Full text: Ownership as interpersonal dominance

habitations, a space of ample sufficiency for their subsistence, and whatever they have 
annexed to themselves by personal labour, was undoubtedly by the laws of nature theirs. 
But what is the right of a huntsman to the forest of a thousand square miles over which he 
has accidentaily ranged in quest of prey?” (Schopenhauer, 1859/1964, p. 411) 
The impact of such arguments upon ethnographic research appears to have been significant. 
For example, Murdock’s (1967) Ethnographic Atlas shows that 88% of the pre-1900 ethnographies 
of North American native societies did not report individual property rights in land, in marked 
contrast to only 50% for post-1900 ethnographies. 
Native peoples in Canada still confront European property theory in response to their land 
claims. For example, the Haida of South Morsby Island in the Queen Charlotte archipelago on 
the Pacific Coast are trying to stop lumber operations on their traditional territories (Fjetland, 
1985), but to many Euro-Canadians such Lockean “economic development” of wilderness land 
establishes a property claim that takes precedence over that of aboriginal occupancy (Froese 
& Philips, 1985). On the east coast, the Innu (Montagnais-Naskapi) of Laborador and eastern 
Quebec now face disruption of their livelihood by low-ailtitude NATO air combat training over 
their traditional territory (Wood, 1986; Sinclair, 1985). It is particularly ironic and tragic that 
Locke referred to people like the Innu in the development of his labour theory of property and 
that his theory is then used to dispossess native peoples of their land (e.g. Schopenhauer, 
1859/1964). The major opposition to Locke and his tradition is Marxist communism, which 
requires for its theory that people like the Innu not have a concept of land ownership (e.g. 
Averkieva, 1961). And now NATO, a military expression of the Locke-Marx debate, excludes the 
Innu from their territory by sonic booms and low-level war games. Again. local Euro-Canadians 
us that Lockean “economic development” of wilderness takes precedence over aboriginal 
occupancy as a claim to land title (MacKinnon & Menard, 1986). 
The benchmark case, of course, for Canadian native land claims was the James Bay and 
Northern Quebec Agreement (1976). The Cree succeeded in establishing their land ownership 
on treaty precedence and on first principles of use, occupancy, and recognized and respected 
boundaries. Much of the Cree case is presented in Richardson’s (1975), Strangers Devour the 
Land. In the traditional Cree concept, a land owner is a caretaker. At the material level, the 
owner regulates hunting and trapping within his territory so as to maintain stock. At the spiritual 
evel, the owner is required to understand and placate the animal spirits of the territory. 
Inheritance often went to the person next most knowledgeable about the territory and its 

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