than that of 
the Andamans. It is a genuine propaedeutic course in tribalA 
knowledge and ethics: the neophyte is exhorted to obey im- 1 
plicitly the teachings of his elders and to keep mum in the 
presence of the uninitiate on the arcana divulged to him; i 
he is told what food is tabooed to him and also gets prac- I 
tice in finding a living by his own efforts. -■■ 

One detail associated with the Australian initiation 
merits special mention. Among the secrets imparted to the 
neophyte is the real cause of a curious buzzing noise that 
has alarmed him prior to initiation and which the women 
and children are taught to regard as the voice of a spirit 
presiding over the ritual of initiation. He tK>w learns that 
it is produced simply by whirling a bwll-roarer, i.e., a flat 
stick or stone slab, through the air at the end of a string. 
Strangely enough, the greatest stress is laid on the neces- 



Isity of keeping the women in ignorance of the true nature 
of the bull-roarer, which they are never permitted to view. 
Indeed, formerly some tribes had the rule that if a man 
I showed a bull-roarer to a woman, both must be punished 
I by death. The reason for now singling out this feature 
will appear later. In exceptional tribes the bull-roarer is 
indeed associated with initiation but no attempt is made to 
conceal it from the female sex. 

Initiation, while qualifying a youth for marriage and 
other social functions, by no means raises.him to a status 
of equality with the older men. His place in society is 
indeed a distinctly humble one for many years to come; 
he has nothing to say in affairs of political moment and 
i even in the matter of food he will be well along in years 
' before he is freed from the last restrictions. These are the 
facts which Schurtz and. before him, Cunow rightly in- 
sisted upon as proving that apart from the sib organization 
'the Australians are subdivided into social units not less 
significant in the individual's life. Every person belongs 
from birth to the male or the female sex moiety, to the 
caste of prerogative or of disabilities: every person In the 
course of his life progresses through a series of social steps, 
at each of which his behavior must conform to a conven- 
tional pattern. A Warramunga man may belong to the 
Wild-cat sib and be free to eat emu flesh so far as any sib 
regulation goes; he must nevertheless abstain from emu 
food till he is at least a middle-aged man. He may be of 
either moiety and of any sib or family whatsoever, but if 
he is an initiated bachelor he will live divorced from his 
family, sib and moiety in the company of the other bache- 
lors of the encampment. Thus, in ever>'day activity the 
joint influence of sex and age may well outweigh that of 
the kinship groups. 

There is one feature of Australian organization which I 
have advisedly refrained from mentioning until the pres- 
ent. Over a large section of the island continent there holds 


y what is known as the class system, which appears in a 
four-class and an eight-class variety. For our purposes 
consideration of the fonner will suffice. I have already 
mentioned the occurrence of the dual organization in Aus- 
tralia. Frequently the moieties are subdivided each into 
two classes, making' four altogether in the tribe. Until 
recently our authorities generally represented the four 

■sses as matrimoniaJ groups, the principle on which they 
;giilated marriage being as follows. Taking the patrilineal 

riera for illustration, we may designate their exogamous 
moieties as A and B, the former composed of classes 1 and 
2, the latter of classes 3 and 4, numbers being substituted 
for the phoneticallyi difficult native names. Then accord- 
ing to Kariera law a member of i cannot marry into either 
his own class or into 2 because both are divisions of his 
moiety. But neither may he marry into 3; he is restricted 
by the four-class sy.stem to one and only one class in the 
choice of a mate. viz.. 4. However, it may be asked by 
what method an individual's class affiliation is determined. 
and here develops the most curious part of the scheme. 
The child of a man of class i must belong to its father's 
moiety because descent among the Kariera is patrilineal; 
nevertheless it cannot belong to his class^ but must enter 
the complementary class, to wit, 2. Correspondingly, when 
a man of 4 marries a woman of i . the child is 3 since it 
must belong to his moiety and cannot belong to his class. 
If instead of the Kariera some matrilineal four-class tribe 
were taken, a corresponding principle would apply; every 
■'diild there belongs to tlie mother's moiety and to that class 
her moiety which is complementary to her own. An 

;eresting trait of this system is the fellowship of grand- 
parent and grandchild in the same class. Taking the 
Kariera, a man of class i not only has children of class 2 
but also a father of that class since father and son belong 
to the same moiety, though never to the same cla,ss. Tht 
father's father and son's son are fellow-members. 

of 4. there being still further restrict 
showed that the essence of the arranj 
that a man must marry a maternal unc 
woman so designated in the aboriginal 
no one else. The four-class scheme fi 
because the possible mates as just del 
belong to the opposite moiety and to 
from the prepotent parent's. But in 
regulated by consanguinity alone, by a. 
cross-cousin relationship, and it is for 
have mentioned the relevant facts merel 
of preferential mating. 

Mr. Brown's interpretation explains 
supposedly marriage-regulating classes 
mine the union of individuals since tl 
cross-cousin relationship. But with thei 
pation gone it is not easy to understan 
functions of the classes. That they exi 
some sort, is attested by a dozen obsen 
have definite appellations where the i 
Some scholars have suggested that the 
of moieties, but this is an utterly rid 
for in that case they would follow the i 
instead of the c iirioiislv indirect one t 


E*anization. Cunow assumes that the classes represent age- 
strata and are associated with the rule that only memliers 
of the same stratum are potential mates, while the moieties 
were originally two distinct but intermarrying local groups. 
Then, since a child cannot belong to the same age-group as 
its parents it is intelligible why the rule of class descent is 
cjf the observed anomalous type: the child is of the par- 
ent's moiety but not of his (or her) class because the class 
scheme is at bottom precisely a method for differentiating 

Cunow's theory suffers from a number of difficulties. If 
the classes are age-grades, class affiliation should of course 
vary with age, yet as a matter of fact each Australian be- 
longs to his class from birth until death. Cunow assumes 
that affiliation was made immutable to prevent a man's 
being married to two wives of distinct grades. According 
to his scheme there are three grades, that of childhood, that 
of an initiate, and that of an old person, i.e., of one who has 
a child in the group of initiates. When Cunow insists that 
only age-mates were permitted to marry, he means that 
husband and wife must both belong either to the grade of 
initiates or to that of elders. Now on this assumption it 

^may evidently happen that a man after ten or fifteen years 
of wedlock takes a second wife who will lie of his own 
and the first wife's grade but who will remain in that grade 
after her husband and her fellow-wife have attained higher 
status. That is, she will be of like status with her fellow- 
wife's eldest son. In order to prevent this condition, Cunow 
argues, it was necessary to render the class names perma- 
nent like the sib designations. It cannot be denied that the 
reasoning is ingenious, but nothing indicates that it rests 
I on more than sheer conjecture. 

Furthermore, since there are only four class names iu- 
1 stead of the six demanded by the tripartite • nf 

leach moiety, Cunow is driven to assume t 
Bof alternate generations designated by the 



are not really members of the same class but of distinct 
classes which merely for convenience' sake are similarly 
named. This again seems an arbitrary interpretation. 
Cunow himself calls attention to the fact that in many 
Australian kinship nomenclatures grandparent and grand- 
child are designated by one term used reciprocally, to him 
this is an inexplicable phenomenon, which, however, readily 
suggested the application of the same class name to grand- 
parent and grandchild. But another interpretation is pos- 
sible. Grandparent and grandchild may be designated by 
one terra precisely because by the four-class scheme they are 
what they are ostensibly, members of one and the same 
class, in which case classes and age-grades would not coin- 
cide. Nevertheless, in spite of its drawbacks Cunow's 
theory furnishes so simple an interpretation of the enig- 
matical feature of class descent that we may cling to its 
core in the hope that some day the difficulties in the way 
of accepting it will be removed. 

Summing up the Australian situation irrespective of all 
hypotheses, we find that in most tribes every individual is 
simultaneously a member of a variety of social units. He 
is bom into a sex, a moiety, a totem sib and a class, with 
all of which his affiliation is permanent; he is also bom 
into a certain status from which he advances through a 
special ceremony into that of maturity, and by less per- 
ceptible stages into that of a full-fledged elder. At any 
one period of his life his duties and privileges may depend 
as much on his associational as on his kinship connections,' 


. While among the Australians sibs and associations are 

perhaps of equal importance, the former are definitely less 

significant in Masai society. Not that it is possible to 

, ignore them. In earlier times they regulated marriage, 

tind at present religious functions and specific cattle brands 


are connected with the major or lesser kinship groups. 
Moreover, chiefs and medicinemen are recruited exclusively 
from the paramount section of a single sib. Nevertheless 
the activities dependent on affiliation with the sib are 
meager compared with those affected by membership in 
other units. 

First of all, there is a spatial separation of the bachelors 
and their paramours, the immature girls, from the rest of 
the community {see p. 50). This condition is strikingly 
different from that of the Andaman Islanders, where bache- 

■ lors and spinsters are sedulously segregated by the inter- 
position of married couples. 
Secondly, males and females are definitely grouped ac- 
cording to status. As among the Australians, every male 
is subjected to a puberty ordeal (circumcision), through 
which he attains the position of a warrior. During the 
period of initiation and until the wound is healed he ranks 
no longer as a boy but as a neophyte (hterally, 'recluse'), 
while for the first two years following he is designated as 
an apprentice ('shaved one'). Until 28 or 30 he figures 
as a full-fledged brave, whereupon he marries, leaving the 
bachelors' kraal and assuming for the remainder of his 
life the dignity of an elder. Since the initiation and re- 
cruiting periods are obviously preparatory, we need recog- 
nize only three stages for males, that of boy, of warrior, 
and of elder, the bachelor braves playing the most promi- 
nent role among this warlike people. As an equivalent of 
the boys' circumcision the girls undergo cHtoridectomy after 
the first menses and are subsequently known as novices until 
the healing of the wound. Then they maintain a distinct 
rank until the menopause, whereupon a new word defines 
their status, which only alters with the blanching of the 
hair. Unrelated persons of either sex address each other 
^^ by terms dependent on their relative status. 
^K With these stages there are linked definite usages. Mar- 
^H Tied women are distinguished from girls by iron necklaces 



and ear-rings ; indeed, without the latter no wife would dare 
confront her husband. They are also recognizable by their 
long garments. Boys and girls put increasingly large blocks 
of wood info their ears, while the bachelors and elders wear 
chain ear-rings ajid bracelets. After circumcision the 
bachelors carry the sword, spear, club and shield distinctive 
of their rank, also donning a special cap, ostrich- feather 
headdress, cape, anklets, arm-clamp, calfskin garment, and 
a piece of goat's skin for the waist. They plait their hair, 
subsist entirely on meat, milk and blood, and must abstain 
from intoxicants. Before recovery from circumcision the 
novices mimic women as to dress and earrings, and if they 
have stood the ordeal without flinching they are permitted 
to shoot small birds and wear them on the head. 

In addition to the dichotomous division of society into 
the inmates of the warriors' kraal and the rest of the settle- 
ment and the essential trisection of the male population by 
status there are still otlier groupings. It is obvious that 
the tripartite organization of the males links together in a 
single grade the lienedict of thirty and of eighty. A sug- 
gestive subdivision of this step has taken place, those elders 
having circumcised children Iwing distinguished by the 
privilege of wearing a certain kind of ear-ring. However, 
it does not appear that elders of this type are united by any 
feeling of sohdarity. There is distinction among elders, 
inasmuch as owners of large herds who have many children 
may wear an arm-ring of elephant's tusk or buffalo horn as 
a badge of affluence. This ill-defined criterion, however, 
has also failed to produce a determinate social group and 
remains interesting mainly as demonstrating the variety of 
classificalory devices to which the natives resort. On the 
other hand, there is a division based on the period of initia- 
tion that is of far-reaching significance. The circumcision 
rite not merely separates the categories of boy and war- 
rior but underlies a far more refined classification of so- 


I boys circumcised during the same quadrennium be- 
ing to the same 'age.' There follows a period of three 
"and a half years during which no initiation takes place. 
After this interval comes another quadrennium during 
which boys are circumcised. Reckoning from an apparently 
arbitrary or at least unknown starting-point, the Masai 
designate the individuals circumcised during one quadren- 
nium as of the 'right-handed' circumcision, those of the 
subsequent quadrennium Ijeing 'left-handed.' That is. the 
age-classes are not dextral or sinistral relatively to each 
otiier, but absolutely so by virtue of their position with ref- 
erence to the point of departure. A right-handed age and 
the immediately following left-handed age are said to con- 
stitute a 'generation.' The processes by which one age- 
ttlass relieves its predecessor as representative of the war- 
rior grade and by which correlated classes are welded into 
K generation must be described in some detail. 

Immediately after initiation and restoration to health the 
apprentices find themselves in a peculiar position with ref- 
erence to the full-fledged warriors. In order to figure as 
genuine braves the tyros must first secure a name for their 
class, a di.stinctive design for the decoration of their shields, 
and a separate kraal. About the former there is no special 
difficulty since an appellation is bestowed by the headman 
of the tribe in return for a herd of cattle; but the shield 
pattern is not so readily acquired. Black figures for the 
lurpose are selected by the most eminent elder, but it is the 
Fed coloring of the shield that is held as really characteristic 
_ jof a warrior's dignity. No sooner, however, have the 
novices attempted to paint their shields red and to con- 
struct a camp than the warriors swoop down upon them. 
attacking the new establishment, and if possible efface the 
paint. If the older men are victorious, the recruits must 
bide their chance, improving the meantime with raids 
against hostile tribes. If they exhibit conspicuous prowess 



f : 

and settle down in individual homes. 
of the age-class have married and 
lors' kraal, they collectively assume 
leaving their successors in sole posse 

The significant thing In all this is t\ 
ation creates ties transcending the 
status. Though two age-classes may 
degree of bachelor, they remain disti 
the new group of married men is 
merged in a society of elders. The 
at a much later period, is between the' 
classes of a couple, which are formal! 
eration," receive a common name am 
arrow brand. But before and after 
class preserves its name and individu 
its members' actions. It is, above all, 
sex relations. Girls initiated during a 
are reckoned as belonging to the age-i 
cumcised during that period ; and no 1 
have sexual relations with a woman ■ 
On the other hand, fornication with 
own class is not considered an offensi 



with one of his age-mates, and thereafter the husband will 
let her in peace lest he be cursed by his class. 

On the strength of our data it is fair to say that the 
group of elders does not form a firmly knit unit but that 
all the social solidarity within that status is attached to the 
smaller associations described, the generation and particu- 
larly the age-class. Reverting in conclusion to a compari- 
son of the Masai associations with their sib organization, 
the initial appraisal of their relative importance seems fully 
vindicated. Even a feature so peculiarly typical of the sib 
as its marriage-regulating function is here more promi- 
nently connected with the age-class. If from Masai com- 
munities the division into sibs were eliminated, an ample 
residue of social relations would still obtrude itself on our 
notice; but without the bachelors' kraal, the initiatory sub- 
grades, and the age-classes, Masai society would assume an 
aspect of baldness and drab monotony.* 

Banks Islands 

f In the Banks Islands, as among the Masai, there is a sib 

structure that is overshadowed by associational units but 

these vary fundamentally in the two areas; indeed, the 

Melanesians introduce us to entirely novel principles of 

aggregation. Nevertheless, one feature that arrested our 

[ attention in surveying the Australian field recurs in the 

L Banks Islands in a still more conspicuous form. The cleav- 

[ age of society into sex moieties here attains its maximum 

[ intensity. Not only are women debarred from public sol- 

[- enmities, but even in everyday life there is a well-nigh com- 

t plete dichotomy. Men neither eat nor sleep with their 

I wives but in a separate establishment, which boys try to 

[■enter at the earliest opportunity. Hence the males, as in 

lAustralia, constitute a sort of tribal secret organization. 

■Yet there is an all-important difference: admission in no 

ra.y depends on puberty, but ma;^ occur at any age; and 


it is secured not through an ordeal involving personal dis- 
figurement or bodily mortification but by the payment of a 
fee. Further, the men's society is not a single body or at 
best one in which the older men are set off from the 
younger initiates by more or less imperceptible degrees of 
dignity, but comprises an hierarchically graded series of 

The tangible manifestation of masculine exclusiveness is 
the village clubhouse, a lounging- place and refectory by 
day and a dormitory by night. The house is subdivided 
into a varying number of compartments of successively 
higher rank, each with its own oven as a rallying-place for 
meml^ers of equal degree. Failure to join means remaining 
a nonentity in point of social estimation; hence, while 
admission may be deferred, it always occurs sooner or 
later. "If a man cannot enter the Sukwe (club) he has to 
feed with women and this may sometimes so excite the 
pity of a friend that he may undertake to act as intro- 
ducer, knowing that he will thereby have to spend a large 
sum of money." In the lower ranks the introducer, often 
the candidate's maternal uncle, defrays most of the ex- 
penses; in the higher degrees the charges devolve on the 
novice, his kindred and friends. The act of initiation con- 
sists in the ceremonial eating of food by the tyro's new 
messmates: but all the club meml>ers regardless of rank 
seem to profit by his payments. 
I As a respectable place in the community is impossible 
wit-">out club affiliation, so a gain in prestige is directly 
1 proportionate to advancement in the society, which invari- 
) ably demands increasingly greater pecuniary sacrifices. 
1 Hence the man who has climljed to the highest rung of the 
( ladder is quite exceptional, ranks as a chief in real life. 
and figures as the hero of legend. He is then in a position 
to retrieve with interest the fortune spent in achieving emi- 
nence, for he can wring exorbitant fees from subsequent 
aspirants to honor. The common herd never dream of 
such eminence; though they enter the club as boys, they 


will be lucky to rise to the middle degrees of the organiza- 
tion. It is tnie that though the divisions are definitely 
localized in the chibhoiise, each invested with a clearly 
defined relative rank, there is an abstract possibility of 
leaping at once to a high station in the society. But prac- 
tically the fees would be too extravagant to convert theory 
into reality, and all that is ever attempted is to dispense 
with entrance into some of the very lowest compartments, 
which have accordingly fallen into decay in some of the 
villages. Besides, even the theoretical chance has one limi- 
tation: in order to progress beyond a certain point in the 
club a man must belong to another organization of a related 
though distinct order that will be treated Ijelow. 

The club of the Banks Islander is seen to be bound up 
with property rights. It is only the man of wealth who 
can reach the highest degrees and thus acquire prestige. 
Yet the aboriginal conception is not that of avariciously 
hoarding wealth but rather of displa\nng one's greatness by 
exhibiting contempt for property. So a man of the loftiest 
status in the club may still promote his renown by providing 
the lavish entertainment associated with certain festivals; 
nay, a suggestion of niggardliness on these occasions would 
go far to destroy his influence. 

The several grades of the club were anciently marked ofF 
with such rigor that to enter a compartment higher than 
one's own was to incur certain death. Yet there is very- 
little individuality about the various steps. They have their 
distinctive ma!;ks or hats, some use peculiar pudding-knives, 
and only in the higher degrees are members allowed to 
drink the native stimulant, kava. But it is difficult to say 
in what way the functions and privileges of adjoining de- 
grees difi^ered. The essential idea seems to have been 
simply that by making an additional sacrifice for a new 
initiation a member was entitled to higher honor, which fact 
was expressed in visible terms by the assignment of a 
spatially distinct compartment. 



The significant traits of the Banks Island system at once 
stand out in reHef when we compare it with that of the 
Masai. The East African scheme is thoroughly demo- 
cratic, that of Melanesia is an essentially timocratic one. 
Every Masai is bound to advance from boyhood to liache- 
lorhood and from bachelorhood to the elder's estate, and 
'the differentiation of age-classes among elders carries with 
it no suggestion of superior and inferior caste; an outward 
emblem for prolific and wealthy elders has lieen reported, 
but the practical consequences of tliis distinction are negli- 
gible. It is of course part of this generally democratic con- 
ception that status should be attained collectively by a 
group of approximate coevals. In the Banks Islands the 
exaction of increasingly prohibitive admission fees inevit- 
ably prevents the steps from Ixing gained with equal 
rapidity by age-mates. At every stage lieyond the very 
lowest perhaps we must be prepared to encounter a com- 
mensality of varying years and vastly different social pros- 
pects. Seated round one oven and for the time being on a 
par in the public eye are the elderly laggard whose strait- 
ened circumstances will keep him from transcending the 
plane to which he has just straggled by his utmost efforts, 
and the soaring youth for whom family connections have 
gained precocious preferment, bidding fair to raise him in 
course of time to the pinnacle of native aspirations. 

So far, however, only one phase of the complicated asso- 
ciational life of the Banks Islands has l>cen described. Its 
complement is represented by a host of secret organizations, 
'Ghost' societies, as the aborigines call them, of which the 
diminutive island of Mota boasts not less than seventy- 
seven. Unlike the clubhouse the equivalent meeting-place 
of the Ghost associations, whether a lodge or mere clearing, 
is not situated in the village but in the relative seclusion of 
the bush, and the path leading to it is tabooed to all non- 
members. Notwithstanding Codrington's and Rivers' note- 
worthy contributions to the subject, the intricacies of these 




I'Orgaiiizarions have been by no means completely unraveled 
and in this chapter the merest sketch of what seems fairly- 
certain must suffice. 

The secret organizations vary enormously in character, 
but ordinarily they figure as so many additional clubs. With 
one another and with the men's club they share the feature 
that entrance is dependent on an initiation and the payment 
of a fee. But some of the societies may be entered even 
by boys who have not yet joined the club, while for others 
that would be simply unthinkable. In certain organizations 
several men may enter together and jointly pay the amoimt 
requisite for an initiation; but no such economizing is per- 
mitted by the nK>re important societies. 

Practically all the societies have distinctive masks or 
objects to be carried in the hand. These objects are ex- 
hibited to the uninitiated only when the members stalk 
about the island on certain solemn occasions and not even 
then at close range. At all other times non-members, and 
especially women, must under no condition see or come 
near the sacred articles. Most of the societies also possess 
badges of a totally different nature, with which the de- 
sirability of entrance is- largely bound up. These emblems 
consist of the leaves of croton plants; when they are stuck 
into the ground by a member, they protect his property 
against the inroads of all trilresmen who are not fellow- 
members of his fraternity. Any one who should transgress 
the taboo must pay a pig to the affronted society, and a 
similar fine is required if a non-member cuts down or uses 
the particular species -of croton serving as a badge for 
some organization. Since women are ineligible to all fra- 
ternities, they are obliged to refrain from destroying any 
of these plants. Joining a particular organization is thus 
in a measure equivalent to taking up a policy in an insur- 
ance company against loss of property. Since protection 
is secured only against non-members, the smallest organiza- 
ions are naturally the most effective from this point of 


view, which results in an amusing cycle of vicissitudes. One 
of them becomes popular because of its protective value, 
automatically loses jts efficacy as the membership increases, 
hence sinks in general estimation, dwindles in numbers, and 
may then again be revived. Certain of the fraternities are 
not liable to these fluctuations because the motives for seek- 
ing admission are quite independent of those connected with 
property insurance. For example, entrance to the Tamaie 
liwoa organization would be sought as an indispensable pre- 
liminary to gaining the higher degrees in the club. 

A feature characteristic of the secret societies is the at- 
tempt to terrorize the uninitiated. A man will blacken his 
face and body to irrecognizabiUty and sally forth, a cane 
in the left hand and a club in the right. He hits people who 
do not get out of the way with the club and continually 
moves about his stick so that no one can see it distinctly. 
Occasionally there also occurs the wanton destruction or 
spoliation of a luckless individual's property by an organ- 
ized band of fraternity members. Thus, when a candidate 
is admitted to the Tamatc Ikvoa, it is necessary to pull down 
a house, which is chosen by the novice's father. The mem- 
bers, partly in disguise, rush out, scare off women and the 
uninitiated, and destroy the dwelling selected. At a later 
stage in the ritual of admission not only the candidate but 
any person met by the fraternity who has not yet attained 
high rank in the club receives a beating. 

Certain proceedings connected with entrance into the 
Tamaie liwoa recall the tribal initiation of Australia. The 
one secret learned by admission into the Melanesian fra- 
ternity is how to produce a curious sound by rubbing a 
stick on a stone. Though the details are not alike, this 
.strongly suggests the Australian attitude toward the bull- 
roarer. Again, though no mutilation is inflicted, the tyro 
must undergo all sorts of trials during a probationary 
eriod of a hundred days. People come to throw his food 
ito the 6re, break his knives and fine him if he voices a 


nt; difficult tasks are set, and when he oflfers the 
product of his labor, it is spurned. Here again the analc^- 
is general rather than specific, j-et it is illuminating as an 
example of the notions commonly underlying a formal ac- 
ceptance into the fold in the cruder levels of culture. 

H we now pass in review the position of an individual 
Banks Islander with reference to his various social rela- 
tions, their ]K>tential multitude is startling. The signifi- 
cance of sex has already been sufficiently commented upon. 
Another affiliation follows from the occurrence of the dual 
organization. Every person is thus bom into an exogam- 
ous moiety, and since the moieties are subdivided into sec- 
tions with specific taboos he automaticaJly enters still an- 
other group. Sooner or later he will join the men's club, 
bek>nging successively it may be to nine or ten of its grades. 
But concomitantly he is likely to hold membership in half 
a. dozen of the secret fraternities, either in order to safe- 
guard his possessions or to enhance his social status. It 
rti-^jly requires proof that to reduce the social organization 
the sib divisions would obliterate all that is genuinely 
tinctive of the Banks Islands scheme of society.* 

Pueblo Indians 

The multiplicity of ceremcaiial organizations among the 
Pueblo Indians converts their social scheme into a bewil- 
dering maze. Fortunately since the publication of Kroe- 
ber's guide-book there is fair promise of seeing the light 
of day as a sequel to much labyrinthine wandering. 

The religious corporations of the Zuiii may be listed 
under two heads. On the one hand, there is a Masked 
Dancer society comprising by necessity all the males and 
no females; secondly, there is a series of fraternities into 
which entrance is optional and open to both sexes. The 
function of the Masked Dancer society centers in the magi- 
cal production of rain under the direction of Rain priests ; 




the fraternities cure the sick and give demonstrations of 
magical power. 

From the constitution of the Masked Dancer society it 
appears that we must conceive it as the equivalent of the 
tribal club of other areas. But though there is a supreme 
director of the club it is strictly speaking not a single men's 
organization as in Australia, but a series of half a dozen 
units, each associated with a distinct ceremonial chamber. 
These six subdivisions symbolize the cardinal directions, 
zenith and nadir being classed in this category. This ar- 
rangement of spatially separate lodges would suggest the 
Melanesian grouping of messmates were it not for the 
absence of grades in the Southwest: the Zuni groups ap- 
pear as coordinate social units. Membership in a particular 
one is settled at birth; the infant is allotted to the lodge 
of the husband of the obstetrician who first touches him. 
It is this man who acts as sponsor for the child both at 
the earlier involuntary and subsequent voluntary initiation, 
the latter taking place at the age of twelve or thirteen. At 
the second initiation the boy is severely whipped by mem- 
bers who impersonate gods. Each novice, for several boys 
are admitted jointly, receives a rain-maker's mask, which 
becomes his individual property and is buried at death. 
On this occasion the boys leam for the first time that the 
supposed gods, who have removed their masks, are only 
men. The god-impersonators put their masks on the neo- 
phytes and surrender their whips to them, and the boys 
thereupon lash their former tormentors. Finally the mum- 
mers replace the masks on their own heads, and the novices 
are warned not to divulge the initiatory mysteries lest their 
heads be cut off with a stone knife. It happens, but very 
rarely, that a man in later life alters his lodge afliliaticH) 
from choice, though in such a case he may at any time 
return to that of his boyhood. Further, a man convicted 
of adultery with a fellow-member's wife may l>e expelled 
I and driven to seek admittance into another chapter; yet 



e seems to be a strong sentiment against expulsion e\*en 
1 extreme cases. 
Since the Pueblo Indians have a remaikaMy well-devel- 
oped sib organization, ihe question arises whether and to 
what extent sib affiliation affects membership in the several 
ceremonial units. From the mode of entering a dub lodge, 
it is clear that mere membership in a subdivision of the 
men's club has nothing to do with the sib. But there are 
special offices in the Masked Dancers' ritual which are more 
or less associated with the sib. Thus, the director-genera! 
of the club is invariably of the Deer sib, certain masks are 
in the custody of an Eagle man, and the rain scmgs at the 
close of a quadrennial ceremony must be chanted by a Frc^ 
Yet there are numerous deviations from this rule of 
letermining ceremonial office, which fairly often alternates 
etween the member of a certain sib and a son of that sib. 
ifho with maternal descent and exogamy can of course be- 
ng to any sib whatsoever except his father's. The rain 
riests of the tribal club are theoretically associated with 
definite sibs, yet in the actual personnel of the priesthood 
the same departure is noted as in the case of other positions 
of dignity. The heir-apparent and other associates of a 
ranking priest may be his sons, who cannot possibly be of 
the same sib; sometimes they are brothers or sister's sons. 
in other words, sib-mates ; and sometimes they may not even 
be kindred of any sort. On the other hand, there are fetiches 
manipulated by each set of priests, and these are stored in 
specified houses and are definitely linked with the sib units. 
In general, then, the rank and file of the club are not 
"ouped according to sib membership, but association with 
; sib principle occurs for ceremonial club offices, being 
xialiy conspicuous in the case of the priesthoods and 

Far less prominent are the bonds between the fraternity 

lid the sib organization, as becomes at once obvious from 

: mode of entrance. The usual basis for joining is 3 

ceremony takes the place of regula 
pendence of the sib implied in the 
applies in virtually equal degree t 
in an important fraternity Profess 
only a single function was necessari 
of a specified sib. 

Professor Kroeber has fortunate 
tention to the Zuni, but furnished ; 
fraternities as well. These are thet 
nificance because previous writers 
as a natural outgrowth of the sib, a 
the ritualistic aspect of the sib conci 
to derive support from the fact thai 
quently bear the same names as sibs 
lation ascribed the founding of a sot 
some other particular sib. By tabu' 
terial available as to the sib membei 
ties, Kroeber shows conclu-sively t 
alleged bond does not exist. Of 35 
bers only 7 belong to the Snake sib ; 
lope fraternity members are of the t 


^le, Cloud and Masiqwai sibs, but the Lizard sib. which 
represents the Snake sib of other villages, holds the lead- 
er's position. The mode of entering the Snake fraternity is 
quite like that generally followed by the Zuiii in joining 
any of their fraternities: a man cured by a Snake member 
joins in lieu of paying a fee. It is clear that very little 
importance attaches to the coincidence of name. In the 
village of Shipaiilovi there is no Snake sib and the director- 
ship of the Snake fraternity is vested in a Bear man. from 
whom it will descend to his sister's son, i.e., another Bear 
man. In one respect Kroeber may have overstated the case 
inasmuch as one or two of the societies seem to recognize a 
birthright of members of a certain sib to fraternity mem- 
bership. Nevertheless, generally speaking, the validity of 
his interpretation is sustained. 

In other words, Pueblo society no more than that of 
other regions can be regarded as an atomistic structure of 
sib blocks. A dual division on sex lines is created by the 
compulsory initiation of all men into a club, and within 

I this tribal organization affiliation with a special lodge is 
again independent of the sib, whatever may be the rule of 
succession to ritualistic service. The curative fraternities 
of the Zufii are even more largely free from the sib influ- 
ence, and the same may be stated for the comparable socie- 
ties of the Hopi. Thus, the importance of the associational 
as a concomitant of the kinship grouping is manifest. As 
Kroeber points out, an individual of sib A may belong to 
family B, have a father of sib C, join fraternity D. priest- 
hood E and lodge F ; his sib mate may be of family D, have 
a father of sib E, and join fraternity F. priesthood A and 
lodge B. There is no reason to suppose that the one bond 
represented by the sib must at all costs take precedence over 
all other social connections. It is as though we assumed 
that a man \\'ho votes the Republican ticket is bound to act 
as a Republican at the meeting of his church, in an assem- 
bly of his labor union, and in the privacy of his home 


Manifestly there is no need to assign to any one social tie 
a predominant position; the individual normally acts as a 
member of the group with which he is at the time linked 
and these several groups need not come into contact at all, 
whether by way of coincidence or collision.* 


In the chapter on Property mention was made of the 
Tobacco society of the Crow into which individuals of 
either sex gain entrance by payment of a fee to their 
adopter. The novice is properly trained during a prelimi- 
nary period, learning certain songs selected for him by his 
'father,' i.e., sponsor, and gains the status of complete mem- 
bership with the privilege of henceforth planting the sacred 
Tobacco in the course of a public solemnity. There are 
numerous chapters of the Tobacco order and the tyro natu- 
rally joins that of his 'father,' but there is a considerable 
esprit de corps among the several subdivisions, so that mem- 
bers of any and all chapters may participate in the proceed- 
ings, though only those of the adopting group are morally 
entitled to a share in the initiation fee and give the novice 
the choice of their sacred objects. The Tobacco initiation 
is quite devoid of attempts at chastisement or mutilation 
of the candidate ; it centers in his receiving appropriate in- 
struction, ceremonial songs, regalia and prerogatives in re- 
turn for the heavy payments demanded. Formerly it was 
usual to apply for admission but latterly members pique 
themselves on the number of their adoptive children and 
are likely to urge individuals to join. It has also been cus- 
tomar>- for a person in a position of hardship, say. when 
his own or a beloved relative's life seemed in danger, to 
pledge entrance provided that things turned out in accord- 
ance with his desires. Another difference divides ancient 
from modem usage. At an earlier stage membership was 
restricted to a relatively small number of elderly couples 



and the religious features were predominant; more re- 
cently it has become a matter of social prestige to belong 
to the order, so that almost all adults are members and 
even young children have been adopted. Nevertheless, the 
ceremonial character of the society has not by any means 
been obliterated. The preservation of the tribe is still be- 
lieved to hinge on the continued planting of the sacred 
Tobacco, which symbolically represents the stars. From a 
strictly social point of view the Tobacco organizations are 
important since an altogether special bond unites the per- 
sons standing to each other in the ceremonial relationship 
of father and child, who will treat each other with the 
loving-kindness of genuine kindred. Another feature that 
merits notice is the tendency to initiate husband and wife 
at the same time. 

At the present day there is also a quartet of secular clubs 
that figures prominently in tribal life, — the Night Hot 
Dancers, Big Ear-Holes, Last Hot Dancers and Sioux 
Dancers. These share the same performance, the Hot 
Dance, which was introduced by the Hidatsa in the 'seven- 
ties of the last century. Practically all of the men now 
living belong to one of these clubs. Unlike the Tobacco 
chapters, these do not exact an entrance fee, nor is there 
any suggestion of formal initiation. Each club aspires to 
have a large membership, and consequently so far from 
extorting payment the members will present substantial 
gifts to clubable men in order to make them join, individ- 
uals of known liberality who are likely to entertain mem- 
bers being specially sought. It even happens that persons 
of renown in this regard are enticed to transfer their mem- 
bership by a tempting offer of property. These clubs must 
be conceived as in large measure mutual benefit 
dons. If a member of the Big Ear-Holes is req 
perform a certain amount of labor, all his comradi 
society will cooperate. When one man seeks i 
into the Tobacco order, every club member helps 




late the amount requisite for going through the perform- 
ance in due style. On such occasions the candidate's club 
acts in precisely the same fashion as his sib. From time to 
time feasts are celebrated by the club, which has no special 
assembly lodge but meets in the tent of one of the com- 

These clubs, however, represent merely the bowdlerized 
edition of an earlier form of association that still flourished 
in the second half of the nineteenth century. In 1833 
Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied had found no fewei 
than eight of these organizations: somewhat later thej* 
dwindled down to four, — the Muddy Hands, Big Dogs, 
Foxes, and Lumpwoods; and about the 'seventies only th< 
two last-mentioned were in full vigor. These clubs were 
in part military associations seeking to gain renown on the 
battlefield, and they were accordingly confined to male mem- 
bership, which, however, did not lead to a rigid exclusion 
of the women. On the contrary, women ctanmonly par- 
ticipated in the feasts and excursions of the clubs. There 
was a public function assigned by the tribal chief each 
year fo one nf the clubs, — the preservation of order dur- 
ing the conmiunal buffalo hunt. Further, each society had 
its dance and song, but religious features were absent to a 
surprising extent in view of the well-known tendency of 
Plains Indians to invest all sorts of phenomena with a 
religious glamor. 

The method of joining a mihtary club was as informf^ 
as that noted for the clubs of today, that is, there was no' 
adoption, no solemn procedure of any sort, no purchase. | 
If a member died, his comrades sought to replace him by a J 
brother or close kinsman and would offer gifts to this per-a 
son in order to gain his consent. But there was no obliga-^ 
lion for the several brothers of a family to belong to thefl 
same society, and in any nf the clubs all sorts of families 
and sibs were represented. Even when there was ncfl 

Lcancy the members might offer presents to a renowoeiw 



warrior inducing him to join their band, whether he 
ready belonged to another club or not. A personal griev- 
ance hkewise would lead to an occasional change of affilia- 
tion, but on the whole membership was for life. Some 
persons joined a club simply because they liked its songs 
and dances. 

Like the modern clubs, the military associations are 
coordinate units. Each embraced young and old men, each 
might in rotation execute the civic duties of a police force, 
each had an equivalent set of songs and performances, and 
all modeled their internal organization on a single pattern. 
Of course, equality of status did not extend to an 
imitation of the adult clubs by the boys, who under the 
name of a Hammer society mimicked the activities of their 

Impossible as it is to g[ive in this chapter a complete 
account of the Crow scheme of military associations, even 
a moderately vivid picture of their spirit is out of the 
question unless one of thejn is described in some detail. 
Accordingly, I will select for this purpose the Fox organi- 

The Foxes were subdivided into several minor groups 
according to age, but in point of dress, songs and eligibil- 
ity to* posts of honor there was no diiTerentiation. There 
was little in the way of distinctive badges for the rank and 
file except for a foxskin cape worn by the members. Some 
of the officers, however, were distinguished by special em- 
blems. Their dignity, it is essential to note, had nothing 
to do with any such status as attaches to the presidency or 
secretaryship of one of our organizations. The functions 
corresponding to such offices were executed rather infor- 
mally by the older members. As for the Crow officers. 
their eminence rested on prospective or tried prowess in 
battle. In the spring of every year the older men of the J 

H^ club summoned the others to assemble in a lodge and J 

^fe clioose the eight or ten braves who were to shed lustre on I 



Jicir association. Of these, the four standard-bearers had 
the most clearly defined duties. Two of them were pre- 
»ented with curved and two with straight staffs; in sight 
of the enemy they were expected to plant these emblems 
into (lie ground and defend their standards without budg- 
ing, even at the risk of their lives. To abide by the rule, 
whether for survival or death, meant achieving fame in 
the society and the tribe ; to retreat was to lose caste and 
!« despised as "a menstruating woman." Owing to the 
danger incurred by acceptance of office, many would de- 
cline the peril-fraught honor \mX in case of necessity the 
elders could force a mandate on a particular person by 
stealthily touching his lips with a pipe. Even close rela- 
tives thus compelled a young warrior to become an officer, 
not because they wished him ill but because they were 
eager to have him gain distinction. With the first snow- 
fall of the year the arduous duties of the position ceased, 
and the following spring a new incumbent would receive 
the fatal lance. 

One of the most remarkable phenomena linked with this 
society is the spirit of rivalry that animated the Foxes and 
the Lumpwoods, i.e., the two clubs which ultimately gained 
the ascendancy among Crow military organizations. There 
was no trace of persona! hostility in this relationship,- which 
was sharply defined. In certain games the Foxes with their 
wives were pitted against the Lumpwoods and their wives; 
in war each club tried to score the first blow struck against 
the enemy; and in the beginning of spring there was a brief 
period during which a Fox might abduct the wife of a 
Lumpwood if she had at some previous time been his mis- 
tress, and vice versa. 

The last-mentioned custom was remarkable in several 
ways. As soon as the kidnapping season had been an- 
nounced by mutual signals of defiance, the men of both 
clubs sallied forth to seize former mistresses now wedded 
to members of the rival society. Resistance was in vain, 



for if necessary there was recourse to force. Least of all 
might the husband offer the slightest sign of resentment or 
he would completely lose his social standing in the tribe 
and become the common laughing-stock. The only way for 
a woman to evade abduction was to throw herself on her 
fonncr lover's generosity. For the husband the ideal be- 
havior was to assume a brazen face and encourage the 
abductor in his enterprise. As soon as the Foxes had kid- 
napped a Lumpwood woman, they took her to one of their 
lodges, where she received from her paramour's kin all the 
finery customarily bestowed on a bride. The next day 
there was a solemn procession in which the members ex- 
hibited their captive to the public gaze. However, she 
must ride double only with a Fox of conspicuou's war rec- 
ord, otherwise the Lumpwoods would throw her and her 
companion from the horse they rode. Apart from this the 
Lumpwoods attended merely as interested bystanders, mak- 
ing an ostentatious display of feigned indifference. Usu- 
ally the kidnapped mistress was soon abandoned by her 
lover, but under no condition might she return to her for- 
mer husband's tent, A man who took back a kidnapped 
wife not only utterly disgraced himself but brought igno- 
miny on his society as well and the rival club was at liberty 
to cut up the blankets of all the members. 

Almost equally curious was the custom connected with 
martial competition. If a Fox struck the first blow of the 
season, the Lumpwoods thereby forfeited the right to sing 
their songs, which became for that year the property of 
their rivals. All this emulation was confined to the period 
from early spring till the first snowfall, when it automati- 
cally ceased, the two organizations thenceforth living to. 
gether in perfect amity. 

