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Boas, Franz. Race, Language and Culture – T38


The social organization of the
kwakiutl 11

In the Annual Report of the United States National Museum for
1895 I have given a description of the social organization and secret
societies of the Kwakiutl based on observations and inquiries made prior
to 1895. Further information relating to the social organization of the
Kwakiutl collected on my last visit to Vancouver island, and since that
time obtained through correspondence with Mr. George Hunt clears up
a number of points of this difficult problem.

One of the greatest obstacles to a clear understanding of the social
organization of the Kwakiutl is the general confusion caused by the reduction
in numbers of the tribe. I have tried to clear up the situation by
recording the histories of a number of families in all possible detail. In
the following I shall give the principal results that may be derived from
my collection of data.

I will begin with the discussion of what constitutes a tribe. There is a
very fundamental difficulty in the definition of the tribal unit and of its
subdivisions. I do not know of a single Kwakiutl tribe that is at present
an undivided unit. All those studied consist of well-recognized subdivisions.

Furthermore, a single locality is claimed as the place of origin of each
division of the tribe. In the consciousness of the people these divisions
are fundamental units. The development of the concept of a tribal unit
is not, by any means clear, except in so far as it appears as an effect of
the congregation at one place of a number of local units. Recent tradition,
the historical truth of which cannot well be doubted, shows clearly
that such a congregation has occurred repeatedly. Units may also have
broken up, owing to inner dissensions or to other accidents.

On the other hand, each tribe consists of units that claim as their
places of origin, localities not far apart. In a few cases only, may one or
the other division of the tribe claim as the place of its origin a locality
removed quite a long distance from the traditional home of the other
divisions. This is the case for instance with the “Rich Side” group of the
356Kwakiutl. Some of the tribal names are purely geographical terms and
indicate that we are dealing with communities that live in close proximity,
including perhaps groups that moved to the territory in question.
Other types of names, however, occur. The translations given by the
natives for some of them are folk-etymologies and cannot be taken as
authoritative. Thus the name Kwakiutl is derived from a stem kwaku-
of unknown significance, but is considered by the natives as a derived
form of kwax˙ — which means “smoke.” 12 The name ɛnā'kʼwax˙daɛxu is
explained by them as derived from neq-, “ten,” philologically an impossible
etymology. In previous writings, I accepted some of these etymologies,
but I am certain that they must be rejected.

In a number of cases the relations between the divisions of a tribe
are explained by tradition. Thus two divisions of one sept 23 of the
Kwakiutl which are assumed to be descended from two brothers and
whose names are found among many tribal groups, were scattered among
the different tribes. Since their names are honorific names (“The First
Ones” and “Chief's Group”), it may be doubted whether any historic
meaning attaches to this tradition. This is more plausible for the division
“Real Kwakiutl” (Kwekwā'kʼwem) which is found among two septs
of the Kwakiutl, which, according to tradition, are assumed to be
derived from the same place of origin. In some cases we find in a tribe
a subdivision which has for its name the stem of the tribal name with
the ending -em, as in the division just mentioned, the Sēntlʼem and
dlē'qʼem 34 and outside of the Kwakiutl proper, the Mamaleleqʼam. The
meaning of this ending is “the real ones.” According to the statement of
the Indians there was, in former times, in almost each division a noble
family that bore a name of this type, while the rest of the people were
designated by the ordinary name of the division. Mythologically this is
explained as meaning that the select group, called “the real” members
of the division, were descended from the ancestor, while the other
families at an early time became associated with the ancestor without
being descended from him.

