U.S. Natl. Mus., Rep., for 1895

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Among the village communities of Oregon, Washington, and southern Vancouver Island the child belongs to the father’s village, where the married couple generally live, and it seems that among many of these tribes the villages are exogamic. Among the Kwakiutl the clans are also exogamic, and certain privileges are inherited in the paternal line, while a much larger number are obtained by marriage. The existence of the former class suggests that the organization must have been at one time a purely paternal one. Three causes seem to have disturbed the original organization—the development of the more complex organization mentioned above, the influence of the northern tribes which have a purely maternal organization, and the development of legends referring to the origin of the clans which are analogous to similar traditions of the northern groups of tribes. Taking up the last-named point first, we find that each clan claims a certain rank and certain privileges which are based upon the descent and adventures of its ancestor. These privileges, if originally belonging to a tribe which at one time has been on the paternal stage, would hardly have a tendency to deviate from the law governing this stage. If they have, however, originated under the influence of a people which is on a maternal stage, an abnormal development seems likely. In the north a woman’s rank and privileges always descend upon her children. Practically the same result has been brought about among the Kwakiutl, but in a manner which suggests that a people with paternal institutions has adapted its social laws to these customs. Here the woman brings as a dower her father’s position and privileges to her husband, who, however, is not allowed to use them himself, but acquires them for the use of his son. As the woman’s father, on his part, has acquired his privileges in the same manner through his mother, a purely female law of descent is secured, although only through the medium of the husband. It seems to my mind that this exceedingly intricate law, which will be described in detail in the course of this paper, cannot be explained in any other way than as an adaptation of maternal laws by a tribe which was on a paternal stage. I cannot imagine that it is a transition of a maternal society to a paternal society, because there are no relics of the former stage beyond those which we find everywhere, and which do not prove that the transition has been recent at all. There is no trace left of an inheritance from the wife’s brothers; the young people do not live with the wife’s parents. But the most important argument is that the customs cannot have been prevalent in the village communities from which the present tribal system originated, as in these the tribe is always designated as the direct descendants of the mythical ancestor. If the village communities had been on the maternal stage, the tribes would have been designated as the descendants of the ancestor’s sisters, as is always the case in the legends of the northern tribes.1

1Boas, F.n/an/an/an/an/a, "The Social Organization and Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians," : 334–335.

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Chicago: U.S. Natl. Mus., Rep., for 1895 in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed September 22, 2023, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=ZEKK3XSZ42GLMY4.

MLA: . U.S. Natl. Mus., Rep., for 1895, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 22 Sep. 2023. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=ZEKK3XSZ42GLMY4.

Harvard: , U.S. Natl. Mus., Rep., for 1895. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 22 September 2023, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=ZEKK3XSZ42GLMY4.