To sum up. The classification into sibs constituted but 
one type of social grouping, which was criss-crossed by 
other divisions of equal and perhaps even greater signifi- 



The Hidatsa, too, had a series of military organizations, 
many of which closely resembled those of the Crow, as 
might be exjiected from the partial identity of names. 
Thus, the Fox and the Lumpwood. Hammer and Dog so- 
cieties are common to both tribes, and often the similari- 
ties are of the most detailed kind. The hooked-spear offi- 
cers of the Crow Foxes reappear in the Hidatsa equivalent 
with precisely the same duties: and in both tribes the Dog 
men carry peculiar rattles of dewclaws tied to a stick, while 
certain officers wear slit sashes. But while corresponding 
clubs were fundamentally alike and doubtless served simi- 
lar social needs of the members, the mode of entrance was 
wholly different. As already explained (p. 242), the 
Hidatsa were not invited to join individually and gratuit- 
ously, let alone, were tempted by desirable presents, but 
were obliged collectively to buy membership, which was 
henceforth renounced by the previous holders, so that the 
whole transaction was tantamount to a transfer of property 

But there was another basic difference between the two 
schemes in addition to the differences as to mode of acquir- 
ing membership. The adult men's clubs of the Crow were 
coordinate organizations with which men were as a rule 

1 permanently associated. Among the Hidatsa the military 
societies formed a graded series, and in the course of their 
lives the men passed from one grade to another. Since 
purchase played so decided a part in the arrangement, it 
might be conjectured that this is merely a replica of the 
Banks Island scheme. Yet there is a profound distinction 
between these systems. Among the Melanesians there is 
vidual promotion, so that the affluent youth may soon 
e past the indigent dotard; with the Hidatsa advance- 
t is imiformly collective, and the buyers are all age- 
s. In other words, the Hidatsa recognize a dual ba^ 


for membership, purchase and age. No group of persons 
can automatically become Foxes or Dogs when they have 
attained a certain age; they can only become members by 
paying the fees exacted. On the other hand, no man can 
become a Fox or Dog alone bnt only in conjunction with 
a whole body of novices all about his own age. 

An interpretation of this dualism will be given in the 
next chapter; at present our concern is with the stratifica- 
tion of society consummated by the Hidatsa scheme. Since 
there was variation in detail at different periods, I will 
take a definite point of Hidatsa history for illustration. In 
1833 Prince Maximilian found all the male population be- 
yond very young boys grouped into ten societies. The 
youngest were the Stone Hammers, aged from ten to 
eleven: lads of fourteen or fifteen formed the Lumpwnods; 
youths of seventeen and eighteen owned the next higher 
society ; and so it went on to the Raven club, which united 
the oldest men in the tribe. Strictly speaking, it is not true 
that the males of the tribe were divided up among ten 
societies but rather into ten age-classes. The societies 
really correspond to degrees, and according to the Hidatsa 
scheme, which precluded autoniatic promotion, certain de- 
grees would be vacant v\'henever an age-class had sold its 
membership since its members might have to w-ait a long 
time before being able to buy the next higher degree. In 
other words, each age-class was a permanent unit but it 
was not always possessed of a definite place in the series. 
In speaking of age-classes, however, we must recollect that 
these Indians never knew their ages by years and that the 
grouping found was only an approximate one. In this as 
well as in other respects a comparison with the Masai age- 
classes is illuminating. In both tritjes there is a certain 
latitude from the point of view of a strict age-grouping. 
Some Masai are initiated at a rather earlier age than others 
either because of economic reasons or because circumcision 
occurs only during certain periods; the age-class is thus 



indeed constituted of approximate coevals but arbitrarily 
includes some and excludes others who might just as well 
be otherwise classified. Among the Hidatsa the age-class 
is likewise founded on rough-and-ready principles : a group 
of playmates decide to buy their first society together, but 
as soon as they have been united in the purchase tliis joint 
experience converts them into a definite social unit. There- 
after the Masai or Hidatsa individual's age-class affiliation 
is immutable like his sib relationship. 

There was a somewhat amusing alliance between alter- 
nate Hidatsa age-classes. When age-class 2 attempted to 
buy the membership then held by age-class 3, it could de- 
pend on the assistance of class 4. and indeed of the other 
even classes, while a similar bond united the odd classes. 
The reason for this alteniation may be sought in the mutual 
relations of adjoining classes. Between these there was 
necessarily a 'class struggle' since the sellers would always 
extort the highest payments possible; hence alternate 
classes would be united by their common antagonism to 
the intermediate class, which was the prospective flayer of 
the lower group and the future victim of the higher one. 

While the Crow women had no societies of their own, 
their Hidatsa sisters had a smaller but parallel series 
slightly enlarged by borrowings from the neighboring Man- 
dan. The mode of purchase was identical with that of 
the men's clubs, and there was even a direct affiliation with 
the male series, inasmuch as certain groups of women aided 
the odd and even male classes, respectively. Naturally 
these organizations were not distinctively military, but in- 
I direct martial associations are recorded. The Skunk 
women would celebrate the slaying of an enemy, while the 
I Enemy women perfonned a dance in commemoration of 
I braves who had fallen in a recent engagement. In the 
higher units of the series, notably the Goose and the White 
' Buffalo Cow organizations, the secular aspect practically 
. vanishes, the most significant activities being of a magico- 


rfligious nature. The Goose women were cxpect«l to pro- 
mote the growth of the corn, while on the while Buffalo 
Cows devolved the duty of luring buffalo herds to th* vil- 
lage in times of scarcity. These societies were accord- 
ingly invested with an atmosphere of holiness quite absent 
both from the lower members of the series and the ma- 
jority of the military clubs. In the women's societies the 
age factor was not wanting, but it was less clearly marked. 
On the one hand, it was customary to admit one or two 
infants to the older groups of White Buffalo Cows and 
Goose women. Secondly, it is doubtful whether all the 
women were grouped into these societies: it is quite pos- 
sible to infer from the data that while fellow-members were 
generally approximate age-mates many women belonged to 
no definite age-class, in other words, that the sex as a 
v.'hole was not stratified by age. 

kin addition to the age-classes, which will have to be dis- 
cussed later from still another angle, the Hidatsa had dis- 
tinctly sacrosanct txxlies linked with bundles of holy ob- 
jects and performing the correlated rituals. Every Hidatsa 
had a birthright to his father's bundle and ceremonial pre- 
rogatives, but before the potential privilege could become 
an actual one it had to be validated by purchase from the 
parent, siblings usually combining in the transaction. This 
would not create an association but would merely fortify 
a kinship group were it not for the fact that the same bundle 
and ritual were shared by distinct families, so that individ- 
uals totally unrelated were brought together by identical 
ceremonial prerogatives and ritualistic performances. 
Thus, despite their hereditary character, the Hidatsa bun- 
dles led to the formation of still another type of social 
unit. In these ritualistic associations women played a part, 
notably as custodians of the bundles bought by iheii 

kXhus, a typical Hidatsa indi^'idual would be bom into i 
b, but would in boyhood help in the formation of an age- 

pro- I 

ffalo 1 



class, passing with his comrades from one degree or so- 
ciety to another through successive joint purchases: and 
independently of these affiliations, he would by purchase of 
the patrimonial bundle become a member of one of the 
ritualistic associations of his village. A woman, while per- 
haps not necessarily connected with an age-class, was often 
so affiliated, and also held a definite relation to her hus- 
band's bundle.* 


Brief as is the preceding survey, it demonstrates the 
importance and variety of associations both in sibless com- 
munities and those organized into sibs. Sex moieties, di- 
I visions on the basis of matrimonial status, social clubs, se- 
I cret fraternities, all crisscross the bonds of the family and 
the sib. creating new units of incalculable significance for 
the individual's social existence. So far, then, Schurtz's 
view of primitive society is wholly justified, and the de- 
scription of the Morgan school must be recognized as in- 


'Schurtz: r-82. Webster. 
'Man: 40, 60 seq, 108, 207. Parsons: 282. 
' Cunow, 1894: 25 seq., 144 seq. Spencer and Gillen, 
257,328,498,611. Howitt: 509 seq. 
•Mollis, 1905: XVI, 260 seq., 280 seq. Merker: 16, I 
'Rivers, 1914 (b) : i, 60-143. Codrington: loi seq. J 
" Kroeber, 1917 (a): 150-188. Stevenson: 62-107. 
'Lewie, 1913: 147-211. 
•Lowie, 1913: 225-354. 



IN the preceding chapter I have merely pointed out the 
important position of associational groups in primitive 
social organization. No attempt was made to grapple with 
the problems, historical and sociological, that develop from 
these data. In examining these it will be well to begin 
with an exposition of Schurtz's scheme, which furnishes a 
convenient set of pegs for the attachment of theoretical 

ScHURTz's Scheme 

According to Schurtz's theory, a profound difference in 
the psychology of the sexes underlies the differentiation 
between kinship and associational groups. Contrary to re- 
ceived notions, woman is an eminently unsociable being 
and refrains from forming unions on the basis of like in- 
terests, remaining centered in the kinship group based on 
sexual relations and the reproductive function. Associa- 
tions created or even joined by women on equal terms with 
the men are rare and must be considered weak imitations 
of the exclusively male associations. Man, on the other 
hand, tends to view sexual relations in the light of episodes 
and fosters the purely social factor that makes "birds of 
a feather flock together." Thus the psychological differ- 
ences between men and women lead to a sociological sepa- 
ration. There is another form of cleavage within the fam- 
ily circle, but one that not merely destroys but also 




creates social ties. The antagonism between the older and 
the younger generation that separates parent and child 
forms the germ of a classification by age. which Schurtz 
accordingly regards as the oldest type of associated 

Schurtz docs not contend that the kind of age-grouping 
found in the simpler cultures has a purely natural basts. 
It rather represents a blending of physiological and con- 
ventional factors. The typical condition is the tripartite 
division of a community into children, marriageable youths 
and girls, and married couples. Here the separation of the 
first two groups depends on a natural difference, while 
that of the second and third is an artificial one. Schurtz 
sees its raison d'etre in an effort to regulate sex relations on 
the Masai plan of permitting free love to the young and 
establishing firm conjugal bonds in later life. In such a 
society the bachelors form the best-marked and organized 
group, the spinsters representing merely a degenerate re- 
flection of it on account of the feminine inaptitude for com- 
radeship. Entrance into the important body of bachelors 
at the time of puljcrty is properly signalized by complicated 
solemnities, while the girls' initiation into the status of 
maturity is of relatively insignificant character in corre- 
spondence with the less definite organization of the spin- 
ster class. 

Schurtz assumes that wherever a greater number of age- 
classes occurs this is the effect of secondary elaboration of 
the tripartite division. Thus he recognizes the possibility 
that simultaneous initiation may establish a bond of union; 
but he holds that the resulting classes have been superim- 
posed upon the simpler scheme. In the case of the Hidatsa 
and related systems, which he specifically deals with, he 

Hves their secondary origin not only from the great num- 
of the age-classes but also from the qualifications for 
ance. For it is one of his axitmis that the grouping by 
siotogical age and matrimonial status preceded all oth- 


I, purchase as a factor for the admission into a social 
unit representing a later stage of evolution. 

Ill intimate connection with the age-classes and more 
particularly with the dominant role played by the organized 
bachelors there develops the men's house. It is character- 
ized as a structure in which the adult but single men cook 
their meals, work, play, and sleep, while the married men 
dwell apart with their families. Women and children are 
usually barred from the premises, while the mature young 
girls may freely consort with the inmates. Though he re- 
gards this as the archetype of the institution, Schurtz recog- 
nizes that its observed representatives deviate widely from 
the assumed norm. Such divergences he interprets invari- 
ably as later differentiations and he admits that several lines 
of evolution have been pursued. For one thing, the bache- 
lors' dwelling may retain its hold upon the married men 
and thus be transformed into a general club and even be- 
come a dormitory for all the adult males. On the other 
hand, the bachelors' house loses its original character if its 
facilities for convivial assemblage and dancing are accen- 
tuated, which may even lead to the admission of women. 
Still other lines of development will convert it into a sweat- 
house, a council chamber, an armory, an inn or a work- 
shop, to mention only some of the possibilities. Schurtz 
does not ignore the objection that the men's house may be 
characteristic only of certain related stocks of mankind and 
that its distribution could be explained as the effect of his- 
torical connection rather than of a sociological law. In- 
:d, he admits that the most typical fcnns are restricted 
the Malaysian family. Nevertheless, the ethnographic 
levidence as a whole leads him to the conclusion that so- 
cieties have an inherent tendency to develop the men's 
house, which is merely "the external phase of a simple, ex- 
tremely obvious (nalie Hegenden) division i' gpe-class es_ 
and in this sense an almost inevitable t 
the evolution of higher social structure 




hcation ot society vanishes, and instei 
tem of grades such as characterizes t 
Banks Islands. Clubs may follow ( 
development : they will grow into ce 
representing distinctively religious 
stress the strain of conviviality pec 
from the start and become groups of 1 
posia have no more serious aim th 

Secret societies represent the last 
founded by masculine gregariousne 
necessary stage in the social evolutior 
the primeval age-grouping, nor can : 
be traced directly back to age-classe 
relationship may be assumed. Their a 
One prominent trait is the attempt 
slaves in subjection, a feature not u 
basic nature of associations as conce 
for the formal side of secret orgar 
traceable to phenomena in the older a| 
trying initiation solemnities. The be 
tral cult, such as many secret societi< 



zations sometimes degenerate into gangs terrorizing and 
robbing the uninitiated. But they are also likely to assume 
at least the forms of a body dispensing justice. They will 
punish the membership for breach of confidence or like 
transgressions and inflict penalties on outsiders for antag- 
onizing their interests ; they may develop into the one body 
wielding political power and as such they have even been 
utilized by British colonial administrators. Though the 
potentiality for secret organizations is ever present, particu- 
lar representatives of the type are eminently unstable units. 
For one thing, Schurtz believes that in the long run it is 
impossible to preser\'e the secrecy of the watchwords or 
other arcana. He considers as typical the development 
noted in Central Brazil, where one people excludes women 
from all dances, while another tribe admits them to cere- 
monies of lesser dignity; where in one region the bull- 
roarers must never be seen by a member of the female sex 
and are carefully concealed in the men's house, while in a 
neighboring section of the country they are coolly exposed 
to the public gaze. Elsewhere the atmosphere of secrecy 
is dispelled and the society persists as a mere club, and in 
still other parts of the globe the secret organizations are 
transmuted into a constabulary force serving the chief or 
to ecclesiastical orders that may even come to admit 
This brief sketch suffices to indicate the character of 
Schurtz's thinking. In comparing his sj"stem with Mor- 
gan's a fundamental likeness is revealed by closer scrutiny. 
Schurtz envisages phenomena wholly ignored by Morgan, 
but like Morgan he imposes upon his data an evolutionary 
scheme that purports to possess general validity and thus 
seeks to formulate sociological laws. It is true that Schurtz 
has a keener sense of the intricacy of social arrangements. 
so that he makes allowance for a multitude pf developments 
from the same standard cf "' " 
inen's house. But this does 

of diffusion is insignificant. 

Now, as has been previously pointe 
diffusion is never insignificant. Thou 
that the mere knowledge of how ot 
given trait from another does not itsi 
its comprehension, proof of borrowir 
ant bearing on interpretation since 
that in the borrowing society the ff 
spontaneously, that its occurrence th 
the operation of a sociological law b 
tably bound to evolve. Of course it r 
it would have evolved independently, 
gation. So it might be contended' 
Britons would have developed the arl 
Alaskan Eskimo would ultimately hav 
of domesticating reindeer, by their 
Such assertions are indeed readily ma 
demonstrated. To apply this princif 
discussion, it is by no means a mati 
whether the men's house in Assam anc 
developed separately, or whether the) 
institutions of Indonesia all originated 
the former assumption it is hard to d< 
the p art of human societies to segrcf 



me still further, in short, whether all samples of the men's 
puse, no matter where found, are not traceable to one 
iintain-head. Were this inference established, the argu- 
lent on behalf of a sociological force impelHng the creation 
j^f a men's house would have not a leg to stand upon ; the 
nost that could be contended for would be a tendency to 
fcopy the institution when it had once been presented for 

Schurtz blinks at these rather obvious facts and accord- 
ingly his marginal remarks on historical connection, while 
uodicating that he has heard of diffusion as an active prin- 
Bple in culture history, do not imply its efficient use by 
Pnimself and cannot be taken to divide his method logically 
from that of Morgan. This holds more especially since 
Morgan's own occasional rodomontades about historical 
connection put to shame the most swashbuckling of recent 
diffusionists: not only has the sib in his opinion a unitary 
origin but for the systems of relationship even diffusion 
will not do and nothing short of racial affinity is made to 
account for a like classification of kin by the Zulu and Ha- 
waiians! All of which in no way interferes with the es- 
sentially unilineal evolutionism of his system. In sub- 
stance, then, Morgan and Schurtz stand on the same plane 
and employ the same conceptual machinery; and Schurtz's 
distinction lies in having very materially expanded the field 
of sociological inquiry rather than in the suggestion of new 
methods of cultivation. Pioneer husbandmen in science, to 
-borrow Turgenev's telling phrase, lightly skim the surface 
i the virgin soil with the hoe, and deep-ploughing comes 

After these introductory comments I will now discuss the 
iHore important general problems connected with associa- 

Sex Dichotomy 

With fulsome iteration Schurtz insis 



difference that leads men to aggregate in associations, while 
the unsociable females of the species rarely so much as 
timidly copy the masculine prototypes or join in the so- 
cieties of the other sex. One need hardly be a perfervid 
feminist to repudiate tliis sort of reasoning. In order to 
enter a society something more is required than the will to 
membership. Considering that women who should venture 
near an Australian initiation ground were mercilessly killed, 
it is not remarkable that relatively few exposed themselves 
to so perilous a form of blackballing. Nor is it by any 
means certain that the organization of independent so- 
cieties would always be permitted by the men ; in some 
regions at least the total absence of women's clubs may be 
due largely to the discountenancing attitude assumed t^ 
men. But even this factor is not required to explain the 
empirical facts. The Altaian and Kirgiz data have al- 
ready been cited in another chapter but are especially illum- 
inating in the present connection. The Altaian household 
drudge has simply no time for sociability, whether her hus- 
band would grant his consent for such indulgence or not. 
Given a different division of labor and her Kirgiz sister, 
laughing to scorn the abstract tenets of Islam, mingles freely 
in the company of other women and men, even engaging 
in spirited singing contests with members of the other sex. 
Whatever psychological differences may divide the sexes — 
and I am not prepared to deny them — the lesser gregarious- 
ness of women can hardly be reckoned an innate feminine 
failing so long as fairly definite alternative explanations 
suggest themselves for her limited associational activity- 
One of the most convincing of these interpretations has 
been suggested by Professor Karl von den Steinen and Dr. 
Paul Radin, The former conceives the Bakairi mysteries 
as an outgrowth of the chase, as hunters' festivals, from 
■•*'ich women would naturally be barred. Similarly, Radin 
its that a soldiers' society would not be likely to admit 
n, nor a sewing circle men. The exclusion is in these 


' cases almost automatic We may add that the activities of 
women are frequently not of a nature that calls for con- 
certed effort in the same sense as, say, a warlike enterprise. 
A potter can execute her earthenware just as well without 
a crowd of fellow-workers. On the other hand, Mooney 
found that among the Cheyenne the women were organ- 
ized into a variety of guilds devoted to the higher reaches 
of the various feminine crafts, such as tent-cutting, quill 
embroidery, moccasin decoration, and rawhide painting. 
Entrance was granted only on payment of heavy fees, and 
altogether these organizations are plausibly likened by their 
discoverer to our trade unions. Here the necessity for 
gaining expert advice and recognition in a chosen field of 
endeavor has caused an exulwrance of societies that puts 
to shame the dogma of woman's unsociability. 

Indeed, the North American data amply illustrate the 
baselessness of Schurtz's cardinal principle. In the Crow 
Tobacco society women figure at least as conspicuously as 
men and are commonly admitted with their husbands, a 
married couple almost representing a fixed unit. A similar 
notion is found among the Hidatsa, where the medicine 
bundles are usually transferred to a buyer through his wife, 
who is first expected to touch the fetiches with her body. 
The presence of distinctively feminine organizations in this 
tribe has already been noted, and if they are less numerous 
than the comparable men's societies they are also more 
sacred in character. As Radin points out. the Midewiwin, 
the great secret society of the Central Algonkians, admits 
both male and female shamans. In a number nf Omaha 
organizations a communication from a definite supernatural 
being, such as Thunder or the Buffalo, was the prerequisite 
to membership, and female as w^llMgale visionaries were 
eligible. In the Southwest m^^^fhUinly more active 
ceremonially than women, yet 1 
rate societies and dances. Tbefl 
Basin have nothing that can pri 






ciety but in the various dances and festivities men and 
women engage on equal terms. 

Not less instructive than the many instances of feminine 
gregariousness in North America are the reported analo- 
gies to the men's house or tribal society of other continents. 
These, as shown in a previous chapter, are confined to the 
vicinity of the Pacific coast, a circumstance suggesting the 
possibility of transmission from a common center. What 
interests us more especially in the present connection, how- 
ever, is that the implications of the American institutions 
are as a rule quite different from their apparent parallels 
in Australia and Melanesia, In the Banks Islands there 
is a genuine dual organization on the basis of sex, by which 
all the initiated males eat, live and sleep apart from the 
females. The Australians do not carry the separation so 
far but at least make it apply to religious and public life. 
In both areas all the men are initiated and none of the 
women can be. Now it is precisely this basic view of 
woman's status, functions, and disabilities that strikes the 
Americanist as essentially un-Indian and to which there is 
. hardly any parallel in North America, 

For example, in the northern half of California there is 
a men's house and also a men's secret society, but the under- 
lying conceptions seem very different from those recorded 
for other continents. In the winter the Hupa men sleep 
apart from the women, occupying the village swealhouse, 
but they eat with their wives throughout the year and live 
with them in brush shelters during the summer. The segre- 
gation of the men is thus only a partial one. Moreover, it 
does not involve the exclusion of women from ceremonial 
activity: there are female shamans and at the time of Dr. 
Goddard's sojourn the Brush dance was conducted by an 
old woman, the only person conversant with the 'medicine' 
required. In the same general region the Shasta have men's 
"inter dormitories and clubhouses where the men sweat, 

mge and gamble. Shasta ritualism is almost wholly re- 


ricted to shanianistic performances, and here we are as- 
itonished to find that shamanism is largely a feminine 
profession. That is to say, in spite of the men's house 
ceremonial activity is to a considerable extent in the hands 
of women, which would certainly strike an Oceanian as the 
acme of topsy-turvydom. Passing on to the Maidu, we 
discover a somewhat different condition of affairs. The 
large structures corresponding outwardly to the Shasta 
men's house coincide only partly in function ; they are suda- 
tories but not so much clubs as ceremonial chambers. Fur- 
thermore, the women are not barred from these dance lodges 
on all occasions but actively participate in a number of the 
ceremonials: female shamans occur, though fewer in num- 
ber than among the Shasta, and attend the annual shaman- 
istic festival in the sweathouse. 

So far, then, the Califomian data do not indicate a rigid | 
separation of the sexes on Oceanian principles, Segrega- I 
tion of the men during part of the year is quite consistent I 
with common meals and in a measure with common cere- I 
monies. However, the Yuki, Porno and Maidu have a se- 
cret organization that at first strongly suggests the tribal 
society of other continents since there is a rigid exclusion 
of all women. Indeed, the somewhat journalistic report of 
Powers on the two former trilies invests their societies with 
a distinctly West African and Melanesian atmosphere in its 
^description of mummers impersonating evil spirits to cow 
^^Vomen into submission and chastity. But in appraising the 
^^ngTiificance of the Calif ornian phenomena we must not for- 
^'get one all-important fact. The secret society was not a 
group comprising all men ; initiation was not an indis- 
pensable stage in the individual's life, was not a prerequisite 
to matrimonial status. This feature suffices to distinguish 
it from the tribal society of the Australians. It may be 
compared with the Ghost organizations of the Banks Is- 

E' — :is, but such parallelism as exists is not significant in the 
sent connection, i.e., as regards the existence of sex 


moieties. These cannot be a&cribed even to the Porno be- 
cause, as Dr. Barrett's report demonstrates, in most of the 
dances an indefinite number of both men and women might 
participate, while in two others the number of each sex 
was prescribed. In addition there were five dances in which 
only men took part, though at least two of these were wit- 
nessed by women ; and two women's dances from which, 
however, men were not barred. Accordingly, the exclusion 
of women (together with uninitiated men) from one eso- 
teric ceremonial cannot be subsumed under the caption of 
sexual dichotomy. Similar considerations apply to the 
Maidu case. The position of the female shamans of that 
tribe is especially interesting when we contrast it with that 
of corresponding practitioners in Queensland. The Aus- 
tralian woman doctor practises certain tricks, yet she must 
never handle or look upon the charms that constitute the 
regular physician's stock-in-trade and "on no account is she 
ostensibly allowed to join in the secret deliberations of the 
other medical practitioners." 

What holds for California applies likewise to the Pueblo 
region. The subterranean ceremonial chambers ordinarily 
used as men's workshops and lounging- places are known to 
have once served also as the bachelors' dormitories and as 
sweathouses; but their existence does not interfere with the 
free association of both sexes in daily life. Even the addi- 
tional feature of a men's tribal organization has failed to 
compass that end or to prevent women from participating in 
ceremonial activity. In the extreme north the Alaskans 
V differ from the other Eskimo in having a men's, especially 
bachelors', dormitory combining the features of a club- 
house, town hall, dancing pavilion, and tavern. Women are 
indeed excluded at certain times, but there is no general 
[ prohibition against their admission. On the contrary, they 
' <od to the men's house twice or three times a day, 
y their rehtives during the repast, and frequently ' 
attend performances but take an active part in ' 



them. In the Hght of all these facts Heame's observation 
that the Chipewyan of the Mackenzie River region excluded 
women from all dances and took pains to segregate even 
young boys and girls with the vigilance of an English gov- 
erness must stand as anomalous. This point of view rep- 
resents a 'sport,' a deviation from the typical attitude not 
only of North American Indians generally but of the North- 
em Athabaskans as well, since other members of that fam- 
ily, such as the Dc^bs, are known to permit the joint par- 
ticipation of both sexes in dancing. 

To sum up, the North American Indians neither display 
that masculine exclusiveness which would divide a tribe into 
sex moieties, nor are their women devoid of gregariousness 
since they join men socially when they are allowed to do so 
and also by no means rarely have founded associations of 
their own. That these are fewer in number than the men's 
can be readily accounted for in the manner suggested above 
without recourse to the mystical absence of an instinct of 

The African phenomena, on the whole, fall in line with 
those from North America. Notwithstanding the usually 
inferior status of wrnnen, there is generally free interming- 
ling of the sexes in social intercourse. It is true that, espe- 
cially on the West Coast, there are secret societies to which 
women are not admitted but, as Radin has pointed out, the 
number of parallel women societies is considerable. Some 
of the men's organizations are charged with military and 
juridical functions, others devote themselves largely to the 
chastisement of adulterous wives, so that the exclusion of 
women is natural. Far more significant is the positive fact 
that the women's societies are not only fairly numerous but 
of social importance. Thus the men's Poro society of the 
Mendi in Sierra Leone is balanced by the women's Eundu; 
and while it might be an exaggeration to claim equal rank 
for the latter, its sacred character is acknowledged by thf 
male population. "No man would under any consideratioi 



venture to approach the 'Bundu bush,' for the mystic work- 
ings of the 'Bundu medicine' upon any delinquent are be- 
lieved to be exceedingly severe: and this belief is so firmly 
rooted in the minds of all men that Bundu girls when under 
the protection of the Bundu medicine can walk about unat- 
tended within bounds, knowing that they are perfectly se- 
cure from the smallest molestation." For a region some- 
what farther south Miss Kingsley reports that a man who 
should penetrate into the female mysteries would be killed 
just as a woman would be put to death if she encroached on 
the privacy of a men's secret gathering. The women's 
organizations are at least often connected with the initia- 
tion of girls at the age of puberty, and it is worth noting 
that the African girls' introduction to tlie status of maturity 
is often conducted with as much solemnity as the equivalent 
rites for the boys. This certainly does not hold true for 
Australia nor, so far as I know, for Melanesia. 

Ahogether there is no rigid separation of the sexes in 
Africa; and while ceremonial segregation occurs, it differs 
toto coelo from that reported for Australia and Melanesia 
since the women do not always form an unorganized con- 
geries of individuals but often constitute tribal or more 
restricted societies of their own. Considering that for a 
very large portion of Asia Schurtz himself could discover 
no male tribal society nor indeed any other association, we 
must repudiate as unwarranted the doctrine of virtually ab- 
solute unsociability as a secondary sexual trait of woman- 
kind. Schurtz has mistaken a phenomenon of restricted 
geographical distribution for one of universal range; and 
even within the area favorable to his view he has ignored 
the difference between an institutional result and an organic 
disability. When the influence of the division of labor com- 
bined with that of the male gerontocracy in Australia or 
of the male club in the Banks Islands are shown to be favor- 
able or at least not antagonistic to the formation of women's 
associations, then and only then it wilt be possible to inteiH 


t the paucity of sororities in direct psychological terms 
mplying greater or lesser gregariousness. 

Before leaving the subject of sex in relation to associa- 
tions, I must briefly deal with a subject of apparent triviality 
but of the utmost ethnc^raphic interest. In the sketch of 
Australian initiatioti riles mention was made of the bull- 
roarer, the buzzing musical implement tabooed to women. 
The care taken to prevent the uninitiated from learning 
that this simple device lies at the bottom of the weird 
sounds heard by them is extremely ludicrous; it appears as 
though the essence of all the mysteries centers in the pro- 
duction of the whirring noise, as if all the pother and pain 
of a protracted ritual came to a climax from the native 
point of view when the boys were told how to make a little 
slat boom through the air. It is sufficiently remarkable that 
the death penalty was inflicted on a woman who discovered 
the secret and on the man who divulged it. But far more 
striking is the occurrence of the same association of ideas 
in different regions of the globe. The following samples 
will suffice for illustration. 

Among the Central Australian Urabunna the uninitiated 
are taught to believe that the sound is the voice of a spirit 
"who takes the boy away, cuts out all his insides, provides 
him with a new set, and brings him back an initiated youth. 
The boy is told that he must on no account allow a woman 
or child to see the stick, or else he and his mother and sis- 
ters will tumble down as dead as stones." Farther north 
the Anula of the Gulf of Carpentaria tell their women that 
the whirring of the bull-roarer is made by a spirit who swal- 
lows and afterwards disgorges the boy in the form of an 
initiated youth. At the initiation of the Bukaua, who live 
about Huon Gulf, New Guinea, the novices' mothers are 
told that the booming of the leaf-shaped slats is the voice 
of an insatiable ogre that swallows and then spews out 
young lads. In the Solomons and the French Islands the 
biill-roarer is likewise kept secret from women, who believe 




that the strange noise represents the voice of a spirit, and 
the Sulka of New Britain impress upon lliem the additional 
fact that this being occasionally devours the uninitiated. 
The foregoing illustrations are culled from the Australian 
and Oceanian literature. But what shall we say when simi- 
lar conceptions appear in various parts of Africa? The 
Ekoi of South Nigeria allow no woman to see the bull- 
roarers or to know the cause of the sounds they produce, 
and similar regulations are reported from the far-off Nandi 
in East Africa. Among the Yoruba the women are indeed 
permitted to view and even handle the buII-roarcrs, but 
under no condition must they see one in motion. A jocular 
gesture of Dr. Frobenius' suggesting that he was about to 
whirl it through the air sufficed to throw the females into 
fits, and it is reported that in ancient times women who ap- 
peared during a procession of the men's society when these 
implements were swung through the air were mercilessly 
put to death. Finally must he cited a South American in- 
stance. The Bororo of central Brazil have mortuary rites 
at which bull-roarers are swung, this being the signal for all 
the women to run into the woods or hide at home lest they 
die. Here the belief is shared by the men that the mere 
sight of a bull-roarer would automatically cause a woman's 
death and Dr. von den Sleinen was cautioned to avoid fa- 
talities by never showing a purchased specimen to the 
women or children. 

These resemblances are hardly of a character to be ig- 
nored. They aroused the interest of Andrew Lang, who 
explained them as the result of "similar minds, working 
with simple means towards similar ends" and expressly re- 
pudiated the "need for a hypothesis of common origin, (w 
of borrowing, to account for this widely diffused sacred 
object." In this interpretation he has Iwen followed by Pro- 
fessor von der Steinen, who remarks that so simple a con- 
trivance as a board attached to a string can hardly be re- 
^rded as so severe a tax on human ingenuity as lo require 

me hypothesis of a single invention throughout the history 
of civilization. But this is to mistake the problem. The 
question is not whether the bull-roarer has been invented 
once or a dozen times, nor even whether this simple toy has 
once or frequently entered ceremonial associations. I have 
myself seen priests of the Hopi Flute fraternity whirl bull- 
roarers on extremely solemn occasions, but the thought of 
a connection with Australian or African mysteries never 
obtruded itself because there was no suggestion that women 
must be excluded from the range of the instrument. There 
lies the crux of the matter. Why do Brazilians and Central 
Australians deem it death for a woman to see the bull- 
roarer? Why this punctilious insistence on keeping her in 
the dark on this subject in West and East Africa and 
Oceania? I know of no psychological principle that would 
urge the Ekoi and the Bororo mind to bar women from 
knowledge about bull-roarers and until such a principle is 
brought to light I do not hesitate to accept diffusion from 
a common center as the more probable assumption. This 
would involve historical connection Ijetween the rituals of 
initiation into the male tribal societies of Australia, New 
Guinea, Melanesia, and Africa and would still further con- 
firm the conclusion that sex dichotomy is not a universal 
phenomenon springing spontaneously from the demands of 
human nature but an ethnographical feature originating in a 

I single center and thence transmitted to other regions.* 
I Coordinate in Schurtz's system with the doctrine of a 
sexual difference that leads men to form associations and 
women to cling to kinship units is the principle that the 
associations created by male solidarity are one and all de- 
rived from age-classes. But the value of these two compl 
mentary tenets must be very differently estimated. TI 
former proved an unacceptable generalization caused 




the theorist's submersion in a special set of ethnographic 
data. On the other hand, the conception of society as a 
structure segmented into age-layers, while developed by 
Schurtz with one-sided emphasis on a particular type of age- 
stratiBcation, reveals genuine insight into sociological dy- 
namics. If, disregarding at first his special formulation of 
the age factor, we attach ourselves solely to the general 
principle, its importance must be acknowledged as over- 
whelming. In the family itself, as Schurtz insisted, there 
is that opposition between the older and the younger gener- 
ation to which Turgenev has given classical expression in 
Fathers and Sons. To transcend the limitations of one's 
years requires an effort of imagination almost beyond the 
reach of genius. The old people piquing themselves on 
their fund of experience never learn the wisdom of not giv- 
ing advice that will not and cannot be heeded and remain 
unconscious of the fathomless boredom into which their 
futile prolixities of reminiscence plunge the impatient lis- 
tener. The young, inclined to brush aside their elders as at 
best well-intentioned dotards, have not the prophetic pft 
to divine that all need not be senility that is not grist to 
their mill. Often rupture may indeed be avoided but there 
is ever the latent possibility of discord and the manifest in- 
compatibility of thoughts, tastes, and modes of living. Of 
course the estrangement is not limited to the confines of the 
family because in essence it is not a personal but a class 
struggle- Hence any mixed assemblage will reveal the same 
cleavage, the same clash of temperaments that divides 
fathers and sons, mothers and daughters. What gathering 
might be supposed to be freer from the imperfections of 
human frailty than a meeting of scientific men? Yet on 
such occasions it requires little penetration to sense the ill- 
suppressed contempt the youtliful knight-errant of truth 
entertains for the old-fogyism of his elders, while the pat- 
ronizing cjTiicism with which some of these flout his higb- 
flown noti<^f " '" only surpassed by the supreme indifFercace 


widi which odiers greet suggestions not cmanatkig from 
dieir own ranks. Now this grouping and diflFerentiation is 
far too deeply rooted in human nature not to loom largely 
amidst all die flux of cultural variation, though die class of 
greatest pixmunence will vary, as mill the ideals of die age- 
classes. In Australian puUic life the absolute dominance of 
the elders is the most conspicuous phenomenon : amoi^ die 
warlike Masai the fighting bachelor braves hold the social 
hegemony; and in some Plains Indian co mmuni ties there 
was a constant antagonism between the yom^ men 
eager to distinguish themselves in raids against hostile 
tribes and die prudent chiefs seeking to pi e i cn t a hazard- 
ous warparty. 

So far, then, Schurtz is eminently on die right tradL 
Where he errs is in taking it for granted diat dns inveter- 
ate tendency must always be formally organized, dial wfaoe 
it is so r ecog ni zed it invariably goes back to a tripartite 
organization of society into bmrs, bacfadors. and maiiicd 
men, and that this sdieme represents the oUest form of as- 
sociation. This is again an unwarrantaUe gesaeralEzafiiasBr 
probably foondcd on die {ncturcsque aspects of Masai aiad 
Bororo life. .*^iproaching without prqnssessaoim dbe iaeSs 
concerning the graded dub of Mdancsoa. w« do imoe <&fiKt 
any evidence of discriminatiovi between ssangfe annd masrrxA 
men; indeed, socfa a distinction wooM be alEem i(& idbe ^bm 
of the dnh. It i§ tme that in odier pants ^i Ooesnisa t&e 
drvisioo of males is at kast partly on dm bftso^ soce nBoe 
bacfadors have their jgparate do^niniiitiory wicile ttSoe rbmrittfeft . ^- 
sleep with tfaesr wrresL Best tbsi ooffiusitssitei a ^v^sy wnnpoT'' 
feet divisftoo ^A daiaes^ becana^e iht waumsA rvum ^^msm 
spend most ^A due ^izriime: m ihe *iTj^ roaau"* ^jTsimrjirj 
and on speoal <o«Das3io«ti ererj ^Icejj* littre.. 2^ ki Fs^i- 
Scfattrtz. as wa.f yJsscsA -otct, V^i iJ-aj l5ie ^y/rzri^j/Tj was 
first of all a liadatuotr'" iaT^.. •v5:'5c5'j oc;t ^c-rj^ri^r ii?inr»wl 
the additiciCHi3 •'iaaaracrjtr of ;i ^^.eriH .',/i'v i'/r rrjt^. h&i 
by what pr<^jcc« •'S'>f^ S-^ irr:rt af2 'J:/:\ v^r,'r:j*r '>r. ? ff w< 


pass in review a narrowly circumscribed section of New 
Guinea, the following variations of custom confront us: 
The Bukaua have council-chambers serving as bachelors' 
and guests' halls, but where the married men of the village 
also occasionally sleep, while the deliberations of all the 
men are conducted on the platforms of these public struc- 
tures; the Kai have public houses only for the circumcision 
ritual, guests being entertained by the chief and each family 
occupying a separate hut; farther inland there is complete 
separation of the sexes, the men Hving in houses of their 
own. Now, what criterion is there for determining the rela- 
tive priority of these several conditions? Considering the 
undoubted tendency to sex dichotomy in this region, would 
it not be quite defensible to say that the last-mentioned 
stage was chronologically the 6rst, that married men subse- 
quently came to live with their wives, leaving the bachelors 
in possession of the dormitory which formerly had shel- 
tered married and single men alike? On this assumption 
there would be first a dual division of the tribe into initiated 
and uninitiated, and only for the specific purpose of sleeping 
there would be a secondary segmentation of the initiated. 
The hypothesis is not one whit more arbitrary than 
Schurtz's and seems more plausible in the light of relevant 

In Africa there are peoples among whom the difference 
in connubial status established a basic classification. The 
Masai customs have been described and the Zulu under 
King Chaka may be cited as an additional example, since 
their ruler segregated his warriors as a bachelors' group 
from the ranks of the married. But in many other tribes 
the distinction produces no division of society; the initiates 
form one class irrespective of conjugal condition. 

Asia is admitted by Schurtz to be meagerly provided with 
tripartite schemes of organization except in the extreme 
south, that is. within the pale of Malaysian influences. The 
Andaman Islanders, though of Negrito race, were evidently 


beyond the reach of this cultural stream. It is signifi- 
cant that they segregate not only the bachelors but the 
spinsters as well. Now this double segregation has a rela- 
tively limited distribution in the world. It does occur, how- 
ever, among such Philippine tribes as the Bontoc Igorot, 
also in Sumatra, among the Naga of Assam and the Dravi- 
dians of southern India. That the Andaman Negrito share 
so characteristic a variant of the institution under discus- 
sion with tribes so close at hand, cannot be considered an 
accident: we must assume that they borrowed the custom, 
they presumably borrowed other elements of their cul- 
;re, such as the outrigger canoe, from more advanced pop- 
nations with which they came into contact. This point is 
an important one, for the spontaneous evolution of a bache- 
lors' group among the Andaman Islanders would not only 
support Schurtz's theory that the tripartite scheme is a nat- 
ural social construct, but would also go far to prop up his 
chronology since so rude a people as the Andaman Islanders 
might be expected to preserve a primeval plan of organi- 

P It is, however. North America that supplies the most 
^crushing refutation of Schurtz's theory. Apart from the 
faint suggestions of a bachelors' group in the Southwest 
and in Alaskan Eskimo territory, the difference between the 
single and married men has failed to leave any impress on 
social structure. Even where iachelors' dormitories are re- 
ported there is no evidence that the implied grouping was 
fundamental. Certainly all initiated males irrespective of 
matrimonial status were united in the tribal society of the 
Zufii or Hopi, and a host of other bonds were quite inde- 
pendent of this factor. Schurtz conjectures that the North 
Califomian sweathouse formed only the bachelors' sleep- 
ing-quarters, but this is contrary to the facts. 