On the other hand, according to tradition, several pairs of subdivisions
of one sept of the Kwakiutl are considered as the descendants of
two brothers, one of the elder, the other of the younger one. In another
357case, the divisions of the tribe are considered each as descended from one
of four brothers. When I inquired later on why in one of these pairs the
one division was considered of lower rank, the following information
was obtained. In the generation I the ancestor of the division a of one
sept A had a slave whom we may call IAa1. He married the woman
slave of the ancestor of another division b of another sept B whom we
may call IBb2. Their eldest son (Generation II, designated IIBb′3),
married the daughter (IIAc7) of the chief (IAc6) of the division c of
the sept A, assumed a chief's name and became the ancestor of the division
b′, of the sept B, or of the line Bb′, which is up to this time associated
with Bb. At a former time this line was described to me as descended
from the younger brother of the ancestor of Bb. The daughter of IAa1


Fig. 1. I, II, III, first, second, third generations; A, B, C, tribal divisions; a, b, c, d,
subdivisions of A, B, C; b′, c′, d′, subdivisions affiliated with b, c, and d.

and IBb2, whom we may call IIBb′5 married the fifth son (HCdn11)
of the chief of the division d of the sept C, whom we may call
HCd10. Their daughter (IIICd′13) married her father's eldest brother
IICd14, without letting him know of her descent. Therefore her descendants
were not accepted by her husband's division Cd, but assigned
to Cd′. The elder son (IIICd′12) of this couple married the daughter
(IIIBb′8) of the couple who had established the line Bb′, and their children
also belong to the line Cd′. Their descendants are the division Cd′,
which is up to this day associated with the line Cd. These relations are
illustrated by the diagram above (fig. I). 15 This is an example of
358the intricate mythological interrelations between the divisions that
belong to a single tribe.

We may therefore say that in the concept of the Indians, the tribe
consists of a number of divisions, each of which is derived from one
ancestor, but which includes also individuals of different descent who at
an early time joined the ancestor. In a number of cases, the ancestors
of the various divisions are brothers and the divisions represent elder and
younger lines. In other cases there is no such relation, the lines representing
disconnected local groups.

Although in the present period the concept of the tribe is very clear in
the minds of the Indians, there seems to be little doubt that the tribes
have undergone many changes in number and composition. There are
some indications of this process even at the present time. Thus one sept
of the Kwakiutl proper (the “Rich Side”) are generally grouped with
the “Great Kwakiutl,” and the tendency is such that within a short time
the consciousness of their separate existence might well disappear. The
union of the Tl'aʼ tl'asiqwala and Naqwe'mgilisala in one village has not
yet led to their fusion, but externally at least they form a single tribe.
The stability of tribes is primarily due to the fact that the tribal units
have fairly definite functions distinct from the functions of the tribal
divisions. These appear particularly in formal gatherings in which the
tribes are arranged in rank and in which, furthermore, definite tribes are
matched. Thus in northern Vancouver island, we find the following
parallel arrangement of Kwakiutl tribes and of the tribes further to the

“Northerners” (Gwē'tela) matched with Mamaleleqala

“Rich-in-Middle” (Qʼō'moyâɛye) matched with “Far Siders”

“Great Kwakiutl” (ɛwā'las Kwā'g˙ul) matched with Nimkish

“Rich Side” (Qʼō'mk˙ʼutes) matched with “Angry Ones”

Notwithstanding the relative stability of the tribes, the tribal divisions
must be considered as the fundamental units. In previous writings I
have used the terms “gens” and “clan” according to the varying impression
of prevalence of maternal and paternal descent, both of which are
important. After much hesitation I have decided to use the native term
numaym (ɛneɛmē'm) because the characteristics of the unit are so
359peculiar that the terms “gens” or “clan” or even “sib” 16 would be misleading.
We have to recognize first of all that positions in a numaym,
or at least the ranking positions must be filled and that their disappearance,
according to the ideas of the Indians, would be a misfortune. A
position is defined by the name attaching to it and by a number of
privileges (k˙ʼē'sʼo). I prefer the term “privilege” to the term “crest,”
because the privileges are quite varied in character, although not so
much varied in form as among the Nootka.

