Page:Eskimo Life.djvu/148

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
108
ESKIMO LIFE

have a very restricted sense of property; but it is a mistake to suppose it entirely non-existent.

As regards the great majority of things, a certain communism prevails; but this is always limited to wider or narrower circles according to the nature of the thing in question. Ascending from the individual, we find in the family the narrowest social circle; then come housemates and the nearest kinsfolk, and then all the families of the village. Private property is most fully recognised in the kaiak, the kaiak-dress and the hunting-weapons, which belong to the hunter alone, and which no one must touch. With them he supports himself and his family, and he must therefore always be sure of finding them where he last laid them; it is seldom that they are even lent to others. In former times, good hunters would often own two kaiaks, but that is seldom the case now. Snow-shoes may almost be regarded as belonging to implements of the chase; but as they were introduced by the Europeans, they are not considered matters of private property in the same degree; so that while an Eskimo seldom or never touches another's weapons he will scarcely think twice about using anothers snow-shoes without asking leave.

Next to clothes and hunting implements come the tools which are used in the houses, such as knives,