However meager may be the North American evidence 
for a separation of the married from the single men. that 
for a formal distinction between initiated youths and un- 




initiated boys is practically lacking except for the Pueblo 
phenomenon already cited. In his desire to establish es- 
sentially uniform lines of development for distinct regions 
Schurtz postulates the equivalence of the American boy's 
puberty fast and the Australian or African boy's initiation 
festival. But this is perhaps the most infelicitous of his 
conceptions, though it has unfortunately been adopted by 
f- Professor Webster. The initiation ritual of, say, the 
\ Arunta or the Masai is tribal business, is an indispensable 
istage in the individual's life since not to be initiated is not 
u> marry. But whether an Hidatsa or Crow youth retires 
to the seclusion of a bald hilhop, mortifying his flesh in 
supplication of supernatural beings, is iio concern of the 
community at all, is a personal or at best a family affair. 
If he succeeds in gaining a vision, so much the better for 
him; but if he fails, there is no communal reproach. As 
a matter of fact, far from all Plains Indians obtained a 
revelation. This would exclude them from certain Omaha 
organizations founded on particular types of supernatural 
blessing, but in genera! it did not affect their social position, 
certainly it had nothing to do with their matrimonial 
chances. Moreover, the quest of a vision was not neces- 
sarily coincident even with approximate puberty. Among 
the Arapaho, indeed, it was usually the middle-aged who 
attempted to secure guardian spirits. To be sure, this is 
rather anomalous, but the reason for courting divine favor 
at an earlier age is plain. The ambitious young Plains In- 
dian desired distinction on the battlefield. He had before 
him the precedent of men who had fasted and perhaps tor- 
tured themselves, who had seen a vision in consequence and 
subsequently won renown, which they ascribed to their 
revelation. Hence nothing was more natural than for the 
aspirant to tribal glory to emulate the example set by these 
men at a fairly early opportunity, though often rather 
later than the age of physiological maturity. The mortifica- 
tion he underwent was not compulsory but voluntarily in- 


Bicted by himself and solely in the hope of arousing the 
commiseration of the powers of the universe. There was 
thus no resemblance with the tortures to which an Arunta 
or Masai lad was obliged to submit. In short, the North"\ 
American puberty fast was not a tribal initiation ceremony, I 
led to no bachelors' group as distinguished from uninitiated I 
boys, and often was not even a puberty rite. _J 

As though the North American data were bound to fly 
in the face of Schurtz's system, tJie very region of the 
globe where adolescent ceremonies for males are remark- 
able for their rarity is conspicuous for girls' puberty festi- 
vals or at least for a definite procedure at the time of the 
first menses. Fairly elaborate celebrations of this type took 
place among such diverse tribes as the Apache, the Dakota, 
and the Shasta. This, it is true, did not lead to the organi- 
zation of a definite social unit, but it remains noteworthy 
that while the existence of formalities furnished the basis 
for a possible classification of females, the general lack of 
boys' puberty rites was unfavorable to an equivalent group- 
ing of males. 

Thus, while the age factor must be recognized as a real 
determinant of social life, as will be further illustrated 
below, the particular conception of a triple classification of 
males based on the age factor as modified by the conven- 

Itional usages of initiation and matrimony must be rejected 
IS inadequate. 

Varieties of Associations 

\ It would be possible to continue an analysis of Schurtz's 
retem along the lines hitherto followed, but another avenue 
of approach seems more profitable. Let us shift the center 
of interest from the operation of his several principles 
throughout the world to a consideration of the associational 
instrumentalities of a single restricted cultural province. I 
will select for this purpose the Plains area of North Amer- 




ica, I intend first to summarize the main varieties of as- 
sociations that confront the observer there; and shall then 
proceed to study the history of that particular type already 
described under the head of age-societies. 

As a diminutive association of altogether peculiar char- 
acter may be cited the union of two unrelated friends 
pledged to mutual support and life-long comradeship. This 
Damon-Pythias relationship flourished especially among the 
Dakota and their congeners. The moral obligations in- 
volved are well illustrated in an Assiniboin tale, where a 
father disowns his son for having been a disloyal comrade, 
while the deceived friend is so overwhelmed with shame 
that he retires into voluntary exile. In the formation of 
these friendships the age factor undoubtedly played a dcmii- 
nant part ; but the exclusiveness of the bond established a 
type of association very different from that contemplated 
by Schurtz. There were created an indefinite number of 
friendly couples, representing so many independent social 
units without forming a complete cross-section of society 
along lines of age cleavage. 

Of a wholly different cast are associations based on a 
common supernatural experience. This type of society 
might be expected to flourish throughout the entire area 
since all the Plains Indians seek visions and nothing seems 
more natural than that persons with like guardian spirits 
should develop a sense of social solidarity. Yet empiric- 
ally this result has been effected only in the south and 
among such intermediate tribes as the Dakota. An unusual 
efflorescence has been recorded among the Omaha, where 
persons with visions of the Buffalo, the Thunder, and so 
forth, congregate in shamanistic organizations, sometimes 
charged with surgical functions and of course always of 
distinctly religious character. These groups, as might be 
supposed, embraced persons of various ages and as a rule 
did not exclude women. They thus deviated as widely as 
possible from Schurtz's primeval type of association; yet 


their importance in Omaha life indicates that they represent 
a very old cultural possession of the tribe. On the other 
hand, certain feasting societies of the Omaha roughly rep- 
resentative of age-classes are of hardly any significance. 
There are three of these, the mature men. the young men, 
and youths, each group meeting as a distinct set of mess- 
mates. Schurtz does not fail to impress this fact into the 
service of his tripartite scheme and contends that it repre- 
sents the relic of a primeval three-class system, which of 
course must have antedated all other forms Si association. 
What there is in Omaha history to suggest the priority of 
these commensal! ties, he does not deign to inform us. De- 
void of any serious function, they played so subordinate 
a part as not even to be mentioned in Miss Fletcher's and 
Mr. La Flesclie's bulky monograph. To us the case is 
nevertheless important as showing that the age factor tends 
to assert itself in manifold and even trivial ways, not neces- 
sarily in a basic classification of an entire community. 
Given the restricted distribution of the commensal ities and 
their lack of importance in Omaha society, there can be 
little doubt that they represent an incidental development, 
later than the religious corporations which rest on one of 
the most essential features of their culture. 

Even more suggestive is the case of two Omaha dance 
organizations corresponding to the Dogs and the Foxes of 
northern tribes. Among the Omaha the former included 
exclusively aged and mature men, the latter being com- 
posed of boys. Here, then, there is a clear-cut age-stratifi- 
cation. The only question is how far it dates back. For- 
tunately the history of these societies is known. The 
Omaha derived both of them in recent years from the 
Ponca, who in turn borrowed them from a Dakota band. 
Now the Ponca do not grade these associations at all ; in- 
deed, among them the societies which for simplicity's sake 
I will simply call the Dogs and the Foxes are rivals steal- 
ing each other's wives on equal temis^ The Dakota like- 




wise treat both organizations as coordinate yet have the 
germ of an age-classification. Their Foxes comprised mid- 
dle-aged men as well as young boys, while the Dogs had on 
the average an older membership, though promising youths 
were not positively barred. The theoretical implications 
of these facts are exceedingly interesting. Since the Ponca 
organizations were not graded by age and at best retained 
in submerged form the rudiments of an age-classification 
from their Dakota prototype, the application of the age 
principle represents an independent Omaha addition. That 
is to say, age enters at a late stage in the history of these 
societies; and from the Omaha point of view it also enters 
in recent times; moreover, not in the ancient and most 
characteristic organizations, but in those of demonstrably 
alien origin. This beautifully attests the vigor of the age 
factor, and we certainly cannot deny that it may have mani- 
fested itself spfjradically at earlier periods as well. Of that, 
however, we have no evidence. We know only that among 
the Omaha it is not the basis of the old societies and has 
been recently imposed on borrowed organizations. 

The Foxes and the Dogs introduce us to the category of 
military societies so-called. But since from the present 
point of view mode of admission is more significant than 
function, we must subdivide them into at least two disparate 
types, those conforming to the Crow pattern and those 
following the Hidatsa model. The former, it will be re- 
membered, are ungraded and either invite members or per- 
mit joining at will; the latter are graded by age and can 
be entered only on payment of a fee. Here. then, we have 
one type that rests on a blending of age and purchase ; an- 
other that is independent of age. But since the evolution 
of the ungraded from the graded societies is conceivable, a 
special consideration of this case will be given below. 

However, there are societies of various functions with 
membership unrelated with age and dependent on pay- 
netits, The Tobacco order of the Crow falls into this cate- 

gory, and so do the Cheyenne women's craft guilds, which 
have already been described from another angle. In the 
Hidatsa bundle fraternities, correlated with the most sacred 
ceremonials of the tribe, membership is hereditary but must 
be validated by appropriate fees. 

It is not necessary to exhaust the assortment of Plains 
Indian associations. Enough has been cited by way of illus- 
tration to show that the qualifications for entrance vary, 
that age appears as one of two factors in some of the mili- 
tary societies, but simply on the face value of the findings 
it is not obvious that it is the fundamental one. The tri- 
partite scheme, moreover, occurs only in the insignificant 
trio of Omaha feasting groups. Certainly it is the height 
of arbitrariness to decree that a feature of relatively re- 
stricted range within the area, and virtually absent in what 
Schurtz considers the typical form, must have been the most 
ancient, the one on which all the others have been super- 
imposed. How, it might be asked, could such a notion as 
that of a common vision as the basis of association evolve 
out of the quite different notion of an age grouping, let 
alone, a congregation of bachelors or of married men? 
Where is the tertium quidt And if it did not evolve, if its 
origin is independent, why could it not have antedated the 
age factor as a formal mode of classification? These are 
questions a disciple of Schurtz might find it difficult to 
answer. And if we embraced in our survey the entire 
globe, we should of course encounter still other principles 
of solidarity, rendering a monistic reduction of the entire 
series of associations still less plausible. But it is more 
satisfactory to take the bull by the horns, to examine some- 
what more carefully the history of an ostensible age-group- 
ing and to determine in how far it bears out Schurtz's posi- 
tion or sheds light on the general theoretical problems in- 
volved. The amount of material accumulated on the Plains 
..Indian age-societies suggests them as the most suitable sub- 
: for critical scrutiny. 



The Plains Indian Age-Societies 

The Hidatsa system of age-societies has been shown to 
involve an age-classification by which the male population 
is divided into approximately ten classes of successively 
higher degree, each with its distinctive dance, songs, para- 
phernalia and privileges. At the same time promotion to 
these ranks was not automatic on attainment to a certain 
age but had to be purchased by the entire class of coevals. 
This scheme, instead of being confined to the Hidatsa, was 
shared by their next-door neighbors, the Mandan, and three 
other tribes, the Blackfoot, the Arapaho and the Gros Ven- 
tre ; hence in an historical reconstruction the five variants 
must be considered in conjunction. But even this does not 
suffice. Though the scheme of organization, a blend of the 
age and purchase factors, is limited to the five tribes men- 
tioned, the complexes and elements characteristic of the 
degrees are far more widely distributed. 

For example, the Dog degree of the Hidatsa, held by 
mature or even old men, has among its badges a peculiar 
slit sash, a dewclaw rattle, and an owl-feather headdress. 
The identical emblems are used by the Dog society of the 
Crow, which comprises men of varying ages. That the two 
complexes have sprung from one source, is incontestable, 
but who borrowed from whom? Indeed, the case ts not 
nearly so simple as I have stated it. for the features are 
shared by all the five graded tribes and by several peoples 
having an ungraded series, such as the Cheyenne and Da- 
kota. Hence on the basis solely of the facts so far cited 
any one of possibly ten tribes might have evolved the Dog 
dance and it might have traveled back and forth in a great 
numljer of ways. Corresponding questions arise for Hi- 
datsa complexes associated with other degrees, and ac- 
cordingly specific problems develop by the score. From a 
broader point of view it is of course not the historical 
minutiae that interest us. We want to know whether a 


given dance common to the graded and ungraded systems 
was originally affiliated with an age group or not. If not, 
there is a further case in which Schurtz's sequence is simply 
inverted : i.e.. where a grouping first occurred on some other 
basis and subsequently became an age-grouping. If. on the 
other hand, the Dog or Fox or Lumpwood society began as 
a society of age-mates, Schurtz's theory would to that ex- 
tent find corroboration. However, another question would 
arise. What does the correlation between age and a cer- 
tain dance signify? Docs it mean that the latter is linked 
with men of a particular age, say, married men, or young 
men, or men from sixty to seventy? Or does it mean that 
the particular age is irrelevant and that it is simply essential 
for all members to be coevals? Finally, if we are dealing 
with age-classes, why does the purchase factor obtrude it- 
self on our notice? 

This last feature, indeed, provides us with an entering 
wedge. It is not merely the positive correlation of pur- 
chase and age that arrests our attention but the equally im- 
portant negative correlation between purchase and the un- 
graded military societies. In a real age-stratification pro- 
motion should be automatic. Schurtz asserts that this was 
originally the case here but that later the idea of payment 
was superimposed. The sequence, then, would be : first, 
automatic advancement with age; later, the introduction of 
some other qualification. Very well. Lack of the age fac- 
tor and purchase would then both belong to the later epoch. 
But, if so. why do they never coincide in mihtary societies? 
The allegedly late feature of purchase clings tenaciously to 
the one postulated as the earliest feature of all associations; 
and it is never found united with notions more or less con- 
temporaneous on Schurtz's scheme. This is certainly mys- 
terious. It rather suggests that something is wrong with 
the hypothetical chronology, that the bland assumption that 
the age-societies of the Plains are at bottom gei 
classes may be without foundation. 


Let us begin with the problem whether the complexes or 
degrees in the age series represent essentially a definite age 
or a definite rank in the scries. For this purpose we can 
compare equivalent complexes in the several tribes; and 
also the same complex at different periods in the same tribe. 
The Dog complex, widely spread and almost always linked 
with an important society, furnishes a favorable instance. 
In 1833 Prince Maximilian found that the Blackfoot Dogs 
were decidedly young men, while those of the HJdatsa and 
Mandan were middle-aged. The latter conforms to their 
status in the Arapaho and Gros Ventre series as determined 
by Professor Kroeber. Judging not merely by a counting 
of noses but by the great importance of this organization 
throughout tlie Plains, we must certainly regard the early 
Blackfoot condition as atypical. Yet it is impossible to say 
categorically that the Dog dance belongs essentially to the 
middle-aged or is associated with any other particular age 
for the simple reason that its age connection is known lo 
have varied with time even within the same tribe. The 
Blackfoot of forty years ago assigned to the Dt^ a much 
higher rank than they had done in the 'thirties of the last 
centurj', and in Hidatsa society they represented at one 
time the status of very old men. Other complexes suggest 
the same conclusion. The equally common Fox society was 
a young men's company among the Hidatsa, with the Gros 
Ventre it represented a rather older group, while among 
the Blackfoot they ranked superior to the Dogs in 1833 ^"'^ 
more recently all but reached the highest place in the series. 
The Ravens of the Blackfoot were middle-aged in Prince 
Maximilian's day, but in the same year they were recruited 
from the very oldest Hidatsa. Obviously, then, there was 
no essential connection of a certain complex with a special 
age even for a particular people. Since a complex formed 
a member of an hierarchical series, it was inevitable that 
at any one point of time it must hold a definite ordinal rank, 
involving a more or less definite age association because 

age-mates always made a joint purchase, but that was all. 
A shifting of position, whatever may have been the cause, 

was evidently not felt as an outrage on the eternal fitness 
of things ; so long as the masters of a complex belonged to 
the same age-class it mattered little whether tliey were 
fifteen or seventy. 

This inference is even more conclusively demonstrated 
by the autobiographical statements of Indian informants. 
With the breakdown of ancient Hidatsa and Mandan cus- 
tom under modern conditions degrees ceased to be bought. 
The men who normally would have become Bulls or Ravens 
lacked a chance to make the requisite purchase, and so on 
down the entire scale. Thus, the older men not only found 
it impossible to buy advancement but also to dispose of 
their membership prerogatives because no younger group 
presented itself for their acquisition. Now the startling 
truth is that a man never outgrew the membership privi- 
leges acquired in youth, as would be the case if the age 
factor were the dominant one. To take a single instance, 
a man named Poor-wolf considered himself at 90 the mas- 
ter of a complex bought at 7: of another obtained at 20; 
of a third held since he was about 27; and of a fourth 
purchased at about 45. The principle, manifest from the 
objective circumstances and definitely formulated by the 
natives themselves, is simply that a man owns any and all 
complexes he has ever bought provided he has never sold 
them. A man cannot at 90 class himself a contemporary 
with boys of 7 and it is a monstrous absurdity for any one 
to be counted a member of three or four distinct age -classes 
at the same time ; but he can very well hold property he has 
secured at any and all preceding periods of his life. In 
other words, the basic notion connected with a degree in 
the series is ownership of purchased property rights and 
the age element is wholly subsidiary. 

This conclusion is also supported by c 
of the Gros Ventre scheme. Here die 


supersede the group immediately superior to their own but 
buy the coveted ceremonial privileges from a heterogeneous 
assemblage comprising men of any or all groups that at one 
time had acquired these rights. The immediate occasion 
for a purchase was always a vow by one member of the 
group that on recovery from illness or on extrication from 
some difficulty he would inaugurate the transaction. In 
these conditions there was nothing to prevent several age- 
classes from simultaneously holding the same ceremonial 
complex, and as a matter of fact the Gros Ventre had sev- 
eral times as many age-classes as dances, each dance being 
the property of several classes. It was these classes that 
were the social units involved. There was no bond of imion 
allying the three or four classes owning the same complex : 
each exercised its privileges apart from the rest and their 
distinctness was emphasized by distinct designations, which, 
unlike their dance names, were not altered with time but 
persisted through life. Thus, a man shared with all his 
class-mates and only with them the permanent and exclusive 
designation of 'Holding-to-a-dog's-tail,' but he was a Dog 
or Fox only for a limited period and shared the title with 
men of his own and of several other age-classes as well. In 
other tribes a certain complex of immaterial rights was held 
exclusively by one corporation; the Gros Ventre permitted 
several corporations simultaneously to exercise ownership 
over the same complex, but this of course did not imply 
abandonment of their separate identities. It was simply 
as though several firms, say, in England. France, and Amer- 
ica had the prerogative of publishing a certain book. In 
other words, while the Hidatsa classes could simultaneously 
hold complexes of the most varying degree, the same degree 
or complex was simultaneously held by a niunber of distinct 
Gros Ventre classes. The complexes, then, were simply 
negotiable commodities, which a priori might be associated 
*"'th different ages or different degrees. The only problem 
w they came to be graded in a series associated with 


^K age differences. Now this problem resolves itself into the 
™ problem of the ultimate origin of grades, and into a set of 
special questions as to how specific complexes were added 
as such and such degrees. Schurtz is not very much con- 
cerned about the later growth of the system, which as a 
matter of course he simply treats as an elaborated form of 
the tripartite division of the tribes. We. however, consider 
positive historical knowledge as to recent developments the 
foundation for all speculation about earlier processes and 
shall accordingly attach more weight to how complexes 

»have actually been graded within the historical period. 
The factor that has clearly had the deepest influence on 
the later growth of the graded system is the imitation or 
purchase of foreign societies. We know that in 18,13 ^^^ 
Mandan lacked the Fox society and that subsequently they 
borrowed it from the Hidatsa and incorporated it into their 

»own scheme. Similarly, the Hidatsa adopted the Mandan 
Crazy Dog society, and the Mandan the Hidatsa Little Dog 
organization. The Hidatsa Stone Hammers of Maximil- 
ian's time had acquired the Ankara Hot Dance, by which 
process an ungraded complex came to be linked with a 
definite degree. It was subsequently possible for the Stone 
Hammers either to merge the new features completely in the 
old or to keep the two complexes dissociated and sell them 
independently of each other. Though the matter is not 
absolutely certain, the second of these contingencies was 
apparently realized, and it meant that a new degree was 
added to the series. The owners when approached l>y the 
next younger age-class would sell them cither only the Hot 
Dance or only the old Stone Hammer complex. In the 
fonner case the newly bought dance would become the low- 
est degree, in the latter the second lowest There is not 
the slightest doubt that this type of process went on long 
before we have any documentar>' evidence of it. For ex- 
ample, the Arapaho and Gros \''entre are closely related 
tribes with ^-ery similar graded schemes, and the Grtj* Ven- 




tft after their separation lived wTth the BbckfooL One 
(4 die Gros Venire deviations from the Arapabo 
Ac posKssioa of a Fly dance at the bottorn of die series. 
Soc^ a dance also occurs among the Blackfoot. wbenoe it 
WM fint reported, and among one of the neighSorii^ 
of the Bbdcfoot. but nowhere else. The only "" 

iereoce is that the Gros \'entre borrowed it from the 
toot and assimilated it to their s>'sten). Now this 
tian is bound to affect the other members of the series. aH' 
oi which are dislocated in relative rank; and wherever a 
tyttan has had several accretions of this type it is mani- 
fest that an extensive shifting of status must have taken 
place. Ever>-thing indicates that this is precisely what oc- 
curred, and from this point of view the strange anomalies 
as to the rank of the same society in different tribes become 
inldligible. If the Blackfoot adopted the Dog complex at 
a later time than the Fox complex, then we can understand 
why with characteristically primitive fondness for antiquity 
th^ placed the novel acquisiti(Mi farther down the scale. 
In other cases a newly purchased society may have been of 
so sacred a character as to be placed at the top, whereby all 
ti>e older degrees would be correspondingly degraded. 
Since every one of the five systems has demonstrably de- 
veloped piecemeal by such accretions, it follows of com^ 
that tile several complexes couJd not have more than a hap- 
hazard connection with a special rank or age. 

But diffusion was probably not the only agency in the 
elaboration of the graded series. Given such a scheme, 
there would be a natural tendency to bring other complexes 
of possibly native origin into relation with it This is what 
happened in the case of the Hidatsa Notched-SticJc HtuaL 
So far as it is possible to judge, this was an indigenotis 
performance standing apart from the age-societies. But in 
one of the Hidatsa villages the notion arose of integrating 
' ■! popular scheme and accordingly it was added as 
degree. The further consequences for the other 



rees would of course be identical with those due to the 
adopticwi of an alien complex. 

So far a disciple of Schurtz might assent, turning the 
historical data into so much grist for his mill. Quite so, 
he would say: the amphfication of the series must be rela- 
tively recent, for originally there could have been only the 
three fundamental age-classes of boys, bachelors, and eld- 
ers. That, however, he would contend, is not due to bor- 
rowing nor to any subsequent internal evolution but is a 
primeval grouping as the result of an immutable social 
law. We, however, shall not readily admit that principles 
which have been established for the known period of his- 
tory suddenly sprang into l^eing and were inoperative in 
the period immediately preceding. And as a matter of fact, 
the data are such as to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt 
that the scheme of graded societies was borrowed as a 
scheme from one source. Comparing, say, the Hidatsa and 
the Blackfoot series, we find the identical conception of 
purchase joined with the characteristic feature that wives 
are ceremonially surrendered to the seller, and no fewer 
than four of the complexes, the Fox, Dog. Raven, and Bull 
societies occur in both. Even to think of independent evo- 
lution in this case would be madness. One of the two tribes 
certainly borrowed its system from the other or from a 
common source; and when comparison is extended to the 
three other peoples with graded societies the observed re- 
semblances deepen tlie conviction that there were not five 
spontaneous evolutions of a graded system but that a sin- 
gle basic scheme has been locally modified in so many dis- 
tinct tribes. Even if we grant, then, that the degrees or 
dances originally represented the tripartite division, this 
could apply only to the one people who transmitted the 
scheme. All the others came to possess tha* not 

through the action of an inherent law of pi 
cause they came into contact with a people w 
that phenomenon. So far as they are com 


no evidence that male society automatically groups itself 
into three or for that matter anj- other number of age- 

In truth, the case against Schurtz is even stronger. For 
he has no right to assume that the people who first had 
graded societies, say, the Hidatsa, originated the societies 
themselves in addition to the notion of grading them. 
While only five Plains Indian tribes share the age-societies, 
a considerable number of other tribes have the same com- 
plexes without any age connection. It is, therefore, pos- 
sible and indeed probable that even among the Hidatsa the 
grading was a secondary phenomenon : they copied some 
ungraded organizations of their neighbors and somehow 
came to range them in an hierarchical series. The import- 
ance of this development is manifest. It strikes at the very 
root of Schurtz's philosophy. Not a classification by age 
but some other socializing instrumentality tmderlies the 
military organizations of the Plains, the age factor only 
appearing at a relatively late period and in a specialized 
variant of these societies. 

WTiat the original socializing agencies may have been, 
has already been partly indicated in the account of the 
varieties of associational tj-pes. The influence of visions, 
than which no more fundamental cultural element occurs 
in the area, makes itself felt in several ways. There may 
be a grouping of persons according to their visions, as 
among the Omaha ; or the visionary may initiate others and 
with them organize a distinct society, as in the Tobacco 
dance of the Crow : or he may drill a company of men to 
perform a ceremony he has dreamt, the temporary union 
of participants becoming fixed, as probably happened among 
the Eastern Dakota. An equally important trait of the 
culture of this region is the undertaking of a war expedi- 
tion, and there is good evidence that among the Dakota 
the comrades in arms became permanently associated. Sev* 
era! causes were thus at work that could snd doubtless did 




"oduce associations of men long before there came into 
ling that extremely localized and specialized phenomenon 
lof grading associations by age. 

The argument has been of necessity somewhat complex, 
so that a brief recapitulation will not come amiss. Con- 
fronted with a chronological scheme that derived clubs, 
secret societies and all other associations from three age- 
lasses, we undertook to examine the hypothetical sequence 
In the light of data from a single area. A rapid survey of 
Plains Indian associations made it appear that age-classes 
formed by no means the predominant type of grouping and 
;at in certain cases the age grouping is demonstrably a 
'Secondary feature. Narrowing the discussion to those sys- 
ftems of societies that most clearly indicate an age-stratifi- 
tcation, we discovered a number of significant facts. The 
supposed degrees were shuffled about by the natives with 
the utmost abandon, so that the same society which repre- 
sented a young men's club in one tribe was composed of 
mature or even old men in another. The subjective atti- 
tude of the Indians showed that they were essentially not 
grading themselves by age but buying certain prized cere- 
monial prerogatives, so that one individual could simul- 
taneously claim several degrees. — a sheer impossibility if 
they represented differences in age or conjugal condition. 
There remained the problem of the historical growth of the 
graded series. Preferring to pass from the known to the 
unknown, we found that in the period of which we have 
definite knowledge the great factor has been diffusion, that 
the complexity of the obser\'ed .systems is due to piecemeal 
additions through borrowing. Still it would be conceivable 
that at an earlier stage a simpler tripartite grouping under- 
lay the scheme of these societies, in which case there would 
be harmony with the supposedly basic law of social evolu- 
tion expounded by Schurtz. But since the five tribes un- 
doubtedly derived their graded series from one source, 
that law could have found expression in only one of them; 




in the other four tribes the hypothetical tripartite scheme 
would be the resuh not of any inherent social force but of 
borrowing, hence the 'law' would not be a law at all. And 
even taking the people who first graded societies by age, 
it would be rash to assume that they were the first to origi- 
nate mihtary societies because these are far more com- 
monly found in ungraded form. Finally, the basic phenom- 
ena of Plains Indian existence offer a number of means by 
which men could have been and actually were united into 
associations. Schurtz's unilinear scheme resting on the 
theory of a tripartite age-division is thus wholly inap- 
plicable to a type of associations that ostensibly gives evi- 
dence of an age-grouping. In an area abounding in as- 
sociations the age-classes appear as a local and late type, 
not corresponding, moreover, with the tripartite division. 

Yet when we have smitten Schurtz's chronology hip and 
thigh, the fact remains that age has played its part, though 
not as he imagined, in the history of the military organiza- 
tions. Among the Crow, Dakota and Kiowa, all of whom 
had coordinate societies, one genuine age-class arose in the 
most natural manner in the world, by boys imitating the 
organizations of their elders. This seemingly trivial fact 
gives us a clue to the possible inception of grading. Let 
us assume that among the originators of degrees, say, the 
Hidatsa, this juvenile mimicry was in vogue. Suppose fur- 
ther that there was a single society into which many or most 
of the adult men purchased entrance, joining in order to 
enhance their prestige, a constant motive in primitive com- 
munities. AU that was then required was for the boys in 
their eagerness to own a real complex of dancing and other 
privileges to buy membership jointly, the collective char- 
acter of the transaction constituting its revolutionary fea- 
ture since thereby the informal group of playmates became 
as definite an age-class as the Masai boys undergoing joint 
circumcision. The dispossessed sellers would then lack a 
dance but their former bond was likely to keep them together 

and at the first opportunity they would dream, that is, in- 
vent a new one or buy it from a foreign tribe. The new 
dance would then become the next goal of the boys' ambi- 
tion and accordingly a second degree. It should be noted 
that the original adults' group was not necessarily a definite 
age-class. On the one hand, it might have embraced any 
man from 20 to 80 ; on the other, it need not have included 
more than, say, sixty per cent of the adults. But the mim- 
icking youngsters did constitute an approximate age-class, 
and when they had once in a body bought a higher society 
they had set in motion the machinery required to found 
such a system as was cliaracteristic of the Hidatsa and the 
four other tribes with grades. A new generation of boys 
would buy the lowest degree from the originators of the 
practice, the latter would advance collectively, gradually the 
amorphous group of original adults would die out, and 
leave behind successive groups of younger men approxi- 
mately graded by age. The fact that young boys flock to- 
gether, itself an illustration of the associative power of age 
in a general way, might thus have led to that incidental 
affiliation of age-distinctions with societies described above. 
The age factor thus remains a reality, though it is neither 
the only nor necessarily the predominant feature in the 
history of associations, nor yet the earliest one in the Plains 


General Conclusions 

From the actual history of the Plains Indian associations 
certain general conclusions can be drawn. For one thing, 
the baneful effect of catchwords has once more become 
Qianifest. A division of all male society into groups of 
itiated boys, bachelors, and elders is one thing; a di- 
ision into age-classes on the Hidatsa pattern represents 
lething utterly different ; the division of the Crow Foxes 
young, middle-aged and old members is again a dis- 



parate phenomenon since it involves no tribal partition but 
merely a grouping within a single association out of many. 
We must, accordingly, be on our guard when other equally 
broad and equally vague terms are used to designate phe- 
nomena in disconnected areas. The probability is that the 
identity of nomenclature simulates a likeness that does not 
["fexist. If. for example, we compare the secret societies of 
1 Melanesia with those of the Pueblo Indians, there is no 
I analogy whatsoever either in constitution, function or any- 
I thing else but the exclusion of non-members. Entrance 
> into the secret societies of the Banks Islands is by pur- 
chase, in the Southwest it is by virtue of being cured by a 
member or being received at birth by a member's wife or 
. by heredity, never by payment. The Banks Islanders never 
admit women; some of the Pueblo societies do, and some 
of them are even constituted wholly by women. The ac- 
tivities of the Melanesian societies center in the production 
of a queer noise and the protection of members' property, 
together with occasional terrorizing of the uninitiated and 
wanton destruction of their belongings. To all this there 
is no parallel in the curative fraternities of the Zufii or the 
rain-making ceremonial associations of the Hopi, There 
is thus neither an historical nor a psychological affinity be- 
tween these organizations. 

All this has a most important bearing on the problem of 
unilinear evolution. An intensive consideration of the 
Plains Indian societies certainly goes far to show that as 
regards phenomena of this type history does not tend to 
repeat itself except in the most general way or for a very 
limited span of time. It might be said that in all sorts of 
communities the gregarious instinct asserts itself in one 
way or another; and I have myself admitted that the age 
factor ever and anon tends to efifect a sub-grouping if not 
a primary grouping of individuals. These, however, are 
sociological rather than historical generalizations: they ex- 
press no formulation of any fixed sequence of events. Now 


^Tet us consider the number of principles whose confluence is 
requisite to form something comparable to the Hidatsa age- 
societies. There must be the notion of dances associated 
with insignia, gooti-fellowship of the participants, military 
obligations, and the purchasability of such complexes: and 
the last trait rests on the native theory of visionary expe- 
riences. No wonder that with such a multiplicity of essen- 
tial factors, this type of association has not been duplicated. 
The Masai are as warlike as the Hidatsa but this general 
similarity cannot produce specific resemblances in the ab- 
sence of identical cultural traditions. With a quite differ- 
ent conception of ceremonialism, with no such theory of 
individual visions as was held by the Hidatsa, the Masai 
could not possibly evolve a corresponding system. H this is 
so, it follows that the search for all-embracing laws of evo- 
lution on the model of Morgan's or Schurtz's schemes is a 
wild-goose chase and that only an intensive ethnographic 
study in each cultural province can establish the actual se- 

^■^Schurtz: 83-109, 125-128, 202-213, 318-333, 347-367- 
^^P ■ Von den Steinen : 268. Radin, 191 1: 198-207. Mooney: 
^^415. Goddard, 1903: 15,50,67. Dixon, 1905: 269, 272; id., 
1907: 420,471. Barrett: 397. Powers: 141,158,305. Roth, 
1903 : 31. Nelson : 285, 347. Hawkes, 1913. Annual 
Archaeological Report : 213. AUdridge: 220. Kingsley: 376, 
Spencer and Gillen, 1904: 498-501. Lehner: 404 seq. Par- 
kinson: 636, 640, 658. Hollis, 1909: 40, 56. Talbot: 284. 
Frobenius: 170. Von den Steinen: 384. Lang: 29-44. 
•Lowie, 1916. 



As I have already pointed out, Morgan's conception of 
society was an atomistic one. Perhaps it was the 
traditional American bias in favor of democratic institu- 
tions that caused him to bhnk at evidences of social dis- 
crimination in the ruder civiHzations, He paid Httle atten- 
tion to the differences between sibs of the same people or 
to those between different individuals of the same com- 
munity: and privileged orders he assigned to a far later 
epoch of evolution. Yet. even restricting his survey to 
North America, he might have detected schemes of social 
organization in which the differentiation of upper and lower 
classes was fundamental : and what is still more important, 
he might have found that the absence of hereditary castes 
by no means excludes vital distinctions on the basis of 
personal desert. Primitive man is no imbecile; he is quick 
to perceive and to appraise those individual differences 
which as an inevitable biological phenomenon mark every 
group, even the lowest, as Dr. Marett has rightly insisted. 
Primitive man knows that X, though a dullard at spinning 
a yam, is a crack shot with the bow and arrow; that Y, 
for all his eloquence in the council, has proved a poltroon 
in sight of the enemy; that Z is an amiable all-round medi- 
ocrity. Imperceptibly he grades them, imperceptibly th«r 
influence on his own deeds and thonghts depends on his 
evaluation. That in turn is not wholly nor largely an in- 
dividual affair but a social matter, affected by the tribal 
standards. The man who in one milieu is esteemed as a 


RANK 339 

hero will be considered no better than a ruffianly brute in 
another; mechanical skill may be rated highly by one people 
and accord no distinction whatsoever elsewhere. In our 
own civilization the stigma of effeminacy still clings to the 
musician, and the professional scholar has a far less en- 
viable position than he occupies in continental Europe. It 
is precisely part of ethnologj''s task to show how societies 
differ in their canons of personal appreciation. Aboriginal 
North America is an unusually favorable field for demon- 
strating the power of individual differences because with a 
few exceptions to be noted later the greater part of this 
continent was occupied by democratically-minded tribes. 
We may profitably begin by considering scane Plains 

H Bravery 

With the Plains Indians the quest of military renown 
was as hypertrophied as ever has been the lust for gold 
in our most money-mad centers of high finance. It was in 
order that he might gain a vision assuring distinction in bat- 
tle that a young brave fasted and dragged buffalo skulls 
fastened to his punctured shoulder muscles : and to gain 
the coveted glory he would throw caution to the wind, risk- 
ing life and limb in senseless deeds of derring-do. These, 
moreover, had to conform to a conventional pattern in 
order to count as heroic, and they differed in some measure 
'rom tribe to tribe. In the normal course of Crow events 
lour exploits were considered honorable and jointly con- 
ferred on their achiever the title of chief, which was usually 
quite devoid of political significance. In order to acquire 
such distinction it was necessary for a warrior to cut loose 
and steal a horse picketed within the hostile camp : to take 
an enemy's bow or g^gfiAMttHbatend encounter: to 
strike a 'coup,' i.e., l()lS^|^^HH^B^''^^P'-"^ '^^ 
the bare hand; and tn^^^MRSank war expedition. 



Naturally only a limited number of men ever scored on 
each of these counts : but even though he might not rank 
as a chief, a brave who had accomplished one or more of 
these deeds of valor acquired to that extent favorable no- 
tice in the tribe, indeed, his standing was altogether pro- 
portionate to his war record. At all tribal gatherings he 
i privileged to recite a list of his experiences ; he might 
have them painted on his robes or on the windbreak of 
his lodge; parents would come to him, requesting that he 
name their children; ambitious youths paid him for part of 
his war medicine; on every public occasion he would be 
selected for some post of honor, say, to act as herald ; his 
father's sib-mates would chant his praises through the 
camp; and even in ceremonial life precedence would be 
yielded to the successful warrior with regard to honorific 

Sometimes this point of view found extravagant expres- 
sion in current songs and adages. "It is proper to die 
young" was the dulce ct decorum of Crow and Hidatsa 
sages. "Eternal are the heavens and the earth; old people 
are bad; be not afraid" is the burden of a Crow song. 
Hence an elder brother might force a younger to assume the 
unusual obligations of bravery associated with special office 
in a military society, not from malice but in order that the 
youth might acquire glory. On the basis of this attitude we 
find warriors not only pledged to intrepidity but deliber- 
ately courting death in foolhardy ventures, e,g., by rush- 
ing single-handed against a hostile troop. 

Naturally a coward was the object of supreme contempt, 
jeered at by his joking-relatives and compared with a men- 
struating woman. The one-sided accentuation of martial 
valor naturally led to inadequate recognition of men whose 
parts in communities with different standards would have 
assured them an enviable prestige. Thus, 1 found that one 
of my ablest Crow informants, a man remarkably well- 
posted in tribal lore, was universally pooh-poohed as a no- 



IxMJy. It developed Uat be had newr vn-oii ihotiiiiHttMl tttt 
the battlefield and had made niatlen worse l»y tri'ltliiH MICH- 
torious deeds to which he had no claim. In ntlier wnKN, H 
highly endowed individual may receive iki tvtiiRltilirtti Itt 
Iiis social setting simply because llic riKidily nf lllp )m(iv»' 
canons renders any merit in the direction of hN ffl|«ltHlM 

Certain other qualities were prixed by thf f'h»w lt"l i» 
substitutes for valor but as additioitnl »'tiil»fIli*lifriPtt(fl I't 
the warrior's character. Foremost Fimimj; )lic<te WM lil*t- 
ality and there was corre^pondinK Cfmrcnrirl Int (lie ffil'M, 
The estimation of women wa« jiwt ae drfifitf^ly tm ih* im^t 
of indi^-idual merit, though ihe «t f.f viiliie* tnfvHnMy i^ih 
tend. Despite the general l»x>s«nes« tif m'iral», » rhiw*! 
woman was held in high eileem an*) t'rr rerfjiift ttttmtiT^i^ 
offices immaculate virtue was a prffpfturtif^ ^t-it) !" t''fff- 
inine aufts and kindlinew alvr w^f ■ ■ i 

waman's prestige. Thus, it appp:ir<( thf ' 

aia ^le cirilnre and in a mackMIy <\^rr>tirr\"' 

1 (fiSenaee* nrverthefe^ pf<<dii«M fri-rrrrffii-; 'liffrrr 
BiBMaBi fa ti n g 

I to dev^i' -^ ■ 

r ha.<ieH .-.n 
F New Zealand 
: whom :h.- 
I with anr 
iat&e recnuf'- 



be slain with impunity, And as the Plains Indian brave 
might pledge himself to extravagantly reckless conduct, so 
the Masai will implant a pompon on the head of his spear, 
vowing never to remove it till he has run the point through 
a foeman's body. A similar frame of mind is evinced by 
the Bagobo of far-away Mindanao, whose chief aim in hfe 
is to wear the distinctive attire that rewards the man who 
has at least twice slain a human being. After the second 
killing he is permitted to don a chocolate-colored headband, 
the fourth entitles him to wear blood-red trousers, and when 
he has scored six he may use a complete suit of that color 
and a red bag to boot. Every additional life taken, while 
no longer resulting in a change of costume, brings addi- 
tional credit. Those who have never killed a person are 
nobodies, while the acknowledged braves fill positions of 
importance and are deemed under the special tutelage of 
two powerful spirits, between whom and the common herd 
they are the intermediaries. Not only the status but even 
the garments of the brave are uninheritable, and the latter 
should be biu-ied with the owner." 

Shamanism ; Wealth 

Radically different notions as to eminence occur in other 
parts of the world. The Northern Maidu may serve as an 
example. Here there was an elective chieftaincy based on 
wealth and generosity, but in reality the shaman, especially 
if leader of the secret society, completely overshadowed the 
headman. It was indeed through the shaman, who revealed 
the will of the spirits, that the chief was chosen: and a 
similar communication led to his degradation. The shaman 
himself did not inherit his office but became a professional 
by mysterious visitations and by pa5sing a satisfactory ex- 
amination imposed by the older practitioners. In other 
words, an aptitude for religious experiences was the step- 
ping-stone to social prominence. To all intents and pur* 

RANK 343 

poses, the shamanistic leader of the secret organization was 
the most eminent person in the community. He regulated 
the ceremonial life of his people, adjusted disputes, insured 
a good com crop, warded off disease and hy his magical 
powers inflicted condign punishment on the enemy; indeed, 
he himself often led war parties in person. Over and above 
all these things, he was the authority on tribal mythology 
and lore, and it was his duty to instruct the people on these 
lofty topics. 

In northern California a motive already discernible in 
minor degree among the Maidu gains the ascendancy : dis- 
tinction is founded primarily on wealth. The Hupa head- 
man was the man of greatest affluence ; the villagers looked 
to him for the necessaries of life in time of scarcity or for 
assistance with money in case of disputes. His power de- 
scended to his son proimied his property also descended; 
but if some unusually able or industrious rival acquired 
greater wealth, he won with it the dignity of office. Ex- 
actly tlic same conception prevailed in Shasta society. 