A clear understanding of the constitution of the numaym is made very
difficult by the fact that the number of positions is at present greater
than the number of members of the tribe, so that many individuals hold
more than one position in more than one numaym. It may be that even
in early times, important personages had the right to do so, but the
present extension of this right is, no doubt, due to the reduction in the
number of members of the tribe. As a matter of fact, the Indians themselves
are not by any means clear as to the rights of each individual, and
quarrels regarding rank and position are of common occurrence. In
these each party tries to defend its rights by facts based on descent. The
fundamental principle seems to be that primogeniture, regardless of sex,
entitles the first-born child to the highest rank held by one of its parents.
Rank is, on the whole, determined by the order of birth, and the noblest
line is the line of the first-born. The lowest in rank that of the youngest
born. Hence when a father and mother are of equally high rank, the
first-born child may be assigned to one numaym, the following to another
numaym. In cases of equal rank of both parents the father's
numaym has preference and to it the first-born child is assigned. I have
never been able to learn definitely whether a child that is assigned to
another numaym, — not his mother's — retains, nevertheless, the right to
membership in his father's numaym or not. In some cases it seems that
way, in others it seems that a person either has no position in the father's
numaym, or that he definitely severs his relations with it and gives up
his place in it. The Indians emphasize again and again the rule that
the “house name” and the attached position and privileges can never
go out of the line of primogeniture and may not be given away in marriage.
The first-born child must take them no matter whether it is male
or female. It is not clear, however, even from the genealogies at my disposal,
what was done in former times if the parents did not hold enough
360seats and names to go around among their children, unless in these cases
the children received names from the mother's father. At present and
for about seventy years past, this condition has probably never arisen.
The inference from the general point of view of the modern Indian is
that the younger lines had names of inferior rank and formed the lower

It seems to me that the conditions among the Kwakiutl and the Nootka
must have been quite similar in so far as a sharp line between nobility
and common people did not exist, that rank was rather determined by
the seniority of the lines of descent. In one Kwakiutl tale, it is even


Fig. 2. Genealogy illustrating
endogamous marriages.

stated that the youngest of five brothers
“was not taken care of by his father and
was like a slave or a dog.” 17

In case of the death of the eldest
child, the younger brothers and sisters
rank in order of their birth regardless of
sex. Where there are no children, the
younger brothers and sisters of the deceased
in order of birth would be the
successors to his position. When there
are no brothers or sisters, a father's (or
mother's as the case may be) brother
and sister and their descendants would
be the successors.

Among some of the noble families,
we find a strong desire to retain the
privileges in the narrowest limits of the
family. This is done by means of endogamous marriages. Marriages
are permitted between half-brother and half-sister, i.e., between children
of one father, but of two mothers, not vice-versa; or, marriages
between a man and his younger brother's daughter, but not with his
elder brother's daughter, who is, of course, of higher rank, being in the
line of primo-geniture or at least nearer to it. An excellent example
is the genealogy represented in fig. 2. 28 We have here first a marriage
between a man 1 and his younger brother's daughter 3. Then a marriage
between half-brother and sister 6 and 7 and finally between the
361son 11 and daughter 12 of two full sisters 6 and 8. It is expressly stated
that these marriages were intended to prevent the privileges from going
out of the family. In other genealogies I have found practically no
cases of endogamy. On the contrary, we find, so far as I can see, only
exogamous marriages.

We may say that the numayms are based on descent with a preference
for the paternal line; the highest positions in the numaym which form
the nobility are the senior lines, at the head of which stands the first-born
line. There are, therefore, a series of noble names in each numaym that
may be considered as similar to offices which must be filled. The occupants
of these positions must have the hereditary right to occupy their
places, but their positions are actually determined by assignment, each
occupant of a position having the right to determine his successor provided
the laws of descent give him a title to the position.

The peculiar transfer of name, position and privileges from the
woman's father to his son-in-law has been described by me before. 19 The
complex rules of this transfer have given rise to much discussion. Ordinarily
name and position are given by a man to his son-in-law's children.
This does not entail any difficulties when the woman is a first-born child
and nobler than her husband, or when younger children are concerned.
When the husband is the nobler, it would however, contradict the rules
of primogeniture previously described.

