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Title: Method in the Study of Totemism
Author: Lang, Andrew
Language: English
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Is there any human institution which can be safely called "Totemism"?
Is there any possibility of defining, or even describing Totemism? Is
it legitimate--is it even possible, with due regard for "methodology"
and logic--to seek for the "normal" form of Totemism, and to trace it
speculative? I think it possible to discern the main type of Totemism,
and to account for divergences.

Quite the opposite opinion appears to be held by Mr. H. H. Goldenweizer
in his "Totemism, an Analytic Study."[1] This treatise is acutely
critical and very welcome, as it enables British inquirers about
totemism to see themselves as they appear "in larger other eyes than
ours." Our common error, we learn, is this: "A feature salient in the
totemic life of some community is seized upon only to be projected into
the life of the remote past, and to be made the starting-point of the
totemic process. The intermediary stages and secondary features are
supplied from local evidence, by analogy with other communities, or 'in
accordance with recognised principles of evolution' [what are they?]
and of logic. The origin and development, thus arrived at, are then
used as principles of interpretation of the present conditions. Not
one step in the above method of attacking the problem of totemism is
logically justifiable."[2]

As I am the unjustifiable sinner quoted in this extract,[3] I may
observe that my words are cited from a harmless statement to the
effect that a self-consistent "hypothesis," or "set of guesses,"
which colligates all the known facts in a problem, is better than a
self-contradictory hypothesis which does not colligate the facts.

Now the "feature salient in the totemic life of some communities,"
which I "project into the life of the remote past," and "make the
starting-point of the totemic process" is the totemic name, animal,
vegetable, or what not, of the totem-kin.

In an attempt to construct a theory of the origin of totemism,
the choice of the totemic name as a starting-point is logically
justifiable, because the possession of a totemic name is,
_universally_, the mark of a totem-kin; or, as most writers prefer to
say, "clan." How can you know that a clan is totemic, if it is not
called by a totemic name? The second salient feature in the totemic
life of some communities which I select as even prior to the totemic
name, is the exogamy of the "clans" now bearing totemic names.

To these remarks Mr. Goldenweizer would reply (I put his ideas briefly)
there are (1) exogamous clans without totemic names; and there are (2)
clans with totemic names, but without exogamy.

To this I answer (1) that if his exogamous clan has not a totemic
name, I do not quite see why it should be discussed in connection with
totemism; but that many exogamous sets, bearing _not_ totemic names,
but local names or nicknames, can be proved to have at one time borne
totemic names. Such exogamous sets, therefore, no longer bearing
totemic names, are often demonstrably variations from the totemic type;
and are not proofs that there is no such thing as a totemic type.

Secondly, I answer, in the almost unique case of "clans" bearing
totemic names without being exogamous, that these "clans" have
previously been exogamous, and have, under ascertained conditions,
shuffled off exogamy. They are deviations from the prevalent type of
clans with totemic names _plus_ exogamy. They are exceptions to the
rule, and, as such, they prove the rule. They are divergences from the
type, and, as such, they prove the existence of the type from which
they have diverged.

So far I can defend my own method: it starts from features that are
universal, or demonstrably have been universal in totemism. There _is_
"an organic unity of the features of totemism,"--of these two features,
the essential features.

Lastly, Mr. Goldenweizer accuses us "Britishers," as he calls us,
of neglecting in our speculations the effects of "borrowing and
diffusion, of assimilation and secondary associations of cultural
elements, in primitive societies."[4]

This charge I do not understand. There has been much discussion of
possibilities of the borrowing and diffusion and assimilation of
phratries, exogamy, and of totemic institutions; and of "ethnic
influences," influences of races, in Australia. But the absence of
historical information, the almost purely mythical character of tribal
legends (in North-West America going back to the Flood, in Australia,
to the "Dream Time"), with our ignorance of Australian philology,
prevent us in this field from reaching conclusions.

(Possibly philologists may yet cast some light on "ethnic influences"
in Australia. The learned editor of _Anthropos_, Père Schmidt, tells me
that he has made a study of Australian languages and believes that he
has arrived at interesting results.)

Mr. Goldenweizer represents, though unofficially, the studies of many
earnest inquirers of North America, whether British subjects, like Mr.
Hill Tout, or American citizens such as Dr. Boas. They vary, to be
sure, among themselves, as to theories, but they vary also from British
speculators. They have personally and laboriously explored and loyally
reported on totemism among the tribes of the north-west Pacific coast
and _Hinterland_; totemism among these tribes has especially occupied
them; whereas British anthropologists have chiefly, though by no means
solely, devoted themselves to the many varieties of totemism exhibited
by the natives of Australia. These Australian tribes are certainly on
perhaps the lowest known human level of physical culture, whereas the
tribes of British Columbia possess wealth, "towns," a currency (in
blankets), rank (noble, free, unfree), realistic art, and heraldry as a
mark of rank, and of degrees of wealth.

Mr. Goldenweizer's method is to contrast the North-Western American
form of totemism with that prevalent in Central Australia, and to
ask,--how, among so many differences, can you discover a type, an
original norm? I answer that both in North-Western America and in
Central Australia, we find differences which can be proved to arise
from changes in physical and "cultural" conditions and from speculative
ideas. I have said that in British Columbia the tribes are in a much
more advanced state of culture than any Australian peoples, and
their culture has affected their society and their totemism. Wealth,
distinctions of rank, realistic art, with its result in heraldry as a
mark of rank, and fixed residence in groups of houses are conditions
unknown to the Australian tribes, and have necessarily provided
divergences in totemic institutions. Mr. Goldenweizer replies "that
the American conditions are due to the fact that the tribes of British
Columbia are 'advanced' cannot be admitted."[5] But, admitted or not,
it can be proved, as I hope to demonstrate.

[1] _Journal of American Folk-Lore_, April-June, 1910.

[2] _J. A. F._ p. 280

[3] _Secret of the Totem_, p. 28.