The place of wealth in the polity of primitive tribes gen- 
erally is a matter of great comjiarative interest. In the 
pastoral stage a new form of property is introduced that 
might result in far-reaching differences of status were it 
not for the leveling force of natural conditions, which may 
debase the nabob of yesterday to the position of a pauper. 
Hence the basic frame of mind may still be democratic. 
The poor Altaian asserts all the pride of shabby gentility in 
his relations with wealthier tribesmen; he enters the house- 
hold of a rich cattle-breeder as a member of the family. 
brooking no suggestion of menial servitude, and would 
rather starve than obey a peremptory command. With the 
Reindeer Chukchi the assistant's status is less favorable, 
for the master may abuse and even Ijeat his helper. Never- 
theless, this privilege is limited both by the native ideal, 
which requires generous treatment, and also by the relative 
prowess of the men concerned, for a powerful assistant may 


turn the tables on an abusive master. A peculiar conception 
of wealth occurs in Melanesia. As explained in the de- 
scription of the club of the Banks Islanders, advancement 
in the organization and consequent promotion in the social 
scale was dependent on wealth, yet it was not the hoarding 
of money or property that conferred distinction but its 
lavish disposal. Precisely the same notion is characteristic 
of the Indians of British Columbia, though there the mat- 
ter is complicated by the coexistence of hereditary castes 
to be noticed presently. "Possession of wealth," writes 
Boas, who has graphically pictured the Kwakiutl point of 
view, "is considered honorable, and it is the endeavor of 
each Indian to acquire a fortune. But it is not as much the 
possession of wealth as the ability to give great festivals 
which make wealth a desirable object to the Indian." The 
more property a man distributes at these festivals or pot- 
latches, as they are called, the higher he rises in social esti- 
mation. Boys, chiefs and whole communities are pitted 
against each other in a competition of extravagance. The 
challenger gives his opponent a large number of blankets, 
which cannot be refused and which must be returned in the 
future with loo per cent interest unless the recipient is. 
willing to undergo the humiliation of insolvency. Some-- 
times, to show his contempt for pelf, a chief will wan- 
tonly destroy valuable property and in former times slaves 
were killed from sheer bravado. The stress placed on thisi 
feature has even in exceptional cases affected the otherwise 
rigid lines of caste. Sapir notes "cases in which men of 
lower rank have by dint of reckless potlatching gained th( 
ascendancy over their betters, gradually displacing them in 
one or more of the privileges belonging to their rank., 
Among the West Coast Indians, as in Europe, there is, then, 
opportunity for the unsettling activities of the parvenu," 

Thus martial valor, a bent for mystical experiences, and 
in one way or another wealth, are all motives in primitii 
communities by which men otherwise equal come to be dit 

RANK 345 

in position. To this we may add as a common 
in the lower levels dexterity as a provider of food. 
Among the Maritime Chukchi the family that has lived in 
a. vfflage for the longest period and gained an intimate 
famwledge of the economic conditions takes precedence; 
and. the organizer of a sealing expedition has a position of 
sane distinction. The Yuks^ir recognize a specific post 
of chief hunter; it is an onerous one since he has to procure 
WiilHMiit^ for the entire community and there is little if 
any emolument save the honor attached to the office. Less 
formally many American Indians, such as the Chipew}ran 
and the Plateau Shoshoneans* attested their respect for the 
^Wfnl lmiilc!'«* 


Tbe fattors hitherto examined are based on individual 
independent of rank due to pedigree. However, 
cases are fairiv numerous in which distinction, however 
ly affected by personal competence, is primarily a 
of inheritance. Where a full-fledged caste system 
it generally moulds political conditions, but at pres- 
tBt oar concern is solelv with the matter of social rank. 

In Polynesia Ae family pride of the aboriginal blue- 
bloods rivals the superciliousness of Gilbert and Sullivan'fl 
Pooh-Bah. This sentiment derives its sustenance from the 
belief in rfic divine descent ":>f the nobility. The chiefs are 
descendants, representatives and in a sense inramatifjns of 
the gods, as Mr. Hocart has explained. Amonjf rhe typical 
Maori sodal precedence depended r^ dirertnr?;s of flesrwit 
thnxigli primogeniture from the highest gforls. F,vt*rv man 
of distinction was obliqned rr>r his vvn ^Ur u> nimnnri/r hist 
pedigree, partly histor:c:il ^t\A MrMy Ic.crrnfUtry , m fliai h« 
might estabfish his status ^vh*'n ^hj^ll^-nfirprl I'liu'^. i i:un' 
ous Maori soldier ^i recent rlm^s fr-Arpf] hu litu^mrn 
Heaven and Earth thrv^sfh si/fy-fiv^ infifw 

f i» ::«4ii! .Mill 


tions. The intricacies of native heraldry were labyrinthine, 
for both parental lines counted and the balance between con- 
tendmg rivals would have to be struck with not a little 
nicety. A chief's children would naturally differ in status 
according to their respective mothers' families. A child 
bom of a noble mother would outrank its parents because 
it united the honors of both lines: on the other hand, the 
chief's first -bom by a slave wife might exercise many privi- 
teges but was never regarded as a full-fledged chief, nor 
could personal merit completely compensate 5or a flaw in 
the genealogy. Those without a single blot on the family 
escutcheon were naturally few and their preeminence might 
become uncomfortable when no maiden of adequate quality 
could be found for a suitable mate. Sometimes, too, the 
legitimate priest-chief by primogeniture was reckoned too 
exalted a person actually to execute the duties of office, 
which were accordingly delegated to his next younger 
brother. One of the prerogatives of the prospective lord- 
pontiff was admission to the sacred college, where he 
learned the legendary history of his people and acquired a 
knowledge of dread incantations. From this institution of 
learning women were barred, Ixit if a girl appeared as the 
first-born in the sacred line, she possessed privileges of a 
quite unusual character; she alone of all women might taste 
of human fiesh and eat sacred offerings; she was permitted 
to learn something of the ancient lore ; and no person was 
allowed to eat in her company. Some of the other char- 
acteristics of lofty nobility will be treated under the head 
of Government. Next in rank after the sacerdotal chiefs 
came the chiefs of lesser tribal divisions and their kin in 
the order of relationship. Then came the professional 
classes, to wit, the wizards and skilled artisans, while the 
bulk of the population was made up of gentlemen remotely 
affiliated with a chief's house and possessing little properly. 
'St of all came the slaves recruited mainly from cap- 
in war. Ordinarily their lot was not one of material 


347 ^ 

Hegi ddation, and owing to the superstitious dread of cer- 
tain indispensable taslts as defiling a person of quality the 
slave's estate really formed one of the pillars of the Maori 
state. Menial labors, sucK as cooking or burden-bearing, 
might contaminate a warrior but not the slave whose spirit- 
ual and temporal status was negligible. Sometimes a bond 
of friendship developed between the slave and his master, 
and abuse was rarely to be feared since it was reckoned in- 
consistent with the code of the upper classes. It sometimes 
happened that a slave was permitted to work for some other 
person and to keep the payment received. In short, his po- 
sition was tolerable and attempt was never made to escape 
because his own people would have disowned him as a per- 
son whose capture was proof of divine disfavor. However, 
there was the ever present danger of execution when a cere- 
monial sacrifice was needed, say, at the erection of a build- 
ing, or even at a mere caprice of the owner's. The poorer 
men of the tribe often married slave women and their pro- 
geny soon became merged in the ranks of freemen but their 
low origin was always likely to make them the target of 
disdainful comment. Sometimes, though rarely, a man 
with a strain of slave blood might gain eminence by his 
valor, yet he was always viewed as an upstart incapable of 
vying with the aristocracy. It mattered not that prior to 
captivity the enslaved ancestor might have been the peer of 
the noblest, the mere fact of capture obliterated all trace of 
his blue blood and formed an ineffaceable stain on the 
escutcheon of his lineage. 

The social fabric'of the Samoans bears a generic resenib- 

I lance to that of the New Zealanders, but naturally with 
.some local- variations. Stair distinguishes five classes of 
freemen — the chiefs, priests, landed gentry, large landown- 
ers, and commoners. However, the gradations of rank 
were far more numerous than this list would imply. Chiefs 
rere by no means of uniform status and the precise degree 
f deference to be paid to each of them in terms of address 



or otherwise was adjusted with much punctilio. Then there 
were the attendants of the great chiefs, who, while in a 
sense members of one of the five ranks mentioned, derived 
special kudos from exercising the functions of liarber, cup- 
bearer, trumpeter or buffoon. Skilled artisans, such as 
canoe-l)uilders, architects and tattooers, corresponded to our 
professional class. By their control of essential industries 
and class-conscious organization they were able to impose 
their will on the community at large, as Stair has vividly 
described. When an influential man desired tn have a canoe 
built, he first amassed as much property as possible with the 
aid of his neighlwrs and repaired to- the workmen, formally 
requesting the chief boat-wright's services in a compli- 
mentary speech and offering a valuable mat or axe as an 
inducement. Consent might not always be readily granted 
since the builders were greatly in demand and possibly were 
too busy to accept new orders, but if disposed to undertake 
the job the master carpenter replied in a set speech, re- 
ceived the initial payment and made arrangements for the 
beginning of his labors. On the day appointed the canoe- 
builder and all his assistants with the families of each and 
every man engaged in the work appeared, it being under- 
stood as a matter of course that the customer must provide 
for their maintenance, which meant entertainment for pos- 
sibly three months and possibly the impoverishment of the 
host. However, every effort was made to keep the numer- 
ous visitors in the best of humor, and some important rep- 
resentative of the household daily attended to the wants of 
the laborers, who were sheltered in a special shed protected 
from all interference by passers-by. No definite fee was 
agreed upon, but it was customary for five ceremonious pay- 
ments to be made at proper intervals, and if the first two 
or three seemed niggardly, the workmen coolly struck until 
their employer apologized or yielded compensation. This 
was, indeed, the only way out of the dilemma, for no other 
party of builders would continue the work lest they 



■communicated by the remainder of their guild and deprived 
I of their tools and their livelihood during the pleasure 
this domineering trade union. Corresponding scenes 
curred during the construction of a house since the archi- 
tects formed an equally powerful organization. These two 
I guilds might of course be considered under the caption of 
I associations but it seemed preferable to view them in con- 
Lnection with the strata of the society of which they 
I form part and in which they occupied a fairly definite 

One rather important difference divides Samoan from 
I Maori usage, the absence of primogeniture in the case of the 
I loftier titles. These neither descended automatically to the 
I eldest son of the chief nor was it in his power to appoint a 
I successor. It was indeed his privilege to make a nomina- 
I tion, but this would have to be ratified by the influential 
1 of the locality with which the title was associated and 
►■these leaders of public opinion were able to set his wishes 
I at naught. There was not so much ceremony in the case 
I of the title held by a landed gentleman, which could be be- 
[ queathed by the dying owner, but it was by no means neces- 
] sarily allotted to the eldest-bom son, another of better ap- 
I pearance or superior qualities, nay, even an adoptive favor- 
I Jte being frequently suljstituted. 

This sketchy description of Polynesian conditions suf- 
fices to indicate the importance attached to hereditary titles 
and other class distinctions, and it merely remains to add 
that patrician and plebeian were assigned to separate after- 
worlds in order to afford some comprehension of what part 
these differences of caste assumed in the aboriginal con- 

Africa, like Polynesia, is a region of marked social dis- 
tinctions, but these bear a totally different character. There 
are often potentates treated in tf l #iWii H t ! reverential and in- 

Ideed abject manner by H ■■ *■ ■■:'■.'. '"'i :"■;]■. ■]! ' I.v a 

host of hierarchically j.'i tve 

red 1 

of I 

oc- I 

hi- I 

wo I 


done honor to a mediaeval European court. .But the digni- 
taries derive their station not from their lofty ancestry, they 
are not blue-bloods with endless pedigrees connecting them 
with some traditional figure, but political officials and as 
such usually the creatures of the king. The sovereign and 
his kin stand apart; the rest of the population are on a 
plane of equality. The example of Uganda is typical. The 
king traced his lineage from a legendary hero; all other 
officials of the state owed their distinction to competent and 
faithful conduct in the royal service, and every position in 
the realm save royalty was open to any tribesman, A pa- 
trician caste with its members bandying genealogies is an 
utterly un-African conception. A remarkable feature that 
may be noted in this place is the frequent preeminence of 
the queen dowager, who may reign in a court of her own. 
Among the Bakuba, though the king is an incarnation of 
the supreme deity, he yields precedence to bis mother in 
conversation, it being her prerogative to address him first, 
which constitutes the badge of superiority according to 
native etiquette. 

The slaves of course occupy the status of inferiors, but 
here some discrimination must be exercised. There were 
indeed captives enslaved in war who could be sold like cattle 
and executed at their master's will. But there was another 
class of native slaves pawned for debt and these enjoyed 
far milder treatment, suffering no particular loss of prestige 
since their servitude was often undergone to rescue an im- 
poverished kinsman. In Uganda a slave girl who bore chil- 
dren to a freeman became free together with her progeny, 
and sometimes, though not generally, her sons were per- 
mitted to inherit property. 

The preceding remarks apply to Negro territories. 
Where a mixture of stocks occurs, conditions are compli- 
cated. For example, the cattle-breeding Wahuma in East 
Africa occupy a station varying locally. In Ruanda they 
constitute the governing caste looking down upon the horti- 



cultural Bantu, while eisewher*-- they ar<.' simply prnfessional 
herdsmen in a land of tiller^ 

A curious phcnorneijon uccur- uumur th* MaMti and thcii 
neigfhbors. Thuu^r jreiieraliy ntr*\ut*:ri\\v.. liic'-* trilx- sej' 
regate a? unclean pariali- lii* Kiiil'i »r siir ni biacUsniitlr 
upon whom they are ueiKriKien^ ]»»•' iiirr wrai^JTi- aii'i whrnn 
one would l prior' iniaj:in«r i" rarii iiij:i n ; wiiriiiv t-nr?* 
munity. Since tliere i n'- ^uj.'^j'.*.- un: '/ nv rarin- diff"' 
ence. the reasor fir- uu av.iiiid* Trtriiiin •-TMfrrnaMr;j' 

Nortii America, a airea'r ii'>i«:' v. a ;jTrr»«-i- in* ■.r»'Ti' 
of both stxria: and i>oi I Li'.c: I oeti I '?'■!;•'.»<; '1 tjj ;y' r Thrt»\VT 
into relie: v.he: wv ii**^' •••»• U" i:i"Tfriv' r.- »:r!-»" rv 
plorers of oii'- eonuneT:' l in* ' '.-r T«-.iiMn''?TTr;- a^'ouni '■' 
African or Oceania- »rJivei*-T ;■ i n'-- ai''»r";irj'" unii' 
tellijribie tiia* Ai«'!va' --ipiui' iiav* !;ai"." "liif'i- "riualit-. 
and fraiernny" a in* " '^ifumi, y^^.i^/r.^n*: ' '•' iiv .-.nirr' 
can sii' or^ranizaijor air av'.*»'-'iiTjj'! •-•n- h: iioir* '^»' 
view, of jndia: -r,.*-' a : \mi'*»* an :ria" n- -iioiil' 

tnenc*: nav* »i«rr:xe' ?.•:;'. ^eu-* 

:T:<ir-«eTi'*en'."' an- nr-* 

sc»na: ajjriiu; un;ve:rair a- a'^'nniv. '" ni'jia: "nrTL^tr: 
bu: very le'.- eMuivj': a] ;!i •'.;.. ifjij- i-'i.'jt ■ 'ja: r^ lai ■i''»v."i 
witiioiv filial J i"-;i:.«»- ;i:i' ■. '.f»' :-!enera::z::iio' 7Ut Tnrr* 
ap. IW' r»rniarr.a:i.* r.v rpL.';:; • -ii" .'-.avjn'j: o: tn* j^iwr- 
Mr»i>.-!pl' air l;»- !;;''!vi; '■ ' \iv fyjcJz'. o: i'.riti^l 

leiT.. i>V vr ■••".'.: 'Si.' ■ rl.'ir' !. ■ *: '.!TV TTor tP.* rfTorf!" 
":' e;;^T:'«-rr: .■ ■•:? '" '»;!•*-•.•-• v r- '■; ii''iv;':vc' . n^v- Xni'ZX. 

careiii: ti- •-:.■"? ,._:..-']..-• n ' f '--v. aT:'o:. Tir- rommo:. 
.' .:• .a "• ■ M'- fvf:a-"-vTr;' lerr / Srinicarri" 

>••■■ •' ••',- M.. v, •,:'••• 'yh: v/a ^u**- 

..■ ■ = •:-■ :-•■; ' " ^-MT't'e ' ^otj:^ ^i■ '?>!*-- and 
.;■•-■ .•:':■:■; : *!:• rf.a" :::• -Cat- a- "'ireat 

,■ .,'•■•*•■ I, •«••.■■•■■ ■ ♦'■.•-■.•■•»rt •ri . •-•, '-• f\r - T^K# 

;'l- •'«* ,..-1.-.. ,y.f,^.f^^, .... u,>ge 






di V! 

!*r ■ r 




."* . ' 


: ■' 


'■ ■ . . 



suffered progressive debasement in successive generations. 
His children were only Nobles, his grandsons Honored Peo- 
ple, and his great-grandsons sank to the rank of commoners. 
This system was in some measure alloyed with democratic 
notions inasmuch as a Stinkard might advance himself by 
bravery to the lowest rank of nobility, while an Honored 
man could in corresponding fashion gain the next higher 

What was perhaps the most remarkable among the corre- 
lated Natchez customs was the rule underlying marriage 
arrangements. While the presence of rigid class distinc- 
tions almost everywhere else involves endogamous laws, the 
Natchez not only permitted but prescrilwd the marriage of 
Suns with commoners, the regulation affecting both sexes. 
When a Sun woman espoused a Stinkard, the customary 
patriarchal arrangements of the tribe were suspended, the 
husband occupying the status of a domestic not privileged 
to eat in his wife's company and being liable to execution 
for infidelity. The working of the scheme has been thus 
summarized by Swanton : The Suns comprised children of 
Sun mothers and Stinkard fathers ; the Nobles were chil- 
dren of Noble mothers and Stinkard fathers, or of Sun 
fathers and Stinkard mothers ; the Honored People included 
children of Honored women and Stinkard fathers, and of 
Noble fathers and Stinkard mothers : finally, the large class 
of Stinkards was recruited from plebeian inter-marriages or 
from the unions of Stinkard mothers and Honored men. 

Rather more amazing than the caste system itself are its 
outward manifestations, which are utterly un-American if 
judged from the point of view of the other Indians of the 
continent and reveal little of that personal dignity ascribed 
to the noble Red man in Morgan's characterization. The 
descriptions of court etiquette by the French chroniclers 
rather suggest the atmo.'sphere surrounding an Oriental 
potentate than the position of an Indian chief. "The 
eration which these savages have for the great chief 

eniai i 
ven- ■ 
and I 


for his family goes so far that whether he speaks good or 
evil, they thank him by genuflections and reverences marked 
by howls," This attitude had a religious foundation since 
the Suns were reckoned descendants of the Sun. the su- 
preme deity, and capable of averting evil by their interces- 
sion. The Great Sun towered alx>ve the rest of his kin in 
grandeur and was hedged about with special prohibitions. 
No one but his wife might eat with him, and when he gave 
the leavings to his own brothers he would push the dishes 
toward them with his feet. The Stinkards were treated as 
so much dirt, and on the death of a Sun his servants were 
obliged to die with him. The intermediate grades were 
clearly of some consequence, especially did a council of the 
older warriors serve as a check on the authority of the 

Thanks to the labors of Boas. Swanton, Sapir, Bariieau, 
and others, our data on the Northwest Coast suffice to af- 
ford a clear idea of their ca-ste system. Both as to its ex- 
istence and as to the intensity of the correlated sentiments 
there is no doubt ; endogamy was strongly fostered ; and 
even a few years ago Barbeau was able to observe the ab- 
ject servility with which the plebeian children at a Govern- 
ment school treated the royal bratHngs. Three classes are 
recognized — the nobles, the commoners, and the slaves. 
The last-mentioned group may \x briefly dismissed. It was 
recruited from captives, who after the Maori fashion were 
not ill-treated but were at any time liable to be put to death, 
whether as a ritualistic sacrifice or to gratify a mere whim 
of their master's. For example, at one of those public 
festivals where each grand seignior sought to excel his peers 
in his magnificent scorn of property a slave would be killed 
to enhance his master's display of magnificence; and an in- 
dignity, even from natural causes, could be properly wi" 
out only by the slaying of a slave. The commoners a 
group of lowly freemen or of very remote and hencf 
privileged kinsmen and in a way retainers of the noUj 



Among the slaves and the commoners there are no fur- 
ther gradations of rank; not so in the nobility, where no- 
tions of precedence are developed with all the nicety of the 
Polynesians, Status depends mainly on the ownership of 
those principally incorporeal forms of property outlined in 
a previous chapter, its clearest outward manifestation is in 
the seating arrangement at public celebrations, where the 
seats are carefully graded as to rank. But owing to the 
variety of privileges there is not necessarily any one noble 
who is reckoned preeminent in an absolute sense. One will 
rank the other in seating and yield the priority to another 
when the order of being invited to a feast is at stake, and 
so on, However, a correlation does obtain, so that usually 
many high prerogatives are linked under the ownership of 
the same person. 

The theoretical independence of multiple prerogatives is 
at least partly connected, as Sapir suggests, with the strong 
sentiment that each privilege originated in a definite locality 
of which the memory is retained long after place and pre- 
rogative have become dissociated. Thus St may come about 
that an individual has inherited rights associated with dis- 
tinct villages, and in that case he may split his patrimcmy, 
transmitting one set to an elder son and another to a 
younger one, who may be established in the proper com- 
munity under his father's tutelage. This fonn of succes- 
sion would of course hold only for the patrilineal tribes; 
the Coastal tribes farther north have matrilineal descent 
and by the avunculate transmit privileges to the sister's 

Sapir strongly emphasizes the fact that in spite of the 
stressing of rank it is the lineage, the group rather than the 
individual, that counts. "Among the Nootka Indians, for 
instance, an old man, his oldest son say. the oldest son of 
the son, and, finally, the infant child of the latter, say a 
daughter, form, to all intents and purposes, a single socio- 
I(^cal personality. Titularly the highest rank Js accorded, 




among the Nootka, to the little child, for it is always the 
last generation that in theory bears the highest honors. In 
practice, of course, the oldest members of the group get 
the real credit and do the business, as it were, of the in- 
herited patrimony; but it would be difficult in such a case 
to say where the great-grandfather's privileges and stand- 
ing are marked off against those of his son, or grandson, 
or great-granddaughter." This is, of course, a point al- 
ready illustrated with respect to other social phenomena, 
viz.. the tendency of primitive man to merge the individual 
in the group, as in the arrangement of matrimonial unions. 
It cannot be denied that there is something about the 
caste organization of the Northwest Indians that suggests 
Polynesian arrangements. Nootka primogeniture furnishes 
a parallel to Maori usage; the slaying of a slave at the 
erection of a house represents a rather specific resemblance ; 
and above all the atypical nature, from an American point 
of view, of any caste system, joined to its occurrence on 
the Pacific side of the continent might arouse suspicions of 
an Oceanian origin. However, these circumstances are 
hardly to be judged conclusive. The Natchez furnish an 
example of an interior tribe that has developed a radically 
different scheme of hereditary class distinctions, showing 
that such divisions may arise spontaneously. Further, the 
Polynesian and the Columbian systems have, after all. a 
different character: The Indians lack the exuberant sense 
for genealogy, while the Polynesians evince no taste ff 
that type of privileges which ser\'es to distinguish the nob_ 
of the Northwest Coast. We may, therefore, assui 
independent evolution of castes in these two regions.* 


The foregoing summary of American, African 
Oceanian conditions conclusively refutes the 
itive society was imiformly averse to the 

RANK 357 

conceivable ; it was solely a question of superiority among 
the patricians, and of a kind of superiority linked with no 
temporal advantage but constituting its own reward. Thus, 
the utilitarian doctrine completely breaks down in the in- 
terpretation of aboriginal consciousness. Primitive man is 
not a miser nor a sage nor a beast of prey but, in Tarde's ) 
happy phrase, a peacock. 

• Marett. 

* Lowie, 1912: 230; id., 1917 (a): 82. Merker: 92, 216. 
HoUis. 1Q05: 2S9, 298, 353 seq. Cole: 96. 

'Dixon. 1905: 223, 267, 323; id., 1907: 451. Goddard, 
1903: 58. Radloff: i, 312. Bogoras, 614. 639. Boas, 1897: 
341 seq. Sapir. 1915: 355 seq. 

•Tregear: 123.146.163,383. Stair: 65 seq., 147. Turner: 
173. Kramer: I, 31. Roscoe, 191 1 : 14, 187. 269. Torday 
and Joyce: 60. Merker; iii. Swanton, 1911: 93, 100 seq. 
Sapir, 1915: 355 seq. 



COMPARED to the effort expended on the elucidation 
of the fainily and sib organization, the theoretical 
work devoted to the political institutions of primitive tribes 
has been almost negligible in quantity. Indeed, as we shall 
see later, there has been a rather persistent attempt to deny 
the very existence of such a thing as political organization 
properiy so called in the ruder cultures. That is, of course, 
a point of primary importance, to which we must revert. 
For the present, however, it will be best to view the facts 
without theoretical prepossession of any sort and to inquire 
merely what governmental agencies exist in different areas 
and how they are correlated with features of aboriginal 
life already sketched in previous chapters. Though I shall 
employ the word 'political' for convenience' sake, for the 
present I do so merely to denote legislative, executive and 
judicial functions and its use in no way prejudges the ques- 
tion to be broached after a survey of the concrete data. 
These several functions, as has sometimes been pointed out, 
are often merged. The Australian council issues ordi- 
nances, directs their execution, and passes judgment on 
criminal offences, and the same is true of corresponding 
governing agencies elsewhere. But it should be noted that 
the legislative function in most primitive communities 
seems strangely curtailed when compared with that exer- 
cised in the more complex civilizations. AJI_tii£_exigencies 
of n prm^-l social intercourse are covered by customary law, 
and the business of such government^_inachiDery_as^^Ssts 



4§ rgi^^r to pxa et obcd!cnce -4Q _traditional usape than to 
create new precedents. Under the despotic rule of some of 
"iHcTAfrican or^Dc^anian autocrats this principle naturally 
does not hold to nearly the same degree. A Zulu monarch 
was able to abrogate the time-honored usage of circum- 
cision by a royal edict and the decrees of a Hawaiian sover- y 
eign could absolve men from obedience to established law. 
Nevertheless, it is probable that even in such extreme cases 
the transactions of social intercourse were regulated in a 
far greater measure by the time-honored usages of antiquity 
than by the sum-total of these autocratic ukases. 

In the present chapter we are more particularly concerned 
with the question of the existence and character of a central 
governing agency; for practical reasons the administration 
of justice will be treated separately in the one following. 


The salient feature of Australian public life is the domi- 1- 
nance of the aged men. There are local differences as to 
the powers of the elders' class as a whole, but almost every- 
where the women are rigidly excluded from political ac- 
tivity and everywhere young men are reckoned of little if 
any importance in the tribal deliberations. Nevertheless 
within the limits of this gerontocracy, to use Dr. Rivers' apt 
term for the rule of elders, interesting differences have 

The Dieri furnish a favorable example of one of the va- 
rieties found. The assembly of full-fledged men, i.e., of 
men who have passed through the initiation ceremony offi- 
cially conferring the status of maturity, constituted prac- 
tically a secret society, for to divulge the acts of this par- 
liament was to court death. The subjects discussed in- 
cluded cases of murder by magic, transgression of the incest 
rules, and ceremonial arrangements. It was this body that 
dispatched an armed party to kill a murderous sorcerer and 



re-allotted concubines on festive occasions. Apparently no 
vote was taken: "If all were agreed to some course the 
council separated, if not, then it met at some future time." 
So far we are dealing merely with the elders as a whole. 
But their proceedings were directed by the principal head- 
man, who gave instructions for the summoning of the 
council and led the discussion. In the 'sixties of the last 
century the chieftaincy belonged to one Jalina-piramurana, 
who had inherited the position from his father. He is 
described as "a man of persuasive eloquence, a skilful and 
brave fighting-man, and a powerful medicine-man." He 
was universally reverenced and received presents from va- 
rious local groups, which he generously distributed among 
his friends. He was able to prevent fighting, his decisions 
being accepted without murmuring. None of the elders, in- 
cluding his own brothers, dared interfere with his decrees. 
In short, we here have a case of extraordinary authority 
due to an unusual personality. Jalina-piramurana eclipsed 
his father and doubtless was not equaled in importance l^ 
his successor. The fact is, however, noteworthy that in 
this section of Australia there is a frequent tendency to- 
ward the evolution of preeminent headmen whose office de- 
scended from father to son. 

Rather different are the conditions In the central area 
inhabited by such peoples as the Arunta and the Warra- 
munga. Here there is no single individuality that could 
be considered the tribal chief; but neither is there anything 
in the nature of a general ciders' council. What happens is 
that each local totem group has a headman whose office de- 
scends from father to son, and that from these headmen, 
whose functions are mainly if not wholly ceremonial, are 
recruited the members of a governing board. This is a 
close corporation of a very few of the most important eld- 
ers, Their number is not fixed, but hovers about five; ten 
or twelve is mentioned as most unusual. This council meets 
quite informally and without any regular speeches. All its 



ibers are headmen, and if some other headman has con- 
mended himself to them through his ability and public spirit 
they will some day reward him by an invitation to join their 
deliberations. The oligarchs are implicitly obeyed by the 
whole tribe and completely control every matter of public 
concern. On the other hand, the younger men, even though 
of mature years, are of no importance whatsoever and pay 
the utmost homage to the leading elders. 

The aborigines of North Queensland do not conform 
strictly to either the Arunta or the Dieri pattern in their 
camp council. It is evidently a rather larger body than 
that of the Central Australians, for it includes all the older 
men of some consequence. But among these there is no 
single one that rises to a status of supremacy. What gra- 
dations of power there are depend on personal factors: a 
man who has passed through the various stages leading to 
an elder's status, or one of fighting quality, or with a large 
following acquired by plural marriage, is likely to exercise 
more than usual influence. The nature of the discussions 
closely resembles that noted for the Dieri. Questions of 
peace and war. the reception of strangers, the shifting of 
the camp, the punishment of incest, and the prevention of 
brawls within the settlement all fall within the province of 
the elders' assembly, while such acts as infanticide or the 
maiming of an adulterous wife are deemed purely private 
matters with which the council does not interfere,' 

Polynesia and Micronesia 

That excessive regard to differences of pedigree which is 
'so conspicuous a feature of the Polynesians does not neces- 
sarily involve the political ascendancy of the noblest patri- 
cians. This is most clearly demonstrated by the example 
of New Zealand and Samoa, though it is probable that the 

I condition there found represents a later development, as 
will be indicated below. 

It is not easy to define briefly and with precision the polity 
of the New Zealanders. That there was nowhere a vast 
realm governed by a supreme hege lord, is clear. But it is 
not so easy to determine the constitutional powers of those 
chiefs of exalted lineage but restricted territory who pre- 
sided over the numerous tribes engaged in constant warfare 
with one another. On the one hand, we learn that though 
primogeniture might confer the purple with the mitre, only 
the latter was an inalienable appendage of birth. The 
landed gentry who constituted the backbone of the nation 
could depose an heir-apparent whose cowardice, avarice or 
incapacity had estranged the people; and they would elect 
in his place a worthier representative of the kin, say, an 
uncle or brother. In a sense, then, the prince was only the 
first gentleman of the tribe. On the other hand, his re- 
ligious character, if not degraded by especially grievous 
faults, invested him with an atmosphere of awe that evi- 
dently bestowed not a little authority in all the phases of 
life. Thus, he acted not merely as an intercessor with the 
gods, consecrating warriors before the fray, blessing the 
crops and regulating the ritual, but also served as a judge in 
property disputes, conducted horticultural operations and 
was entitled to the first-fruits, to wrecked canoes, and to 
cetaceans caught ashore, 

Indissolubly bound up with the temporal powers of a 
prince or noble was the characteristically Polynesian pre- 
rogative of imposing a taboo, which probably attained as 
high a development in New Zealand as anywhere through- 
out the region. It is impossible to follow the native con- 
cept through all its labyrinthine ramifications since we are 
here concerned only with its political import. This was 
sufficiently simple in principle, though most far-reaching in 
practical results. The noble or chief, partaking of the di- 
vine essence of which he was the incarnation, was able to 
communicate his ccMitagious holiness so that the objects in 
question could not be appropriated by any one but a superior 


in rank. He might stop traffic on a river or cause great 
inconvenience to his people by tabooing a forest. This was 
generally done by putting up a pole with a bunch of rags 
or leaves or by erecting some corresponding notice-board. 
Infringement of a taboo was not merely a crime but spirit- 
ual iniquity calling down the wrath of the gods, who would 
visit the offender with disease or death. Even outside of 
Polynesia the Oceanians practise the taboo custom in diluted 
form. The method followed by the Melanesian Ghost so- 
cieties for safeguarding personal property (p. 279) falls in 
this category, and though in the Banks Islands it is the 
offended organization that inflicts condign chastisement 
Dr. Rivers shows that in the Solomons corresponding trans- 
gressions are supposed to be automatically punished by the 
ghosts, a belief that serves as a connecting link between the 
Melanesian and the Polynesian notion of taboo. How tre- 
mendous a power the taboo prerogative conferred on its 
possessor when linked with the office of chief, hardly re- 
quires exposition, and it is rather remarkable that in spite 
of its development in New Zealand the chief was neverthe- 
less subject to loss of secular ascendancy. 

On the essentials of the Samoan constitution the infor- 
mation is clearer. There was a nominal ruler of the whole 
group — ^the lord who had secured all the five regal titles 
from the electoral districts privileged to dispose of them. 
But to a very considerable extent each district was autono- 
mous, as appears from the multiplicity of internecine wars 
and the jealous protection of local boundaries. Within each 
district there was a dominant settlement, which summoned 
the local parliament. This met in executive session in an 
open square tabooed for the time being to all outsiders, 
whose intrusion was punished with death. The provincial 
chief, the rustic aristocracy, and the lesser landowners had 
access to this assembly, which combined legislative and 
judicial authority. Village chiefs might take the floor, bu 
usually each was represented by a speaker, one of the gici 



try, who acted as his mouthpiece. The right to address the 
assembly was highly prized, and in consequence all those 
entitled to deliver a speech would rise simultaneously and 
contend for the honor of the first oration, frittering away 
much time before the point of precedence was settled. The 
orator permitted to speak was again confronted with a mat- 
ter of etiquette, being obliged to recite first of all the va- 
rious honorific designations of all the Samoan districts, the 
omission of any one of which was regarded as an affront. 
As he proceeded, his party prompted him, refreshing his 
memory or urging a choice of topics, and if bored by his 
eloquence they had the right to bid him be seated. From 
other groups he suffered no interruption till a moot-question 
was touched upon, when the orator of another party might 
take the floor and launch a debate. Refreshments supplied 
by the surrounding villages were handed about during the 
minor speeches, and throughout the day the members not 
actually addressing the assembly were busy plaiting sinnet 
from cocoanut fiber. 

When matters affecting several districts were at stake, 
the dominant settlement of the district which took the initia- 
tive dispatched messengers informing each of the other dis- 
tricts as to the topic for delil>eration. Each district then 
had a separate assembly and came prepared to what may be 
styled the provincial parliament. Sometimes the principal 
men of the first settlement would make the rounds of the 
other districts canvassing the members so as to gain their 
point ultimately in the fonnal council. Owing to the ab- 
sence of a sense for centralized government, there was little 
cooperation and no power to enforce the decisions outside 
the minor groups. 

Generally speaking, it was the assembly of country 
squires that had the whip-hand, and among them the speak- 
ers stood preeminent. Their influence could award the 
district chieftaincy to a particular individual among those 
qualified by virtue of pedigree, and though unusually gifted 


rchiefs exercised great powers the generality were unable to 
dominate the speakers when these were supported by the 
other heads of famihes. Accordingly, unpopular chiefs 
were not only exiled but beaten and sometimes even killed 
by their subjects. Their hereditary sacredness, which ren- 
dered them taboo like the Maori priest-chiefs, formed an 
obstacle to such summary treatment, but Samoan ingenuity 
rose equal to the task. By sprinkling a chief's body with 
cocoanut water they rendered him profane, formally di- 
vested him of the title they had once conferred, and were 
then at liberty to hack him into pieces if they so chose. 

The polity of the Maori and the Samoans may thus be 
likened to a state of barons granting precedence to the ruler 

^of their choice but without allegiance and reserving to them- 
'Belves the ultimate voice in matters of government. This 
differs utterly from the conditions prevalent in Hawaii and 
the Marshall Islands, where the bulk of the population were 
not landowning gentlemen but degraded serfs cringing be- 
fore the select class of the upper Four Hundred. In 
Hawaii there was even a distinct tendency toward monarch- 
ical despotism, though there is evidence that the patrician 
caste was not without influence on important decisions. 
The social stratification of the Marshal! Islands has already 
been dealt with in connection with property rights. It was 
shown that the aristocracy is sharply divided from both the 
middle-class and the common herd. The middle class com- 
prises the exjwrt navigators and other professionals whose 
services are prized in this region of the globe: and though 

I their utterances have no legal validity, they enjoy the re- 

l-spect of the nobility and may hold land as feudal tenants. 

pThe nobility is subdivided into a higher and lower caste, 
but both are in an equally absolute sense owners of their 
hereditary soil, and though the lesser chief is tributary t- 
the greater, his allegiance is voluntary and in case of se 

I ous misunderstanding complete independence ensues. V\ 
tference to either class of patricians the commoners u 

■ 366 

^H body of parii 
^F all manner oi 


f pariahs cultivating the chiefs' lands and rendering 
all manner of menial ser\'ices. The chiefs are not only 
ported by their subjects, but have access to their wives 
daughters, and could once wantonly destroy the lives of 
plebeians. This relationship, doubtless fostered for ages, 
engendered a servile frame of mind on the part of the op- 
pressed caste, which survivetl the pressure of necessity. As 
late as 1905 Father Erdland found commoners willingly 
jeopardizing their lives to prop up the hurricane-shaken 
walls of a princely hut. In the same year an aged fisher- 
man sunk in indigence through a natural catastrophe 
borrowed money from the missionary to fill the well-stocked 
coffers of his lord with the customary annual tribute. 
Though the colonial administration would doubtless have 
protected the supplicant and though Erdland offered to 
plead with the chief and have him remit the payment, the 
commoner's mind was not set at rest till his tears had won 
the loan, in return for which he vowed to furnish his bene- 
factor with fish as long as he lived. It does not readily 
occur to man to adapt himself to modified social conditions. 
The Marshall Islander's psychology does not differ notably 
from that of impoverished gentlemen in our own civiliza- 
tion who anachronistically remain class-conscious members 
of their natal caste instead of joyously throwing in their 
lot with their new associates. 

The social and political conceptions diffused with many 
local variations over the whole of Polynesia and Micronesia 
must have had an intricate history, which it will require the 
efforts of many specialists to unravel in detail; but the gen- 
eral course of development has been most plausibly traced 
by Waitz and Gerland. Observations by the earliest trav- 
elers and legendary aboriginal accounts of early society 
suggest that several centuries ago the conditions more re- 
cently noted in Hawaii were prevalent over the entire 
region. This is a conclusion that, moreover, flows If^cally 
from the divine descent of the nobility, which is naturally 

firing I 

■ sup- I 

s and 1 

f the I 


inverted into a divine right to rule. From this point of 
' view the punctilio of Maori and Samoans in matters of eti- 
quette and genealogy are relics of an earlier stage at which 
differences in rank were not nearly so largely questions of 
academic interest but involved differences in political au- 
thority. That so rigid an insistence on caste distinctions, 
so hypertrophied an elaboration of the theory of taboo, 
necessitates a very long course of development preceding it, 
is evident : but what may Iiave preceded the aristocratic and 
theocratic conception of Polynesian philosophers and states- 
men eludes historical scrutiny. We can only surmise that 
the antecedent condition savored of the simplicity now cur- 
rent in the remainder of Oceania.* 

Melanesia and New Guinea 

Those parts of Melanesia exposed to Polynesian in- 
I fluences. notably New Caledonia and sections of Fiji, share 
the theory of divine princes; elsewhere the chief's status 
is of far more modest character. Among the Baining of 
' the Gazelle Peninsula, indeed, there are no chiefs. A brave 
' warrior gains distinction and the title of 'hero,' forming a 
nucleus for groups of men so long as his prowess is main- 
tained. In the Banks Islands, too. no real chiefs occur, for 
there the title that might ]x so translated is inseparable from 
membership in the highest grade of the men's club. At- 
tainment to that degree was seen to be dependent on wealth, 
and in that sense we might speak of a plutocratic govem- 

■ ment. But it is clear that there was no one dcMntnant ruling 
body, that the men of the highest grade were not so much 
potentates as persons highly esteemed by the community, 
and that not a little power was wielded by the several Ghost 

Rather more complicated arrangements occur in Buin, 

k Solomon Islands. Here three grades of chiefs are rect^- 
Eiizcd, the lesser chiefs, the hundred chiefs, and the great 






chiefs. The lesser chiefs are hardly more than influential 
heads of families. Any one possessed of sufficient shell- 
money to erect a hall with several wooden drums and to 
organize entertainments in it can become a lesser chief. 
The 'hundred chiefs' are not necessarily the leaders of 
fully a hundred followers; indeed, the number sometimes 
sinks to but sixty, including servants. These chiefs are 
generally allied with one another. The great chiefs are 
recruited from certain prominent families and are always 
leagued with the himdred chiefs and lesser chiefs of several 
districts. It is in fact on these alliances that their power 
rests. All three grades of the chieftaincy are inheritable, 
but the title is validated only when the claimant has built 
the assembly hall and entertained his neighbors, whose ac- 
ceptance of the invitation is equivalent to an acknowledg- 
ment of his superiority. Thus, a distinctly timocratic 
element is associated with the hereditary principle. The 
assembly hall is a men's clubhouse, council-chamber and 
ceremonial chapel, from which women are ordinarily 

Alliances are ratified by a solemnity united with a boy's 
initiation into the tribe. The boy's father pledges his sup- 
port of a certain chief or boasts of his past deeds on the 
chief's behalf, urging him in return to protect the novice. 
There is an exchange of gifts and it is possible to extend 
the circle of allies by dispatching presents to other chiefs. 
All those leagued together in this fashion assume the obli- 
gation of the blood-feud, but this bond is a purely personal 
one, that is, it cannot be inherited by the children of the 
allies, who would have to undergo a similar ceremony in 
order to perpetuate the relationship. Though a great chief 
by virtue of his numerous allies can play an important part 
in warfare, he has no authority beyond that due to his 
personality. He does not interfere with the privacy of 
family life and he cannot force one of his followers to 
obey a command, If one of them takes umbrage and al>- 



sents himself from the hall, the chief will try to conciliate 
him with presents. A pouting brave might otherwise desert 
his district and join another chief, thereby diminishing the 
forces of his native settlement. On the other hand, a mis- 
creant who transgresses tribal law may be sent into exile. 
In New Guinea the chief's role is an equally modest one. 
Among the Kai he has the largest field but then his is the 
obligation of entertaining all guests and his own people to 
boot. He is the wealthiest of the villagers, and is expected 
to supply his helpers liberally with tobacco and betel-nuts, 
to slaughter pigs for them and regale them with other deli- 
cacies. Beyond his general claim on their support, he has 
little authority. Every tribesman acts as he sees fit, and the 
chief has no means of coercion. Similar conditions obtain 
among the Jabim. Every one helps the chief build a house 
or plant his field, but it is understood that a lavish enter- 
tainment will compensate them for the work. There is no 
popular assembly, but on important occasions there are ses- 
sions with a few prominent men, at which deliberations are 
conducted in a very low tone of voice. There is no debate 
pro and con. and as seems the universal custom of the ruder 
peoples no vote is taken. A common formula of submitting 
to the will of others is : "Thou hast spoken, and thus it 
shall be."* 


The political institutions of Africa are of peculiar in- 
terest. Certain differences between the character of the 
social gradations found there and that of corresponding 
features in Polynesia were pointed out in a previous chap- 
ter. Politically equally noteworthy differences must be 
noted in spite of the occurrence of despotic monarchs in 
both Africa and at least ancient Polynesia. For one thing, 
^H the Negro rulers often extended their dominion over an 
^Benormous area, so that in comparison the exalted sovereigns 


of Hawaii or Tahiti apjiear as petty princelings. This can- 
not be explained by geographical considerations, for the 
Polynesians were admirable navigators and could easily 
have established something of a maritime empire. Yet the 
strength of centrifugal tendencies prevented any such de- 
velopment. It is especially remarkable that in New Zea- 
land, where the get^raphical barrier is wholly lacking, there 
is no evidence of a powerful sovereign uniting dozens of 
tribes under his scepter. Secondly, the course of political 
history in Africa seems to have been far more fluctuating 
and capricious than in Oceania. In Polynesia, if Waitz and 
Gerland's theory is accepted, there was a general tendency 
for the large body of landowning gentlemen to possess 
themselves of an increasing measure of political power. 
Among the Negroes an inveterate disposition to monarch- 
ical rule, though qualified by the influence of elders or other 
officials, has again and again made it possible for forceful 
personalities to convert themselves into absolute tyrants; 
but the structure reared by their individual efforts utterly 
collapsed under lesser guardians or degenerated into a mere 
mockery of autocracy with various functionaries represent- 
ing the real power Ijehiiid the throne. 