I have said in earlier publications that the son-in-law holds the name
and privileges which he receives from his father-in-law on behalf of his
son who becomes the real owner when he grows up. I believe this does
not quite correspond to the actual conditions. In return for the marriage
presents given by the young man, the father-in-law promises to give
names, positions and privileges to any member of the son-in-law's family,
to the son-in-law himself, his father, brother or sister, and for his prospective

The transmission from individual to individual through marriage is
most arbitrary. Thus we have one case in which a man (1) obtains his
name and position (a) from his sister's husband (2), who had obtained
it from his own father (3), who in turn obtained it through a former
marriage — not with the mother of the individual (2) — from his former
wife's father. Diagrammatically this may be expressed as follows (fig.
3). In another case the father of a man was given a name and position
362by his daughter-in-law's father. In these cases the person who paid the
marriage price to the bride's father receives the gifts returned by the

These names and positions, of course, cannot be actually taken until
the son-in-law gives a feast at which the gifts are formally bestowed and
at which the presents received from the father-in-law are distributed
among the numayms of the son-in-law's tribe, excluding his own
numaym. Practically the son-in-law is the recipient of these names, but
they are given to him to be bestowed upon certain designated persons.
In most cases the son-in-law, who already holds a noble position, uses
the new name and position that he himself received from his father-in-law


Fig. 3. Transfer of position a through

only at the festival at which
he distributes the marriage presents
which he has received from
his father-in-law, and then he
“puts away” the name until he
in turn gives it to his son-in-law
or to some member of his son-in-law's
family. There, are however,
Cases in which this is not
done. Thus a noble chief of the.
Kwakiutl gave up his position
and took the place of his father-in-law who was a Mamaleleqala. The
Kwakiutl were dissatisfied with this arrangement and in order to adjust
matters, he sent his second and third children to take his places in the
numaym to which he belonged, while he himself, his wife, eldest and
youngest sons took their places among the Mamaleleqala. Such a transfer
of a son-in-law to his wife's numaym and tribe does not seem to be
frequent, although it is permitted.

The actual position of the first born child is, therefore, that by birth it
belongs to a certain numaym and that under normal conditions it will
remain there and receive additional names and positions from its father-in-law.
These will be given up when his or her daughter marries and
ordinarily descend to her son, although this is not absolutely necessary.
Later born children are liable to attain high rank through marriage and
will be more readily transferred through marriage to a new numaym.
That the son-in-law has the free disposal of names given to him personally
is brought out clearly by the fact that he can transmit them even
after a divorce and a new marriage to the descendants of relatives of his
363new wife, or that he may bestow names received from his second wife
to descendants or relatives of his former wife. It is also interesting to
note that in some cases names and privileges received in marriage are
split and become the property of different individuals.

The most common arrangement is that a man places his daughter's
husband in one of the positions at his disposal, either his own or one
belonging to him in some other way. The positions acquired by marriage
are retransmitted in the same way, so that the holders will always
be the husbands of a succession of daughters. The names and privileges
are held by the men, although they descend throughout through the line
of daughters. In the genealogies at my disposal I have not found cases
of such continued transmission, neither do I find a continued transmission
from maternal grandfather to grandson. There is rather a tendency
for the lines transmitted through marriage to disappear. It is not safe,
however, to infer from this that continued transmission through marriage
does not occur, because the genealogies are naturally so arranged
that the privileges of a certain noble person now living are accounted
for. Owing to the fact that the record of transmission of positions and
privileges in younger lines is incomplete, that the positions accounted for
are generally in the line of primogeniture, the disappearance of privileges
obtained by marriage may be rather apparent than real. Transmission
through the mother, i.e., from the maternal grandfather to the grandson
is found very frequently in the genealogies at my disposal, but it is not as
frequent as direct transmission from father to son. In one genealogy,
transmission from maternal grandfather to child appears fourteen times,
from father to child, twenty-nine times.

Evidently the individual wish of a dying person regarding the disposition
of his name, position, and privileges is one of the decisive elements
in the assignment of social position. As long as any right can be construed
that justifies the desired transfer, the numaym will abide by the
wish of the deceased. If, however, selection can in no way be justified by
the laws of descent, the numaym may not permit the proposed transfer.