[4] _J. A. F._ p. 281.

[5] _J. A. F._ p. 287.


Mr. Goldenweizer gives what he supposes some of us to regard as
"essential characteristics" or "symptoms" of totemism. He numbers five
of these "symptoms."

1. An exogamous clan.

2. A clan name derived from the totem.

3. A religious attitude towards the totem, as a "friend," "brother,"
"protector," &c.

4. Taboos or restrictions against the killing, eating (sometimes
touching, seeing) of the totem.

5. A belief in descent from the totem.

Mr. Goldenweizer next, by drawing a contrast between British Columbian
and Central Australian totemism, tries to prove, if I understand him,
that "the various features of totemism," are, or may be "essentially
independent of one another," "historically, or psychologically, or

Now, looking at the five symptoms of totemism, I may repeat (speaking
only for myself) that, as to 1 and 2, I think _the exogamous clan_,
with "_a clan name derived from the totem_" is an institution of such
very wide diffusion that I may blamelessly study it and attempt to
account to myself for its existence. But this does not mean that I
regard all exogamous social sets as at present totemic; or as always
having borne totem names. Again, sets of people (I cannot call them
"clans," for the word "clan" indicates persons claiming common descent
from a male ancestor,--say _Clan Gihean, Clan Diarmaid_), may bear
animal or vegetable or other such names, yet not be at present, as
such, exogamous. Of these are the Arunta, and the Narran-ga.

3. _A religious attitude towards the totem_. One cannot discuss this
without a definition of religion. "Totemism is not a religion," says
Mr. Frazer, with whom I am here in agreement.

4. _Totemic taboos_. These, though extremely general, are not quite
universal even in Australia.

5. _A belief in descent from the totem_.

This belief is post-totemic, being merely one of many aetiological
myths by which men explain to themselves why they are totemists; what
is the nature of the _rapport_ between them and their totems; why
they bear as a kin (or association) animal or vegetable names. One or
another such myth is not an essential part of totemism, for it is,
necessarily, post-totemic.

I am thus left confronting the problems, (1) why are the immense
majority of exogamous kins, in societies which we call "totemic," named
by animal and other such names; and (2) why are they exogamous?

As for other exogamous social sets, which bear, not animal names, but
territorial, or descriptive names, or nicknames, often derisive, it is
my business to show, if I can, that these sets, or some of them, have
passed, in historical times, out of the stage of totem-kins, owing to
circumstances which I shall describe. Next (2) I have to show, if I
can, why a few sets of people, bearing, as sets or associations, animal
or other such names, are now no longer _exogamous_.

If I succeed, I think that I may regard "Totemism" as characterised by
exogamous kins bearing totemic names, and as "an integral phenomenon"
existing in many various forms.[7]

If I understand Mr. Goldenweizer this attitude and effort of mine
must seem to him "methodologically" erroneous, and "logically
unjustifiable." "This attitude," he says (namely the attitude of those
who hold totemism to be "an integral phenomenon"), "is reflected in the
way several authors deal with the so-called 'survivals' of totemism,
where from the presence in some region of one or two of the 'symptoms'
of totemism, or of the fragments of such symptoms, they infer the
existence in the past of totemism in its 'typical form,' that is, with
all its essential characteristics."[8]

Thus, for example, from such phenomena as standards bearing animal
forms; or from animal worship,--each animal being adored in its own
district,--or from myths of descent from gods in the form of animals;
or from the animal names of some Roman _gentes_; or from animals
closely associated with gods (like the Shrew Mouse with Sminthian
Apollo); or from the presence of beings partly theriomorphic partly
anthropomorphic, in art, many writers infer a past of totemism in
Italy; Israel; Greece Hellenic and Greece Minoan; in Egypt; in
Ireland; and so forth. It is not my purpose to treat of such so-called
survivals. I am to deal with peoples such as the tribes of Australia,
New Guinea, and North-West America, who, if not the rose, have been
near the rose: if not always totemic are at least neighbours of

[6] _J. A. F._ p. 183.

[7] But I exclude from my treatment of the subject, the "Matrimonial
Classes," or "sub-classes" of many Australian tribes, for these are
peculiar to Australia, appear to be results of deliberate conscious
enactment, and, though they bear animal names (when their names can be
translated), have no traceable connection with totemism.

[8] _J. A. F._ p. 182.


Mr. Goldenweizer tabulates the results of his comparison between
the Totemism of British Columbia and that of Central Australia.[9]
In the latter region the totemic institutions and myths are not
those of South-Eastern Australia. To the totemism of many tribes in
South-Eastern Australia that of a great tribe of British Columbia,
the Tlingit, bears,--if we may trust some of the evidence,--the
closest possible resemblance; while, if we trust other and conflicting
evidence, the resemblance is, on an important point, nearer to the
institutions of certain Australian tribes of the furthest south, in
Cape Yorke peninsula. The evidence for British Columbian totemism,
I shall show, is so wavering as to make criticism difficult. The
terminology, too, of some American students has been extremely
perplexing. I am sorry to be obliged to dwell on this point, but a
terminology which seems to apply five or six separate terms to the same
social unit needs reform.

Dr. Boas is one of the most energetic field-anthropologists of the
United States. To him we owe sixteen separate disquisitions and reports
on the natives of the North-West Pacific coast and _Hinterland_, all
of them cited by Mr. Goldenweizer in his excellent Bibliography. But
Mr. Frazer observes that Dr. Boas variously denominates the kindred
groups of the Kwakiutl tribe as "groups," "clans," "gentes," and
"families." I must add that he also uses _gentes_ as a synonym for
phratries--"Phratries, viz. _gentes_."[10] Now a "phratry" is not a
_gens_; a "group" may be anything you please; a "family" is not a
_gens_;--a "_gens_" is an aggregate of families,--and a "clan" is not
a "family."