The Thonga and Zulu jointly furnish an especially illum- 
inating sample of African political history and accordingly 
merit a place of honor in our descriptive account. 

The territory of the Thonga is split up into a considerable 
number of petty principalities politically independent of one 
another, though united by virtual community of speech and 
custom. In each of these diminutive realms there reigns 
an hereditary monarch, the eldest son of the preceding rul- 
er's queen (not necessarily the first wife, but the first after 
his accession). His office is invested with an atmosphere 
of sacredness ; he alone is entitled to the honorific salutation 
"Bayete!"; his name is taboo except in oaths; he takes 
precedence in the rites of the first-fruits, of which he par- 
takes after an offering to the spirits; and above all he is in 



^possession of a powerful charm that magically insures the 
invincibility of the country. The king exacts tribute in 
kind : he receives a basket of food from each kraal at harvest 
time and part of the game animals killed in the chase. His 
subjects must till the royal fields, clean his public square, 
build and repair his huts. Finally, he appropriates a large 
portion of the fines imposed by him in court, for legislative, 
judicial and executive functions are merged in his person 
1 and from his judgment there is no appeal. 

Although the king thus enjoys great prerogatives and 
I wields considerable authority, he cannot be described as an 
I absolute autocrat. If his actions run counter to received 
[ standards of propriety, he is severely criticised by the peo- 
ple and may even be deposed. Secondly, his actual powers 
are divided with members of his family. By the established 
system of government the king's kinsmen- — ^sons or brothers 
— are set up to rule over the provinces of the state. On his 
accession to the throne a new monarch may find these rela- 
tives reluctant to acknowledge his suzerainty, and it has 
repeatedly happened that they have established independent 
principalities. Finally, the king is surrounded by a group 
of councilors, mostly mature men from his own family, 
who may gain great inffuence over him, even to the extent 
of determining his decrees. Many decisions are made by 
this assembly, for the king, though presiding at the meeting, 
will frequently take no part in the debate, merely nodding 
his assent. , 

Family disputes are fostered not only by the method of 
ruling provinces but also by the law of succession, which 
attempts to reconcile two quite distinct principles, primo- 
geniture and fraternal inheritance. The eldest son of the 
I queen is indeed the theoretical heir-apparent, but he can 
only ascend the throne after the regency of all his father's 
younger brothers. These are naturally in effect kings and 
one of them is often loath to surrender the sovereignty to 
the elder line, attempting to bequeath it to his own son. In 

pared with other African rulers. 1 
attire from the subjects, soinetirae! 
than those of commoners, and may 
occupation as scaring sparrows fro 
theless each sovereign is surrounc 
taries with a characteristically Af 

The councilors have already bee 
tion to the cabinet composed of tl 
are the leaders of the array; the ( 
whom has one of the adjoining prii 
subject ; and the minor district mag 
of courtiers is composed of the kin| 
age-mates, his companions in feasts 
live in a bachelors' house near the 
these favorites are without specifi 
enjoys a peculiar official status. I 
before the king's door every momi 
ploits of the ruler's ancestors, which 
disparagement of the present incuni 
to be the sole qualification for tH 
nature here may be gathered from ; 
tences in a long rhapsody by a disti 

J_! "'J- 1-'-'- c-'-:' — '-' ' ■ ' 


■ entrance to prevent other crocodiles from taking its 
rprey. ... 

"Why do you govern them so mildly ! Look at them with 
terrible eyes ! You are a coward I . , . Act with bravery 
and defend yourself!" 

At least equally remarkable is another licensed character, 
the "public vituperator" or court jester, who may hurl the 
most offensive insults at anyone in the country, from the 
king down. He may wantonly accuse his countrymen of 
incest and snatch food from the hands of the king himself. 

The precision of court etiquette is well illustrated by the 
customs incident to the visit of a stranger. The visitor 
seats himself outside the central square of the capital and 
announces to some native that he desires to see the chief. 
At once the diplomat in charge of relations with the 
stranger's principality greets him and announces his arrival 
to the king, who arranges for his entertainment. If the 
matter to be brought before his majesty is of some moment, 
the visitor expounds it to the diplomat dealing with the rele- 
vant part of foreign affairs. This official repeats the speech, 
sentence by sentence, to one of the king's councilors and 
he in turn recounts the whole tale as if his lord had not 
heard it all before. As Junod points out, this procedure is 
not without merit among people devoid of written records. 

The Zulu are a closely related people living to the south 
of the Thonga. From a mass of ethnographical material 
it is clear that their condition, say, a century and a half 
ago was strikingly similar to that of their northern fellow- 
Bantu. About the beginning of the nineteenth century they 
came under the sway of a neighboring ruler, Dingiswayo, 
who had organized a standing army and by its aid not only 
conquered various native tribes but also established himself 
as an autocrat with powers far transcending those of his 
predecessors. However, he was outdone by a Zulu king, 

Kiaka. Building upon the militar>* suggestions offered by 
Dgiswayo's system, Chaka developed it into an even more 




efifcctive eng;ine of militarism and by his far-reaching con- 
quests earned the title of the "Napoleon of South Africa," 
while the disturbances caused by his career extended as far 
north as Lake Tanganyika. Two fundamental innovations 
were introduced by Chaka. For one thing, he substituted 
for the reed javelins hitherto in vogue a thrusting-spear to 
be used at close quarters, with the result that the shock 
tactics thus originated proved quite irresistible. Secondly, 
he organized subjugated tribes so that they strengthened 
his own forces. More especially when the conquered people 
were not immediate neighbors, all but the boys and mar- 
riageable girls were put to death, while the survivors were 
placed on the same level with his former subjects — the girls 
entering his seraglio, the Iwys his army. 

In this fashion Chaka succeeded in maintaining a stand- 
ing army of from 12,000 to 15,000 warriors. Each regi- 
ment of from 600 to 1,000 men occupied a kraal or bar- 
racks of its own. Adolescent boys would volunteer for en- 
listment, so that new kraals were formed every year. The 
novices were distinguished by their black shields, those of 
the veterans being white. As soon as the young warriors 
had distinguished themselves in battle, their heads were 
shaved by the king's orders and they assumed the official 
status of 'men.' But this did not yet entitle them to settle 
down in marriage. Soldiers were bachelors so far as legiti- 
mate matrimony was concerned, though nothing prevented 
indulgence in love affairs with women of nearby civil 
kraals. It required a special dispensation of the king for 
the warriors to marry, and this was granted individually or 
wholesale to an entire regiment only for special service or 
when the disabilities of age had become evident. The mar- 
ried men ranked as socially inferior and formed the reserves 
of the royal host. The soldiers were maintained at the 
king's expense; as many as twelve head of cattle might be 
supplied daily to a single barracks. Freedom from eco- 
nomic necessity, participation in the spoils, and the social 



distinction of warriorhood compensated the soldiers for the 
rigors of a system that was moulded and wielded with an 
iron hand. For the life of the Zulu military was not one 
of ease. Obedience was exacted to the most extravagant 
commands; pain must be borne without flinching; and re- 
treat in face of the enemy was punished with death, nay, 
from a policy of terrorism after every battle the ofRcers 
were obliged to mark out for slaughter 'cowards,' whether 
there had been such or not. 

Wilh such a force ready to do his bidding, Chaka evolved 
a despotism beside which that of Dingiswa>"o paled into in- 
significance. His subjects were to all intents and purposes 
his slaves, whom he might put to death at the nod of his 
head. They were not permitted to render services to any 
one else and he reserved for himself the monopoly of trade 
with the whites. Chaka had for his advisers two principal 
ministers superintending his own kraal and a group of 
twenty lesser councilors : but there is httle doubt that at the 
height of his power the monarch could override their oppo- 
sition. Yet the type of autocracy founded by Chaka bears 
within itself the germ of disintegration. In order to be 
successful it requires a virile, nay, ferocious, personality. 
The form of government itself furnished no stability, and 
as it makes a difference whether a Peter the Great or a 
Nicholas is Autocrat of Russia, so in South Africa it was 
not the same whether Chaka or Dingaan held the reins, 
and under a weaker successor the royal power cnimbled. 
While Chaka had ruled his army, the warriors ruled Din- 
gaan, who came to preserve the outward appearance rather 
than the substance of regal authority. 

The history of Zulu government within the brief space of 
less than a century thus presents a typical picture of .African 
conditions. In the modest confines of a petty state organ- 
ized on the principle of a benevolent monarch's rule, not 
without checks and balances, there rises an imperious ruler 
who organizes the military, terrorizes and subjects to his 


sway adjoining populations and makes himself an absolute 
despot. But the realm created by his energy cannot be held 
together by the epigonoi and it splits once more into smaller 
units presided over by the patriarchal sovereigns of the 
earlier type. 

A comparison of the Ewe polity with that of the related 
inhabitants of Dahorai shows practically the same sequence 
of events among the Sudanese Negroes as we have just 
traced among the southeastern Bantu. 

The rulers of the Ho-Ewe are even farther removed from 
the status of autocracy than the Thonga kings. Though the 
element of inheritance enters into the arrangement of suc- 
cession, the king is chosen from a number of possible can- 
didates. The aspirant to the throne attempts to conciliate 
influential electors by gifts, but his donations are not all- 
important since the candidate's character is duly considered. 
The chiefs nominate the man of their choice for king and 
the populace ratify the nomination. There follows a for- 
mal inauguration in the presence of the chiefs and a limited 
body representing the commoners, for the rank and file must 
never view the throne nor some of the other regalia. As 
the king is elected, so he may be deposed, but such action is 
most exceptional, being resorted to only when the sovereign 
has seriously injured the tribal welfare. An ideal king is 
affable and hospitably entertains his subjects; in court he 
tempers with kindly phrase the bitterness of an adverse 
judgment; in private Hfe he is an industrious horticulturist 
and weaver. 

The core of the governing body is formed by the king 
and two local chiefs, assisted by a speaker and his deputies. 
Added to these is a group of councilors recruited from the 
heads of the largest families. But opposed to this more or 
less aristocratic body are the rank and file of the village 
community presided over by a headman and his speaker. 
This headman is the leader in war and acts as intermediary 
between the populace and the chiefs. The people have the 


Ifigiit to protest against the decrees of the ruling body and 
tiieir objections are transmitted through the headman to 
the council, whose members are careful to give due consider- 
ation to the wishes of the subjects. In unusual times of 
stress the king summons a popular assembly. 

Though the king is thus very much limited in power, he 
is not without the outward trappings of royalty. The 
throne, which is preserved from the sight of vulgar eyes, 
has already been mentioned. More important is the insti- 
tution of personal attendants, sometimes to the number of 
twenty-four. Some of them are beadles who summon peo- 
ple to court, others carry the king in a special basketry 
frame. When acting officially they are privileged to whip 
anyone in their way and may kill and eat any sheep or goats 
they encounter. They receive no regular pay but appropri- 
ate as their perquisites a large part of the court fees. Ac- 
cordingly it is to their interest to have large fines imposed, 
and this obviously may become an ample source of abuses. 

The laws which enjoy the greatest respect and of which 
the transgressions are most severely punished are not the 
special decrees of the king's council but those rules of cus- 
tomary law which have been in vogue from time im- 
memorial — the laws against murder and theft, for example. 
In the main the legislative council merely adds ordinances 
of minor significance. These decrees are first discussed 
by the chiefs' council, then submitted to the village as- 
semblies, whose members debate among themselves before 
jointly deliberating on the matter with the chiefs. Only 
when both bodies have come to an agreement are the laws 
duly ratified and must then be heralded to the people. 

The Coastal Ewe differed from their Ho congeners in 
that the commoners had no voice in the government but in 
the limitations of royal power by a council of chiefs they 
conform closely to the Ho pattern. A fundamentally dif- 
ferent condition is encountered among the linguistically and 
ilturally related population of Dahomi. Here the ruler 


■ thou 


appears as an all but absolute monarch ; theoretically he was 
sole owner of at! land and other property, which was held 
in practice only through his tolerance ; and the greatest 
officials were little belter than his slaves, obliged to grovel 
in abject deference before him. There was. of course, no 
hereditary aristocracy : the king appointed both the provin- 
cial chiefs and the great ministers of state, and of these 
only one. combining the duties of police commissioner and 
lord high executioner, might not be beheaded at his ipaster's 
will. The power over life and death was a distinctive at- 
tribute of royalty, for the provincial chiefs were only 
privileged to imprison and fine, though they could legally 
compass the death of their subjects by indirect methods, 
such as starvation in jail. 

The great national officials were seven in number. Fore- 
most stood the lord high executioner and the superintendent 
of public festivals, who also united in his person the func- 
tions of a revenue-collector and an intermediary between 
the sovereign and the people. These two officers between 
them appointed a successor to the throne from among the 
king's sons, for though primogeniture was favored they 
had the power of setting aside the customary rule. They 
also judged criminal cases and were in a preeminent sense 
the king's advisers. Next in order of rank came the gov- 
ernor of the coastal town of Whydah, then the chief of the 
palace interior, a eunuch who was executed on the death of 
his sovereign. The fifth and sixth officers were the chief 
military commander and his assistant, both of whom resided 
near the principal gate of Agbomi. the capital. Finally 
came the superintendent of the plantations supplying the 
monarch's household; in addition he served as an assistant 
to the lord high executioner. These seven great officials 
were greeted by all inferiors with marked tokens of respect. 
This organization of male officials was exactly duplicated 
by a series of female dignitaries in the palace interio- — ■* 
though their authority did not extend beyond th 





ley fonnally took precedence of the corresponding male 
trfficers because of the legat fiction that all women attached 
to the court were the Wing's wives. 

Of lesser rank than the national dignitaries were the 
civilian captains; next came the roj-al attendants: below 
them the military officers: then the provincial chiefs and 
officials: and finally the traders. The rest of the population 
were practically the slaves of their superiors. 

All the higher officials were distinguished by insignia of 
:rank, such as a wooden stool, an umbrella canopy, a pipe 
■and tobacco pouch, and ivory clubs. A king's or chief's 
messenger invariably bore a stick of office, which served as 
^a safe-conduct and was received with the same esteem as 
the sender. Any disrespect to this badge was reckoned a 
serious crime. 

Ellis presents a sufficiently lurid picture of conditions in 
Dahomi — commoners plundered and browbeaten by the 
local authorities, chiefs and ministers in abject subjection 
to a despotic ruler, an espionage system that threatened the 
life of every subject, ceremonial sacrifices in honor of de- 
.ceased monarchs at which hundreds of people were slaugh- 
tered to convey messages from the ruler to his ancestors. 
Tyranny was certainly rampant in Dahomi. yet human na- 
ture is such that a really absolute despotism proves insup- 
portable and a close reading of the evidence shows that 
even the Dahomi despot was not governed solely by his 
whims. Theoretically omnipotent, he was in practice 
obliged to act with some degree of circumspection. A sov- 
ereign of the early part of the nineteenth century who wal- 
[lowed in blood and organized gangs of men to plunder his 
^own people finally precipitated a rebellion that led to his 
dethronement and death. And though the king might con- 
demn to execution individual chiefs and officers, he was 
generally careful to avoid defying at the same time the 

iriests, the chiefs, and popular prejudice. His exercise of 
iUiority was undoubtedly arbitrary in the extreme; but in 


^V his confiscation of property and infliction of capital punish- 
ment he did not appeal so much to the powers theoretically 
vested in him as he sought to lend a semblance of justice to 
high-handed procedure. In a concrete case the individual 

I peasant or chief was pillaged not on the basis of an abstract 
right of royalty but because he had disobeyed an arbitrary 
ordinance or had been accused of plotting against his lord. 
In all this Dahomi autocracy differed little from the des- 
potic governments of more highly civilized nations. 
A comparative survey of the several tribes of the Ewe 
family leaves little doubt as to the course of political de- 
velopment in this area. Underlying the systems of all these 
peoples we have that differentiation of rank which is so 
highly developed among both Bantu and Sudanese Negroes, 
In the Ho territory this characteristic condition remained 
perfectly compatible with a far-reaching influence not only 
of official circles but even of the rank and file. Among the 
Dahomi, on the other hand, the organization of a relatively 
large standing army maintained by the king gave him a 
preponderance over the whole remainder of society, which 
was checked only in cases of exceptional abuse. Neverthe- 
less the precise power of a particular ruler inevitably de- 
pended on his personal qualities. 

A somewhat different condition of affairs characterizes 
certain other Negro populations, e.g., the Bakuba of the 
southwestern Congo. Here political institutions seem to 
have enjoyed a certain stability. The sovereign, an in- 
carnation of the deity, is theoretically an absolute monarch 
and is surrounded by a magnificent court comprising male 
and female dignitaries by the score. He is treated with 
extreme reverence on public occasions, even his enemies re- 
senting a slight offered to his station. This does not pre- 
vent his six ministers from arrogating practically all author- 
ity and virtually enslaving him by exacting fastidious 
observance of traditional court etiquette. Though it is not 
altogether impossible for an unusually gifted king to aKV* 



his theoretical prerogatives, there seems less chance of such 
an occurrence among the Bakuba than in most countries of 
Africa. The grandees treat him with great independence 
since they enjoy a safe tenure of office, and while the sov- 
ereign theoretically may fill any vacancy his choice is prac- 
tically determined by the force of public opinion. He dare 
not appoint his greatest favorites in the face of staunch 
opposition and is sometimes obliged to yield a lofty position 
to persons he heartily dislikes. 

In YorubalaniJ, too, there is merely the shadow of roy- 
alty. A king deriving his title from divine descent is 
treated with all the outward marks of respect but is a mere 
puppet in the hands of his cabinet. Outside of his capital 
there is complete local autonomy, and he is obHged to con- 
tent himself with a purely nominal recognition of his sover- 
eignty over a host of city-state.';. The actual government of 
these communities, some of which have a population of over 
100,000, is highly interesting because it illustrates once 
more the necessity of correlating the several aspects of a 
culture. West Africa is eminently a region of secret organi- 
zations, and in Yorubaland it is an association of old men 
called the Ogboni that has usurped the supreme power. 
They form, for one thing, an electoral college that elevates 
a suitable tribesman to the office of burgomaster or gover- 
nor of the town, who surrounds himself with an impressive 
array of officials, partly appointed by himself and partly- 
chosen by the people. During his term of office the gover- 
nor is entitled to assistance from his subjects and may add 
to his possessions by punitive expeditions against the un- 
ruly. But he is wholly dependent on the support of the 
Ogboni. As soon as his acts are contrary to their interests, 
they prove by a casting- of lots that the deity is unfavorably 
disposed to his continuance in office and effectively remove 

him by clandestinely administering a poisonous potion. The 

the gm'ernor is said to have averaged only two 
, is by their manipulation of the divinatory art thai 


the Ogboni terrorize the entire population. An upstart with 
limited circle of retainers whose wealth arouses the 
cupidity of the members is accused of some crime and sum- 
moned to an ordeal. The dice are of course loaded against 
him, he is convicted and summarily executed, and his for- 
tune is divided among the Ogboni and the burgomaster. 

Regardless of variations in time and space, it is justi- 
fiable to say that ihe Negroes evince an inveterate proclivity 
for at least the fonns of monarchical government. Appar- 
ently this represents essentially an old cultural heritage of 
both the Bantu and the Sudanese. The fact cannot be im- 
pressed into the service of that geographical mysticism 
which is once more raising its head, because stocks possess- 
ing a different set of traditions depart widely from the 
Negro norm even though they may Ifve surrounded by 
Negro tribes, that is, in the identical geographical environ- 
ment, This is demonstrated most clearly by the case of the 
Masai, which is likewise instructive from another point of 
view. A priori one would certainly be inclined to con- 
jecture that the head of so martial a people must be some 
warrior of renown, but this assumption for all its reason- 
ableness does not even approach the truth. Such central 
power as exists is vested in an hereditary seer who is not 
so much as permitted to accompany a war expedition, but is 
expected to prepare a medicine insuring the warriors' suc- 
cess and to foretell future events. He is also empowered 
to appoint by divination the headmen of the several dis- 
tricts. But though he enjoys the respect due to a holy man, 
the character of his office is far removed from that of a 
typical Negro autocrat. He is more of a national saint 
than a ruler, does not dispose of hfe and death, indeed, • 
rarely acts as judge at all, and never basks in the splendor 
of a court. Naturally a man of unusual force Hke Mbatian, 
who died in 1890, may exercise great authority, but even 
then there is nothing approximating the autocracies, real or 
iormal, so common in other sections of the continent.* 

North America 


As has already been pointed out, the Indians of North 
P America generally incline to democracy and thus contrast 
sharply with the Negroes of Africa. Departures from this 
norm might be most readily expected among the tribes with 
3 clearly defined caste system, yet only among the Natchez 
do we find a centralization of authority corresponding to 
the powers of an African despot. The Natchez ruler was 
not merely treated reverentially but served with humility. 
His least wish was blindly obeyed, so that whenever the 
French required rowers or hunters they merely needed to 
bribe the chief into requisitioning the services of an ade- 
quate number of subjects, who received no compensation 
for their labor. He had power over life and death, and 
when he himself died his attendants and others as well 
deemed it an honor to accompany him to the hereafter. 
Needless to say, all the best products of the chase, fishing 
or horticulture were yielded as a tribute. The sovereign, 
whose prerogatives were in some measure shared by his 
closest relatives, appointed his ministers, more particularly 
two war chiefs, two temple officials, and officers regulating 
peace treaties and the performance of festivals. Though 
the contemporaneous sources cited by Swanton agree in 
exahing the chief into an absolutely autocratic ruler, inci- 
dental remarks suggest that at times a council and the abler 
village chiefs, presumably all of the noble caste, could ma- 
terially restrict his freedom of action. Nevertheless, the 
Natchez institutions remain the most remarkable example 
of monarchy north of Mexico. 

On the Northwest Coast, in spite of the rig^tjmf^ class 
distinctions, the strictly political powerafj 
disproportionately small when compj 
eminence. With the Tlingit he merely 1 
lective deliberations; in general the \ 
could act as he chose so i 



tomary law. A Tsinishian chief possibly wielded greater 
power: he decided when the tribe was to move or when 
fishing operations were to begin and he was entitled to a 
certain tribute. He took precedence at all dances and com- 
manded over messengers and attendants. However, he was 
not an irresponsible ruler. As leader in war, he had to 
answer for the losses sustained and to compensate the be- 
reaved kindred. Matters of importance were decided in 
council, and without its members' consent no chief could 
announce a potlatch feast. 

The democratic individualism not wholly suppressed even 
in Northwest Coast society gains almost complete ascend- 
ancy throughout the remainder of the immense territory 
under consideration. This is by no means due to the break- 
down of ancient chieftaincies through contact with Cau- 
casian civilization. 'On the contrary, everything goes to 
show that white officialdom tended to enhance the powers 
of the native chiefs. There is indeed incontrovertible evi- 
dence from early travelers, reporting observations in the 
most widely separated regions. The great Chipewyan chief 
Matonabbee, whom Hearne glorifies in an amusing panegy- 
ric that would do more than justice to a Lincoln or Pitt, 
did not have suflficient authority to prevent a muscular In- 
dian from abducting one of his wives. Writing of the 
Algonkians of eastern Canada in i6i 2, a Jesuit father says : 
". . . each man is his own master and his own protector. 
They have Sagamores, that is, leaders in war; but their 
authority is most precarious, if, indeed, that may be called 
authority to which obedience is in no wise obligatory." 
And James Adair, who had an intimate knowledge of the 
Muskoghean Indians of our Southeastern states in the first 
half of the eighteenth century declares : "The power of their 
chiefs is an empty sound. They can only persuade or dis- 
suade the people, either by the force of good-nature and 
clear reasoning or coloring things, so as to suit their pre- 
vailing passions." That the Crow 'chiefs' were for the 




Lc--:^T .-:i^;[r':-T'.>i-;s wifl hr •*w'tV r*-. 
eri^ I'nr i-!^-i,-r ■: ."--rrr.' ,ii ■*■ ^■ 

inio^j-'^ ^T :;'-i-':;-T^ .■: N.'-:!, -1"' 

acci.'--:r.: ;he :ri-;rTi.' ■■-^'^ r,': !:■ ■-Ji\ ■;■- '■•■ 

lifhed ini>: TT ^-' ' rv^^r,- ..p-.-i-.i-- "i"-- J 

reprxt:;iTii ,c ib; rii-i ■•i .i>c*s nri^iN ■ ■ ■'; 

5t^gs >ur^ in TTi •rkfT nl one's tr^nsi;-. : :- 

bdy f*:::cii « :th ■i;>iTai?ciuI co«idvi« l\ - — 

these were evHnualmcs to whidi no Imii.i!: ;:-:1t.:v cxpi.««i 
himself. Tbej nude it possiUc U> disfwnse UrgclT widi a 
powcrfo] executive %nd uith penal institutions: while ifae 
costotnary law sufficed, renderii^ new l^tsfatioa m^ 

Yet while covering a vet)- coo.<iderable ptxtion ot tbc 
phenomena, this statement docs not do justice to all the 
facts. CtTxrunisiaiKres affecting the -wetA and woe of the 
community required more concentration of power than was 
commonly vouchsafed to a more or less honored figurehmt 
This is ittustrated by the Plaicit Indian police or ganinK 
tions at the time of a communal buffalo hunt, when a singit 
false step might have scared off the entire herd and jeep- 
ardized the food supply of the entire camp. Hence the 
utmost rigor temporarily supplanted the extreme indi\-id»- 
alism of normal times. Women were no* allowed to cboy 
trees, men were not permitted to go hunting by themsdvis 
lest their premature efforts imperil the success of the civ- 
operative enterprise. The iiolice not only confiscated an ol~ 
fender's game, but severely beat him, broke up his weaponi. 
and destroyed his tent. If he offered resistance, he wv 
likely to be killed on the spt>t. The constabulary had other 
functions, though less conspicuous ones. They would re- 
strain war parties from setting out at an inopportune i 


ment, and it was their duty to effect a reconciliation between 
tribesmen whose personal hostility might lead to a feud. 
The constitution of this police force varied in different 
tribes. Among the Crow one of the titular chiefs would 
act as camp-chief during the pleasure of the people, that is, 
so long as they prospered under his guidance. His function 
then was to direct the movements of the camp and to dele- 
gate police authority to one of the military organizations, 
which took turns, though by no fixed rule, in policing the 
camp each for one season. The Hidatsa had a correspond- 
ing village chief responsible for the welfare of the people, 
but the police power was permanently associated with the 
Black-Mouth society, which occupied a rather high but by 
no means the highest degree in the series of graded organi- 

Given the slight authority that usually accompanied the 
chief's office, it is natural that important decisions, e.g., 
as to war and peace, were not made by him on his personal 
authority but only in consultation with a council of mature 
men. This senate or cabinet was sometimes indeterminate 
as among the Northern Maidu. where the conference was 
attended in a general way by the older members of the 
secret society. Elsewhere there was a fixed number of 
councilors. The Cheyenne had a board of forty-four elec- 
tive chiefs, four of whom ranked as superior and chose a 
supreme representative of the tribe from tlieir own num- 
ber. Among the Omaha, too, there was a fixed council of 
seven chiefs with a life-long tenure of office, based on 
the achievement of meritorious deeds. Two of them 
ranked as preeminent by virtue of their record, and the 
rest were graded on the same principle. There was no 
popular assembly, so that the Omaha senate seems to par- 
take of the nature of an oligarchy. However, as explained, 
their status rested wholly on individual merit and the scope 
of their deliberations was restricted so that it did not in- 
terfere with personal liberty in the affairs of ordinary life. 


They made peace, determined the time of the annual hunt, 
and appointed the leader of the hunt; during the hunt itself 
they were subordinate to the man chosen. A peculiar 
feature that characterized the discussions not only of the 
Omaha but apparently all similar Indian assemblies is the 
absence of majority rule : every decision required the unani- 
mous consent of the debaters. 

Indian individualism has its corollary on a larger scale 
in a strongly developed separatism. The 2,000 Hopi are 
sprinkled over seven or eight completely autonomous vil- 
lages; even the tiny hamlet of Shipaulovi, with barely 150 
inhabitants, maintains a ceremonial chief and celebrates the 
whole set of Hopi ceremonials independently of its neigh- 
bors. This attitude, as Professor Kroeber has trenchantly 
demonstrated, is hypertrophied on tiie Pacific coast. The 
word 'tribe' there loses all political significance, no unit 
being recognized beyond the single encampment or village. 
Maidu villages sometimes united for an attack on a com- 
mon enemy, but the league was of the frailest, most ephe- 
meral character, and that jealous safeguarding of com- 
munally owned land described under another head w^as 
directed with equal severity against the neighboring Maidu 
village and against the intruder of alien speech. The 
Shasta were somewhat less particularistic, for they grouped 
their settlements into four main divisions, each embracing 
a number of communities under a common headman; yet 
these units were of diminutive size considering that the total 
population of the Shasta at the time of their discovery is 
set at only 2,000. Farther east the tendency to disruption 
into petty groups is less glaring but sufficiently pronounced. 
The Dakota represent anything but a single political aggre- 
gate; the Crow not only remained distinct from the closely 
related Hidatsa but split into at least two, or possibly even 
three, independent local divisions; and e' *o 

show that the several Hidatsa and Mai 
wholly autonomous units. 


Nevertheless alliances between distinct tribes, that is, be- 
tween groups of diverse speech did occur, though generally 
without any attempt at integration. Only the Creek in the 
Southeast and the Iroquois of New York State founded 
something after a more pretentious pattern, and the League 
of the Iroquois in particular merits closer consideration. Xt 
comprised primarily five tribes speaking distinct but 
mutually intelligible languages. Each preserved complete 
sovereignty so far as its local affairs were concerned, which 
were governed by a board of chiefs. There was no one 
supreme executive magistrate of the league Iiut a federal 
council of forty-eight sachems, the Mohawk and Oneida 
having nine, tlie Onondaga fourteen, the Cayuga ten, and 
the Seneca eight delegates. This uneven distribution did 
not involve tribal hegemony since there was no individual 
balloting, the principle of unanimity being applied so that 
every tribe had a single expression of opinion. Further- 
more, complete concurrence of all the tribal representatives 
was necessary to give validity to a decision; if this proved 
impracticable, the whole matter was laid aside as incapable 
of effective treatment. The federal council was summoned 
at the initiative of any of the tribal councils; its forum was 
open for orations by any member of the league, but only 
the forty-eight senators had the right to render a decisicrti. 
These councilors represented their respective sibs, though 
not every sib had a representative. Each was chosen from 
a single section of the sib on nomination of the women of 
the sib, but this proposal had to be ratified first by the tribal 
and then by the federal senate. In corresponding fashicm 
an unworthy incumbent might be deposed. There was thus 
a blending of the elective and hereditary principle. The in- 
vestiture of a new sachem on the death or resignation of 
his predecessor was one of the principal occasions for the ■ 
siunmoning of the council. In addition the reception of 
embassies from other tribes, the ratification of peace and 
declaration of war fell within its jurisdiction. The devel- 




;ent of this confederation doubtless contributed largely 
to the ascendancy of the Iroquois among the tribes of the 
northern Atlantic seaboard.^ 

Democracy and Primitive Organizations 

Having briefly examined some of the salient ethnographic 
Lta, we are now prepared to wrestle with some of the gen- 
eral problems growing out of them. And first of alt we 
must pay our respects to Morgan's view that primitive in- 
stitutions are invariably bound up with democratic govern- 
ment. Monarchy, he holds, is incompatible with the sib, 
which it must be remembered he regards as a well-nigh 
universal feature; "it was impossible in the Lower, in the 
Middle, or in the Upper Status of barbarism for a kingdom 
to arise by natural growth in any part of the earth" under 
a sib organization. Such an evolution belongs to the later 
period of civilization, to the epoch of phonetic writing and 
literar>' records. Even differences of caste, including slav- 
ery did not arise before the upper status of barbarism, i.e., 
l^efore the manufacture of iron. 

't-HL^y ^^ "^''^ rate jj-nri rally that even at his worst Mor- 

gan neye i perpetrated more palpable nonsen sg.._arid tfaatjs 
sa ying a good deal . The African Negroes, being convers- 
ant with the iron technique but without a phonetic alphabet, 
would fall into Morgan's upper status of barbarism; and 
no feature is more constant among them than a monarchical 
constitution. On the coast of British Columbia the natives 
are ignorant of pottery and accordingly represent the upper 
status of savagery in Morgan's classification, yet this did 
not prevent them from recognizing fixed castes of noble- 
men, commoners and slaves. The Polynesians, who rank 
still lower in his strange scheme, have been found to possess 
a corresponding classification. As for the alleeed incom- 
patibility of sibs with monarchy or aristoa _ 
t Coast Indians and many of the Neg 
.nized into sibs. 



In this connection still another point merits notice as 
bearing on the atomistic theory of primitive society. Mor- 
gan assumes that all the sibs in a tribe are on a plane of 
equality. But this is by no means always borne out by the 
records. In Uganda, e.g., certain sibs were regarded as of 
lower rank than the rest, others were at least disqualified 
from presenting a prince as a candidate for royalty, that is, 
the sons of the king by women of these sibs were never 
heirs to the throne. Such discriminations might perhaps 
be expected in a powerful kingdom, but they occur also 
among the generally democratic Masai, where the sibs of the 
blacksmiths are viewed with a strange abhorrence and de- 
barred from marrying into any other sibs. Even in the dis- 
tinctly democratic areas of North America some sibs take 
precedence over others, as in the Southeast, and in more 
than one tribe the chieftaincy, such as it is. is confined to a 
particular sib. In short, the mutual exclusiveness of a sib 
organization and distinctions of rank is an imtenable propo- 
sition based on a restricted range of information. 

Tribal and Territorial Organization 

According to Morgan's atomistic theory, primitive society 
differed fundamentally from civilized society in that it 
lacked political organization founded upon territorial con- 
tiguity. Primitive tribes, he contended, deal with an indi- 
vidual as a member of a sib, i.e.. of a kinship group, and 
accordingly through his personal relations; the civilized 
state deals with him through his territorial relations, as a 
member of a township, county or larger spatial unit. This 
political organization in the narrower sense is, according to 
Morgan, a relatively recent development at a very high cul- 
tural level. He denies that it was achieved by the Aztec 
of Mexico and his follower Cunow denies its existence in 
ancient Peru. Primitive tribes might have combinationi 
of sibs into major sibs, they might even organize confeder 




SBcies of the Iroquois pattern, yet the duties of the individual 
remained bound up with his kinship status. This was the 
original condition of ancient Greece, including Athens, until 
Cleisthenes about 509 B.C. divided Attica into a hundred 
demes or townships. Thereafter every citizen was regis- 
tered as a member of a local unit; he voted and was taxed 
not as a member of such and such a sib but of such and 
such a township; and together with his fellow-demotae, not 
with his sib-mates, he elected representative officials. Simi- 
lar in principle were the larger units, ten demes being united 
into a district, and ten districts into the Athenian state. 

Sixteen years before Morgan interwove the conceptual 
differentiation outlined above with his scheme of social evo- 
lution, Sir Henry Maine had expressed similar views : "The 
history of political ideas begins . . . with the assumption 
that kinship in blood is the sole possible ground of ctMn- 
munity in political functions, nor is there any of those sub- 
versions of feeling which we term emphatically revolutions, 
so startling and so complete as the change which is accom- 
plished when some other principle— such as that, for in- 
stance of local contiguity — established itself for the first 
time as the basis of common political action. It may be af- 
firmed then of early commonwealths that their citizens con- 
sidered all the groups in which they claimed membership to 
be founded on common lineage." * 

The soundness of Maine's and Morgan's position in 
drawing a sharp distinction between kinship (tribal) and 
territorial (political) organization is beyond cavil. TheP 
question is to what extent it is coterminous with the dis- 
tinction between rude and advanced cultures. It may at 
once be admitted that there are primitive tribes which con- 
form admirably to the theory that kinship is the one factor 
in all governmental relations. An ideal example is fur- 
nished by the Ifugao of northern Luzon. Here all the cus- 
tomary law revolves about the kin group as the pivotal 

it, and there is absolutely no central authority to render 



decisions binding on different kins. The group is collec- 
tively responsible to another group for a member's mis- 
deeds; every member supports his fellow-members with 
zeal proportioned to his proximity in kinship, and there is 
no possibility of one kinsman proceeding against another; 
land and articles of value are held in trust by individuals 
but cannot be disposed of except with the consent of the 
family. And except in so far as an intangible public opin- 
ion is concerned, practically no bond unites the inhabitants 
of a given territory. "One owes no obligation in the mat- 
ter of procedure to another merely because he is a co-vil- 
lager or inhabitant of the same district." In cases of dis- 
pute between groups there is indeed a go-between to adjust 
the difficulty 6ut he is chosen ad hoc and his authority is 

It should be noted that the Ifugao unit is not a sib but 
a bilateral group but it corresponds sufficiently well to the 
general concept of a kinship group as the governmental 
organism. The question is as to the frequency of an ar- 
rangement that excludes the territorial factor in what are 
commonly viewed as political relations. It is certainly con- 
ceivable that human society even in its ruder manifestations 
may as a rule be more complex than Maine and Morgan 
^/assume, and that it need not be either based on personal or 
on spatial relations but may rest on both. There need not 
yeven be divided allegiance; kinship may involve one set of 
obligations, territorial relations another, very much after 
the fashion of our Church and State. To be sure, the ab- 
stract possibility of a clash cannot be denied, but there may 
be such separation of jurisdiction that conflicts are out of. 
the normal course of events, 

ThejQint_ts.^be_examined first of all, then, is whether 
/in a fair number of instances there is a territorial grouping 
of individuals over and above any coexisting kinship clas- 
sification. A rec apitulatim i^of^f acts already cited in other 
connections suffices to yield an affirmative answer but socne 


fiscrimination must be exercised. In Australia Kariera 
' groups are each indissolubly linked with a definite locality 
by mystical ties, and it is the local group that wages war 
against other local groups of the same tribe. But we should 
not be justified in holding this up as an example of a terri- ^ 
tortal organization because the fellow-inhabitants and co- 
owners of a tract are kinsmen in the paternal line. Hence 
their cohesion can be plausibly explained as the result of 
consanguinity rather than of spatial contiguity. But in 
Austraha there are regions where whole tribes are as closely 
united with their habitat as the Kariera sibs are with their 
respective localities, where such a thing, e.g., as divesting a 
defeated tribe of its ancestral land is not even conceived 
as a possibihty. Here, accordingly, the entire tribe, uniting 
many kin groups, functions as a territorial unit, as among <-' 
the Arunta and their congeners. It is, however, the Dieri 
who present the most favorable case. Here descent is 
matrilineal, but marriage is patrilocal. consequently the men 
united in one locality are not members of the same totem 
sib. While each sib has a headman, to wit, the oldest male -^ 
totemite. the local group also has a headman who may or 
may not be likewise the head of a totem group. The rank- 
ing totemite will not hold the office of headman in the 
locality unless he exhibits special merit. Here, then, the 
territorial unit coexists with and is independent of the kin- 
ship unit. Further, it has been shown that among the Dieri 
there is what the Kariera completely lack, a paramount head 
of the entire tribe, embracing under his leadership all the 
people encamped on Dieri territory. 

As an instance in some respects parallel to the Dieri illus- 
tration may be cited the disparity between the Melanesian 
rules of descent and of political organization. The patri- 
local natives of Buin derive their sib affiliation from their 
mothers, so that the settlement embraces members of va- 
rious maternal kin groups. But from a governmental point < 
of view it is the territorial group that Is of importance, 





e.g., in warlike undertakings; and, significantly enough, the 
office of chief descends not in the sib but from father to 
son, i.e., within the territorial unit as fixed by the rule of 

Extreme jealousy regarding territorial rights has been 
noted as characteristic of various tribes, some of them in a 
very rude state of culture, such as the Vedda. the Maidu, 
Shasta, and Thompson River Indians, and il occurs on a 
higher level among the Samoans. In each of these cases the 
local group exists as a unit independently of kinship bonds. 
Similarly, among the Maritime Chukchi the village "is 
founded, not on family connection, but on territorial con- 
tiguity," and it is the village as well as the kinship group 
that functions in the blood-feud. Even when the sentiment 
for a definite stretch of territory is far vaguer than in any 
of the instances hitherto cited, the geographical location 
may exert an influence on political status. The two main 
bands of the Crow spoke the same language, intermingled 
freely and included members of the same sibs, but when a 
man had settled in one division his lot was for certain pur- 
poses cast with that group, irrespective of any other affil- 

The point here is not to ascertain whether the kinship or 
I the local group is more fundamental in its influence on 
' life; or whether the latter is merely a derivative of the 
former. What matters is that even in very humble cultural 
levels local contiguity is one of the factors determining so- 
cial solidarity independently of blood-relationship. Now I 
have designated as associations those social units not based 
on kinship, and the territorial group may veritably be con- 
ceived as a specialized form of association. Its members, 
1 or many of them, are in some instances more passive than 
in clubs or secret societies, but they are none the less united 
by community of interest. 