In those cases in which the disgrace of illegitimate descent, i.e.,
descent from a couple who did not go through all the formalities of a
marriage, attaches to the proposed successor, he may not be admitted
to the positions bequeathed to him. The effect of such a disgrace is illustrated
by the following example. A man, who belonged to the numaym
mentioned before, which is considered as descended from slaves who
were not married according to the customary form, was considered as of
364lower rank because he belonged to this numaym. Furthermore, his
parents were not properly married and he himself lived with a woman
of high rank without performing the proper marriage ceremonies. He
became very wealthy and inherited a number of high positions. The
numayms, however, will not allow his children to take his place. His
name is to die and the children will be assigned to positions in the
mother's numaym. 110 Although they will assume high positions, their
descent will always be felt as a blemish. I presume in early times, when
other individuals of pure descent were available, they would not have
been permitted to occupy these positions.

The wish of the dying person may also be vetoed by a member of his
family who has a nearer right to succession than the designated successor.

According to the ideas of the Indians, the two categories of names and
privileges, those in the line of primogeniture and those that may be
transferred by marriage, are quite distinct. Nevertheless, the law of preventing
the transfer of the inalienable family names and privileges to
another family is broken every now and then, in accordance with the
wish of the holder of the place expressed on his death-bed. I do not
doubt that in early times, when the claims of the individual could be
maintained by force, a usurped position could be held, provided the
holder had sufficient strength to withstand his rivals and enemies. The
law may also be broken when a tribe or numaym demands that one of
the descendants of a chief be made his successor.

The names and privileges belonging to the line of primogeniture and
those that may be transferred by marriage are of the same character, excepting
only a number of offices like that of the Keeper of the Order of
Seats in a numaym. There is no reason that would compel us to assume
that the two sets have distinct origins. It may rather be assumed that
certain privileges and names that have been transmitted in a family for
a long time, were considered as the inalienable property of the family.
There is an unsurmountable contradiction involved because the Indian
theory requires that from the very beginning there must have been these
two classes of privileges, a condition that does not seem tenable. If, however,
we project modern conditions into the past and assume as an early
custom, the arbitrary assignment of a child to one place or another according
to the wish of the parents, and according to the right which the
child holds by reason of his descent, then the present order is quite intelligible.
365We must assume that certain privileges were given away, while
others which were considered more valuable were retained in the line of
direct descent. In this manner, a division between the two groups of
names and privileges may have developed. We may perhaps compare
the conditions to the European Majorate and to the transmission of
family heirlooms as against free disposal of other property. The law is
not so rigid that we could speak of an entailment of certain names and
privileges because it is sometimes broken. The transfer by marriage may
be compared to those cases in which jewelry is handed down in a family
to be worn by the eldest son's wife.

I do not see any reason for a change of my opinion in regard to the
relative antiquity of the transfer of names and privileges through the
male or the female line. It is, of course, impossible to obtain historical
data that would prove the actual development and we can only discuss
the probable course of events. I base my argument largely upon the
general cultural assimilation between the Bella Coola and the Kwakiutl
tribes and the Nootka on the one hand, and their northern neighbors
on the other hand. Linguistically, the Bella Coola are closely associated
with the Coast Salish. Vocabulary and structure prove that at one time
the two groups must have been one and must have lived on the seacoast.
All the Coast Salish tribes, with the exception of the Bella Coola, are
organized in simple village communities with preponderant patrilineal
descent. Village communities may still be recognized as the fundamental
divisions of the Bella Coola, but the organization is overlaid by
the use of crests and privileges which are characteristic of the Tsimshian
and of the northern Kwakiutl. The forms and names of privileges and
the names of individuals using the privileges prove the most intimate
association with the neighboring tribes. Similar conditions, only less
developed, may be traced among the northern Coast Salish, who have
adopted privileges for a few social units while other social units have no
such privileges. On Fraser river these ideas have even penetrated to the
Lower Thompson tribes and northward to the Lillooet. The Kwakiutl
are so thoroughly saturated with the use of privileges that no essential
differences can be discovered in the various groups. Unfortunately, we
do not know enough about the northern Kwakiutl tribes to state definitely
the conditions prevailing among them. The observations among
the southern tribes, however, make it clear that among the southern
Kwakiutl, as well as among the Nootka and the Coast Salish, the village
community is conceived as a closed group and forms the basis of modern
366social organization. The exogamous lines, which are superimposed
upon the village communities and embrace all of them, and which are
an essential feature of the social system of the northern tribes, do not
occur. The fragmentary archaeological evidence which, we possess from
the Kwakiutl territory suggests that the whole elaborate artistic development
of the crest is not very old. Even the remains from graves that
belong approximately to the middle of the last century indicate that the
complete crowding out of geometrical ornament by conventional animal
representations occurred quite recently.

