Bur. Am. Ethn., Bull.


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For example, there were captured two white persons (sisters) by the Seneca, and instead of both being adopted into one clan, one was adopted by the Deer and the other by the Heron clan, and thus the blood of the two sisters was changed by the rite of adoption in such wise that their children could intermarry. Furthermore, to satisfy the underlying concept of the rite, the adopted person must be brought into one of the strains of kinship in order to define the standing of such person in the community, and the kinship name which the person receives declares his relation to all other persons in the family group; that is to say, should the adopted person be named son rather than uncle by the adopter, his status in the community would differ accordingly. From the political adoption of the Tuscarora by the Five Nations, about 1726, it is evident that tribes, families, clans, and groups of people could be adopted like persons. A fictitious age might be conferred upon the person adopted, since age largely governed the rights, duties, and position of persons in the community. In this wise, by the action of the constituted authorities, the age of an adopted group was fixed and its social and political importance thereby determined. Owing to the peculiar circumstances of the expulsion of the Tuscarora from North Carolina it was deemed best by the Five Nations, in view of their relation to the Colonies at that time, to give an asylum to the Tuscarora simply by means of the institution of adoption rather than by the political recognition of the Tuscarora as a member of the League. Therefore the Oneida made a motion in the federal council of the Five Nations that they adopt the Tuscarora as a nursling still swathed to the cradleboard. This having prevailed, the Five Nations, by the spokesman of the Oneida, said: "We have set up for ourselves a cradleboard in the extended house," that is, in the dominions of the League. After due probation the Tuscarora, by separate resolutions of the council, on separate motions of the Oneida, were made successively a boy, a young man, a man, an assistant to the official woman cooks, a warrior, and lastly a peer, having the right of chiefship in the council on an equal footing with the chiefs of the other tribes. From this it is seen that a tribe or other group of people may be adopted upon any one of several planes of political growth, corresponding to the various ages of human growth. This seems to explain the problem of the alleged subjugation and degradation of the Delawares by the Iroquois, which is said to have been enacted in open council. When it is understood that the Five Nations adopted the Delaware tribe as men assistants to the official cooks of the League it becomes clear that no taint of slavery and degradation was designed to be given by the act. It merely made the Delawares probationary heirs to citizenship in the League, and citizenship would be conferred upon them after suitable tutelage. In this they were treated with much greater consideration than were the Tuscar ora, who are of the language and lineage of the Five Nations. The Delawares were not adopted as warriors or chiefs, but as assistant cooks; neither were they adopted, like the Tuscarora, as infants, but as men whose duty it was to assist the women whose official function was to cook for the people at public assemblies. Their office was hence well exemplified by the possession of a corn pestle, a hoe, and petticoats. This fact, misunderstood, perhaps intentionally misrepresented, seems to explain the mystery concerning the "making women" of the Delawares. This kind of adoption was virtually a state of probation, which could be made long or short.1

Adoption was also resorted to among those Indian tribes where the maternal system of kinship prevailed, whereby a man was not reckoned as related to his children, and his property was inherited by the children of his sister. In this situation a father sometimes avoided leaving his property to the children of another man in another group by naming his children into his clan. The clan names were the property of the clan and giving a clan name was equivalent to adoption. Morgan states that this was a practice among the Shawnees, Miamis, Sauks, and Foxes.1

Among the Abchasses of the Caucasus, by a practice resembling adoption, the peasants took the children of the aristocracy in charge at birth, and kept them for a number of years. The peasants were thus distinguished, the mothers of the children were acquiescent because the plan was favorable to their leisure and beauty, and an enduring bond was established between the peasants and the lords. The practice may here be termed "fosterage," though it differs from that practice in not emphasizing the suckling of the child as a means of establishing a magical-social bond resembling blood brotherhood.

1Hewitt, J.N. B.n/an/an/an/a, "Adoption," in Hodge, [, 30].

1 Morgan, L. H., Ancient Society, 169.

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Chicago: Bur. Am. Ethn., Bull. in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed June 19, 2024, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=ZUSN8HU949LHV2I.

MLA: . Bur. Am. Ethn., Bull., in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 19 Jun. 2024. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=ZUSN8HU949LHV2I.

Harvard: , Bur. Am. Ethn., Bull.. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 19 June 2024, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=ZUSN8HU949LHV2I.