Full text: Ownership as interpersonal dominance

cultures within their traditional territories (e.g. Feit, 1980; 1982; Richardson, 1975; Salisbury, 
1986). At both levels, it is important that native concepts of ownership be objectively examined 
and compared with the concepts of ownership in the larger industrial-commercial society. 
Historically, much of the anthropological work on native concepts of ownership has been 
done in the context of supporting or refuting the theory of primitive communism. Speck’s 
(1915a,b; 1923; 1928) work among the eastern Cree was the first to report land ownetship among 
a hunting-gathering people. This claim has been substantiated among the western Cree 
(Burgess, 1945) and among hunter-gathering peoples in other parts of the world (e.g. Davidson, 
1928; Myers, 1982; Williams, 1982). However, there is disagreement regarding the origins of land 
ownership by the Cree. Leacock (1955) has argued that Cree land ownership emerged relatively 
recently in synchrony with patrilineal band organization. Rogers (1963) and Bishop (1970) have 
argued that Cree land ownership was originally communal but became private as a result of the 
fur trade and an increasing reliance on small game for food. Riches (1982) has argued that the 
fur trade resulted in materialistic avarice among the Cree, which in turn resulted in selfishness 
and private ownership of land. Speck and Eiseley (1335) and Averkieva (1961) have presented 
opposing reviews of the ideological importance and potential biases of anthropological 
research on the topic of land ownership by hunter-gatherers. 
Research purporting to show a lack of land ownership among native North American 
peoples may have been motivated by more than an academic interest in anthropological 
theories or systems of political economy. Much of the ethnographic research on native North 
American peoples was initiated in the nineteenth century, when native peoples were being 
dispossessed of their land by European peoples. Apparently in the early nineteenth century, 
there was a widespread debate in America and Europe on the morality of dispossessing native 
peoples of their lands. For example, even a person as remote from North American native 
peoples as the German philosopher Schopenhauer (1859/1964) has cited and endorsed an 
argument by a U.S. President that Lockean property theory ruled against native iand ownership: 
According to my explanation, the right of property arises only through the expenditure of 
labour upon things. This truth, which has already often been expressed, finds a noteworthy 
confirmation In the fact that it is asserted, even in a practical regard, in a declaration of the 
American ex-president, Quincy Adams, which is to be found in the Quarterly Review of 1840. 
No.-130; and also in French, in the “Bibliothéque universelle de Genéve”, July 1840, No. 55. 
1 will give it here in German (English of Quarterly Review): “There are moralists who have 
guestioned the right of the Europeans to intrude upon the possessions of the aboriginals 
in any case, and under any limitations whatsoever; but have they maturely considered the 
whole subject? The Indian right of possession itself stands, with regard to the greatest part 
of the country. upon a questionable foundation. Their cultivated fields. their constructed

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