It is indeed one of Schurtz's most signal services to have 
explained the early origin of political society in Morgan's 



^Ksense without recourse to any deliberate legal enactment. A^ 
^V Buin chief who erects a council-house and gathers about , 
him the men of his settlement in a men's club, is in so far 
forth disrupting the ties of the family or sib. or rather is 
creating a new bond which by its very existence restricts 
the dominion of the kinship motive. The nature of that 
bond is territorial since it unites men of the same locality 
and of different lineage: and it is invested with political 
significance as soon as the assemblage of fellow- villagers 
no longer contents itself with common festivities but under- 

» takes joint expeditions against a neighboring encampment. 
As already hinted, it is not necessary that all inmates of the t. 
settlement should actively participate in the association. 
The women, of course, are often excluded, and under the 
Australian gerontocracy solely a few elders or at best the 
age-class of elders act as the managing board. Neverthe- 
less the women and the yoimger men of the district, though 
submissive spectators, are associated with their eldei^ in a 
manner altogether different from possible relations with the 
elders of another locahty and in so far forth are members, 
though impotent ones, of a territorial association, The 
same would, of course, apply to the conditions effected by 
the secret Ogboni of Yorubaland. That is to say. the sev- 
eral t>'pes of associations discussed by Schurtz are poten- 
tial agencies for the creation of a state by uniting the popu- 
lation within a circumscribed area into an aggregate that 
functions as a definite unit irrespective of any other social 
affiliations of the inhabitants. When, therefore, a philo- 
sophically minded historian. Professor Teggart. complains 
that Maine and Morgan have defined the difference between 
kindred and political organization without clearing up the 
transitional processes, his complaint is warranted agair 
these students, but it leaves out of account Schurtz's me 
orable contribution. Even at a verj- early time and ir 
I very lowly environment there was no necessity for disni 
; the ties of kinship in order to found a ' '■' ' ttj 



For concomitantly with the family and the sib there have 
existed for untold centuries such associations as the men's 
clubs, age-classes and secret organizations, all of them inde- 
pendent of kinship, moving as it were in a quite different 
sphere from the kindred groups, and all of them capable of 
readily acquiring political character if not invested with it 
from their inception.^ 


* Hewitt: 295-326, especially 297 seq., 320 seq. Spencer 
and Gillen, 1904: 20-30. Roth, 1906: 5 seq. 

* Rivers, 1914 (b) : 11, 409. Tregear: 123, 150, 192. Stair: 
65-91,128. Erdland: 99-113. Waitz and Gerland: 165-222, 
343 seq. 

•Thumwald, 1912: 314-326; id., 1910: 9-15. Keysser: 
100. Zahn : 308. 

*Junod: i, 355-409. Ferguson: 197 seq. Spieth: 98-110. 
Ellis, A. B. : 161-181. Torday and Joyce: 53 seq. Frobenius: 
172 seq. Merker: 18. 

" Krause : 122. Boas, 1916 (a) : 429, 496. Jesuit Rela- 
tions: II, 73. Adair: 428. Fletcher and La Flesche: 206. 
Lowie, 1912: 228; id., 1913: 274. Kroeber, 1917 (b) : 396. 
Morgan, 1877: Pt. 11, Chap. 5. Goldenweiser, 1912: 468. 

* Morgan, 1877: Pt. 11, Chaps. 2, 8, 10. Maine: Chap. v. 

^ Brown: 144. Spencer and Gillen, 1904: 13. Howitt: 
47. Bogoras : 50, 628, 668. Lowie, 1912: 245. 



PRIMITIVE administration of justice furnishes espe- 
cially illuminating examples of the relation of the 
kinship factor to motives of another character. Given the 
complete absence of central authority as among the I f ugao, 
the kinship group becomes the judicial body— one that con- 
fronts all like bodies in the tribe as one sovereign state con- 
fronts the rest. But that is an extreme case; far more com- 
monly there is a central power that intervenes — not to be 
I sure in all cases that would demand governmental inter- 
' ference with us, but in those circumstances which from the 
native point of view are of collective interest. 

In this connection reference may be made to Maine's 
comparison of rude and mature jurispnidence. The for- 
mer, he points out, is marked by a strange preponderance 
of criminal over civil law; "the more archaic the code, the 
fuller and minuter is its penal legislation." This had been 
explained by earlier writers as due to the supposed turbu- 
lence of barbarian life. With his usual acumen Maine does 
not rest content with this facile interpretation, but shows 
that the disproportionately small body of civil law in an- 
cient times is due to the fact that there was little occasion 
for that part of jurisprudence to come into being under 

I archaic conditions. The regulation of personal relations by 
the status of the individuals, the administration and inherit- 
ance of property within the family according to customary 
law, and the absence of contracts between individuals adi 
quately account for the diminutive part played by civil jurii 


H 398 

^H prudence as compared with penal law "even if it be hazard- 
^™ ous to pronounce that the childhood of nations is always a 
period of ungoverned violence." 

The last remark is emphatically an understatement of the 

»case. It cannot Ije too often explained that the extreme in- 
dividualism often found ia primitive communities is vtry 
far from favoring universal anarchy or anything approach- 
ing it. Generally speaking, the unwritten laws of customary 
usage are obeyed far more willingly than our written codes, 
or rather they are obeyed spontaneously. Among the Crow 
personal brawls are looked upon with contempt, and a man 
will not readily imperil his social position and invite the 
public derision of his joking- relatives by engaging in fisti- 

I cuffs with a fellow-tribesman. To become the laughing- 
stock of his daily associates for minor misdemeanors and 
to be completely ostracized for graver offenses are terrific 
punishments for the native and they have a deterrent force 
of which the infliction of penalties in our sense is often 
quite devoid. To this should be added the religious motive. 
Certain crimes are reckoned as sins, they are offenses 
against the unseen powers of the universe and invite con- 
dign punishment regardless of any secular agency. That, 
e.g., was the conception underlying Polynesian observance 
of the taboo rules. In short, even in the more individualis- 
tic societies of the ruder peoples there are adequate motives 
for the maintenance of order, though the conception of 
order will naturally vary in different places and will some- ' 
times differ widely from ours. 

After accounting for the predominance of criminal law 
in early society, Maine qualifies his conception by pointing 
out that at bottom "the penal law of ancient communities is 
not the law of Crimes; it is the law of Wrongs, or, to use 
the English technical word, of Torts." This brings us to 
the very core of our problem, for what Maine means is that 
in archaic jurisprudence it is not the state that is regarded 
as the aggrieved party but the individual sufferer and his | 




kindred. In other words, this is the old question of personal 
versus territorial relations. I have already indicated that 
in the generality of instances primitive man recognizes both 
torts and crimes, but before adducing some of the evidence 
I must refer to certain widespread principles of primitive 
law. These may be dispatched with great brevity in view 
of Professor Hobhouse's lucid exposition in a generally 
available work.' 

Collective Responsibility 

Given the conception that the individual is merged in his 
group, it follows logically that his fellow-members are 
collectively responsible for his misdeeds. Though this is 
an archaic notion, it persists to the present day in the war- 
fare of civilized nations, which summarily shelves the prac- 
tice of determining individual guilt or innocence. It should 
be noted that the facts coming under this head cannot be 
perverted into evidence in support of the sib dogma, because 
the group concerned is frequently not the sib but the fam- 
ily, the association, or the tribe. The sibless Hupa were 
content to kill any member of a murderer's family in order 
to punish the crime; among the Crow if a Fox had dis- 
graced himself and his society by taking back an abthicted 
wife, the rival Lumpwoods had the right to cut up the blan- 
kets of all the Foxes: and in the same tribe the grief of 
parents mourning the death of a son slain by the Dakota 
was at once assuaged when vengeance had been wreaked on 
any member of the hostile people. 

As a corollary from this principle, an offense of one 
group against another resembles an encroachment of one 
state on another's sovereignty; on the other hand, a crime 
committed by one individual against a fellow-member con- 
cerns no one outside their group. This latter point is con- 
stantly demonstrated in Ifugao practice. Thus, two cases 
of parricide went unpunished because as internal family 

^H aifairs they v 
^^ concerned rep 


aifairs they were nobody else's business and the kindred 
concerned regarded the murder as justified since the old 
man had wrongfully pawned his son's field and thereby im- 
periled his family's livelihood. These people do not pro- 
ceed against a fellow-member even for more heinous of- 
fenses. Thus, if a father had incestuous relations with his 
daughter, he might l)e punished by the girl's mother's family 
on the ground that he had committed a crime against them, 
but his own kin would take no measures against him. 

From the supreme law of group solidarity it follows that 
when an individual has injured a member of another group, 
his own group shield him while the opposing group support 
the injured man's claims for compensation or revenge. 
Thence there may develop blood-feuds and civil wars. The 
stubbornness with which these are waged varies in different 
regions. The Chukchi generally make peace after the first 
act of retribution, but among the Ifugao the struggle may 
go on almost interminably till at last an inter-marriage re- 
establishes friendly intercourse. An interesting example 
of how different practices may spring from the same prin- 
ciple is furnished by the two tribes mentioned. While the 
Ifugao tend to protect a kinsman imder almost all circum- 
stances, the Chukchi often avert a feud by killing a mem- 
ber of the family whose spitefulness is likely to embroil 
them with other kins. 

A strange variant of the underlying theory occurs among 
the Australian Dieri, who deliberately inflict the death pen- 
alty on the criminal's elder brothLr rather than on the of- 
fender himself. 

Criminal Motive 

As might be inferred from the satisfaction of justice hy \ 
the punishment of any member of the offender's group, 
criminal intent plays not nearly the same part in primitive I 
law as it does in our own jurisprudence. A Hupa incident i 


larrated by Goddard serves as a classical example. "A 
^child was burned to death in a fire a woman had built for 
Cheating wash-water out of doors. Although the woman 
t was in no way at fault, the life of her son was sought as a 
recompense." Yet this must not be regarded as a univer- 
sally recognized postulate. The Ifugao are especially re- 
markable for the care with which they discriminate between 
voluntary and involuntary deeds, and between those purely 
accidental and those resulting from carelessness. If a man's 
knife flies out of his hand and puts out another's eye, no 
damages are demanded. In the scrimmage over sacrificed 
fccarabaos many men are injured and some are killed, yet 
I even in the latter event no payment is assessed by the kin. 
On the other hand, a man killing a child running in the way 
while throwing spears at a target must pay half the fine 
for manslaughter because he has not taken adequate pre- 
cautions ; and an even heavier fine is imposed on a man who 
L slays a neighbor whom he mistakes for an enemy, since the 
I intent to kill is held to aggravate the charge of carelessness. 
There is one notable exception to the general Ifugao rule: 
at sumptuous feasts the host and the officiating priest are 
jointly held responsible for any accidents that may happen 
— the host because if he had not given the feast there would 
have been no brawl; the priest because of his inferred re- 
missness in the execution of religious functions. The 
Southeastern Bantu draw a highly interesting distinction 
between accidental manslaughter and accidental injury to 
property. All homicide is criminal since it deprives the 
ruler of a subject and must be atoned by a compensation 
paid to the chief irrespective of criminal intent. But in- 
jury to another man's fields or other possessions is a tort, 
and if the harm is done without premeditation no indemni- 
ties are paid. 

These three examples illustrate the danger of premature 

I generalization, but after all qualifications are made it re- 
Diains true that the ethical motive of an act is more fre- 


quently regarded as irrelevant in the ruder cultures t h a n 
in our courts of justice, 


Feuds between the offender's and the sufferer's group 
are often averted by composition, that is, by the payment of 
weregild in compensation for the injury sustained. In 
many cases there is a traditional tariff schedule defining the 
payment to be made for any and all possible injuries. It is 
important to remember, however, that societies differ as to 
the range of offenses for which payment may be accepted. 
The Ifugao have a complicated scheme of fines for the ad- 
justment of all sorts of difficulties, but wilful murder can 
be expiated only by blood. Less rigorous is the practice of 
the Chukchi, nevertheless they are far more likely to accept 
weregild in lieu of inflicting personal chastisement for 
minor transgressions than in cases of murder. But in 
many regions even felonies are compounded in the in- 
terests of the public peace. A few concrete i11ustrat)(»ts 
will serve to render the spirit of the conventional tariffs 

Ifugao customary law recognizes a three-class division of 
society on the l>asis of wealth, fines varying with the finan- 
cial status of the parties concerned. Thus, for adultery 
after the second marriage ceremony but before the final 
one the wealthy man pays a fine of ten articles estimated in 
value at 47 pesos; a middle-class individual an equal num- 
ber appraised at only 24.20 pesos ; and a poor man only six 
articles worth altogether about 12 pesos. For those cases 
of homicide which do not require a shedding of blood in 
return the rich slayer must provide elaborate feasts and 
supply a variety of articles to be distributed among the dead 
man's heirs, the total expense sometimes running up to 975 
pesos. This, however, depends somewhat on the rank of 
the slain individual and would be rather less if he were a 



I member of the middle-class, let alone, of the caste of tlie 
poverly-stricken. On the other hand, if the slayer were of 
the two lower grades, his fine would not be materially com- 
muted ; he would be saddled with it for the remainder of his 
life and his children would have to pay the balance after 
his decease. 

The ancient Kirgiz likewise recognized class distinctions 
in the imposition of fines. For a freeman's death the slayer 
was mulcted one kun, i.e., 100 horses or 1,000 sheep, but 
a nobleman's kindred were entitled to a sevenfold amount, 
while composition for a woman or slave was effected with 
half a kun plus nine head of sundry domesticated animals, 
and a third of a kun paid for a child. For the loss of an 
eye or of the right arm a man claimed half a kun. a woman 
one-fourth of a kun. A broken upper arm, the loss of the 
left hand or of one foot are each compensated with three 
times nine head of cattle, for a broken thumb nine head 
are paid. In case of a broken tooth or finger or a wound 
in the head the sufferer receives from the culprit one horse 
and a coat. Theft is punished with a fine of three times 
nine head, one camel being reckoned equivalent to three 
horses or thirty sheep. If an enceinte woman is knocked 
down and in consequence bears a still-bom child, the as- 
saulter must pay a horse for each month if the mother is in 
her fifth month, but if she has been pregnant for a longer 
period a camel has to be paid for each month. 

These regulations are evidently very circumstantial but 
in many cases the principle of composition was acknowl- 
edged without fixed stipulation as to the amount to be paid. 
Thus, among the Plains Indians a varying number of horses 
seem to have been presented to a slain man's kin, and other 
offenses were blotted out by equally undefined offerings of 
gifts. A curious substitute for compensation was fairly 
popular in this region. Instead of awaiting weregild or 
forcibly seizing some of the culprit's belongings, • 
jured individual might destroy one or more of his 



horses, or other valuables. This practice was especially 
common in cases of adultery. 

The Shasta methods of adjustment depart to some ex- 
tent from the norm. Blood-money must always be accepted 
if offered, but if revenge is taken previously on any one but 
the actual murderer the regular compensation must be of- 
fered to the kin of the second person slain, so that their 
liability for the first killing is largely or wholly wiped out. 
Adjustment is very simple in this tribe because every indi- 
vidual has a fixed value determined by the bride-price paid 
for his mother in marriage. Perhaps the most curious fea- 
ture among these people is the part played by the chief, who 
not merely tries to effect an agreement between contending 
parties, but advances or pays outright the requisite property 
if the aggressor proves insolvent. 

Finally may be cited the Samoan treatment of murder 
and adultery. Frequently the criminal would not only ten- 
der valuable mats and other property but would eat humble- 
pie by bringing likewise firewood, stones and leaves to the 
wronged party, thus symbolically indicating that they might 
kill, cook, and eat him, and thereby thrust himself upon 
their generosity. Generally this combination of gifts and 
self-degradation did not fail to conciliate the wrath of the 
aggrieved. The low-bom did not undergo this symbolical 
self-mortification but merely oflFered payment, which, how- 
ever, might be declined. 


As Professor Hobhouse has pointed out, archaic pro- 
cedure frequently revolves not so much about the exact de- 
termination of guilt or innocence as about the prevention 
of internecine strife. Nevertheless even in the ruder cul- 
tures methods are employed to ascertain the truth of an ac- 
cusation or the merit of a dispute, but usually the means 
used are shot through with the magico-religious notions 


prevalent among the people. Under this head two sets of 
usages demand attention, oaths and ordeals. 

Among the Plains Indians oaths were sworn primarily 
to establish a disputed title to war honors. Thus, it hap- 
pened among the Crow that two men laid a claim to having 
first touched the prostrate body of an enemy. In that case 
solemn oaths were recited before an assemblage of war- 
riors. Two methods were popular. One was for each of 
the litigants in turn to take a knife, put it in his mouth, 
point it at the sun, and recite a formula calling upon the 
sun as a witness and invoking death on the false claimant. 
In the other case an arrow piercing a slice of meat was 
laid on a dry buffalo skull, then each contestant would raise 
the arrow, taste of the meat, and recite a similar formula. 
Of course no immediate decision could be rendered ; but if 
either of the rivals soon after met with a serious accident 
or was afflicted in some other manner, the judgment of the 
tribe was that he had perjured himself and that the other 
man was entitled to the disputed distinction. In other 
parts of the world the oath is administered for the general 
purpose of determining guilt. The Samoyed or Ostyak 
defendant is made to swear over a bear's nose. While cut- 
ting it up with a knife, he declares, "May the bear devour 
me if I commit perjury!" There is a general behef that 
the perjuror will be punished, hence any one imdergoing 
the oath is held innocent. But if he should subsequently be 
killed by a bear or perish in an accident, this is attributed 
to his having perjured himself. The Kirgiz have the curi- 
ous rule of not having the defendant take the oath but some 
other man of known probity who thereby assumes the crim- 
inal's sin. On the whole, oaths are eminently characteristic 
of the Old World, though as pointed out they are by no 
means lacking in a restricted manner among the natives 
of America. 

The ord,eaI is likewise an Old World institution. It as- 
sumes Protean forms. Among the Chukchi differences are 



■ 40fi 

^H sometimes settled by a wrestling-match, there being a firm 
^V conviction that a wronged man will be victorious. The 
same means is used by the I f ugao to ascertain disputed rice- 
field boundaries, while various methods serve in other forms 
of litigation. Thus, in cases of adultery the adversaries 
hurl eggs at each other, while in settling other disagree- 
ments each litigant slowly thrusts his hand into a pot of 
boiling hot water to extract a pebble, undue haste or a severe 
scalding being interpreted as a sign of guilt. Additional 
illustrations will be cited below in dealing with the African 

Magico-religious means are of course employed in a va- 
riety of ways to determine guilt, but without necessarily 
possessing juridical character. Thus, when an Ifugao di- 
vines a thief by balancing an egg on a spear blade, the egg 
standing on end at the mention of the culprit, the intellectual 
process may be of the same order as that characterizing the 
ordeal, but legally the two phenomena are distinct. The 
divinatory act has purely personal significance. It merely 
encourages the robbed person to challenge the suspected 
criminal to a trial that has juridical standing.' 

Having now rapidly touched upon some of the features 
particularly characteristic of primitive jurisprudence, we 
had better examine connectedly the juridical culture of sev- 
eral selected peoples, mainly though not vvholiy in order to 
ascertain to what extent society takes note of transgressions 
of customary law. 


The Australians furnish an admirable example of peo- 
ple very low in the scale of material advancement yet 
with a definite central authority for dealing with crime. It 
is true that some deeds ranking as felonious in our law are 
not regarded as falling within the jurisdiction .of anyone i 
beyond the family circle immediately involved. A Queens- 



lander may maim or even kill his wife so far as the tribe 
is concerned, though in the latter case her kindred may call 
him to account; and a mother may lawfully kill her child 
within a few hours after birth. It is also true that even for 
certain transgressions of the native code the punishment is 
none other than general ridicule and reprobation, though 
this is often felt far more keenly in primitive communities 
than one would imagine. Finally, other misdeeds are be- 
lieved to be punished automatically by magical means ; thus, 
a man's hair will turn prematurely gray tf he speaks to his 
wife's mother. But when all deductions are made, there 
remains a group of offenses which are neither settled by 
private arrangement nor allowed to meet with mere mock- 
ery or impersonal punishment but where the state in the 
form of the tribal council intervenes. 

Let us first consider typical instances of the private ad- 
ministration of justice. As already indicated, a Queens- 
lander has almost complete control over his wife, and for 
infidelity he may strike her with a boomerang, spear her in 
the thigh, or heap hot ashes upon her stomach. Similarly, 
a father may chastise an uninitiated son in any way he 
chooses without being in the slightest degree amenable to 
outside interference. In cases of trespass on individually 
owned patches of lajid the proprietor may merely vituperate 
the poacher or he may spear him in the leg provided he is 
of the same tribe, but an alien is liable to be killed. 

Since collective responsibility is recognized, the murder 
of a man may lead to a vendetta, but by one of the most re- 
markable of aboriginal institutions this is often averted 
through the substitution of a legalised encounter in which 
the criminal, armed with a shield, confronts the kin or local 
group of the slain. These hurl spears at him, which he 
parries as best he can, until his blood flows, which normally 
closes the proceedings and puts an end to all hostility. 
These expiatory combats have been styl 'e \V '*"■" 

are obviously nothing of the sort, sine 

^H mine the c 
^" start Slid 



mine the defendant's guilt, which is assumed from the 
start Such combats also take place in the case of lesser 
offenses, and then the defendant may be actively aided by 
some of his kinsmen and permitted not only to protect him- 
self but to throw missiles at his opponents. Formal ex- 
piation is in vogue for various misdeeds but seems to have 
a restricted range of distribution. It is very popular in the 
Southeast and also in Queensland, where a thief will ex- 
press contrition and offer his head for a blow, while a gos- 
sip will allow his mouth to be struck by the slandered per- 
son. In Central Australia atonement of this type docs not 
seem to be customary to the same extent, though after an 
elopement the abductor may have to submit to maltreatment 
by the offended husband so as to prevent a fight between 
the members of the local groups concerned. In this region 
a death ascribed to evit magic is avenged by an organized 
party dispatched by the trit«l council. 

There is doubtless some local variation in the conception 
of what constitutes a crime against society but throughout 
the continent a breach of the incest laws would fall under 
this head. Thus, at a tribal council nf the Dieri a young 
man was charged with mating within the forbidden degrees. 
The elders examined the matter, sustained the accusation, 
and almost killed the convict, who escaped death only 
through the appeal made by an influential tribesman that he 
was an imbecile. Very different was the adjustment of, 
say, an elopement of a girl promised in marriage with an- 
other man. This was a matter for her kin to deal with. 
The aggrieved brothers would engage in a fight with the 
abductor until blood flowed, and the girl was severely 
beaten by her mother and sisters. But so long as the elop- 
ers stood to each other in the potential relationship of mates 
as recognized by the tribe, this act fell without the jurisdic- 
tion of the elders' senate. 

Other crimes generally penalized by this governing body 
are divulgence of the secrets revealed at initiation and mur- 



der by evil magic. Regarding other forms of homicide 
usage probably varied locally. In northern Queensland the 
settlement of ordinary disputes was a personal matter, but 
any serious injury to a member of the local group was 
avenged by the tribal council unless the assault was consid- 
ered justified by some flagrant provocation. 

To sum up, Austrahan does not differ from advanced 
jurisprudence in an exclusive recognition of torts but in 
regarding certain misdeeds as torts which we consider 
crimes, reserving for the latter category a relatively small 
number of transgressions,' 


Ifugao law presents an extraordinary combination of 
traits. A society could hardly exist where the separatist 
tendencies of distinct kins have been carried to a greater 
extent than among these natives of Luzon. The individual 
owes allegiance to the kin and the kin owes protection to its 

■ members against other kins ; no obligation devolves on either 
in a matter concerning other kins of the same village or dis- 
trict; and there is accordingly no functionary acting as 
arbitrator by virtue of any authority vested in him. When 
kins are arrayed against each other, a go-between unrelated 
to both parties is chosen by common consent but his sole 
power is that of personal persuasiveness. Theoretically, 
then, disintegration might reach the point where a commun- 
ity would break up into completely dissociated kins. On 
the other hand, it would be difficult to find a primitive tribe 
where customary law has settled with greater particularity 
what course is proper in any one of a host of possible con- 
tingencies. This means that what is lacking in formal 
cohesion is partly made up by the force of a public opinion 
covering the main incidents of social intercourse. Thus 
^L when an adulterer taken in delicto is slain by the irate hus- 
^H band, the kin may indeed prepare to wreak vengeance but 



in so doing they do not condone the act of adultery ; they 
merely take the stand that the offended mate should have 
demanded the customary fine, "that if this had not been 
immediately forthcoming, no one would have questioned the 
propriety of the killing." In other words, grievances are 
not solely regarded from the angle of kinship but are ap- 
praised according to canons accepted throughout the com- 
munity, wRich, of course, would cease to be one if such 
were not the case. It remains a strange phenomenon, how- 
ever, that the Ifugao with all their accentuation of the kin- 
ship factor have gone so far in standardizing what might 
be likened to international procedure. To be sure, there 
are deviations from the norm precisely as in the relations 
of nations; the strong kin is able to browbeat a poorer or 
less numerous group. Nevertheless, the overriding of jus- 
tice seems to be restricted within certain limits. The 
wealthy adulterer may refuse to pay the high-grade indem- 
nity demanded by an indigent plaintiff, but he throws a sop 
to morality by offering the lowest possible fine in such a 
case, that paid when both litigants are of the poverty- 
stricken caste. Moreover, it happens that the poor sufferer, 
reckless because he has nothing to lose but his misery, as- 
sumes so menacing an attitude that the culprit, counseled 
to be prudent by his terrified relatives, consents to pay the 
exorbitant fine. The general acceptance of certain modes 
of conduct as proper is also strikingly illustrated by the 
law of seizure. When a debtor refuses to pay the cus- 
tomary fine for some misdeed, the creditor may furtively 
or by a ruse remove a gong or some other valuable from hi* 
opponent's dwelling. Provided the confiscator leaves h« 
knife or some other article identifying him, his act has legil 
validity, that is, is acknowledged as just, otherwise it 
stitutes a form of farceny. 

The anarchy that on abstract principles follows froai 
coexistence of a series of sovereign groups in the 
locality is thus seen to be mitigated by common st; 


to which at least approximate conformity is yielded t^ the 
entire community. Indeed, it may safely be stated that 
Ifugao society for all its centrifugal character is not tack- 
ing in germs that might under favorable conditions develop 
into a political organization. The very existence of the 
go-between's office must be viewed in this hght. True, he 
has no authority in the strict sense of the term ; but he may 
acquire a reputation for peace-making that becomes both 
a source of income and of personal prestige. To maintain 
his standing he will go to considerable lengths : he will fol- 
low the unconciliatory plaintiff or the olxlurate culprit, war- 
knife in hand, and compel him to listen. Secondly, in spite 
of the neutrality of all kins not immediately concerned 
there is by no means general indifference as to a quarrel. 
"Neighbors and co-villagers do not want to see their neigh- 
borhood torn by internal dissension and thus weakened as 
to the conduct of warfare against enemies." That is to say, 
the territorial motive, completely overshadowed as it is by 
the kinship ties, nevertheless exists in embryo. At an 
actual feud skirmish the onlookers shouted : "What kind of 
way is this for co-villagers to settle a dispute? Go back 
home and beget some children, and marry them to each 
other, giving them the two fields, and then it will make no 
difference where the division line is!" Scattered remarks 
in Mr. Barton's essay show that this sentiment crops up in 
various ways. We leam of a tacit understanding that an 
Ifugao shall so behave as to avoid involving his neighbors 
in difficulties with natives of inimical or semi-inimical dis- 
tricts. It is also important to note that while collective 
responsibility applies mainly to the kin it may also extend 
to the district. A creditor will seize property belonging to 
the wealthy kinsman of a tardy debtor, but when occasion 
arises he is also likely to confiscate the carabto of his debt- 
or's fellow- villager. Finally may be cited llw distinction 
drawn between an alien and a fellow-vidager as regards 
punishment: the foreigner caught stcaliuF >» jilmoat certaiA^ 



to be slain, the neighbor of another kin merely pays the 
regular fine. It cannot, accordingly, be denied that a senti- 
ment based on local contiguity exists among the Ifugao. 
however faint when compared with the rival sentiment of 

The main features of Ifugao jurisprudence, kin solid- 
arity, the functions of the intermediary, the influence of 
caste, and the arrangement of ordeals have been briefly re- 
ferred to in this and preceding sections. It remains to 
point out specifically one feature as to the nature of penal- 
ties, and another as to procedure. All punishment falls into 
either of two categories — the imposition of fines and the 
infliction of death. Flogging or any other form of per- 
sonal chastisement such as we encounter in Australia is not 
in v(^ue; nor is imprisonment reported as a possible pen- 
alty. In procedure it is a noteworthy fact that plaintiff and 
defendant never confront each other. As soon as the con- 
troversy is formally launched, there is complete severance 
of diplomatic relations, all business being conducted by the 
go-between, who hears the testimony of each litigant sepa- 
rately and reports the strong points to his opponent. Nat- 
urally this principle becomes inoperative when ordeals are 
resorted to.' 


Sharply defined as the Eskimo are. both racially and lin- 
guistically, there is not the slightest political cohesion 
among even neighboring districts. "The inhabitants of a 
settlement," says Holm, "often form a society apart, and 
indeed are often at variance with the people hving in an- 
other settlement. Thus the inhabitants of the lower part 
of the Angmagsalik fjord and those of the upper part 
abused each other roundly. Similar amenities existed be- 
tween the inhabitants of the three fjords." Among the 
Central Eskimo also there is a deep distrust of neighboring 


^kimo tribes, preventing frequent intercourse. A stranger 
is often challenged to a contest of strength or endnrance 
and if vanquished forfeits his life. In Greenland no one 
may settle in a winter hamlet without the general consent 
of the inhabitants. 

These facts, of course, tend to show that there is a feel- 
ing based on territorial community within a very restricted 
area rather than that such a feeling Is lacking. But since 
there is no dominant goveniing agency in an Eskimo settle- 
ment, the adjustment of grievances is mainly a matter for 
tlie individuals or kins rather than for the community at 
large. In this respect, then, the Eskimo resemble the 
Ifugao. But the Eskimo represent a much ruder state of 
society, and accordingly there is none of that precision so 
characteristic of the [f,ugao. The communistic trend of 
Eskimo thought alone suffices to render their jurisprudence 
of a simpler nature since it minimizes property law and is 
hardly conducive to an elaborate scale of fines. Indeed, we 
hear nothing concerning such penalties. 

On the whole, the Eskimo are not a quarrelsome people 
and the method of adjudicating a personal difficulty in 
Greenland is typical of their general spirit. A Greenlander 
who has suffered some injury, whether by theft, destruc- 
tion of property or the abduction of his wife, will compose 
a satirical song in mockery of the culprit and challenge him 
to a public singing contest. Drumming and chanting, he 
throws his enemy's misdeeds into his teeth, exaggerating 
and deriding them and even rattling the family skeletons as 
well. The accused person receives the mockery with 

feigned composure and at the close of the challenger's 
charge returns in kind. Apart from the period of singing, 
no hostility whatsoever is displayed. The spectators follow 
proceedings witli the greatest interest, 

formers to their utmost efforts. 

settled in one evening but may t 
of years, the litigants taking ti 


The Omaha present typical Plains characteristics in their 
administration of law, but with some additional traits. The 
Council of Seven had the power to order the killing of an 
unruly and rebellious tribesman. The decree was executed 
by some trustworthy man with the aid of a poisoned staff. 
Usually it was customary to give the criminal fair warning 
by first destroying his horses; but if he failed to pay heed 
to this admonition, he himself would sufTer the extreme 
penalty. The councilors also took note of deliberate mur- 
ders, which were punished with a four years' banishment. 
During this period the murderer was obliged to remain on 
the edge of the camp and hold no intercourse with anyone 
but his immediate family, who might seek him out and fur- 
nish him with provisions. The duration of the penalty was 
in a measure dependent on the sentiments of the mourning 
kin, for as soon as they relented the exile was allowed to 
return. That is to say. homicide despite tribal interference 
ranked after all as a tort: it was not the tribe that exacted 
punishment but the suffering family, and the council inter- 
vened not to inflict a condign penalty but to satisfy the pri- 
vate feeling of revenge and prevent civil dissension with 
consequent weakening of the community. The crimes of 
Omaha law were apparently only twofold — setting at 
naught the authority of the seven chiefs and premature 
hunting in the communal chase.' 


The parliamentary body that governed the Samoan settle- 
ments and districts combined judicial functions with legis- 
lative and executive powers, but it is not altogether clear 
to what extent personal wrongs were redressed by tht 
council. That in some instances private arrangements for 
composition were made, has already been shown, but whCTe 
the line of demarcation was drawn, what type of offences 
were reserved for public vengeance, is a matter of some 



doubt. Thus hc«nicide was evidently at times compounded, 
but in the case of a particularly atrocious multiple murder 
reported by Stair the perpetrator was formally tried and 

A strange feature of Samoan customary law was the 
organization of a plundering expedition against the culprit 
by the local assembly. As soon as a decision had been 
reached, the leaders of the community proceeded to the 
household of the offender, formally pronounced sentence, 
and began to ring a breadfruit-tree on the estate, at which 
signal their followers at once stripped the taro patches, 
killed the livestock, set the house on fire, and drove the 
whole family into exile. Primitive raids of this type were 
not confined to Samoa but flourished in other parts of 
Polynesia. Thus, if a Maori had accidentally destroyed 
collective property by a fire or deprived his tribe of food 
through an act of carelessness, his neighbors would come 
in a body and freely appropriate his belongings, possibly 
thrashing him in addition. 

Other penalties display great refinement of cruelty. For 
theft, for affronting travelers, and for some other forms 
of misdemeanor the assembly might order the defendant to 
l>eat his head and chest with a rock till his blood flowed 
freely. He was sometimes forced to bite a poisonous root 
that would cause his mouth to swell, inflicting intense pain 
for some time to come. Another favorite torture for 
thieves was to bind their hands and feet and expose them 
to the broiling sun. 

Hawaiian jurisprudence acknowledged the absolute pri- 
macy of the king, whose will was law and could absolve 
from obedience to traditional laws. Though the lesser 
lords had similar powers over the inhabitants of their do- 
main, it was possible for a subject to appeal from a de- 
cision of his chief to the supreme court of the king. In 
spite of monarchical and feudal institutions, however, some 
characteristic Polynesian customs continued to obtain in 


ordinary relations. For example, plundering expeditions 
were recognized as legal in retaliation for theft, and the 
malefactor would submit even if commanding a strong 
force lest the man power of the entire district be hurled 
against him. A curious ordeal was in vogue in Hawaii. 
Plaintiff and defendant were ordered to hold their hands 
above a calabash filled with water, which was supposed to 
tremble and thus reveal the guilty party. 

Evidently the Polynesians must be reckoned among those 
peoples who, irrespective of their law of torts, also pun- 
ished as crimes offenses against the community or the 


Among the Negroes of Africa primitive jurisprudence 
attains its highest development. In precision and scope 
their code rivals that of the Ifugao, but unlike the Ifugao 
the Negroes have almost everywhere an orderly method of 
procedure before constituted tribunals. They display a re- 
markable taste for juridical casuistry and a keen enjoyment 
of forensic eloquence. The notion of collective and conse- 
quently vicarious responsibility is by no means lacking, but 
such is the authority of the courts that vendettas are rare 
and in the fullest sense of the term probably unknown. 
When an Ewe had committed murder, the victim's kin 
sometimes kidnapped members of the criminal's household 
or destroyed their fields and houses, but that seems as far 
as the feud went and even in this diluted form it was rather 
exceptional. There is no one source that adequately de- 
scribes African jurisprudence; accordingly, it will be well 
to summarize the mutually complementary data from sev- 
eral areas. 

In contemplating the legal institutions of the Ewe, and 
indeed of all the Negro peoples, we are again reminded of 
the intimate bond connecting departments of primitive cul- 


ture that are largely tliough not wholly separated in our 
own. Ewe jurisprudence is unintelligible without some 
knowledge of Ewe philosophy of the universe. More par- 
ticularly are we concerned with two basic conceptions, the 
belief in sorcery and the belief in ordeals for the ascertain- 
ment of guilt. Opposed to the benevolent magician who 
cures disease is the evil sorcerer who furtively strews poison 
on his victim's bowl or furniture, afflicting him with suffer- 
ing or death. When a man is accused of bewitching a 
tribesman he attempts to clear himself by undergoing one 
of the prescribed tests of innocence. These are in charge 
of a special guild, each member of which has acquired 
his knowledge by purchase and adoption into the frater- 

First of all, the test-owner subjects the defendant to a 
cross-examination. He asks whether the accused has ever 
bewitched any one or has previously been condemned by an 
ordeal, which of course is vigorously denied. Next comes 
the choice of the particular test to be applied. For example, 
a grain of salt may be cast into a bowl of boiling palm-oil : 
if it splits in two, this is taken as a sign of guilt; if it re- 
mains whole, it indicates the accused man's innocence. 
This proof is supplemented by another. Boiling oil is 
poured into the defendant's hand ; if he holds it without 
signs of distress, his innocence is established, otherwise the 
charge is sustained. The outcome naturally lies in the 
manipulator's hand; if he favors the defendant, he will 
merely feign pouring hot oil and substitute oil that is rela- 
tively cool. In another test the eyes of the guilty are 
blinded by a poisonous juice, while those of the innocent 
remain unscathed. 

These, then, are typical methods for tiie. J^tominatioa ■ 
f the sorcerer's guilt. If he stands com 
>cape the extreme penalty provided hU i 
kill ahve. A hoe or pickaxe and a fin-Vf* 4 
,, and he is himself presented w i; 



fate. Pickaxe and hoe symbolize the g^rave to be dug for 
him unless he chooses the liasket, which signifies merely a 
heavy fine. But if the sorcerer is guilty of murder, he is 
bound with a rope, led out of town by several executioners 
and interred ahve or beaten to death. 

It is difficult from our modem point of view to regard 
with anything but abhorrence what seems a farrago of 
savage brutaUty and ignorance. Yet the cruelties proceed 
solely from the notion that the sorcerer is actually or by in- 
tention a fiendish murderer: and as for this misconception 
it remains a fact that even in western Europe a witch was 
legally executed as late as 1782. 

The ordeal is not applied solely to cases of sorcery; the 
test-owner is also invoked to detect a thief. A man may 
appeal from the verdict, but if the chiefs decline further 
examination he has no redress. On the other hand, with 
the chiefs' consent he is permitted to seek a new trial at 
the hands of another tester; but since all testers fonn 3 
brotherhood and keep one another informed as to matters 
of professional interest, the privilege is of only academic 
significance. The tester's fees are paid by the guilty party 
and his kin ; they are generally set at a very high figure and 
reduced only at the earnest solicitation of the unfortunate 
convict. A certain amount of cowrie-shell money, four 
chickens, a goat and four bottles of whiskey constitute a 
typical honorarium. 

Obviously by no means all legal action requires or ad- 
mits of the machinery of the ordeal. Under ordinary cir- 
cumstances suits are simply tried by the council of chiefs 
vernacularly designated as "the old woman." Plaintiff and 
defendant in turn take the floor, the witnesses of both are 
examined, and at last the judges withdraw and announce 
their verdict to the speaker. The latter proclaims the de- 
cision, rubbing white earth on the arm of the person who 
has won the case. The loser is obliged to pay all costs and' 
frequently in addition must offer compensation to his <^ 


ponent. Judges are indemnified for their labors out of the 
court fees, but the older chiefs receive a disproportionately 
large share of the proceeds. To convey an idea of the spirit 
of these court sessions is hardly possible without reprnduc- 
ing in detail the transactions themselves. Both the style of 
the pleading and of the procedure are remarkable. The 
utterances of every witness are repeated by the official 
speaker, through whom alone the judges are apparently ex- 
pected to take cognizance of testimony. Judgments, as in 
the case of the ordeals, are not inexorable, so that a fine 
may on petition be commuted to one-half of the amount 
originally set. In the deliverances of tlie witnesses and 
litigants wise saws, long-drawn-out similes, and parables 
abound. "Listen !" the speaker exhorts his audience, "we 
need not quarrel in to-day's assembly. If we calmly discuss 
one point after the other, we shall discover who is to blame 
and shall know what to do in the case. If little birds are 
swarming together and a stone is cast among them, usually 
none is struck : but if a particular one is aimed at, it is sure 
to be hit:-' ..." A chief complains of being involved in 
frequent litigation by his opponent in these words: "The 
mouse boxed the cat's ears; but when the cat was about 
to box the mouse's ears, the mouse said that the cat was 
seeking a quarrel." Indeed, whole folk-tales are recited in 
illustration of a point. 

One peculiar feature of Ewe jurisprudence is the char- 
acter of the oath. There are private, tribal, roya! and re- 
ligious oaths. By swearing them the aggrieved person af- 
firms his innocence and compels an official investigation of 
the case. Oddly enough, the formula is commonly derived 
from a calamitous event. Thus, the tribal oath consists of 
the words, "I swear by the eve of the Ho." the references 
being to a sort of Bartholomew's night terminating a hostile 
assault by the Asante. When the king has officially desig- 
nated some such catastrophic occurrence as the subject ( 
an oath, it must not thereafter be mentioned for any oth 



purpose. Private oaths refer in corresponding fashion to 
hardships encountered by a private individual. 