It appears to me largely as a psychological question how the highly
specialized use of privileges may have been superimposed upon an older
simple organization which has a rather wide distribution on the coast.
There is nothing to indicate that the simpler form should have been
developed from a totemic organization. The evidence appears to me
rather the other way. If Dr. Farrand's and my own observations are
correct, namely, that the prevailing line of descent among the northern
Kwakiutl tribes is matrilineal, then it seems to me plausible to assume
that in marriages between men of these tribes and Tsimshian or Haida
women, privileges were imported which the foreign born women could
transmit according to the customs of their own tribes only to their own
children and through their daughters to their grandchildren, but not to
the children of their sons. The conditions of life on the coast indicate
that the possession of such privileges was felt as a great social advantage
to which the owners would cling. Since the Kwakiutl do not permit
transfer from a man to his sister's sons, it would seem natural that the
characteristic method found in mythological tales of the acquisition of
Tsimshian privileges and which is even nowadays practised in the potlatch,
should be adopted. This method is the transfer of privileges by
gift from the husband's family to the wife's family. When a northern
woman marries a Kwakiutl man, her son would be entitled to her crests.
Since according to the property rights of the Kwakiutl, he could not
transmit them to his sister's children, the possibility presented itself, to
transmit them as a present to the family of his daughter's husband and
to secure in this way the transmission to her children. As stated before,
the mythological data indicate that this custom must have prevailed
among the northern tribes. 111 Perhaps I have myself unwittingly contributed
367to the disagreement of opinion in regard to the historical development
of the social organization of this area. When I stated that
in my opinion maternal descent was later than paternal, I did not point
out specifically the difference between the type of maternal descent as
usually conceived and that prevailing on the Northwest coast, because it
seemed to me obvious that we have no trace of the characteristic succession
from uncle to sister's son, but only a somewhat cumbersome transmission
of privileges from daughter to daughter in which the husband is
the bearer of name and privileges.

The fundamental difference between the organization of the Kwakiutl
and the northern tribes appears also in the terminology of relationship.
Their terms are throughout the same for the paternal and maternal
lines; uncle and aunt, nephew and niece are terms used indiscriminately
for father's and mother's brothers and sisters and for brother's
and sister's children without regard to the sex of the speaker. There is
no trace of the recognition of clan or gentile relationship. The terms
correspond to a loose organization in which relationship is counted
equally on both sides. 112 The terminology by which individuals are called
members of tribes indicates decidedly a preference to the father's side.
The child of a father belonging to one tribe and of a mother belonging to
another tribe is designated by the name of the father's tribe or numaym
with the ending -tsledze, i.e., offspring of such and such a tribe or
numaym. The mother's tribe is indicated by her tribal name and the
ending -ky!otem, i.e., one side of face such and such a tribe. Furthermore,
in a marriage between two members of different tribes, the wife
is called “married far outside.” This agrees with the custom that in by
far the majority of cases the woman goes to live with her husband, as
well when both belong to the same village as when they belong to different

