Full text: Ownership as interpersonal dominance

people, the Cree value independence because the ecology of survival in the sub-arctic 
traditionally required dispersal and isolation (Berry, 1976). Given a cultural priority on survival 
in a difficult environment, objects of ownership are valued more for utility than for interpersonal 
dominance. Thus, need, want, and deserve are more important components of owning for the 
Cree than for the English-Canadians, and control of property has less of a meaning of keep and 
protect. Rossignol (1939) has described how an expression of needing or desiring a thing is a 
claim to property that is difficult for Cree not to honor. 
The label “covetousness” for the cluster of need, want, desire, cherish would seem to be 
inappropriate where the context is scarcity rather than surplus and the motivation is survival 
rather than selfishness. Rapoport and Fillenbaum (1972) and Takane (1980) found that need and 
want semantically cluster with Jack. Wilensky’'s (1978) analysis of need and want show them to 
mean “being a resource in a pian of action”. Perhaps, using the term from Murphy, Murphy and 
Newcomb (1937), need and want might be considered the central verbs in a cluster labelled 
“adience”, indicating that something is attractive in both the literal sense and the affective 
The higher priority placed by the Cree on need and want in their concept of owning was 
evident in some of the comments from the pilot interviews: 
Nobody can own the earth. God gave it to everyone to share. We are here to use it, not to try 
to possess it. 
When you need things, they are there to be used. 
When a white man owns something, he feels proud of it. But for us it is not like that. 
If someone takes that canoe out there, 1 wouldn't mind as long as they brought it back. 
To the non-Cree researcher, several informants showed a surprising acceptance of people 
borrowing things they needed without asking permission, even though the social norm among 
the Cree is to ask permission. For the Cree and other hunting-gathering peoples, need is a 
legitimizing condition for the use of others’ property, even of land resources (Burgesse, 1945; 
Landes, 1937; Myers, 1982; Speck, 1915; Weyer, 1932; Williams, 1982). 
Restricting others by excluding them from the use of objects and resources is one of the 
ways ownership leads to dominance (Stewart, 1829). If ownership does not carry an emphasis 
on exclusiveness, and if the norm Is sharing based on need, then interpersonal dominance 
through the ownership of property becomes less tenable. Myers (1982) and Williams (1982) 
argue that ownership for aboriginal Australian peoples is essentially stewardship or

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