Turning from Togoland to the Limp<^x> region, we meet 
with the same essentials of African jurisprudence. The 
notion of collective responsibility sun,-ives in both areas: as 
a Ho may have his fields destro>'ed because his brother has 
committed murder, so a Thonga is liable for his kinsmen's 
debts. In both tribes an authoritative tribunal renders de- 
cisions, in both witchcraft and the ordeal play a strangely 
conspicuous part. Only in minor particulars are there in- 
teresting variations. Thus, among the Thonga there is a 
confirmed belief in divination by means of magical bones 
and shells ; hence the di\-iner casts lots in what may be called 
the preliminary investigation of a death by e\-il magic. If 
the same sorcerer is twice designated by this test, the 
accusation becMties official and is brou^t before the tri- 
bunal, whereupon the diviner undertakes a new examina- 
tion by questioning, working himself into a trance-like 
condition. If the earlier suggestions are still corroborated 
and the defendant asserts his innocence, he is tried by an 
ordeal, being obliged to swallow an intoxicating draught. 
If he falls under its sway, his guilt is certain and under 
aboriginal law he is condemned to death In' hanging, im- 
palement or drowning. In all this there is no tiew priticiple 
involved, and the same applies to civil cases. But details 
are naturally moulded bj' specific cultural features. Since 
Thonga social life largely centers in the conceptions of the 
marriage contract, ninety per cent of the civil suits r e v olve 
about the bride-price and are decided in accordance with 
its traditional interpretation. When a woman has definitdf 
left her husband, her relati\-es must restore the amoont 
paid for ber, while the children revert to the mother. 

Regarding the law of the Kafir tribes to the south of the 
Thonga much valuable information has been made acces- 
sible. Among the Amaxosa and their neighbors a fimdft- 
meni'>' ''istinctifm b drawn between criminal and 




I cases. The former include political offenses, sorcery, and 
(crimes against the persons of tribesmen; they are prose- 
cuted by the chiefs and the fines belong to them by inalien- 
able right. All other cases are prosecuted by the plaintiffs 
and the chiefs have no claim to the award made, though 
the plaintiffs must pay the sheriffs for execution of the 
court's sentence, the amount generally consuming one-third 
the value of the fine. If the case is thrown out of court. 
there are no expenses to be paid. Civil cases may be set- 
tled by agreement before any councilor, but either party 
may appeal from the decision to the chief. Sometimes a 
councilor mulcts a subject for assault and retains the 
fine, but this is an act of usurpation and the chief can at 
any time demand the amount pocketed by his subordi- 

Kafir criminal law rests primarily on the principle that 
the persons of individuals belong to the chief. Accord- 
ingly, he must be compensated for the loss of a subject. 
»The penalty is seven head of cattle for a male and ten head 
for a female ; this difference is due to the dowry obtained at 
marriage. Compensation for all kinds of homicide is ex- 
acted regardless of the circumstances. If a sorcerer dies 
under torture or is killed without the chief's explicit sanc- 
tion, the chief is entitled to compensation though he some- 
times renounces his prerogative. In the ca,se of a general 
brawl the fine for each person slain is imposed on all those 
engaged in the fight collectively. Previous to about 1S20 
a husband might with impunity kill an adulterer taken in 
the act; but the cliief Gaika abrogated this law and placed 
such cases on the same plane with other forms of man- 
slaughter. For assault and Ijattery the fine ranges from one 
to five head of cattle; generally both parties are fined as 
nothing is considered to warrant one man in striking an- 
other, even in self-defense. For abortion the woman and 
her accomr»I"'-'"5 are mulcted four or five head of cattle, and 
a simi ^ in the solitary case of sodomy 



that came to Mr. Warner's notice during a residence of 
twenty-five years. 

Adultery is a civil case. The fine ranges from one to 
four head according to the husband's station in society 
and is raised to from seven to ten head if pregnancy has 
demonstrably resulted. The child belongs to the husband, 
who is obliged to provide for it. A wHfe cannot proceed 
against her husband or his paramours for adultery. For 
the seduction of virgins no fine is imposed, but if preg- 
nkncy ensues the father must pay one head of cattle and 
may subsequently claim his offspring by an additional pay- 
ment of two or three head to reimburse the mother's km 
for the trouble of rearing the child. Without such indem- 
nification it remains in their custody. Theft occurs mainly 
in the form of stock-raiding. When the property is not 
recovered, a tenfold compensation was anciently deemed 
proper; otherwise no fine was imposed. As already set 
forth in another connection, wilful injury to property calls 
for complete indemnification, but for accidental injury no 
damages are granted. 

Fines thus constitute the only normal penalty recognized 
by Kafir law. Only when a subject defies the authority 
of the ruler, the chief will clandestinely gather an armed 
force, descend upon the rebellious household, seize all the 
livestock, and if resistance is made have the outlaws killed 
without ceremony. 

The kingdom of Uganda represents the most highly or- 
ganized of aboriginal states and its legal institutions nat- 
urally display some additional features. Here there was a 
series of hierarchically graded courts. Even petty chiefs 
acted as magistrates for their subjects, but these had the 
privilege of appealing to successively higher authorities until 
they got to the grandee combining the functions of a prime 
minister with those of a chief justice. In his court most 
L appeals ended, but exceptional cases were brought before 
*B king himself. The chief justice had a deputy for try- 


ing the less important cases, but expected a report from his 
assistant and himself rendered judgment accordingly. In 
each of the lower tribunals the plaintiff paid a fee of twenty 
cowrie-shells when stating his case and a supplementary 
fee of a goat and a barkcloth before the defendant was 
summoned ; the latter also made an initial payment of a goat 
and a barkcloth. If the defendant was convicted, he had to 
pay the plaintiff two goats and a barkcloth over and above 
the award. In appealing to the prime minister's court the 
plaintiff was obliged to pay ten goats and five barkcloths 
as the initial fee. The minister, besides this fee, received 
one-fourth of the fine imposed, and the loser had to refund 
all the court fees. 

In addition to features common to African tribes such 
as the ordeal and collective composition for crime Uganda 
law recognized torture for the purpose of extracting in- 
formation and as a penalty confinement in the stocks, the 
culprit usually having his foot thrust into the hole cut 
through a heavy log. A rope tied to the leg enabled the 
prisoner to lift it and walk, but the constant rubbing of the 
wood against his foot and the of guards made escape 
impracticable. Sometimes both arms and one leg were put 
into the stocks. Uganda usage certainly demonstrates once 
more how little connection there is between elaboration and 
refinement of social life.* 




It has now been demonstrated to satiety that the majority 
of primitive communities recognize not merely wrongs in- 
flicted by individuals upon individuals and precipitating a 
dispute between their respective kins, but that over and 
above the law of torts there is generally a law of crimes, of 
outrages resented not by a restricted group of relatives but 
by the entire community or its directors. The conclusion 
reacts upon and strengthens the argument of the preceding 


chapter, for it shows the reality of the territorial unit for 
certain specific social aims. Naturally the relative strength 
of the kinship and the territorial sentiment varies with the 
tribe ; or better, their spheres of dominance differ in differ- 
ent parts of the globe. But even in so exaggerated an in- 
stance of discrete kins as that of the Ifugao a latent neigh- 
borliness comes to light when the mutual reactions of co- 
villagers are contrasted with the sentiments evoked by an 
outsider. The territorial bond must then be considered as 
one of the social ties occurring ooncomitantly with others 
in the simpler stages of civilization. 


* Maine : Chap. x. Hobhouse : Chap. in. 

* Barton; passim. Bogoras: 662. Goddard, 1903: 59. 
Maclean: 60, 67. Radloff: 523. Stair: 96. Dixon, 1907: 
452. Lowie, 1912: 238. 

•Roth, 1906. Spencer and Gillen, 1904: 25, 556. Howitt: 
183, 254, 296, 326 seq. 

* Barton. 

"Thalbitzer: 59, 127. Boas, 1888: 465. 561, 582, 609; id., 
1907: 115-121,467. Cranz: 1,231,249. Hawkes, 1916: 109. 
•Fletcher and La Flesche: 213. 

* Stair: 91 seq. Tregear: 139. Ellis, Wm.: iv, 419-423. 
•Spieth: 123-181, 278-283, 535-543- Junod: i, 410-421. 

Maclean: 57-75. Roscoe: 260-2^. 



PRIMITIVE society wears a character rather different 
from that popularized by Morgan's school. Instead of 
dull uniformity, there is mottled diversity; instead of the 
single sib pattern multiplied in fulsome profusion we de- 
tect a variety of social units, now associated with the sib, 
now taking its place. Let us visualize the actual aspect of 
primitive conditions by a concrete example from a by no 
means unusually complicated social environment. 

In the Mountain Crow band, some eighty years ago, a 
woman of the Thick-lodge sib gives birth to a boy. Her 
husband summons a renowned warrior of his sib, the Bad- 
leggingp, who dubs the child Strikes-three-men in memory 
of one of his own exploits. As Strikes-three-men g^ows up, 
he^leams how to act towards the relatives on either side of 
his family and what conduct to expect in return. The 
female Thick-lodges make for him beaded shirts and mocca- 
sins, on the male members he can rely for aid in any diffi- 
culty. His father he comes to regard as the natural 
provider and protector of the immediate family circle; to 
all the other men of the Bad-leggingp sib he gives presents 
when he can and treats them with respect. On their part 
they become his official eulogists as soon as he distinguishes 
himself by skill as a hunter or by bravery in battle ; and the 
bond between him and them is so close that when one of 
them commits an offense against tribal etiquette an ap- 
propriate nickname is attached to his own person. With 
the children of his 'fathers' a curious reciprocal relation 





ship unites him. They are his mentors and he is theirs. 
They throw in his teeth his foibles and misdemeanors, and 
he retaliates in kind. To these various relations based wi 
family and sib ties associational ones are soon added. He 
enters a league of playmates mimicking the warrior socie- 
ties and tries to gain glory by striking deer and buffalo as 
the older braves count coup on Dakota or Cheyenne foe- 
men. As he grows older, Albino-bull, one of his com- 
panions, becomes a bosom friend. Together they go court- 
ing and share each other's mistresses: together they set out 
on war parties, each shielding the other at the risk of his 
own life; together they join the Fox society to which AI- 
bino-bull has I>een invited; and together they leave it when 
the rival Lumpwoods. impressed by the young men's war 
record, bribe them into their fold. Now a novel set of re- 
lations ensues. Strikes-three-men aids his fellow-Lump- 
woods as he aids his sib-mates; he and his comrade partici- 
pate in all of the society's feasts and dances ; and they while 
away leisure hours lounging and smoking in the tents of 
their new associates and singing Lumpwood songs. When 
Strikes-three-men buys a wife, still another unit is added 
to his social groups ; added rather than substituted for the 
old family group because the tie that links him with his 
brothers and sisters remains not only unsnapped but in full 
force. About this time a fancy may seize our hero to cast 
in his lot with the band hunting about the Yellowstone con- 
fluence. Henceforth its political relations become his. 
With his new fellows he pays visits to the friendly Village 
tribes of the upper Missouri, with them he pursues a gang 
of Dakota raiders, and when the Mountain Crow decline to 
join a punitive war party against the hereditary enemy he is 
as vociferous as any River Crow in denouncing the pusil- 
lanimity of the band of his nativity. From the start he has 
been no stranger in the strange land : there are Thick- 
lodges on the Yellowstone who greet him as a brother, and 
he mingles without formality with the Lumpwoods there 





resident. The illness of one of his children may evoke a 
vow: on its recovery he pledges himself to seek admission 
into the Tobacco order. Four-bears, of the Weasel chap- 
ter, is willing to initiate him, and so Strikes-three-men and 
his wife become members, privileged to join in the annual 
planting of the sacred weed and in all other ceremonial 
activities of their branch. A special bond of intimacy unites 
them henceforth with their sponsor Four-bears, from whom 
an occasional horse may be expected as a token of paternal 

Thus our Crow comes to be a member of some half-a- 
dozen well-defined groups. By birth he belongs to a sib, a 
family and a band. Later a life-long friendship couples 
him with Albino-bull ; he joins the Fox and subsequently the 
Lumpwood organization: and is finally admitted to the re- 
ligious Tobacco order. As a mature man he is simultan- 
eously a Thick-lodge, Albino-bult's partner, a Lumpwood, a 
River Crow, a Weasel, besides forming the center of an 
individual household. Manifold as are his affiliations, they 
are hardly above the average in number and complexity, 
Under special circumstances a variety of others could be 
added. Through distinguished valor he may become a 
chief; the purchase of one medicine would establish a cere- 
monial tie between him and the seller; by buying another 
he would come to join still another definite organization, the 
Horse Dancers. On the whole, there is remarkably little 
collision of interests through this varied allegiance ; and an 
extension of sentimental attachment takes place rather than 
a clash of emotions associated with diverse groups. Doubt- 
less some obligations sit more lightly than others. If one 
of two comrades were affronted by their military society. 
both would leave it and seek entrance into another. It is 
also safe to infer that regard for one's wife would be re; 
sacrificed either to one's blood kin or to one's club, 
in the real life of the Crow bourgeois, but by that 
buckling standard of honor to which he is content t 


public obeisance, a woman is only a woman and to show 
overmuch solicitude on her account would mean a loss of 
face. But the occasions for such demonstrations are not 
over-numerous and the average tribesman does not suffer 
much distress from the variety of his memberships. 

The multiplicity of social relations could be as strikingly 
illustrated by other examples. In the sibless Andamans we 
should have to reckon with status as determined by dietary 
restrictions, conjugal and parental position. A Banks 
Islander would be found to belong at once to a sib, a grade 
in the club, and half a dozen Ghost societies. Among the 
Vedda territorial grouping would figure prominently, and 
in Polynesia distinctions of caste would come to the fore- 
groimd. In each and every case, however, diverse coexist- 
ing units would have to be considered. 

Multiplicity by itself would not be fatal to a generalized 
scheme of social evolution, for abstractly it is conceivable 
that at a certain definite stage in the history of the sib or- 
ganization status groups would supervene, at another age- 
classes, and so forth. But empirically it turns out that the 
several types of social unit are combined in a purely ca- 
pricious fashion. In one region we find secret societies 
with sibs; in another, sibs but no secret societies; in a 
third, a secret society without sibs; a fourth tribe has 
either or both features in combination with all sorts of as- 
sociations; a fifth lacks both. Upon what principles can be 
fixed the chronological order of the observed combinations? 
Shall we say that Andamanese siblessness plus status group- 
ing is anterior to Maidu siblessness and lack of status 
grouping plus a secret organization? And is the Mela- 
nesian union of mother-sibs, sex dichotomy with graded 
clubs, and Ghost societies, earlier or later than the Hidatsa 
complex of mother-sibs, military age organizations and 
bundle societies ? An attempt to embody the exuberant va- 
riety of phenomena in a single chronological sequence seems 
hopeless. Probably even adherents of unilinear evolutioil 


would admit that the totality of social manifestations can- 
not be dealt with in this fashion and would be content with 
maintaining that only each distinct type of social unit or 
phenomenon taken by itself tends to develop through a fixed 
series of stages. 

But this contention has been proved erroneous for prac- 
tically every department of social organization. Its fallacy 
becomes patent as soon as we place side by side the insti- 
tutions of tribes in distinct areas but on the same general 
level of cultural advancement. The aboriginal Australians 
were economically hunters and seed-gatherers, and that was 
the condition of the Paviotso of Nevada, both representing 
technologically the Neolithic stage of European archaeolo- 
gists. Yet, whatever branch of their social life wc com- 
pare, there is complete dissimilarity. The Australians have 
sibs, moieties, totemism, classes; among the Paviotso not 
even the fairttest germ of these institutions is to be detected 
so that there is no reason to assume that they ever would 
have risen or fallen to a similar form of organization. Po- 
litically, too. there is no suggestion of resemblance : there 
is no Paviotso body with powers comparable to those of the 
Australian gerontocracy; on the other hand, there is noth- 
ing in Australia comparable to a director of the rabbit- 
hunt, in whom is vested what meager central authority ex- 
ists in Nevada. Australians and Plateau Shoshoneans 
prove not only different but incommensurable: they repre- 
sent not one line of development but two separate lines. If 
it be suggested that these are arbitrarily selected cases, let 
others be substituted. The Andamanese represent the same 
stage of general advancement and they are sibless like the 
Paviotso. But to their division into married couples, bache- 
lors and spinsters there is no parallel among the Nevada 
people; and though the segregation of Ijachelors occurs in 
Australia, this partial resemblance was found to be probably 
the result of historical, connection with the same peoples 

her than of indep^ldeilt, spontaneous evolution. 



There is no loop-hole for the specious plea that general 
cuhural advancement and social advancement may proceed 
in mutual independence of each other. That argument has 
already been examined in another context and its worthless- 
ness appears when peoples are grouped precisely according 
to the complexity of their social institutions. From that 
angle, the Negroes and the PoljTiesians, who would occupy 
quite different rungs technologically, may be regarded as 
roughly equivalent. Yet to compare Uganda and Hawaii 
is to pass from one cultural universe to another: the Afri- 
cans are devoid of the Polynesian caste system founded on 
divine lineage; and throughout Polynesia not a trace ap- 
pears of that complicated jurisprudence that is so marked 
a trait of Negro Africa. If the assumed laws of social 
evolution operate neither among peoples of like general 
condition nor among peoples of generally like complexity of 
social organization, where can they possibly be conceived 
to operate? 

But what of the resemblances that undoubtedly do occur 
in widely separatetl areas? Is it not an inherent law that 
produces polyandry in Eskimo and Toda communities or 
sibs among the Pueblo and the Gros Ventre Indians? At 
this point it is desirable to discriminate more sharply than 
has hitherto been done between the theory of independent 
development, which I have again and again advocated, and 
a belief in laws regulating the independent reproduction of 
the same scries of stages which I now at the close of my in- 
vestigation formally abjure. Undoubtedly there are certain 
conditions that may recur in different areas and produce 
similar results. Scarcity of women and polyandry were 
seen to be thus causally linked, but as T have already shown 
in the appropriate place the parallelism is of strictly lim- 
ited scope. The common cause of polyandry is female in- 
fanticide, but the cause of infanticide was seen to vary, 
while the implications of polyandry again show divergence 
in the two regions after the brief span of likeness. Gen- 


erally speaking, the duplication of conditions may indeed 
produce the duplication of one sequence but there the mat- 
ter ends. For the course of cultural evolution depends not 
on that single element of similarity but on the whole com- 
plex of associated features as well, and since these are not 
alike nor indeed well can be alike in peoples with a distinct 
body of cultural traditions, the effect is almost inevitably 
divergence so far as any advancement occurs at all. But 
it should be noted that often enough such advancement is 
not observed; development terminates in a blind alley with 
no possibility of further parallelism. When we have recog- 
nized how a like social point of view can produce a similar 
term of opprobrium among Australian blacks and Crow 
Indians (p. ii). that is as far as we can go. There is no 
further social result flowing from the use of similar vituper- 
ative epithets, nor can any further consequence therefrom 
be readily imagined. At this juncture it is well to revert to 
the linguistic analogy of the introductory chapter. When 
the Shoshoni and the Greeks independently evolve a dual 
number, this is the result of similar classificatory processes. 
but what is the general im(>ort of the isolated resemblance? 
Precisely nil. It has not inaugurated a series of morpho- 
logical changes making lx>th languages conform to a com- 
mon linguistic pattern. To be sure, it is conceivable that 
a classification of the type mentioned might be correlated 
witK certain other features that are descriptively distinct 
though psychologically linked. The total resemblance in 
structure would nevertheless remain remarkably slight. 
Now this example illustrates my conception of the inde- 
pendent development of sociological or cultural traits. In- 
dependent development occurs ; but its products have a neg- 
ligible influence on the total course of events in their respec- 
tive series, which remain essentially distinct. 

The occurrence of convergent evolution — of like results 

, achieved through different channels — might be cited as evi- 

Hdence of laws consummating predestined ends. But in by 


far the greater number of instances the likeness dissolves on 
closer scrutiny into a superficial or only partial resemblance. 
Thus teknonymy appeared as a possible result of a system 
of status designations, of feminine inferiority, or of a 
paucity of kinship terms. Evidently the import of the cus- 
tom is quite different in these cases; or rather there arc 
three customs which it is sometimes convenient to call by a 
common name. In the same way we find it convenient to 
gjroup together as democracies the polities of ancient Athens 
and of the United States. This sets them apart for certain 
purposes from certain other constitutions but implies no 
recognition of either genetic or psychological affinity. But 
even where genuine likeness has been achieved we find di- 
vergence setting in after convergence, as in the case of 

Thus neither the examples of independent evolution from 
like causes nor those of convergent evolution from unlike 
causes establish an innate law of social progress. One fact 
however, encountered at every stage and in every phase of 
society, by itself lays the axe to the root of any theory of 
historical laws — the extensive occurrence of diffusion. 
Creating nothing, this factor nevertheless makes all other 
agencies taper almost into nothingness beside it in its effect 
on the total growth of human civilization. An explanation 
of the ultimate origin of the Omaha sib would account for 
one sib organization ; transmission accounts for that organi- 
zation among a dozen tribes or more. Diffusion not merely 
extends the range of a feature, but in so doing it is able 
to level the differences of race, geographical environment, 
and economic status that are popularly assumed as potent 
instrumentalities in cultural evolution. Through diffusion 
the Chinese come to share Western notions of government ; 
through diffusion the Southern Plains Indians come to 
share with the Iroquois of the Woodlands a type of sib 
that distinguishes them from their fellow-Siouans living 
under the same geographical conditions; through diffusion 


fishermen, reindeer nomads, and tillers of the soil come to 
entertain the identical conception of feminine disabilities. 
Any conceivable tendency of human society to pursue a / 
fixed sequence of stages must be completely veiled by the/ 
incessant tendency to borrowing and thus becomes an un- 
knowable noumenon that is scientifically worthless. 
Strangely enough, it was a jurist who clearly recognized 
this fact at a time when anthropologists were still chasing 
the will-o'-the-wisp of historical laws ; and Maitland's mem- 
orable words in Domesday Book and Beyond may well be 
quoted in full : "Even had our anthropologists at their com- 
mand material that would justify them in prescribing that 
every independent portion of mankind must, if it is to move 
at all, move through one fated series of stages which may 
be designated as Stage A, Stage B, Stage C, and so forth, 
we still should have to face the fact that the rapidly pro- 
gressive groups have been just those which have not been 
independent, which have not worked out their own salva- 
tion, but have appropriated alien ideas and have thus been 
enabled, for anything that we can tell, to leap from Stage 
A to Stage X without passing through any intermediate 
stages. Our Anglo-Saxon ancestors did not arrive at the 
alphabet or at the Nicene Creed, by traversing a long series 
of 'stages' ; they leapt to the one and to the other." Pres- 
ent ethnographical knowledge warrants us in extending 
Maithmd's argument ; we know that the relatively stationary 
no less than the relatively progressive peoples have evolved 
their culture through contact with alien ideas, and that ac- 
cordingly the conditions for the operation of social laws 
among independent peoples nowhere exist. By all means let 
us register such sequences as may be found to recur in 
separated regions, but let us not dignify these strictly lim- 
ited and sometimes trivial relations, such as that between 
polyandry and a paucity of women, by the pretentious title 
of historical laws. 

To recognize the complexity and singularity of cultural 



phenomena, mainly as a consequence of diffusion, 
to abandon that quest of short-liand formulas pi 
by Professor Pearson, and it will be abandoned r 
any foolish disdain for a simplification of facts but 
we prefer to have the facts unsimplified than a sti 
ment that fails to correspond with them. The evolul 
views until recently current among anthropologists 
the category of those 'laws' denounced by Sir Hemj 
Maine when in 1861 he wrote as follows: "Theories, pbie- 
iblc and comprehensive, but absolutely unverified. ... to- 
joy a universal preference over sober research into At 
primitive history of society and law." The period h» 
come for eschewing the all-embracing and baseless theories 
of ynre and to settle down to that sober historical researdi 
involved in the intensive study of specific regions. 

Must we, then, resign all hope of rising from a contan- 
plation of unique series of events to an interpretation? By 
no means. First of all the renunciation of historical laws 
does not imply the renunciation of uniformities independent 
of the time factor and veritably inherent in the essence of 
social existence. The universality of borrowing is itself 
a generalization of this type, as is the implied aversion from 
or inability for creative effort, which in turn is correlated 
with the persistence of cultural features once established. 
Secondly, it is precisely the singular combination of traits 
forming the context or past history of a given feature that, 
in conjunction with such general sociological principles as 
these, furnishes an interpretation of its meaning, as nothing 
else whatsoever can. An example from Maine, that cham- 
pion of sane historical methods, will elucidate the point 
Iilaine was confronted with the fact that the later Roman 
ipublic dispensed with the death penalty, a fact which had 
explanations based on the supposed psychology of 
But Maine discovered that at the time in 
lanent judicial bodies were commissions hold- 
:ed authority from the legislative asscmUj, 


fcich itself lacked power of inflicting capita] punishment, 
i could not delegate such authority to one of its crea- 
The interpretation completely clarifies the problem, 
ries immediate conviction, and at once exposes the spe- 
Kousness of any type of explanation not founded on similar 
principles. When we desire to understand Masai age- 
classes or Hidatsa age-societies, we shall do well to follow 
not Morgan or Schurtz, but Maine; to saturate ourselves 
with the spirit and history of Masai and Hidatsa culture, 
respectively, and with that of their neighbors, rather than 
to fly for aid to a chimerical law of social evolution. 

The principles that underlie the growth of social organi- 
zation do not differ from the principles operative in culture 
generally. It was once believed that the stages which 
archaeological research reveals in western Europe must be 
stages mankind have ever>'A\'here been obliged to traverse. 
But the case of African technology suffices to disprove the 
assumption: the Africans did not pass from a Stone Age to 
an Age of Copper and Bronze and then to an Iron Age; 
whether through autochthonous advancement or through 
borrowing from Asiatic sources, they passed directly from 
the manufacture of stone tools to the manufacture of iron 
tools. In another phase of material civilization the Ameri- 
can natives, except in Peru, completely failed to domesti- 
cate animals for economic use, clearly proving that, as in 
Yucatan and Mexico, a fairly complex cultural structure can 
be reared without resting on domestication as one of its 
supports. In the absence of an inherent law of evolution, 
then, social history merely conforms to the facts of culture 
history generally. 

There is nevertheless an important difference not so much 
objectively as from the point of \'iew of the appraising 
observer between the history of material culture and that 
of social organization. In the former there are periods of 
retrogression or stagnation alternating H-ith eras of ad- 
vancement, and the very use of these words implies criteria 

for judging prioress. Nor is it difficult to fathfMn tiieir 
foundation. Tools are contrivances for definite practical 
purposes; if these are accomplished more expeditiously and 
efficiently by one set of tools, then that set is better. Hence 
it is a purely objective judgment that metal axes are su- 
perior to those of stone. So economic activity has for iu 
object the sustenance of human existence, and when the 
possibilities for supporting life are enlarged, as by the do- 
mestication of an eatable and milkable species, we are justi- 
fied in speaking of a progressiz'e change. But in the sphere 
of social life there is no objective criterion for grading cul- 
tural phenomena. The foremost philosophers are not 
agreed as to the ultimate ideals to be sought through social 
existence. Within a century Western thought and action 
have swung from one pole to the other, from the extremes 
of Manchesterian individualism to the extremes of state 
socialism ; and the student's evaluation of, say, the cora- 
mnnistic bias of Eskimo society will not fae the same if he 
is a disciple .jf Herbert Spencer a.s it would be if he were 
a disciple of Prince Kropotkin. Democracy has become s 
niogan of modem times, but it has also roused the impas- 
sioned protests of men of genius and of reactionary biolo- 
gists, some of whom doubtless cast wistful glances in the 
direction of Micronesia, lamenting the decay of that spirit 
of loyalty to superior rank so nobly preserved in the Mar- 
shall Islands. Again, the unqualified emancipation of 
woman may be the only goal consistent with strict individ' 
ualism, but what if individualistic aspirations are subordi- 
nated to others, say, to the perpetuation of traditional family 
ideals or to eugenic aims? Here, too, judgment of primi- 
tive conceptions must depend on one's subjective reaction 
to moot-problems of modem speculation. Even where the 
verdict of modem society tends to unanimity, the critical in- 
vestigator cannot accept it as absolutely valid, It is not ob- 
vious that obligatory monogamy is in an absolute sense ^ 
most preferable form of marriage, least of all when it is 


tempered with a system of libertinage producing something 

not wholly different from the system of the Masai. 

In short, the appraisal of sociological features is wholly 
different from that of technological features of culture. 
The latter may be rated according to the closeness with 
which they accomplish known ends; the former have un- 
known ends or ends whose value is a matter of philosophic 
doubt, hence they can be graded only on subjective grounds 
and must scientifically be treated as incommensurable. 

Of course it is true that social organizations differ in 
complexity, but that difference fails to provide a criterion 
of process. When the Andamanese evolved or borrowed 
the notion of segregating bachelors from spinsters, and 
both from married couples, their social culture gained in 
complexity, but it is not easy to prove that it experienced 
either improvement or deterioration. If our enlightened 
communities coped as successfully with, say, the problem of 
maintaining order as ruder peoples in a simpler environ- 
ment, then it might be conceded that our complex adminis- 
trative machinery represents an intellectual advance. But 
the condition is contrary to fact, and our cumbersome 
method of preserving the peace and the more elegant solu- 
tion of the same problem in simpler circumstances remain 

When from definite cusIcmus and institutions we turn to 
the dynamics of social history, the result is again the im- 
possibility of grading cultures, but for a different reason. 
Institutions are generally different and not comparable; 
processes are not only comparable but identical in the sim- 
pler and the higher civilizations. Thus we find the co- 
operative motive and the need for congenial companionship 
incarnated in a variety of forms among primitive peop 
and at times even simulating the semblance of quite mO' 
institutions, as in the case of the Samoan trade unim 
an invariable component of primitive life we 
counter the eternal striving for prestige. 



clearly a characteristic of all social aggregates. The ptt- 
cock theorj' of primitive man does away with that shopworn 
commonplace that primitive society wholly merges the in- 
dividual in his group. It is true tliat at bottom it despises 
individuality, for it prizes variation only in a direction tt 
has predetermined and conformity to its standards is the 
price exacted for recognition. But in this respect primitive 
and civilized society coincide in principle, however they may 
differ in detail. History records a transfer of power from 
one mystically sanctified source of authority to another, 
from a church to a book, from a book to a state, or to an 
intangible public opinion. But with unfailing tenacity every 
society from the simplest to the most complex has adhered 
to the principle that the one unpardonable sin consists in 
setting up one's private judgment against the recognized 
I social authority, in perpetrating an infraction of tribal 
taboos. When, therefore. Sir Henry Maine points out the 
growing importance of contractual instead of status rela- 
tions in modern society, his argument is of formal rather 
than of substantial significance for the history of individual 
freedom. In the disposal of his property an Ewe is not so 
free as an American, in other regards he is freer: and both 
are hedged about by a set of conventions whose breach may 
subject them to indignity, ostracism, and death. Neither 
morphologically nor dynamically can social life be said to 
have progressed from a stage of savagery to a stage of en- 

The belief in social progress was a natural accompani- 
ment of the belief in historical laws, especially when tinged 
with the evolutionary optimism of the 'seventies of the 
nineteenth century. If inherent necessity urges all societies 
along a fixed path, metaphysicians may still dispute whether 
the underlying force be divine or diabolic, but there can at 
least be no doubt as to which community is retarded and 
"derated in its movement toward the appointed 
: no such necessity or design appears fi 



I study of culture history. Cultures develop mainly through 
the borrowings due to chance contact. Our own civilization 
is even more largely than the rest a complex of borrowed 
traits. The singular order of events by which it has come 
into being provides no schedule for the itinerary of alien 
cultures. Hence the specious plea that a given people must 
pass through such or such a stage in our history before at- 
taining this or that destination can no longer be sustained. 
The student who has mastered Maitland's argument will 
recognize the historical and ethnologic absurdity of this 
solemn nonsense. In prescribing for other peoples a social 
programme we must always act on subjective grounds ; but 
at least we can act unfettered by the pusillanimous fear of 
transgressing a mock-law of social evolution. 

Nor are the facts of culture history without bearing on 
the adjustment of our own future. To that planless hodge- 
podge, that thing of shreds and patches called civilization, 
its historian can no longer yield superstitious reverence. He 
will realize better than others the obstacles to infusing de- 
sign into the amorphous product : but in thought at least he 
will not grovel before it in fatalistic acquiescence but dream 
of a rational scheme to supplant the chaotic jumble. 

= ; 





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Amer. Anth. 
Amer. Anth., Mem. 

A. M. N. H. 

A,M.N.H.. Bull. 

A.M.N.H., Hd. 

A.M.N.H., Mem. 


B.A.E.. Bull. 

Can. Geol. Sur., Mem. 

Can. Geol. Sur., Mus. 

Can. Sum. Rept 

Field Mus. 



U. CaL 

Z. vgl. R. 

American Anthropologist 

Memoirs of the American Anthropological 

Anthropological Papers of the American Mu- 
seum of Natural History 

Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural 

Handbook Series of the American Museum of 
Natural History 

Memoirs of the American Museum of Natu- 
ral History 

Annual Report of the Bureau of (American) 

Bulletin, Bureau of American Ethnology 

Memoir, Canada Department of Mines, Geo- 
logical Survey 

Museum Bulletin, Canada Department of 
Mines, Geological Survey 

Summary Report of the Geological Survey, 

Anthropological Series, Field Museum of 
Natural History 

Journal of American Folk-Lore 

Journal of the (Royal) Anthropological In- 
stitute of Great Britain and Ireland^ 

Reports of the Cambridge Anthropological 

Universi^of California Publications in Ameri- 
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Zeitschrift ftir vergleichende Recntswissen- 

Adair, J. 

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1896. The Indian Village Community. London. 



Bandelier, A. 

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188& The Central Eskimo. 6 B.A.E., 409-669. 
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Ferguson, W. S. 

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1892. The Aborigines of New South Wales. S3rdncy. 
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1910. Totemism and Exogamy. 4 vols. London. 

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Die Jabim, in Neuhauss, Deutsch Neu-Guinea, in, 269-394. 


Adolescent ceremonies, for girls, 

Adoption, Andaman Islands and 

Torres Straits, 167; of chil- 
dren, 7T\ part played in sib 
membership, 115-116. 

Adultery, punishment for, 415, 

Age-classes, 313-319; and four 
class system, 269; Cunow on, 
257; Hidatsa, 293, 295; Ma- 
sai. 271, 2^Z, 274-275, 293-294; 
Omaha, 321-322; Plains In- 
dian, 334-335; in Schurtz's 
scheme, 2g^2gg, 302, 314-319; 
secondary, 322, 329, 332. 

Age, factor, in African and Amer- 
ican tribes, 315; factor, in 
Australian organization, 264, 
315; factor, Dakota com- 
rades, 320; factor, within the 
family, 314; factor. Plains 
military societies, 322; grad- 
ing by, Andaman Islands, 
259; purchase and rank, in 
Plains Indian societies, 325- 


Age-grades, Australian class sys- 
tem, 269-270; Hidatsa, 292. 

Age-groupings, Plains societies, 


Age-societies, Plains Indian, 324- 
335; interpreted, 334^- Sec 
also Age-classes. 

Agriculture, and horticulture, 193, 
I94> 197; division of labor in, 
75; woman's share in, 160, 
179. 183-184, 218. 

Alliances, between North Ameri- 
can tribes, 388. 

Animal names, for sibs, Admiralty 
Islands, 120; Buin, 120, 137- 
138; Iroquois, 143-144; Win- 
nebago, 118; Northwest Coast 
moieties, 128. 

Aristocracy, basis among Plains 
Indians, 340-341; basis. New 
Zealand, 341 ; in primitive so- 
ciety, 355- See Caste. 

Associations, 257-337, 394-396; in 
Andamans, 258 seq. ; coexist- 
ing with sibs among Crow, 
427 seq.; defined, 257; his- 
torical survey of, 257-258; 
rarity in Asia, 310; relation 
to political organization, 395 f. ; 
relation to sibs, 257, 2S2; 
theory of, 297-337; varieties 
of, 319-323; women's, Hidat- 
sa, 294-295 ; women's, in North 
America, 305. 

Autocracy, African rulers, 375, 
376; Natchez, 383. 

Avoidance, Frazer's interpreta- 
tion of rules of, 91, 93, 97; 

parent-in-law, Tylor's inter- 
pretation of, 94-97; ps)rcho- 
anal3rtic motivation in parent- 
in-law taboo, 91-94- 
Avunculate, 248; defined, 81-84; 
and cross-cousin marriage, 
172; examples of usages con- 
nected with, 82-83 ; and matri- 
lineal and patrilineal descent, 
171-173; in Oceania, 179; and 
privileged familiari^, 100. 

Bachelors' kraals, Masai, 273- 

Bachelors segregated, Andamans, 
259> 3i6f.; Australia, 264; 
Bororo, 50; Masai, 50, 271; 
North America, 317; Zulu, 
316. 374. 

Baden- Powell, on joint owner- 
ship of land in India, 232f. 

Bandelier, on Mexican land ten- 
ure. 2l8f. 

Betrothals, infant, 18, 52. 




Bilateral family, universality of, 

Bilateral kin group, 64-68. 
Blood feuds, 568^ 400, 404. 4if 
Blood-kin, prohibition agamst 

marriage of, 15-16. 
Blood-money, 404. 
Boas, on totemism, i^ 145; on 

Tripartite organization of 

Northwest Coast tribes, Ij6- 


Borough-English. See Junior- 

Bravery, influence on prestige, 
Bagobo, 342; Masai, 341-342; 
New Zealand, 341 ; Plains in- 
diauj 339-342. 

Bride-pnce, and dowry, in North 
America, 21-22; Kai, 20; in- 
fluence of patrilocal and mat- 
rilocal residence, 72-73; in- 
fluence of practice of poly- 
gamy, 42; Thonga, 20-21. 

Bride-purchase, in Siberia, 178. 

Brother-in-law and sister-in-law, 
privileged familiarity between, 
100, loi. 

Brother-sister marriage, 15. 

Brown, on Australian family, 66- 
67; on Australian kmship 
usages, 80-81 ; on Australian 
four-class system, 268. 

Bull-roarer, 265-266, 311-313; its 
equivalent, 280. 

Bundles, ceremonial, Hidatsa, 295, 

„ 305. 

Burial customs, influence on rules 
of inheritance, 244. 

Caste, 345-355; affects prestige, 
341, 345 seq., 353 seq., 362- 
367; afreets property rights, 
234; system, Marshall Islands, 
227, 365-366. 

Caste, system, 345-355; affects 
prestige. 341, 345 seq., 353 seq., 
362-367 ; affects property 
rights, 234; Africa, 349-351; 
Maori, 345-347; Marshall Is- 
lands, 227, 365-366; Natchez, 
351-353; New Zealand, 341; 
Northwest Coast, 353-355 ; 
Polynesia, 345; Samoa, 347- 

Ceremonial, chambers, Pueblo, 
308; functions of sibs, 119-UI, 
127; life, Hidatsa, paternal 
kin in, 65; objects, owner- 
ship and transfer of, »9; or- 
ganizations, Zufii, 261-^; 
paraphernalia, 2^2, 279, 290; 
privueges, individual owner- 
ship of, 237 ; privileges, trans- 
fer and ownership of, 209-243. 
Ceremonies, for absolution from 
taboos, Andamans, 260-261 ; 
women's position in, 197. 
Chattels, laws relating to, 23^23^- 
Chiefs, Africa, 221, 350, po seq, 
423, 424; Algonkian, 384; Aus- 
tralia, 360; California, 342- 
343; 404; Crow, 384-3^; 
Dieri, 260; Marshall Islands, 
165-366 ; Melanesia, 3^ ; 
Natchez, 351-353. 383; New 
Guinea, 369; New Zealand, 
228, 362-363, 345-346; North 
America, 384-387 ; northwest 
coast of N. America, 353. 
383-384; Oceania, 225-229, 
345 seq., 362 seq.; Plains In- 
dian, 339; Pol3mesia, 225, 345; 
Samoa, 347, 363-365; Solo- 
mon Islands, 367-369. 
Chieftaincy, succession of, Buin. 

Children, adoption of, 78; indi- 
vidual ownership of property, 
233-234; relations with ma- 
ternal uncle, 82-83; relations 
with paternal kin, 83-84; 
status, in matrilocal honse- 
hold, 71, 72; status, in matri- 
local and patrilocal residence, 
159; status, in patnlocal 
household, 70, 71 ; tendency to 
stabilize marriage, 69. 
Chronology, family and sib, I47- 
150, 165; levirate, sororate 
and sib, 163-164; matrilincal 
and patrilineal stages of cul- 
ture, 16Q-183. 
Civil law, Kafir, 422-424; paudt; 

of, ?97. 
Circumcision, Masai initiation, 

Clans, defined, iii. See mother- 

Cluses, distinction of, by primi- 
tive man, 338; social, Africa. 
349-351; New Zealand, 346- 
347; Northwest Coast, 353- 
354; Samoa, 34?-349- 

Class system, Australia, 267-270. 

Oubs, graded, Banks Islands, 276- 
277; graded. Oceania, 316; 
military. Crow, 288-291 ; in 
Schurtz's scheme, 300; secu- 
lar. Crow, 287-288. See also 
Men's Clubs, Secret Societies, 
Men's "Tribal Society. 

Collateral inheritance, 249!., 371. 

Collective ownership, of property, 
Hidatsa. 218. 

Collective responsibility, for crime, 
399-400; Africa, 418, 422; in 
Australia, 407: Hugao, 411- 

Communal hunting, Plains In- 
dians, 38s- 

Communism, primitive, ZO5-210 ; 
based on communal solidarity, 
208; coexistent with indi- 
vidualism. 209f ., 216, 233 : con- 
nected with food. 2to : distin- 
guished from joint owner- 
ship, 206; distinguished from 
hospitality and moral obliga- 
tions. 207: as to land, 219- 

Compensation, for crimes, 403-404, 

I parent-in-law talwo, 103- 
104 : in tcknonymy, 109 ; in 
totemism, 140-141. 

Council, governing, Africa, 372, 
376f. ; America, 386f. ; Aus- 
tralia, 358, 359f. ; Central Aus- 
tralia, 360-361 : as court, 421 ; 
Dieri, 359-360; Ewe, Z77'- "O- 
quois, 388: Natchei. 383: 
Northwest Coast, 384; Omaha, 
416: Samoa, 3153; Thonga, 

Cburt etiquette. Ewe, 377 ; pro- 


cedure, 420 seq, ; Thonga, 373. 

Courts, Uganda, 424-425, 

Cousins, classification into paral- 
lel and cross, 134- 

Cousin-marriage, 15-18. 

