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Northwest Coast Essay

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The individual "ownership" or stewardship of economic areas was re- garded as highly important, giving, as it did, a measure of authority to the incumbent of the position-political authority of a sort, and thus prestige. The rights were inherited according to local rules of inheritance (by the sister's son among Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, and Xaisla; by the son else- where in the area), so that it came about that in every Northwest Coast society economic wealth was in the hands of the direct descendants of a single line. Thus, the economic possessions of a Northwest Coast society were chiefly in the custody of, or nominally "owned" by, a line of eldest sons of eldest sons (or the matrilineal counterpart of such a line). By virtue of their stewardship these...

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