20 Iowa L. Rev. 304 (1934-1935)
Ownership and Inheritance in an American Indian Tribe

handle is hein.journals/ilr20 and id is 326 raw text is: OWNERSHIP AND INHERITANCE IN AN AMERICAN
O NE USEFUL purpose that the ethnologist may perform in
contributing to a symposium such as the present one is to
give an example of the manner in which the institution of property,
particularly those aspects relating to the ownership and inheritance
of goods, functions in an exotic culture with the patterns of which
the ethnologist is personally familiar. I propose then to present
a brief summary of the rules governing the ownership and inherit-
ance of property-the two aspects of course, not being understand-
able, the one without the other-in a North American Indian tribe
of which I have a first-hand acquaintance. This tribe is the Hopi,
a sedentary, agricultural pottery-and-basket-making people living
in pueblos on rocky mesas high above the desert of north-eastern
Arizona. The Hopi are organized into a number of matrilineal
clans. The men raise corn and other agricultural products; they
also hunt and weave. The women attend to the domestic tasks
and make baskets and pottery. The religion of the Hopi is highly
ritualized and is concerned principally with the production of
rain, increasing the fertility of the fields and the curing of specific
The patterns of ownership and inheritance in any community,
whether high or low in the gamut of cultures, are essentially those
which regulate the behavior of an individual or group of individuals
in relation to the objects of material culture, the natural resources
and the more immaterial goods such as songs, designs or privileges
which are at the command of members of a stably organized
social unit. The psychological bonds between the individual and
the property he'controls, with all its personal and group symbolisms
or overtones of meaning, are of first importance for a deeper
insight into the functioning reality of property institutions in any
society, but with these aspects of Hopi property I am not now con-
t Research Fellow of the B. P. Bishop Museum, Honolulu; author of Prop-
erty; A Study in Social Psychology (1932).

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