Couvade, 174-175. 

Crests, Northwest Coast tribes, 

Crimes. Australian methods of 
dealing with. 406-409; collec- 
tive responsibility for, 399- 
400 : expiatioti for, 407-408 ; 
recognized, in Australia, 408- 
409; recognized by Omaha, 
416; and torts, 398, 401 seq., 
422; voluntary and involun- 
_ tary, 401-402. 

Criminal law, Katir, 422-424 ; mo- 
tive, 400-402. 

Cross-cousin, defined, 26 ; mar- 
riage, distribution, 26-2^; mar- 
riage, discussion of origin of, 
28-31 ; marriage, and the avun- 
culate, 172 ; marriage, in- 
fluence on classification of 
kinship, 31-32; marriage, and 
sib exogamy, 148; privileged 
familiarity between, loi. 

Cunow, on age-classes, 257, 266; 
on Australian class system, 
268-270; on Hawaiian lanship 
systems, 58-59. 

Dance organizations, Omaha, 321- 

Democracy, East African, 278; 
Masai, 351 ; in North America, 
219-220, 338-339. 351, 383. 384: 
and primitive society, 389-390. 

Descent Khasi, 190; Maori, 345- 
346; matrilineal, influence on 
position of women, 189; ma- 
trilineal and patrilineal, i66- 
185; Melanesian, 393-394: 
Plains Indians, 124-125; rules 
of, 177; rules of, influence on 
inheritance, 173. 247; rules of, 
sib systems east of the Miss- 
issippi. 123-124; rules of, and 
transmission of property, 167- 

Despotism, Africa, 224, 370, 373, 
377 scq. ; Hawaii and Mar- 
snail Islands, 227, 365f. 



Diffusion, 434f ■ ; age-societies, 329 ; 
and the avunculate, 171-172; of 
culture, explanation of theory 
of, 8-13 ; of resemblances 
in sib systems east of Mississ- 
ippi, 123-124 ; importance in 
all problems. 302; influence on 
cultural traits, 176; influence 
on elaboralion of graded se- 
ries of societies. 329-333; jun- 
ior-right usage, 254; levirate, 
sororale. and sib. 163-164; 
parent-in-law taboos, 85-86. 
88-91, 93-94; and Schurt*'s 
scheme, 302: of teknonymy, 

Divination. 406, 422. 

Divorce. 19. 68, 69, 7i- 

Domestication, of animals, a mas- 
culine achievement, 75, 183- 
184. 194. 

Dual orKanization, and Dakota 
kinship terminology, 134. US; 
delincd, 118; simplest con- 
ceivable, 135 ; Southwestern 
sib system. 137. 

Economic, basis of roarriage, 64- 

66: conditions, influence on 
matrilocal or patrilocal resi- 
dence, 72, 73; interpretation, 
of woman's position, 193-201 ; 
interpretation, criticised, 356. 

Elders' class, Australia, rule of, 

Endogamy, defined ; tribes having, 
16-17, 16a 

Endogamous, groups, 30 ; moie- 
ties. 132-133. 136. 

Environment, examples of adap- 

Elhics, and law, differences be- 
tween. Plains Indians. 207-208. 

Evidence. 402, 404-406. 

Evolutionary doctrine, influence 
on llieories of social phenom- 

^ ena. 55-55. 

Exogamy, effect on marriage cus- 
toms, 148; Blacktoot. 124; 
Crow, 113; dettned, 16; and 
endogamy, not mutually ex- 
clusive, exarnples. 17 ; Gros 
■ Ventre, 125; Hupa, 112; Iro- 
uitoiSt 113; law of. 113-114; 

and lesser and greater sibs, 
132; Metanesia, 105; Miwok. 
113; and the sib system, II4: 
in sibs east of Mississippi, 
123 ; and totemism. 141 ; Zuiii 

Exogamous groups. Northwest 
Coast tribes, 130 : quarters. 
Northwest Coast tribe*. 129. 

Expiatory combal, 407 f. 

Familiabity, privileged. gB-ioi, 

Family, the. 63-77 : bilateral char- 
acter of. 63-64. iti, 147; in- 
dividual, a social unit, 66; in- 
fluence of avunculatc on. 82- 
83; life, influence of kinship 
usages on, 81 ; polygjrnoui, 
44-45 ; priority of the. 147-156; 
and sib, distinctiou between, 
112-113; unit, looseness of. 6& 

Fatherhood, determination of, in 
fraternal polyandry. 47-48. 

Father-sibs. delined. 1 12 ; devel- 
opment of, in Siberia, 178; 
exogamous. 118, 120, IJ6, 

Father's sister, social relatioai 
with nephew, 83. 

Feasting societies, Omaha, JW. 

Peuds, Eskimo, 414; Ifugao, 411. 

Fines, 409 seq., 423. 402.403. 4*4- 

Four-class system. Australia, 3S7. 

Fraternities, Zulii and Hopt, aBj* 
286, 336. 

Frazer, on the levirate, 6a; on 
rules of avoidance. 91,03, m; 
on social behavior of rcn- 
tives by blood and marriage 
101; on teknonymy, 108: 
totemism, 141-142. 

Freire-Marreco. on Pueblo funiljr 
life, 71, 

Freud, on psycho-analytic molha- 
tion of parent-in-law tabooi^ 

Fruit trees, special ownersbip . 
in Africa, 223; in Oceania, 


Gerontocracy, Australia, 


Ghost orKaniiations, Banks I>- 

lands, 278. 307-308, 363- 
Gifford, on Mi wok cross-cousin 
marriage.^. 30-31; Miwok 
kinship terms, 38; on sib sys- 
tems of California, 128, 
Goldenweiser, on totemism, 139- 

141, 143. 
Government, Africa, 369-38a ; Aus- 
tralia. 359-361 ; democracy and 
primitive organizations, 38g 
seq. ; Melanesia and New 
Guinea. 367-3*59: North Amer- 
ica, 383-389; Polynesia and 
Micronesia, 361-367. 
Grades, of age- series explained, 
339 seq. ; of Masai men, 271 ; 
of Melanesian club. 276 seq.; 
Melanesian and Hidatsa com- 
pared, awf. See also age- 
Group, marriage, 40, 49, 54. 61- 
&2; ownership of property, 

Guilds, Cheyenne b 

i, 30S- 

Historical method, in ethnoloRy. 

Hobhouse, 00 bride-buying peo- 
ples, 36 ; on maternal -pater- 
nal descent, 180-182: on pas- 
toral life and woman's status, 

Hollis. on East African sibs, 137. 

House ownership. Ho pi women. 

Hunting territories, joint and in- 
dividual ownersnip of. 21 1- 
215; owned by Hopi sibs, II7- 

In-Breedimg. primitive repugnance 
for, 15-16. 

Incest, crime in Australia. 408 ; 
fundamental social law pre- 
cluding, 105 ; result of sophis- 
ticated dvili«tion, 58; uni- 
versal taboo against, 15-16. 

Incorporeal property. 235-243 : 
Andamans, 235 ; hereditary 
and non -hereditary, 337, 339f.; 

and individual ownership, 243 : 
Koryak, 236; Nootka. 237; 
Plains Indians, 238 seq. ; 
Torres Straits, 236. 

Independent development, 355, 
432 ; Blackf oot-Gros Ventre 
sib scheme. [36; castes in 
Polynesia and the Northwest 
Coast, 355 ; cross-cousin mar- 
riage, 31 : examples of, in va- 
rious phases of culture, I0-13; 
name taboo, 89; theory ex- 
plained. 8-13. 

Individual ownership, of chattels, 
233-234: in general, 305-310. 
233. 235. 243; Hottentot. 215; 
incorporeal properly. 235 seq. ; 
in India, 232f, ; Kirgiz, 216: 
of land, Africa. 221-222: Aus- 
tralia. 214; Fiji, 236: North- 
east Algonkians, 2iif,; Torres 
Straits, 227; Vedda. 214; 
Zufii. 217. 

Industrial occupation, sexual di- 
vision of labor in. 75. 

Infanticide, female. 46, 47-48: in- 
fluence on polyandry, 46, 48. 

Inheritance, 243-255; ceremonial 
privileges. 117; chieftaincy, 
Solomon Islands, 368: collat- 
eral, 24c)-25o; conjugal. 245; 
and descent. 167-169. 250; fra- 
ternal, Arapaho, 250;* frater- 
nal. Thonga, 37i-3?2; heredi- 
tary and acquired property, 
243: Hidatsa, 243-244 1 Hop!, 
217: hunting grounds. Algon- 
kians. 213 ; incorporeal prop- 
erty, 237-238. 242; influence 
on marriage customs, 245 ; in- 
fluence of sib on rules of, 245- 
247; land, in Melanesia. 235- 
236; Kai, 243. 244; mullipfe, 
246f., 251 : Northwest Coast. 
354; in Oceania, 180; Ostyak, 
200, 34s ; primogeniture, 248f, ; 
property, Ewe women, ao; 
reindeer herds. 245 : roles, 
Chukchi and Koryak, 177: 
rules, cross-cousin marriage a 
result of. 30-31 : rules, Eski- 
mo, 253; sib. 245f.: Torres 
Straits Islands, 237. 243 : by 
women* 244f. 



Initiation rites, Andamans, 259- 
261 ; Arunta, 318 ; Australia, 
264-266 ; Banks Islands, 276, 
279-281; boys, Solomon Is- 
lands, 368; and bull-roarer, 
311-313: Crow Tobacco socie- 
ties. 286-288 ; diffusion of, 
313 ; Masai, 271-27S. 318 ; 
Melanesia, 276, 36S: not tribal 
in North America. 318, Zuiii, 

Instability of family u 



T-Ow NEKS HIP, of property, 


Joking-relaiives. 385. 

Jolcing-relationship. Crow and Hi- 
datsa. 100, 10 1. 

Junior lev irate, dialribution, 32- 
33; parallel to, in the soro- 
rate, 36-37: taboos connected 
withj 102, 103, 104; theory of 
orlRin, 35. 

Junior-right, 251-254; and con- 
vergence, 254 : with primo- 
freniture. 251 f. 

Justice. Africa, 318-425 : Australia, 
406-409; Eskimo. 413-415; 
Ifugao. 409-412: Plains In- 
dians. 415-416; Polynesia, 416. 

KiK, alignment, in matri local resi- 
dence, 71-72, 191-192; in patri- 
local residence. 70-71; moth- 
er's and father's. 81-84. 
jngs, 349, 365. 370 scq. ; Africa, 
350 : Dahomi, 380-381: Ewe, 
376-377. 378; Hawaiian. 417: 
powers of, 359; supreme judge, 
417. 424: Thonga, 371-372: 
Yonibaland, 381 ; Zulu, 373- 

Kinuiip, avunculatc a definite type 
of, 172-173; basis of the sib. 
Ill ; classiiication. influence 
on cross-cousin marriage, 3a; 
group, as judicial body. 397; 
Hidatsa, 65, 84 ; and law, 
Ifugao, 39>-39a, 409-412; or- 
ganization, see sib; and politi- 
cal orsfaniialion. 395-396 ; 
among siblings. 114; systems, 
distinguishing lineal and col- 
lateral kin, 155: Hawaiian, 58- 

59; influence of sib organiia- 
lion upon, 162; temtinology, 
AustraJian, 270; Dakota, 60. 
61, 114-115: Dakota and the 
sib, 134, 162-166; Crow, 60; 
Crow sib-mates, 117; as evi- 
dence of imiversality of the 
family unit. 64 ; factor in niar- 
riagc prohibitions, 16 ; Ha- 
waiian, 57, 154; Hidatsa, 6oj 
influenced by levirate and so- 
rorate, 37-38 ; influence of *h, 
113: Miwok Paviotso, 16; Si- 
berian, 103; Vabi, 37-^; 
Wishram. 37: reciprocal, 270J 
Thonga. 64; Torres Strain 
Islanders, 65; usages, 8i>-ioft 

Kohler, on group marriage, 61. 

Kroeber, analysis of Southwest' 
em sib system, 127; on P*. 
ciRc Coast separations, ^; 
on Pueblo ceremonial orgaiu» 
zation. 28^286; on Parbk) 
matrilocal units, 73: on ~ 
and societies, 283 seq. 

LAkOB, sexual divi 

of. 66. 74, 

... _., ,^ 74' 
75, 160-161. 187. 198, 20a; An- 
damans, 262; importance itl< 
social history of mankind, 1S3; 
Kirgiz, 76; Thonga, 76; Toda. 

Land. African tribes, ownerilijp 
of. 221-225; Australian' atti- 
tude toward ownership, aij- 
214; communal ownership of, 
206, 231 ; division of con- 
quered. New Zealand. 338; 
hereditary, 225; joint ownct* 
ship of, 229, 231, 232: Joint 
ovmcrship, Ifugao, aap; owt>- 
ership, in ancient Mexico, ai»- 
219; ownership by sib denied, 
216-217 ; ownership, in Soiitll 
America, 219-220: tenure, aitt- 
233: tenure. Africa, 321-32$; 
tenure, in America, 216-230; 
tenure, feudal, 224, 23?: 
tenure, among hunting tribes, 
211-215; tenure. Ifugao. aag- 
231; tenure, India, 231-333: 
tenure, individual or com- 
munal, 211 seq., 229-233; ten- 
ure, among pastoral peoples 

2i5f. ; tenure, in Oceania, aas- 
aag; tenure, among tillers, 
316-S33 ; transfer. In Africa 
Bencrally, 2ZI ; transfer, 
among Ewe, 223; transfer, 
Fiji, 226; transfer, Ifu^ao, 
230-231 : transfer, impossible 
in Mexico, 2to. 

Laufer, on primitive ceramics, 
75 ; on Chinese family life, 76. 

Laws, civil. 397 T criminal, 397" 
399; Ewe, 377; fundamental, 

iireduding incest. 105 ; socio- 
ogical and historical, see uni- 
linear evolution ; underlying 
civilization, 5-6. 

League of the Iroquois, 3^389. 

Legends, local, proprietorship of, 

Legislative fund ions, primitive 
communities, 358. 

Levirate, 156, 174: Crow, 102; de- 
fined, ig; distribution of, 32- 
36 ; Frazer interprets as a relic 
of group marriage. 621 Hidat- 
sa, ai ; influence on Dakota 
tcrminolog>'. 114: influence on 
kinship classifications, 61, 163- 
16s : influence of marriage by 
purchase, 34; influence on so- 
cial relations, 81. 
Ige, importance in the North- 
west Coast. 354-355. 

Licensed wife stealing, 68, 

Live stock, property rights in con- 
nection with, 234-235. 

Magic formulas, individual own- 
ership of. 236. 

Majority vote, absence of, 369, 

Maine, comparison of rude and 
mature jurisprudence: crimes 
and torts, 31J7 seq. ; on col- 
lective ownership, i>6; his his- 
torical method, 436; on inher- 
itance of land. 243; on joint 
ownership, especially of land, 
206 231 ; on political organi- 
zation of society, 391. 

Mai Hand, on dTSusion and so- 
ciological laws, 435. 

Marriage, 14-38; on the Amazon, 
165; Australian, 266-268; by 

"^ 457 

capture. 23-24 : economic basis 
of, 64-66: by exchange, 17: 
form of, Dieri, 52-54: Hupa, 
70-71 ; individual, not in- 
fluenced by sexual commun- 
ism, 50, 51, 52: Kai, 82; Ka- 
riera, 172: Koryak, 22; Ma- 
konde, 82: by mutual consent, 
24: Natchez. 352; prohibitions, 
15-17: by purchase, 17, 19-21. 
24-25; Ostyak, 200; Reindeer 
Chukchi, 200; regula^tions, 
Australian. 105 ; regulations, 
Melanesia, 105 : regulations, 
for relatives by, 84-97; Thon- 
ga, 82; Tibetan. 46; transfer 
of property in, 205 : Zulu, 374- 

Maskcd Dancer society, Zuiii, 281- 

Mate, means of acquiring, 17-26. 

llalcmal uncle, relations with 
nephew. 82-83. 

Mating, preferential, 26-38. 

Matriarchate. the, 180-191 ; Iro- 
quois, 190; among Khasi, i8q, 
190 ; not consequence of 
mother-sibs, iSgf. ; Pueblo, 

Malrilineal descent, influence of 
property rights upon, 160 ; 
Hopi, 176; Northwest Coast 
tribes, 128; Zuiii. 127. 

Matrilineal groups. 168. 

Matrilineat kinship group, in- 
fluence of matrilocaJ residence 
on. isg. 

Matrilocal marriage, influence on 
parenl-in-law taboos, 94, 96. 

Matrilocal residence, 159; causal 
connection with leknonymy, 
107, 108; Eskimo, 73: Hidat- 
sa. 72; Hopi, 42, 164; in- 
fluence on kinship system, 164; 
influence on practice of poly- 
gyny, 42; Kai, 102; Khasi. 
72: Ovambo, 72; Pueblo, 192; 
and woman's position. 191- 
192; Yukaghir, 72-73, 178. 192. 

Matrilocal tribes, 70-72. 

Matron3inic groups. 6^-65. 

Mcl^ennan, on Hawaiian kinship 
system, 59. 

Men's clubs. Crow, 287; Mela- 
nesia, 276: see also Military 



ies. Associations, Secret 

I's clubhouse, Banks Islands, 
276; genetic connection with 
bachebr's dormitory. 357. 

Uen's house. 197, agg, 306. 307. 
308. S'S-at*. 3'7, 3681 in 
Schurtz'5 scheme, ago. 

Men*5 tribal society, in Australia, 
363: Melanesia, 275; Pueblo 



primitive horror of, 

Merkcr. on African sibs, 137. 

Military, associations, Crow. 288- 
201: Hidatsa, 3g3-396: clubs. 
Hidatsa. 241 ; organi stations. 
Hidatsa, ag2-2g3: renown, 
quest for; Bagobo, 34t; Ma- 
sai, 342: New Zealand, 341; 
Plains Indians. 33Q-341 : so- 

cs, Cro 


292 seq,. 342, 

Moieties. Australian, 266-267: and 
Dakota type of kinship no- 
menclature. 134; defined, ti8; 
Eastern North America and 
Plains sibs. 125: exoKamaus 
patrilineal, Miwok. iig; ex- 
ogainous and non-exogamous, 
132-133 ; group, sibs east of 
the Mississippi, 123 ; Iroquois, 
132; Northwest Coast Tribes, 
136-137; theory of origin of, 
135-137: Winnebago, 118. 

Monarchical government, Africa, 
369-370: Congo, Kwe. 376- 
380: Thonga, 370-373; Yoru- 
baland, 381-382; Zuhi. 373- 

Monarchy, and land law. 221, 224. 
See King's. Despotism, Chiefs. 

Monogamy. Andamans. 167 ; Eski- 
mo, 41: Hopi, 42; Kai, 42; 
Kikuyu, 4'; Kirgiz, 42; Yu- 
kaghir, 42: Zuiii. 42. 
irgan, atomistic theory of so- 
dety. 357. 338, 390. 427: cf. 
ififli Schuru. 301 seq.; criti- 
im of his theories on the 
laily and the sib, 147-151; 
, democracy, 356, 389: on 
,4scent and transmission of 


property, 169: on devda^ 
ment of human marriage, y- 
62: on development of later 
and greater sibs. I30-'3I . ™ 
the exogamic sib, i47-<^; w 
group marriage. 6i-6a; tnadt- 
quacy of his scheme of or- 
ganization of primiljvt *». 
ciety, 257; on the levirat^Si; 
on marriage, 55-6a; 00 onpa 
of sib organization, ix>; «e 
primitive" democracy, 3^ SI. 
389 1 on primitive pottQca] or- 
^nation. 390, 39' ; 00 prior- 
ity of matrilineal descent, 166: 
on stability of kinship termi, 

Mother-sibs, defined, iii, Ii3:de- 
velopment of, Hidatsa, i(a: 
exogamous, Crow, 116; and 
f aiher-sibs, 166-185 ; Hopi, 
116, 117; relative priority of. 
in Oceania, 179. 

Motive, criminal, 4oof. 

Murder, not alwaj's a crinw, 407; 
in the Plains, 415; panishmeoi 
for, 404. 414. 4>6, 417- 

Names, animals, for sibs. 137-13S: 
avoidance of use of, of tho« 
under taboo. 86-88; Eutan 
North American sibs, laj; b' 
dividual ownership of. 3]& 
2J7 : individual and penamL 
Iroquois sibs. 143: Ui<ink 
moieties, iig; Mohegxn nbs, 
i^i : personal, Miwok. HC 
sibs, Crow: sibs, Hopi, 117: 
sibs, east of the Mississippi, 
123, 134: taboos, 89-90, i(B: 
Winnebago father-sibs, ItS- 


Oaths, 405: Ewe, 421-4^3. 
Ordeals, 405, 406, ^12; ^18, 41% 

423; Australian initiation, 36S: 

Banks Islands, 280-281 : Ewt. 

419-420: Hawaii, 418; Uasii, 

271 : Thonga, 422. 
Orphans, status Nmong ] 

peoples, it-i^ 


Pakalul cousins, 29; defined, 26; 
marriage tabooed between, 

Parallelism. See Independent De- 

Parent-in-law taboos, occurrence 
in different regions, 85-86, 87, 
88, 93-94, 103-104. ios-106. 

Parsons, rejects Frazer's theory of 
social taboos, 104; on teknony- 

Pastoral life, woman's status in, 
193. 195. 198. 

Paternal kin, usages connected 
with, 81, 83-8+ 

Paternal sibs, Siberia. 177-178. 

Patrilineal, groups, 168, 173; seg- 
regation of kin, AJgonkian 
tribes, [60; tribes, 171. 

Patrilocal, groups, of women, 160- 
161 ; residence, 70-74; resi- 
dence, on the Amazon, 165 ; 
residence, among the Aus- 
tralians, 161 1 residence, Eski- 
mo. 73; residence, Hupa, 112. 
157-158; residence. Koryak. 
72-73: residence, influence on 
parent-in-law taboo, 95-56 ; 
residence, among matri lineal 
people, 159; residence, in 
Oceania. 180; residence, Si- 
beria, 178; tribes, 70-71, 

Patronymic groups, 63-64, 65. 

Pawning, of land, 230; of person, 

Pearson, on sociological laws. 
4. 436- 

Penallies, exacted for crimes, 3g9- 
400. 417- 

Philbrick, on the sib. 111. 

Plundering expeditions, against 
criminal, 417-418. 

Police organization, Plains In- 
dians. 385-386, 415!. 

Political functions, Ostyak sibs, 
120: Winnebago sibs, itg, 121. 

Political organization, 358; Africa, 
221 -225, 369-383 ; A merica, 
220; and associations, 395f-; 
Australia, 3S9-36i : Bakuba, 
380-381 ; coexistence with sibs. 
392 scq.; Dahomt, 379-380; 
defined, 358-359: Ewe. 376- 
378; lack of among Ifugao. 

EX 459 

39if. ; Maine's and Morgan's 
theory of, 390, 391; Melanesia 
and New Guinea, 367-369 ; 
Natchez. 383; New Zealand. 
362-363. 36s; Northwest Coast, 
3S3-J84; in Oceania, 22; Sa- 
moa, 229, 363-367; Thonga, 
370-373; Vorubaland. 381; 
Zulu. 37^-377. 

Political society, Schurte on ori- 
gin of. 394-306. 

Polyandry, 45-49, 205 ; Chukchi, 
52; distribution of. 45; eco- 
nomic influence on. 45-46 ; fra- 
ternal variety, 46-48; Toda, 
49. 167. 

Polygamy, 40-62. 205 ; defined, 40 ; 
influenced by biological and 
economic conditions, 40, 42, 45. 

Polygyny. 205 ; analysis among 
Reindeer Kotyak, 43-44; de- 
fined, 40; distribution, 40-41, 
43. 44. 48; economic condi- 
tions influence, 43-44; limita- 
tion by matrilocal residence. 
72 ; motives for, 42-44, 

Population, proportion of male 
and female. Eskimo, 40-41 ; 
Toda, 46-47. 

Potential mates, licensed familiar- 
ity between, 102. 

Preferential mating, distribution, 

Primogeniture. 248-255 ; Maori, 
346; New Zealand, 34^. 362; 
Nootka, 354 355 ; Samoa, 349; 
Thonga, 371-372- 

PrivilcRcd familiarity. 99-toi, 103. 

Progress, 437 seq. 

Prohibitions, marriage, 15-17. 

Property, ZO5-255 ; collective own- 
ership of, 206; concepts, basis 
of levirate, 34-35 ; conveyance, 
by Ewe, 223 ; and cross- 
cousin marriage, 31 ; Crow, 
168; HIdatsa, 168; and the 
Hopi sib, 117; individual own- 
ership of, 208; inheritance of, 
1S9, IQO; influence on rank on 
the Northwest Coast. 354 ; 
Navaho, 168 ; ownership, by 
woman, 160, 16 1 ; ownership, 
Yuchi, 217; ownership. Zuiii. 
217; rights. Banks Island 


^f^'. force o? ,^;, 
^""Mhrnent for ,,- 

cept ,-n ^'^■^•''^'efies, 

*'"ance to Pri'°'"f3nce 

f^P '■" c/ub, g-^ .• r 
300, jaj. ^^' ^6, i 

j^j»K. 338-357 
R«.proca, sii^/ce, h , 

Re/fi'*""'' and mlrr,- '"''''"■^'e 


Iroquois. 143. 388; Kariera, 
association with plants and 
animals. 138; linked, 127, 130. 
131; Masai, 271; membership 
in, influence of marriage on, 
115; organization, Blackfoot, 
124 : organization, California. 
138; organization, Gros Ven- 
tre, 124 ; organization, in- 
fluence on transmission of 
Iiroperty, 205 ; organiiation, 
ackin^ among Fuegians, 151: 
organization, Masai. 270-271, 
375 : organization, in North 
America, 122-123; organiza- 
tion, and kinship systems, 162 ; 
origin of lesser organization, 
tripartite, Mohcpan. 131 ; or- 
pnization, relation to Pueblo 

, " , 283-285 ; organi- 

zation, Siberia, 177-179 ; or- 
ganization, types of, 116-122; 
organization, unity or diver- 
lity of ori^n, 122-130; patri- 
lineal, California, iz8; and 
greater units, 130-131, 157-162; 
BS proprietary unit, 216 seq., 
224, 245 : restricted distribu- 
tion of unilateral, 147; and se- 
cret societies, 283; survival 
after contact with Caucasians, 

b system, Admiralty Islands, 
121 ; alleged effects on mar- 
riage system, 148; Blackfoot. 
is6; Buin, 120-121 ; California, 
153-134 ; correlation with Da- 
kota type of kinship terminol- 
ogy, 150; Crow, 116-117; dii- 

, tribulion in Africa, 151-IJ2; 
diversity in North America, 
126; cast of the Mississippi, 
123-124; Gros Ventre, history 
of, 125-126; Hopi, 117; inde- 
pendent development through- 
out the world, 129; Kariera, 
121; lacldng in the Andaman 
Islands, 151; Melanesia, 120; 
northwestern plains of North 

' America, 124-125; northwest 

' coast of North America, 128- 
B I2g; in tlie Southwest, 127; 

Winnebago, 118; Zufii, 127. 
Sibtings, defined, 26; restriction 

of intimacy between, 

usages cotmected with fath* ] 

er-s, 84. ■ 

Singing contests, Eskimo, 413. 

Sins, and crimes, 3Q8, ^14. 

Sisters, exchange of. m mating, ,■ 
18. ^ 

Slaveiy,, 346f., 350, 353, 356; 
Africa, 234. 3S0; Maori, 346- 
347: Northwest Coast, 353. 

Smith, G. Elliot, theory of origin 
of totemism, 138. 

Social, grouping. Banks Islands, 
276-277; Masai. 271-275. 

Social intercourse, restrictions in, 

Social organization, Andaman Is- 
lands, 258-262 ; Australia, 36a- 
270 ; Banks Islands, 275-281 ; 
Crow, 2S6-292 ; evolution com- 
pared with that of material 
culture. 437 seq. ; Hidatsa, 392- 
296; interrelations of various 
aspects of, 14 ; intricate, found 
with rude cultures, 149: Ma- 
sai, 270-375; Pueblo Indians, 

Social progress, distinguishing 
stages of. in Australia, 26.1. 

Social relations, influence of kin- 
ship usages on. 80-81. 

Social restrictions, connection with 

Social status, stages of, Masai, 
definite usages linked v '' 

Social stratification. Marshall 
lands. 365-^. 

Social usages, importance of ma- 
ternal and paternal kin in, 65. 

Social and sexual taboos, psycho- 
logical interpretation of, 104, 

Societies, graded. Plains. 336-332; 

women's, Africa. 309-3'0. 
Societies, secret, Africa. 309, 381, 

419: Banks Islands. 278-281: 

Calitomta, 307, 308; Central 

Algonkian, 305; Hidatsa, aoS! 

Melanesia, 278 seq,, 336 ; 

Omaha. 330 ; Pueblo, 282; in 

Schurtz's scheme, 300. 
Society membership, form af, 

property, 240, 241 f. 

isai. ' m 




rngs, indiviilual ownership of, 
^ 335-336. 
Sorcery, Ewe, 419-420; Thonga, 

Sororate. Crow. 102; defined. 18; 
distribution of. 32-37; Hidat- 
sa. 44; indiience an Dakota 
* of tcrminoloKy, 1 14: in- 
flce on kinship lerminol- 
v and classification. 61, 163; 
inriuence on social relations. 
81; Kariera, 18: Morgan in- 
terprets as a relic of Ki'oi'P 
marriage, 62. 
Speck on individually owned 
hunting grounds, 158. 160. 

Spinsters segregated, An damans, 
■ouses. status of, in malrilocal 
and patrilocal residence, 70- 
71, 72. 

Status terms, in Andamans. 25^, 
262; in Australia, 264: Masai, 

Suitor's test, Arawak, 22-23 ; Kor- 
yak, 23-24. 

Supernatural experiences, com- 
mon, associations based on. 
Plains Indians, 320-321. 

S wanton, on croas-cousin mar- 
riage. 31 : on the sib, in North 
AmerTca, 150. 

Taboos, barring social inter- 
course, 97-99: food, Aus- 
tralian. 264-365: food. Toda, 
75 ; against incest, universal. 
15; connected with initiation 
in the Andamans, 260, 261 ; 
ag^nst killing or eating totem 
animals. 139; Idnship, 97-98; 
and license, 101-107 ; New 
Zealand. 362-363 :,Oceania gen- 
erally. 363: parent-in-law, 84- 
97, 107: Polynesian chiefs 
prerogative, 362!.; protection 
rtt DTOperty, 279, 363: social 
sexual, correlation be- 
., t04 : transgression of, 
hment for, 414- 
on politicsil organ iza- 

Teknonymy, defined, 107; exam- 
ples of practice, 107-109: ex- 
planation of, 262; »nd status 
terms, 262. 

Territorial organization, Aus- 
tralia, 393 ; Melanesia^ 39^-394. 
See Political Organtxation. 

Territorial rights, jealousy re- 
garding, 3g4. 

Theft, punishment for, 424. 

Three-class division of s< 
I fugao, 402. 

Thurnwald, on Buin sib 

Tobacco, planting. Crow, 

ship and transfer of privilege, 
240-24r: society, 286; society, 
women's place in, 3OS. 

Torts, 398 seq. 

Totemism, I37-I45. 264: Aninta, 
138; British Columbia. 140: 
Central Australian type o(, 
140: diffusion of, 138; Goldoi- 



. "43: 

and the sib, 142: 

Trade unions, Cheyenne. 30s; Sa- 
moan. 348. 

Tribal organization. Sec Politi- 
cal Organization. Sib, 390-396: 
Ifugao. 391-392. 

Tripartite division of society, 258; 
259, 261-262, 398. 

Tylor, on cross -cousin niarriaAe, 
29-30: on Dakota type of km- 
ship terminology and sib syi- 
tem, 114: interpretation of 
parent-in-law avoidance, 94- 
97; on the levirate, 32. 33-34. 
36; matrilineal and patrilineal 
SUges of culture, 169-183; on 
matrilocal residence. 159; on 

Unilatehal, descent, most effec- 
tive means of establishing, 
157: reckoning of kinship, t6i- 


Vision, importance of infliiei 

I the Plains, 
Visionary experiences, individual 
character of proprietary 
rights, 242. 

Wealth, 342-345: conception of, 
among various peoples, 343- 
^; determines penalties, 402; 
influence on prestige, 277, 
343f.. 368. 

Webster, on associations. 257. 

Wercgild, 402-404. 

Witchcraft and justice, 414. Aigf- 

Wives, abduction of. Crow, 290- 
29a; exchange of, 51-52; sur- 
render of, 49- 

Wife-slealing, licensed, Crow, 68. 

Woman, excluded from activities 
of men, 74, 75. 77: excluded 
from mysteries, 263, 279; Von 
den Steinen's and Radin's ex- 
planation, 304: as herd owner, 
aoo-201 ; as house owner, 190, 
216. 2413 : individual owner- 
ship of property by. 233-234; 
inferiority of, differences in 
character among Chukchi, Os- 
tyak, and Oceanians, 196: as 
inheritor, 200, Z45 ; isolation 

of. Banks Islands, 77 : as land 
owner, 214, 21S, 224 : as owner 
of chattels, 2^3. 245; and 
property rights, m Africa, 224- 
225; segregation of, 197; 
segregation during menstrua- 
tion, 203. 

Woman, position of, 74-76, 183- 
203; Andamans, 187, 193. 201; 
Australia, 202, 263, i8g ; Afri- 
ca, 169: Bantu, 201: Central 
Asia, 187, 201 ; Chinese, i83, 
201 ; Ewe. 20 ; influence of eco- 
nomic conditions, 193 seq. ; 
influence of maternal sibs, 1S9 
seq. ; influence of matrilocal 
residence, 191 ; influence of 
pastoral life, 193-195: in- 
fluence of stage of civilisa- 
tion, 201-203; influence on 
teknonymy, IOQ ; Iroquois. 
201 ; Kai, 20; Kirgiz, 19; legal 
and real status of, 181S. 188: 
Maritime and Reindeer Oiuk- 
chi, 199-200; Oslyak, 200: 
and property rights, 202; in 
social organization, 303-313 ; 
Siberia, 187-188; Thonga, 20; 
Toda. 187; Vedda. 193, 201. 

Women's socielics, African, jog; 
Chevcnne. 305; Hidatsa, 394; 
Pueblo. 305. 


Initiation rites. An damans, 259- 
a6i; Arunta, 318; Australia, 
264-366^ Banks Islands, 276, 
2?()-28i ; boys, Solgmon Is- 
lands, 368: and bull-roarer, 
311-313: Crow Tobacco socie- 
ties, 286-288; diffusion of, 
313; Masai. 27'-27S. 3i8; 
Melanesia, 276, 368; not tribal 
in Nortli America, 318, Zuni, 

Instability of family unit. 68-70, 

JoiNT-OwMEBSHiP. of property, 

Joking-relatives, 385. 

JokinR- relationship, Crow and Hi- 
datsa. 100, tot. 

Junior Icvirate, distribution, 32- 
33; parallel to, in the soro- 
rate, 36-37 ; taboos connected 
with, I02, 103. 104; theory of 
oriirin 35, 

Junior-right, 251-254 ; and con- 
vergence, 254 ; with primo- 
geniture. 251 f. 

Justice. Africa, 318-425; Australia. 
406-409; Eskimo, 412-415; 
Ifugao, 409-412; Plains In- 
dians, 415-416: Polynesia. 416. 

Kin, alignment, in malrilocal resi- 
dence, 71-72. iqi-iga; in patri- 
local residence, 70-71 ; moth- 
er's and father's, 81-84. 
Jngs, 349, 36s, 370 scq.; Africa. 
350 ; Dahomi, 380-381 ; Ewe, 
376-377. 37S: Hawaiian, 417: 
powers of, 33Q ; supreme judge, 
417, 424 ; Thonga, 371-372 ; 
Yorubaland, 381 ; Zulu, 373- 

Kinship, avunculate a definite type 
of, 172-173; basis of the sib, 
III; classification, influence 
on cross-cousin marriage, 32: 
sroup, as judicial body. 397: 
Hidatsa, 65, 84 : and law, 
Ifu^ao, 3!)i-392,_ 409-412; or- 
ganization, see 51b ; and politi- 
cal or(?ani/ation, 395-396; 
among siblings, 114; systems, 
distinguishing lineal and col- 
lateral kin, 155 ; Hawaiian, 58- 

59; influence of sib organiia- 
tion upon. 162; terminology. 
Australian, 270; Dakota. 60, 
61, 114-115; Dakota and the 
sib. 134. J62-166; Crow, 60; 
Crow sib-mates, 117; as evi- 
dence of universality of Hit 
family unit, 64: factor in mar- 
riage prohibitions. 16 ; Ha- 
waiian, 57. 154; HidaUa, 60; 
influenced by levirate and »o- 
rorate, ^7-38; influence of sib, 
113: Miwok Paviotso, 16; Si- 
berian. 103 : Yahi. 37-38 : 
Wishram, 37; reciprocal. 270: 
Thonga, 64; Torres Straits 
Islanders, 65; usa^s, 80-iag. 

Kohler. on group marriage, 61. 

Kroeber. analysis of Southwest- 
em sib system. 127 ; on Pa- 
eifie Coast separations, 387 ; 
on Pueblo ceremonial organi- 
zation, 282-286; on Pueblo 
matrilocal units, 73; on sibs 
and societies, 283 seq. 

Lakor, sexual division of, 66, 74' 
75, 160-161. 187, ig8. 20a: An- 
damans, 26a; importance in 
social history of mankind, 181: 
Kirgit. 76; Thonga. 76: Toda, 

Land, African tribes, ownenbtp 
of. 221-225; Australian atti- 
tude toward ownership, iij- 
214 ; communal ownerstiip of, 
206, 231 ; division of coo- 
Que red. New Zealand, ztf; 
hereditary, 225; joint owner- 
ship of, 229. 231, 332: joinr 
ownership, Ifugao. 229: own- 
ership, in ancient Mexico, ai8- 
219; ownership by sib denied, 
216-217 ; ownership, in Soath 
Amenca, 219-220; tenure. 3ii>- 
233; tenure. Africa. azi-3XS; 
tenure, in America, ai6-na; 
tenure, feudal. 224, 337; 
tenure, among hunting tribes. 
211-215; tenure, Ifugao, 3^9- 
231 : tenure, India, 23t-X33-, 
tenure, individual or com- 
munal, 211 seq.. 23^233: |«a- 
ure, among pastoral peoples. 

aist. '. tenure, in Oceania, 225- 
33g; tenure, among tillers, 
216-333; transfer, in Africa 
generally, 221 : transfer. 
among Ewe, 223 ; transfer, 
Fiji, 226 ; transfer, Ifugao, 
23&-231 ; transfer, impossible 
in Uexico, 219, 

Lanfer, on primitive _ ceramics, 
75 ; on Chinese family life, 76. 

Laws, civil. 397; criminal, 397- 
399; Ewe, 377; fundamenlal, 

iirecluding incest, 105; socio- 
Ogical and historical, see uni- 
linear evolution : underlying 
civiliiation, 5-6. 
League of the Iroquois, 388-389. 
Legends, local, proprietorship of, 

Legislative functions, primitive 

, 3S8. 

Levirati?, 156. 174: Crow, 102: de- 
fined, 19; distribution of, 32- 
36 ; Frazer interprets as a relic 
of group marriage. 62; Hidat- 

► sa, 21 ; influence on Dakota 
terminology, 114: influence on 
kinship ctaasiflcations, 61. 163- 
165 : influence of marriage by 
purchase. 34: influence on so- 
cial rela'tions, 81. 
Lineage, importance in the North- 
west Coast. 354-355- 
Licensed wife stealing. 68. 

»tjve stock, property rights in con- 
t section with, 234-235. 
Hagic formulas, individual own- 
ership of, 236. 
Majority vote, absence of, 369, 

Maine, comparison of rude and 
mature jurisprudence: crimes 
and torts, 397 seq. ; on col- 
lective ownership, 206: his hb- 
torical method, 436; on inher- 
itance of land, 243; on joint 
ownership, especially of land, 
206 231 ; on ^political organi- 
zation of society, 391. 
Mai t land, on diffusion and so- 
ciological laws, 435. 
Marnage, 14-38: on the Amazon, 
165; Australian. 366-368; by 

capture. 23-24 : economic basis 
of, 64-66; by exchange, 17; 
form of, Dieri, 52-54; Hupa. 
70-71 ; individual, not in- 
fluenced by sexual com 
ism, 50, 51. S2;,Kai, 82; Ka- 
riera, 172; Koryak. 22; Ma- 
konde. 82 ; by mutual consent, 
24: Natchex. 352; prohibitions, 
15-17: by purchase, 17, 19-21, 
24-25; Ostyak. 200; Reindeer 
Chukchi, 200 ; reguliuti 
Australian, 105; regulati 
Melanesia, 105; regulations. 
for relatives by, 84-97; Thon- 
ga, 82; Tibetan. 46; transfer 
of property in, 205; Zulu, 374- 
Masked Dancer society, Zuiii, 2B1- 

Mate, means of acquiring. 17-26. 

IJalernal uncle, relations with 
nephew, 82-83. 

Mating, preferential. 26-38. 

Malriarchate, the, 180-191: Iro- 
ijuois, !'/>: among Khasi. 189, 
190; not consequence of 
mother-si bs. i8gf . ; Pueblo, 

Matrilineal descent, iniluence of 
property rights upon. 160 ; 
Hopi, 176: Northwest Coast 
tribes, 128 ; Zuni, 127. 

Malrflineal groups, 168. 

Matrilineal kinship group, in- 
fluence of matnlocal residence 
on. 159. 

Matrilocal marriage, influence on 
parent-in-law taboos. 04, 96. 

Matrilocal residence, 159; causal 
connection with teknonymy. 
107. 108; Eskimo, 73: Hidat- 
sa, 72; Hopi. 42. 164: in- 
fluence on kinship system. 164; 
iniluence on practice of poly- 
gjny. 42; Kai, loa; Khasi, 
72; Ovambo, 72; Pueblo, 19a; 
and woman's pofitlnn loi- 
ijw; Yukaghir. 72 

Matrilocal tribes, 7r 

Matronymie gro"' 

McLennan, on 1 
system, v 

Men's elf'- 



I 8 191 

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