Full text: Ownership as interpersonal dominance

was based on a seasonal cycle of isolated winter hunting in small nuclear family or kin groups 
and summer congregation at central coastal or waterway community sites (Honigmann, 1948; 
1981; Judd, 1982; Leacock, 1955). Although they have had contact with European cultures since 
the opening of the Hudson Bay for fur trading in the eighteenth century (Hallowell, 1949; Hanks, 
1982; Morantz, 1982), most Cree communities have experienced relatively little acculturative 
pressure until the last two or three decades (Honigmann, 1948; 1981; Molohon, 1982). 
As with other “loosely” organized hunting-gathering peoples (Pelto, 1968), the Cree have 
an acephalous, or leaderless, social structure (Honigmann, 1958). Bishop (1972; 1974) and 
Morantz (1982) have argued that the fur trade resuited in a social hierarchy among the Cree. If 
true for some Cree communities, this certainly has not been a universal development: 
According to Attawapiskat informants, bands of from 2 to 10 families recognized the 
authority of leaders who, on the basis of expert knowledge, advised their followers where 
to hunt and fish and helped them make other advantageous decisions. Leaders possessing 
the “right to tell people what to do” were explicitly denied for olden times. (Honigmann, 
1981, p. 222) 
The present researcher was informed by one respondent in Attawapiskat that the Hudson Bay 
manager used to be called “hookimaw”, meaning “boss”, but there was no evidence of the Cree 
among themselves being other than egalitarian. For example, the band chief upon entering a 
room would get no marked notice or special deference. 
Landes (1937) has vividly described how isolated hunting in vast territories for scarce 
game would encourage independence and a distaste for any systems of hierarchical community 
authority. Cree children are socialized for independence and self-responsibility, though 
respecting children’s decisions about their own behavior and schedule of activities may appear 
as indulgence or neglect to Euro-Canadians. To illustrate this, during a research interview with 
a grandfather, the boys in the house were playing guns. When one of the boys took a real rifle 
and cocked it, the researcher, in some distress, said that the boy should not have the gun. The 
interpreter and the grandfather agreed, and the grandfather added that the boy should know 
that. The boy was left to put the gun away without being instructed to do so. 
The Cree language has been studied since the mid-nineteenth century (Darnell & Vanek, 
1973; Ellis, 1962; Faries & Watkins, 1938; Joseph, 1979; Rudmin, 1986b; Woifart & Caroll, 1973). 
Cree has several characteristics of interest here. For example, the nouns are not marked 
masculine and feminine, as in French, but animate and inanimate (Joseph, 1979). Compared to 
English. Cree is highly inflected. This means that the form a word takes depends on its

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