Mr. Goldenweizer's tabulated form of his comparisons between British
Columbia and Australia contains ten categories (see the last footnote
of p. 6). Of these, two at least (8) (9) indicate elements which are
purely proofs that the B.C. tribes are on a much higher, or later,
level of social progress than the Australians. These two are _Rank_
and _Art_. Had Mr. Goldenweizer added _Wealth_ and _Towns_ to his ten
categories he would have given four factors in B.C. culture which
affect B.C. totemism, and which do not exist in Central Australia,
where realistic art is all but wholly unknown: art being occupied with
archaic conventional patterns. Thus, in Australia, the bewildering B.C.
heraldry--the "crests"--cannot, as in B.C., confuse the statements
of observers, perplex their terminology (for they often use "crests"
as synonyms of "totems"), and disorganise totemism itself. But we
can find, not far from Australia, a parallel to this heraldry in New
Guinea. For "crests" or badges in Central British New Guinea, see
_Totemism and Exogamy_, vol. ii. pp. 42-44. The people, like the B.C.
tribes, are settled in villages. They have "a number of exogamous
clans," most clans occupying several villages, and they have paternal
descent. "Every clan" (as apparently in some cases in British Columbia)
"has a number of badges called Oaoa, which, generally speaking, may
only be worn or used by members of the clan." The "clan" names are
geographical or are patronymics, they are not totemic; the badges
either represent birds and mammals, or are "schematised" from some
prominent feature of these. The people are not now totemists, even if
they have passed through totemism.

Again (category 5), in British Columbia, "Magical Ceremonies are not
associated with Totemism." In Central Australia they are "intimately
associated with totemism." Yes, but in South-Eastern Australia they
are not, as far as our evidence informs us. Magical ceremonies are
not in Mr. Goldenweizer's list of five symptoms or characteristic
peculiarities of totemism, so I leave them out of account.

Again, as to Taboo (category 3), in British Columbia, "non-totemic
taboo is common; totemic, absent."

As to this "absence," Mr. Frazer has a great deal to say. For example,
we have Commander Mayne's book, _Four Years in British Columbia_, a
work of 1862, in which is given information from Mr. William Duncan, a
missionary among the Tsimshian tribe. All such evidence given prior to
controversies about totemism is valuable. According to this account,
the Indians used, as "crests," representations of Whale, Porpoise,
Eagle, Raven, Wolf, Frog, etc. Every person was obliged to marry out
of the name of the animal represented by his crest, and each "clan"
tabooed its animal, "will never kill the animal which he has adopted
for his crest, or which belongs to him as his birthright," that is,
apparently, his "familiar," and his inherited totem. This is original
totemism in North-West America.

Mr. Frazer says, "So far as I remember, no other writer on these
North-Western Indians has mentioned their reluctance to kill their
totemic animals. In the course of this work I have repeatedly called
attention to the paucity of information on this important side of
totemism in the writings of American ethnologists."[11] Mr. Frazer also
finds the usual totemic taboo among the Yuchi, a tribe of the Gulf

In Central Australia are "numerous totemic and non-totemic taboos." But
in other parts of Australia there are also tribes where people even
kill and eat their totems. The totemic taboo is an extremely common
institution, but not a note _stantis vel cadentis ecclesiae_.

Another category is (4), "Descent from the Totem." As I have said,
the belief in this descent is a mere explanatory myth to account for
totemism; and, like all other such myths, could only arise after men
were not only totemic, but wondered why they were totemic. Consequently
such myths are not of the essence of totemism, and their varieties are
of no importance.

The belief, or myth, of totemic descent is absent in British Columbia,
says Mr. Goldenweizer, in the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian tribes, and
present "among the Kwakiutl and further south." In Central Australia
descent from the totem is "universal."

But it is a queer kind of "descent," is not, in the usual sense,
descent at all, and, notoriously, _is not descent by physical

Then we have the category (7), "Guardian Spirits, intimately associated
with Totemism" in British Columbia, "_not_ associated with it in
Central Australia." Yet, in Central Australia, a man's spirit is a
totemic spirit. Again (10), "Number of Totems." In British Columbia
"small," in Central Australia "large." But it is "small" in such
central regions of Australia as those of the Dieri and Urabunna, and in
South-Eastern Australia; and why it is so large among the Arunta no man
knows. It is an unexplained peculiarity, and not essential.

"Reincarnation" (6) is, in British Columbia, "not associated with
Totemism," in Central Australia "intimately associated with Totemism."
Here, Mr. Strehlow, for the Southern Arunta, reports otherwise; while
for the Northern Arunta and other tribes, this "reincarnation" is part
of a speculative explanatory myth. The myth, as I can show, explains,
at one stroke, how men come to have souls, and why men are totemic We
know the kind of savage philosophy which accounts for this category.

I have now remarked on eight out of Mr. Goldenweizer's ten categories
of differences between British Columbian and South Australian totemism;
all of them, I think, are separable accidents of totemism; and most of
them are easily to be accounted for by actual differences of culture,
of social conditions, and by variety of savage taste and fancy in
making guesses as to why totemists are totemistic.

[9] _J. A. F._ p. 229. I give the tabular form in this note:


                    BRITISH COLUMBIA                CENTRAL AUSTRALIA

Exogamy (1)         Totemic phratries (Tlingit)     Classes
                    Totemic clans (Haida,           Totem Clans (generally
                    Tsimshian, Northern Kwakiutl)   not independent
                                                    exogamous units.)

Totemic names (2)   Phratries (Tlingit)             All totem clans
                    Clans (Haida)
                    1 of 4 clans (Tsimshian)
                    Clans (Northern Kwakiutl)

Taboo (3)           Non-totemic taboo, common;      Numerous totemic and
                      totemic absent                  non-totemic taboos

Descent from        Absent (Tlingit, Haida,         Universal
 the totem (4)        Tsimshian)
                    Occurs (Kwakiutl and
                      farther South)

Magical             Not associated                  Intimately associated
 ceremonies (5)       with totemism                   with totemism.