It appears from all that has been said that the privileges are individual
property, not property of the whole numaym, so that the social divisions
are not in any sense properly speaking totemic groups. The relation to a
very generalized form of the clan crest which belongs to every member
of the clan, which is characteristic of the northern tribes is absent here.
Common to all the northern tribes and to the Kwakiutl is the personal
privilege of persons of high rank to certain specific crests and privileges.
368Among the Kwakiutl a new-born child has no crest and no definite position
until it is given to him by his parent or another relative and there is
no association between all the members of the numaym and the “totem.”
It is true that the nobility believe that they are descended from an
ancestor who had the form of an animal, a whale, killer-whale, or supernatural
bird, “who took off his mask and became secular.” As stated
repeatedly, this does not refer to persons of low rank and not even to
all numayms. Individually the belief may arise that a person is helped
by his crest animal. Thus a ɛnāk˙wax˙daɛxu chief of the numaym
“Great-One” sacrificed to the killer-whales and was believed to be
helped by them, but this was felt by the Indians as something quite unusual.
In regard to other animals the evidence is contradictory. I have
been told that a numaym which has the bear for a crest will be helped by
the bear, but others flatly contradict such an idea. The statement that
the Thunderbird, the ancestor of the “First-Ones” of the Nimkish,
thunders whenever one of the numaym (probably one of the chiefs) dies
may also be mentioned here. 113

The essential feature of the relationship of the whole numaym to an
animal is either entirely missing, or at least very weakly developed.

There is nothing to indicate that these forms are broken down remains
of an older true totemic organization. The close relationship between
Kwakiutl organization and that of the Coast Salish and the ideas clustering
around the crests make it much more plausible that these semi-totemic
notions may spring up every now and then without ever having
been characteristic of the organization as a whole. I feel quite certain
that the case of the relation of an individual to the killer-whale to which
I referred just now, was developed by that particular person on the basis
of the general beliefs of the tribe. Neither do I consider it a proof of
older totemic ideas if a chief in a formal speech identifies himself with
his animal ancestor who became “secular.” This must be taken as no
more than a metaphorical expression similar to those in which he calls
himself the “Pillar of Heaven” or “Rockslide” or “River of Wealth.”
We must not interpret an oratorical metaphor as having a deeper religious
significance, although it may stimulate thought in directions that
may lead to religious tenets.369

11 American Anthropologist, N.S., vol. 22 (1920), pp. 111-126.

21 is pronounced like ch in German ich; x like ch in German ach.

32 The Kwakiutl proper consist of four septs or subtribes, each being divided into a
number of subdivisions which are the fundamental social units.

43 q is a k pronounced at the soft palate; the apostrophe indicates a break; e is a
weak vowel, like e in flower.

51 The details of this genealogy are given in Franz Boas, “Ethnology of the Kwakiutl,”
Thirty-fifth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, Washington
(1921), pp. 1093 et seq.

61 See Robert H. Lowie, “The Matrilineal Complex,” University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, vol. 16 (1919), pp. 29 et seq.

71 Franz Boas, “Ethnology of the Kwakiutl,” Thirty-fifth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology (1921),p. 1097.

82 l. c., p. 781.

91 “The Social Organization and the Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians,”
Report of the U. S. National Museum for 1895, Washington (1897), p. 334.

101 Nevertheless, in 1930 the eldest son had taken his mother's position and name as
head of a numaym.

111 Leonhard Adam has called attention to the discrepancy between tradition and
modern customs to which I referred above. Ztschr. f. vergl. Rechtswissenschaft, vol.
30 (1913), p. 193; also Boas, “Tsimshian Mythology,” Thirty-first Annual Report
of the Bureau of American Ethnology
(1916),p. 528.

121 Franz Boas, “Tsimshian Mythology,” Thirty-first Annual Report, Bureau of American Ethnology (1916), p. 494. The term ‘nemwot’ which is given at that place
as relating only to members of the family, is used very often as applying not only to
the numaym but also to outsiders, friends.

131 Franz Boas, Kwakiutl Tales, Columbia University Contributions to Anthropology,
vol. 2 (1910), p. 85.