Full text: Ownership as interpersonal dominance

management and that permission will almost always be given for the use of property. However, 
permission must be sought so that the owner might know how to gauge usage and husband the 
resources. Gould (1982) has argued that the willingness of hunter-gatherers to share increases 
as scarcity and survival risk increase. Where there is less risk to survival, there is less sharing, 
boundaries are less permeable, and interpersonal dominance begins to appear. Similarly, 
McGuinness (1985) has reviewed the argument and the biological, ethnographic and historical 
evidence that it is surplus that activates dominance tendencies, primarily in the male of the 
species. The frequent mention by the Cree of affluence and of the loss of bush livelihoods as 
changes in the meaning of owning may reflect their awareness that their concept of owning is 
intimately related to their material conditions and their means of sustenance. 
In conclusion, this study has shown that conceptualizations of owning in a Cree 
community and in a relatively matched sample of English-Canadians differ in limited, 
predictable and interpretable ways. This is not to say that there are not major, radical 
differences between native peoples and Euro-Canadians over property, particularly in land. But 
such differences may arise more from Euro-Canadians’ history of disregard of native peoples, 
their cultures, and their land (Corelli, 1986; Watkins, 1977) or from a general belief by 
Euro-Canadians that Nature is alien, inanimate and exploitable (Richardson, 1975). Differences 
and difficulties between Euro-Canadians and native peoples over land should not all be pegged 
to cultural differences in ownership concepts.

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