Reincarnation (6)   Not associated                  Intimately associated
                      with totemism                   with totemism.

Guardian            Intimately associated           Not associated
 spirits (7)          with totemism                   with totemism

Art (8)             Actively associated             Passively associated
                      with totemism                   with totemism

Rank (9)            Conspicious (in                 Absent
                      individuals and groups)

Number of           Small                           Large
 totems (10)

[10] Franz Boas, _Fifth Report of the Committee on the North-Western
Tribes of Canada_, p. 32, cited in _Totemism and Exogamy_, vol. iii. p.
319, note 2; cf. p. 321.

[11] _Totemism and Exogamy_, vol. iii. pp. 309-311.

[12] F. G. Speck, _Ethnology of the Yuchi Indians_, Philadelphia, 1909,
pp. 70 sq. _Totemism and Exogamy_, vol. iv. p. 312, cf. vol. iii. p.


We next arrive at the two first of Mr. Goldenweizer's categories.
These are concerned with points of such very wide diffusion in the
totemic world that I, under correction, take leave to regard them as
"normal," while I hold that such variations from the norm as exist can
be explained--as aberrations.

The first of these two categories is announced as:


1. Exogamy
     Totemic phratries (Tlingit).
     Totemic clans (Haida, Tsimshian, Northern Kwakiutl).


2. Exogamy
     Totem clans (generally not independent exogamous units).

This needs explanation! By "totemic _phratries_" in the case of the
Tlingits, Mr. Goldenweizer means the two main exogamous divisions
of the tribe, Wolf and Raven. By "totemic _clans_," in the case of
the Haida, he also means the two main exogamous divisions, Raven
and Eagle, which, really, are phratries. But it is also clear that
Mr. Goldenweizer is here using the word "clans" as it exists in the
peculiar terminology of Dr. Swanton. Mr. Goldenweizer informs us that
"Dr. Swanton now fully recognises the strict parallelism of the social
units of the Tlingit and Haida, and sanctions the use of 'phratry' and
clan in both cases." This terminological source of confusion happily

We are now, alas, entering a region where the variations of evidence,
the confusions of terminology, and the influence of wealth and rank
in the creation of heraldry, cause extreme perplexity. Meanwhile,
as the Haida "clans" of the category are, in fact, phratries; on
the other hand the "totemic clans" of the Tsimshians and Northern
Kwakiutl (Raven, Eagle, Hawk, Wolf), and six "totemic clans" of the
Northern Kwakiutl seem destitute of phratries, which, among the Arunta
of Central Australia, have also died out Mr. Goldenweizer, however,
assigns phratries to Central Australia, the Arunta have none;[13]
also "totem clans," where there are none, for the totemically named
associations of the Arunta are not "clans," in the normal and usual
sense of that word; they are not kins but associations.

Mr. Goldenweizer, in his first category, speaks of Central Australia
as possessing totemic "clans" ("generally not independent exogamous
units"). If by "Central Australia" he means the Arunta group of tribes,
they have, I repeat, no "totemic clans"; they have only clubs with
totemic names, and these associations are not "exogamous units." Where
phratries with totem kins in them exist, no totem kin is or can be
"an independent exogamous unit," except where one totem to one totem
marriage prevails, as among certain Australian tribes. But if the
phratry rule be dropped, as Morgan says it was among the Iroquois, then
people may marry into any totem kin except their own, and each totem
kin becomes an "independent exogamous unit."[14]

Thus the first category in Mr. Goldenweizer's list needs a good deal
of explanation and criticism.

The second category is _Totemic Names_. Under these, in British
Columbia, are:

    "Phratries (Tlingit)."
    "Clans (Haida)." (But these are phratries.)
    "Two of four clan Tsimshian."
    "Clans (Northern Kwakiutl)."

In place of two animal-named clans out of four, Mr. Frazer assigns four
animal-named clans to the Tsimshians;[15] Raven, Eagle, Wolf, and Bear.
(_T. and E._, vol. iii. pp. 307-308.) Mr. Goldenweizer himself[16] also
assigns these _four animal-named clans to the Tsimshians_. But, in his
table,[17] he docks two Tsimshian clans of their totem names. He does
so also in his p. 190. Thus (p. 187) all of the four Tsimshian "clans"
have animal names. But (p. 190), and also in the tabular arrangement,
only two of the Tsimshian clans have animal names. Mr. Frazer gives
to all four Tsimshian clans the names of animals. Whom are we to
believe[18] Method is here a little to seek.

A much more serious puzzle meets us when, in his second category
(totemic names), Mr. Goldenweizer assigns no totemic names to the
"clans" of the Tlingit, while Mr. F. Boas (whose list is quoted by Mr.
Frazer) and Holmberg (1856) do assign totemic names to the Tlingit

Let us examine this situation.

If we take a South-East Australian tribe of the Barkinji pattern,
we find it divided into two animal-named intermarrying phratries
(or exogamous intermarrying "classes" or "moieties," I call them
"phratries"). In each phratry are totem kins, that is, kins named
after animals, vegetables, or other things in nature. The names of
phratries and totem kins (I know no other word for them but totem kins
or totem clans) descend in the female line. No such totem kin occurs in
_both_ exogamous phratries, therefore all these units are necessarily

Two-thirds of the Australian phratry names are untranslated, like those
of the Dieri; the other third, with a single exception (the Euahlayi),
are names of animals.[19]

Now turn to the disputable case of the Tlingits of British Columbia.
I first examine Mr. Frazer's account of them in Totemism and Exogamy
(vol. iii. pp. 264-278). The Tlingits are divided into two exogamous
phratries, or "classes," of animal names, Raven and Wolf. (In the north
the Wolf "class" is also known as the Eagle.) Phratry exogamy is the
rule; descent is in the female line. Each phratry is subdivided into a
number of "clans," which are named after various animals. As no "clan"
is represented in both phratries, and as all folk are obliged to marry
out of their own phratry, the "clans" are, inevitably, exogamous.

