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NCJ Number: 65651 Find in a Library
Title: LAW-WAYS OF THE PRIMITIVE ESKIMOS
Journal: JOURNAL OF CRIMINAL LAW, CRIMINOLOGY, AND POLICE SCIENCE  Volume:31  Issue:6  Dated:(1941)  Pages:663-683
Author(s): A E HOEBEL
Corporate Author: Williams and Wilkins Co
United States of America
Date Published: 1941
Page Count: 21
Sponsoring Agency: Williams and Wilkins Co
Baltimore, MD 21202
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THIS ARTICLE DEALS WITH THE LAW OF THE ESKIMO, DESCRIBING PRACTICES OF SPECIFIC ESKIMO GROUPINGS BECAUSE OF THE SCARCITY OF ADEQUATE INFORMATION FROM ANY SINGLE GROUP.
Abstract: THE LARGEST EFFECTIVE ESKIMO SOCIAL GROUP IS THE VILLAGE COMMUNITY OF RARELY MORE THAN 100 PEOPLE. THE INTIMACY OF THE GROUP IS FURTHER INTENSIFIED BY THE NATURE OF THE HOUSEHOLD, WHERE SOME 20 PEOPLE FROM 2 OR MORE FAMILIES CROWD INTO A SINGLE DWELLING IN THE WINTER SETTLEMENTS. WITHIN THE HOUSEHOLD, EACH FAMILY IS APPARENTLY AUTONOMOUS, WITH THE ADULT MALES WORKING ON A COOPERATIVE BASIS. THE FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM OF SOCIAL CONTROL IS SOLVED THROUGH THIS INTIMACY; RIDICULE, THE DISAPPROVAL OF PUBLIC OPINION, FUNCTIONS IN LIEU OF AN ELABORATED LAW SYSTEM. THEIR CONCEPT OF MATERIAL GOODS AND POSSESSIONS IS GUIDED BY A COLLECTIVISIM WHEREBY ALL ARE HELD TO A COMMON LEVEL OF WEALTH. ESKIMO INTEREST IS IN GAME; LAND IS IGNORED AND IS NOT THOUGHT OF AS PROPERTY, PRIVATE OR COMMUNAL. A MAN IS PERMITTED TO ACCUMULATE PROPERTY AS LONG AS HE IS HELD TO BE A PUBLIC BENEFACTOR; WHAT HE GAINS, HE GIVES AWAY. LEADERSHIP IS RECOGNIZED THROUGH PROWNESS IN HUNTING AND JUDGMENT, THE QUALITIES REQUIRED OF A HEADMAN. THE SECOND FIGURE OF AUTHORITY IS THE SHAMAN, WHO HAS INFLUENCE BY VIRTUE OF HIS SUPERNATURAL POWERS; HE INTERPRETS AND INFLUENCES THE MOOD AND WILL OF THE MANIFOLD SPIRIT BEINGS. NUMEROUS RELIGIOUS NORMS CONTROL AND DIRECT ESKIMO SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC LIFE IN THE FORM OF TABOOS FOR EACH STEP IN SEASONAL AND DAILY ACTIVITY. VIOLATION OF TABOOS DOES NOT CONSTITUTE CRIME; AMPLE EXPIRATORY MEASURES EXIST, IN COMBINATION WITH THE ULTIMATE THREAT OF ILL-LUCK IN HUNTING AND STARVATION. IT IS THE SHAMAN WHO HAS QUASI-LEGAL AUTHORITY TO COMMAND PENANCE. INFANTICIDE, INVALIDICE, SENILICIDE, AND SUICIDE ARE ALL FORMS OF HOMICIDE ACCEPTED BY ESKIMO SOCIETY. WIFE LENDING AND RECIPROCAL SHARING OF SPOUSES ARE COOPERATIVE FEATURES OF ESKIMO MARITAL LIFE. ESKIMOS ENTER INTO CONTINUOUS CONFLICT AND COMPETITION FOR THE POSSESSION OF WOMEN; NEITHER MARRIAGE NOR DIVORCE ARE GIVEN CEREMONIAL OBJECTIVENESS. THE ARENA OF SEX IS THE PRIMARY BREEDING GROUND FOR MURDER. REVENGE FOR LOSING ONE'S WIFE TO ANOTHER OR FOR SIMILAR OCCURRENCES IS EXECUTED BY THE VICTIM'S KINSMEN WHO MAY MURDER FOR THE VICTIM'S HONOR. HOMICIDE IS SANCTIONED BY THE COMMUNITY WITHOUT GOOD REASON AND SORCERY AND CHRONIC LYING ARE PLACED IN THE SAME CATEGORY AS MULTIPLE HOMICIDE--PUNISHABLE BY DEATH. QUESTIONS OF EVIDENCE DO NOT ARISE IN HOMICIDAL DISPUTES DUE TO THE INTIMACY OF THE COMMUNITY, BUT DIVINATION MAY BE USED TO UNCOVER THE FACTS. HOMICIDAL DISPUTES ARE MADE LESS PREVALENT BY PRACTICES OF REGULATED COMBAT, THE OBJECT OF WHICH IS NOT ANNIHILATION, BUT SUBJUGATION. ELEVATING THE DUEL TO A HIGHER PLANE IS DISPUTE SETTLEMENT BY JURIDICAL SONG DUELS. NOTES AND A BIBLIOGRAPHY ARE PROVIDED. (MRK)
Index Term(s): Eskimos; Homicide; Marital privilege; Socioculture
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=65651

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