For purposes of comparison with other British Columbia tribes, I
give the list of Tlingit totem kins furnished by Mr. Frazer, "on the
authority of Mr. F. Boas"[20]:

   Raven.                         Wolf.
   Frog.                          Hear.
   Goose.                         Eagle.
   Sea Lion.                      Killer Whale.
   Owl.                           Shark.
   Salmon.                        Auk.
   Beaver.                        Gull.
   Codfish.                       Sparrow Hawk.
   Skate.                         Thunder Bird.[21]

As I found out, and proved, in many Australian tribes the name of each
phratry also occurs as the name of a totem kin in the phratry; so also
it is among the Tlingit--_teste_ Mr F. Boas.[22]

Thus on every point--female descent, animal-named phratries,
animal-named totem kins, and each phratry containing a totem kin of its
own name, the Tlingit totemism is absolutely identical with that of
many South-Eastern Australian tribes of the most archaic type.

But the Tlingit, unlike the Australians, live in villages, and "the
families or households may occupy one or more houses. The _families_
actually take their names from places." (I italicise the word
"families.") Mr. Frazer's authorities here are Holmberg (1856), Pauly
(1862), Petroff ("the principal clans are those of the Raven, the Bear,
the Wolf, and the Whale"), Krause (both here undated). Dr. Boas (1889).
and Mr. Swanton (1908).

Mr Goldenweizer[23] does not mention that the "clans" of the Tlingit
have animal names. Quite the reverse; he says that "the 'clans' of
the Tlingit ... bear, with a few exceptions, names derived from
localities."[24] This is repeated on p. 225.

At this point, really, the evidence becomes unspeakably perplexing. Mr.
Frazer, we see, follows Mr. F. Boas and Holmberg (1856) in declaring
that the "clans" of the Tlingit bear animal names. Mr. Goldenweizer
says that, "with few exceptions," the "clans" of the Tlingit bear
"names derived from localities."[25] Mr. Goldenweizer's authority is
"Swanton, _Bur. Eth. Rep._, 1904-1905 (1908), p. 398." Mr. Frazer[26]
also quotes that page of Mr. Swanton, but does not say that Mr. Swanton
here gives _local_, not animal, names to the clans of the Tlingit. Mr.
Frazer also cites Mr. Swanton's p. 423 _sq._ Here we find Mr. Swanton
averring that Killer Whale, Grizzly Bear, Wolf, and Halibut are in the
Wolf phratry, "on the Wolf side," among the Tlingit; while Raven, Frog,
Hawk, and Black Whale are on the Raven side. Here are animal names (not
precisely as in Mr. Boas' list) within the phratries. But Mr. Swanton
does not reckon these animal names as names of "clans"; to "clans" he
gives local names in almost every case. To his mind these animal names
in Tlingit society denote "_crests_" not "_clans_" and with crests we
enter a region of confusion.

I cannot but think that the confusion is caused (apart from loose
terminology) by the _crests_ of these peoples. The crests are an
excrescence, a heraldic result of wealth and rank; and as such can
have nothing to do with early totemism. Scholars sometimes say
"totems" when they mean "crests" (and perhaps _vice versa_), and
confusion must ensue.

I quote, on this point, a letter which Mr. Goldenweizer kindly wrote to
me (Jan. 21, 1911).

"Since the appearance of Mr. Swanton's studies of the Tlingit and the
Haida there remains no doubt whatever that the clans of these two
tribes bear (with some few exceptions) names derived from localities.
On pp. 398-9-400 of his Tlingit study (26th Report of the Bureau of
American Ethnology, 1904-5) he gives a list of the geographical groups,
and of the clans with their local names, classified according to the
two phratries: Raven and Wolf. It must be remembered that to many of
these clans he gives the totems [crests] of the Tlingit phratries: then
the gentes [clans] of the Stikin tribe are enumerated. Some of the
native names are translated as house or local names; it is pointed out
that the raven occurs four times as the crest of four gentes [clans]
with different names which, therefore, cannot mean 'raven.'

"The Haida case is quite parallel. Here 'each clan [phratry] was
subdivided into a considerable number of families [clans] which
generally took their names from some town or camping-place.' And again:
'It would seem that originally each family occupied a certain place
or lived in a certain part of a town' (Swanton, _The Haida_, pp. 66,
_sq_.) Now, of course, many clans are represented in several districts.
Opposite p. 76 we find a genealogical table of the Raven families
[clans] descended from Foam Woman, with their local names. A similar
table of the Eagle families [clans] descended from Greatest Mountain,
is given on p. 93. Again Professor Boas' account, although fragmentary,
is correct. 'The phratries of the Haida are divided into gentes [clans]
in the same way as those of the Tlingit, they also take their names, in
the majority of cases, from the houses' (R.B.A.A.S., p. 822). The names
of the Skidigate-village-people clans are given as an example.

"As to personal names among the Haida, a curious fact must be noted.
Notwithstanding the greater prominence of crests and art among the
Haida, their personal names are but seldom derived from animals, as
is the rule among the Tlingit, the clans are not now restricted to
one village district, but are found in several of the geographical
groups. Thus the G ā n A x Á d î (of the Raven phratry) are found in
the Tongas, Taku, Chilkat and Yakutat groups, while the Tégoedî (of the
Wolf phratry) occur in the Tongas, Sanya, Hutsnuwù and Yakutat groups.
The only non-local clan-names in the list are the Kuxînédî (marten
people) of Henya; the SAgutēnedî (grass people) and NēsÁdî (salt-water
people) of Kake; the LlūklnAxAdî (king-salmon people) of Sitka; and the
LugāxAdî (quick people) of Chilkat. Each of these five clans occurs
only once in the list, from which we may perhaps infer that they are
of relatively late origin (this merely as a suggestion). On the other
hand, 'the great majority of Tlingit personal names,' Mr. Swanton tells
us, 'referred to some animal, especially that animal whose emblem was
particularly valued by the clan to which the bearer belonged' (Bureau,
1904-5, pp. 421-2). In the passage you note, viz. 'the transposition of
phratries is indicated also by crests and names, for the killer-whale,
grizzly bear, wolf, and halibut, are on the Wolf side among the Tlingit
and on the Raven side among the Haida, etc.,' the animals cited are the
'crests' while the 'names' referred to are, of course, the personal
names which are derived from animals and as a rule change with the
crests; therefore, they are not illustrated in the passage.

"Professor Boas' list is incomplete but similar in substance (Reports
of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1889. p.
821). First majority of Haida personal names refer to the potlatch,
property, etc. (Swanton, _The Haida_, pp. 119-120.) This is, no doubt,
due to the influence of the potlatch which is among these people the
central social and ceremonial feature.

"Holmberg's work I did not see. Probably his list of animals also
stands for the crests and not the clan names....

"Of the Tsimshian clans only two bear animal names. K'anhada and
GyispotuwE'da do not, as Professor Boas formerly supposed, mean 'raven'
and 'bear' (cf. R.B.A.A.S., 1889. p. 823 and Annual Archaeological
Report, Toronto, 1906, p. 239)."

If I may ask a question about this very perplexing state of affairs, I
would say, Is the animal crest of each "clan" supposed to be _later_
than the local designation of the clan? To me it seems that the crest
is in origin a heraldic representation of the clan totem, and that,
as in Australia, totemic names of clans are older than names derived
from localities or "houses." The house, the fixed building, is part of
a society later than the first bearing of totemic names by clans. The
crest, as a badge of rank and wealth, is later than the totem; social
advance, houses, towns, heraldry, as a mark of rank, appear to me to
cause the perplexities, and to place these American tribes outside of
the totemism of people without rank, wealth, and houses and heraldry.

As I understand the case, the Tlingit clans did not originally, as Dr.
Swanton seems to suppose, "occupy a certain place or live in a certain
quarter of a town," whence they derived the place-names or town-names
which they at present bear, according to Dr. Swanton. The Tlingit, now
living in towns, and with clans of town-names, may naturally fancy that
from the first their clans bore local or town-names. But society that
begins in people who, like the Tlingit, have female descent, cannot
form a local clan of descent, unless the men go to the homes of the
women, which is not here the case. Originally I think their crests, as
in Holmberg's report, were effigies of their clan totems, and the clans
bore their totem names. But with advance to wealth, houses, and settled
conditions, the local or town-names (as in other cases is certain)
superseded the totem names of the clans, while the totem badge became,
as the crest, a factor in a system of heraldry, to us perplexing.
Certainly the facts as given by Dr. Swanton, may be envisaged in this
way; the processes of change are simple, natural and have parallels

If a totemic clan chooses to wear the image of its totem as a badge,
and has no other badge, all is plain sailing. But in British Columbia,
as in Central British New Guinea, men, in proportion to their wealth
and descent, wear an indefinite number of badges or "crests." "Although
referred to by most writers as totems," says Mr. Swanton, speaking of
the Haida tribe, "these crests have no proper totemic significance,
their use being similar to that of the quarterings in heraldry, to mark
the social position of the wearers."[26] Of course Australian totemists
have no social position to be indicated by crests or badges. Now Dr.
Boas speaks of "crests" as "totems," among the Haida,[27] and we are
perplexed among these mixtures of heraldic with totemic terms.

Next, and this is curious, while Mr. Swanton gives local names to the
"clans" of the Tlingit; to many but not all of his "House Groups" he
gives _animal_ names, "Raven, Moose, Grizzly Bear, Killer Whale, Eagle,
Frog _houses_" and so on. All these animals are names of Holmberg's
and Mr. F. Boas' totems of clans; but, according to Mr. Swanton, they
are names borne, not by "clans" but by "house groups."[28] Other
house groups have local names, or descriptive names, or nicknames, as
"gambling house." Thus Mr. Frazer gives animal names to the "clans" of
the Tlingit to which Mr. Swanton gives local names, and while many of
the houses, or "house groups" of Mr. Swanton's Tlingit bear totemic
names, Mr. Frazer says "the families generally take their names from
places."[29] There appears to be confusion due to imperfect terminology.

Mr. Goldenweizer avers that "the intensive and prolonged researches
conducted by a number of well trained observers among these tribes of
the North Pacific border have shown with great clearness,"--something
not at present to the point[30] But we regret the absence of
clearness. Can we rely on Holmberg who described the state of affairs
as it was fifty years ago, and who knew nothing, I presume, of
Australian phratries and totem kins? In his time the Tlingit, like
a dozen South-Eastern tribes of Australia, had animal-named kins in
animal-named exogamous intermarrying phratries with female descent. Or
was Holmberg (and was Mr. F. Boas in his list of animal-named Tlingit
clans) led astray by the "crests"? Did each of these inquirers mistake
"crests" for totems of clans?

One thing is clear, the Tlingit and the other tribes being possessed
of wealth, and of gentry, and of heraldry, cause almost inextricable
confusion by their use of heraldic badges, named "crests" by some; and
"totems" (or _both_ crests and totems at once) by other well trained
observers. I am inclined to believe that most of these crests were,
originally, representations of the totems of distinct totem kins. My
reason is this: Mr. Swanton tells us that "the crests and names which
among the Tlingit are on the Wolf side" are "on the Raven side" among
the Haida. Among these people, animal names and crests are divided
between the two phratries, the same name or crest not occurring in
both phratries. This is merely the universal arrangement of totems in

Even now, among the Tlingit, says Mr. Swanton, "theoretically _the
emblems_" (crests) "_used on the Raven side were different from those
on the Wolf or Eagle side_," (precisely as, in Australia, the totems
in Eagle Hawk phratry are different from those in Crow phratry),
"and although a man of high caste might borrow an emblem from his
brother-in-law temporarily, he was not permitted to retain it" (His
brother-in-law, of course, was of the phratry not his own.) All this
means no more than that occasionally a man of high caste may _now_
impale the arms of his wife.[31] With castes and heraldry, born of
wealth and rank, we have stepped out of totemism at this point It has
been modified by social conditions. "Some families were too poor to
have an emblem," did they also cease to have a totem? Some of the rich
"could," it was said, "use anything." Is this because they pile up
sixteen quarterings? "The same crest may be, and is, used by different
clans, and any one clan may have several crests...."[32] Many "clans"
now use the same crest, and there are quarrels about rights to this
or that "crest." Some members of the Wolf phratry assert a right to
the Eagle crest. Mr. Frazer thinks that "such claims are perhaps to be
explained by marriages of the members of the clan with members of other
clans who had these animals for their crests."[33]

That is precisely my own opinion. If "crests" were originally mere
representations of each person's totem animal they have now become
involved, through rank and social degrees, with heraldry, and with
badges not totemic, such as a certain mountain. Meanwhile all the
Tlingit "clans," if we follow Mr. Swanton's evidence, or almost all the
"clans" are now mere local settlements, at least they bear local and
other descriptive names. I nearly despair of arriving at Mr. Swanton's
theory of what a Tlingit "clan" really is! But he gives a list of "the
geographical groups," the "clans," and the phratry to which each of the
clans belonged....

Thus we have (1)


Then (2)

  TONGAS (I take Tongas to be "a geographical group").

Then under TONGAS GānAXA'di, People of Gā'NAX.


    TONGAS (Geographical group, apparently).
        Te'goedî, People of the island Teq°.

GānAXÁdî and Te'goedî seem to be "clans," but then clan Te'goedî,
"People of the isle Teq°," looks like "a geographical group"!

There are fourteen "geographical divisions" of this kind, and
sixty-eight "clans" of this kind, with descriptive or local names. The
clans "were in a way local groups," says Mr. Swanton. They were also
"clans or consanguineal bands," each "usually named from some town
or camp it had once occupied." They "differed from the geographical
groups ... being social divisions instead of comprising the accidental
occupants of one locality."[34]

Be it observed that Mr. Swanton speaks of "these geographical divisions
or tribes"; which increases the trouble, for, if the Tlingit be
a "tribe," and the geographical divisions of the Tlingit be also
"tribes," things are perplexing.

Once more, the Tlingit reckon descent in the female line. Now how can
"a consanguineal band," which reckons descent in the female line,
look like "a geographical group"? A totem kin, with male descent,
in Australia and elsewhere, like a Highland clan, say the MacIans,
necessarily becomes "a geographical group," say in Glencoe. But how,
with female descent (unless the women go to the men's homes), a Tlingit
"consanguineal band" can also have a local habitation is to me a
difficult question. The names of the phratries descend in the female
line. Do the local and descriptive names of "the clans or consanguineal
bands," also descend in the female line? I cannot presume to say. Mr.
Frazer throws no light on this point believing, as he does, that the
"clans" within the Tlingit phratries, are the familiar totem kins,
of animal names. If so, the children must inherit the maternal totem
"clan" name.

Only one thing is clear to me, a Tlingit of the Wolf phratry can only
marry a bride of the Raven phratry; a Tlingit of the Raven phratry
can only woo a maiden of the Wolf phratry. If totem kins there be in
the phratries, these totem kins are exogamous. If there be no totem
kins in the phratry, are Mr. Swanton's clans of local names _locally_
exogamous? May persons marry within the region where they are settled?
I know not, but I rather incline to suppose that members of _both_
phratries may be found in Mr. Swanton's clans of local name; indeed
it _must_ be so, and therefore a pair of lovers _may_ perhaps wed
_within_ their "clan or consanguineal band," and within their local
group, which, thus, is not exogamous. If so, the Tlingit clan is _not_
exogamous. But all _this_ is purely conjectural.

While, in Mr. Swanton's version, the Tsimshians, with female descent,
have two exogamous "clans" with animal names, and two with other names;
while in Mr. Frazer's book they have four animal-named exogamous clans,
there is a third story resting on the authority of Mr. William Duncan,
a missionary among the Tsimshian from 1857 onwards.[35] Mr. Duncan's
information Commander Mayne incorporated in his book.[36]

According to Commander Mayne, using Mr. Duncan's evidence, in 1862,
the Tsimshians (as we have seen), carved faces of "Whale, Porpoise,
Raven, Eagle, Wolf, Frog, etc.," on roof beams. He calls such effigies
"crests." No person may marry another of the same "crest": the children
take their mother's _crest_, and bear the name of the animal which it
represents. None may kill the animal of his crest. All this is exogamy
with totem kins, under the phratries, as the exogamous units,[37] and
with the totemic taboo. If Mayne and Duncan are right, either more
recent writers are wrong, or Tsimshian totemism has been much modified
since 1862.

[13] That is, the matrimonial classes, eight in all, are divided into
two sets of four each, but these sets are nameless.

[14] L. A. Morgan, _League of the Iroquois_, pp. 79-83.

[15] I may be permitted to note that these four Tsimshian clans look,
to me, as if they had originally been two pairs of phratries. We find
a parallel Australian case in the Narran-ga tribe of York's peninsula
in South Victoria. Here Mr. Howitt gives us the "classes" (his term for

    _Kayi_          Emu.
    _Waui_          Red Kangaroo.
    _Wiltu_         Eagle Hawk.
    _Wilthathu_     Shark.

Each of these four main divisions had totem kins within it, and, as
usual, the same totem (all are animals) never occurred in more than one
main division. (Howitt, _N.T.S.E.A._ p. 130.) In precisely the same way
"crests" of animal name occur in each of the four Tsimshian "clans":

    _Raven_        Raven, Codfish, Starfish.
    _Eagle_        Eagle, Halibut, Beaver, Whale.
    _Wolf_         Wolf, Crane, Grizzly Bear.
    _Bear_         Killer Whale, Sun, Moon, Stars, Rainbow,
                            Grouse, and Sea Monster.

These "crests," thus arranged, no crest in more than one clan (or
phratry?) look like old totems in the two pairs of clans, or, as I
suspect, of phratries. The Australian parallel corroborates the view
that the Tsimshian "clans" have been phratries.

[16] _J. A. F._ p. 187. quoting "Swanton 26th _B. E. R._, 1904-1905, p.

[17] _Ibid_. p. 229.

[18] The truth seems to be that Mr. Goldenweizer (p. 189) misquotes Mr.
Swanton, who (26th _B. E. R._ p. 423) is speaking, not of the Tsimshian
but of the Haida. In his p. 190 Mr. Goldenweizer is quoting Dr. Boas,
_Annual Archaeological Report_, Toronto, 1905, pp. 235-249.

[19] Thomas, _Kinship and Marriage in Australia_.

[20] _T. and E._, vol. iii. p. 266, note 1.

[21] _T. and E._, vol. iii. p. 266, note I.

[22] _Secret of the Totem_, pp. 164-170

[23] _J. A. F._ p. 186.

[24] _J. A. F._ p. 190.

[25] _J. A. F._ pp. 190-225.

[26]_ T. and E._, vol. iii. p. 266, note 1.

[27] Quoted, _T. and E._, vol. iii. p. 281.

[28] _T. and E._, vol. iii. p. 283.

[29] _Ber. Eth. Report_, 1904-1905, pp. 400-407.

[30] _T. and E._, vol. iii. p. 266.

[31] _J. A. F._, p. 287.

[32] _R. B. E., ut supra_, p. 415.

[33] _T. and E._, vol. iii. p. 268.

[34] _T. and E._, vol. iii. p. 269.

[35] _R. B. E. ut supra_, p. 398.

[36] Mayne, _Four Years in British Columbia_, p. 257 _sq_. 1862.

[37] See _T. and E._, vol. iii. pp. 309-311.

[38] _T. and E._, vol. iii. pp. 309-311.


Further south than the Tsimshian dwell the Kwakiutl, of whom the most
southerly are called "the Kwakiutl proper." The northern Kwakiutl
are divided, says Dr. Boas, into "septs" and "clans." What a "sept"
may be I am not certain. The first tribe has "clans" called Beaver,
Eagle, Wolf, Salmon, Raven, Killer Whale: the usual totemic names in
this region. These totemic clans are exogamous, like those of Mayne's
Tsimshians. Descent is in the female line. In the next tribe we find
three exogamous animal-named clans: Eagle, Raven, Killer Whale, Beaver,
Wolf, and Salmon have vanished, or have never existed. In these two
tribes a child is sometimes placed in the father's, not in the mother's
clan, as a Dieri father sometimes "gives" his totem to his son, in
addition to the inherited maternal totem.[39]

When we reach the southern Kwakiutl ("the Kwakiutl proper") we are
told by Dr. Boas that "patriarchate prevails." This appears to mean
that descent is here reckoned not, as in the north, in the female, but
in the male line. "We do not find a single clan that has, properly
speaking, an animal for its totem; neither do the clans take their
name from their crest, nor are there phratries."[40] As the _northern_
Kwakiutl have animal-named exogamous "clans" with female descent, Dr.
Boas now thinks that the _northern_ Kwakiutl "have to a great extent
adopted the maternal descent and the division into animal totems of
the northern tribes."[41] We do not know, elsewhere, that totemism has
ever been borrowed by one tribe from another, especially by a tribe
so advanced in culture as the Kwakiutl, and we have no example of a
tribe in which the men have given up their social prerogatives, and
transmitted them to their nephews in the female line.

Mr. Frazer writes, "The question naturally arises, Are the Kwakiutl
passing from maternal institutions to paternal institutions, from
mother-kin to father-kin, or in the reverse direction?... In one
passage Dr. Boas seems to incline to the former member of this
alternative, that is, to the view that the Kwakiutl are passing, or
have passed, from mother-kin, or (as he calls it) matriarchate to
father-kin or patriarchate, for he says that "the marriage ceremonies
of the Kwakiutl seem to show that originally matriarchate prevailed
also among them."[42] Yet he afterwards adopted with great decision
the "contrary view." On these very intricate problems I take leave to
quote the statement with which Mr. Goldenweizer has been good enough
to favour me.

First, as to descent among the Kwakiutl proper.

"At first, as Mr. Frazer points out (iii. p. 329 _sq_.). Dr. Boas
believed that the Kwakiutl were passing from maternal to paternal
descent. Later investigations conducted by Dr. Farrand (cf. F. Boas,
_The Mythology of the Bella Coola_, Jesup North Pacific Expedition,
vol. i. p. 121), led to a reversal of that opinion. The main arguments
for original paternal descent among the Kwakiutl are three in number.
(1) The village communities, which were the original social unit of
the Kwakiutl,[43] regarded themselves as direct descendants of a
mythical ancestor, and not as descendants of the ancestor's sister,
which is the case in the legends of the northern tribes, with maternal
descent. (Cf. F. Boas, _The Kwakiutl_, etc., p. 335, where a genealogy
is also given.) (2) A number of offices connected with the ceremonies
of the secret societies, such as master of ceremonies, etc., are
hereditary in the male line (F. Boas, _Kwakiutl_, etc., p. 431). The
Secret Societies, with their dances, are a very ancient institution
among the Kwakiutl, and the male inheritance of the above offices is
a strong argument for the former prevalence of paternal descent among
these people. (3) The form taken by the maternal inheritance of rank,
privileges, etc., among the Kwakiutl points in the same direction.
When a man marries he receives crests, privileges, etc., from his
father-in-law through his wife, but he himself may not use them but
must keep them for his son, who, when of proper age, may sing the
songs, perform the dances, use the crest, etc., which he thus receives
from his mother through the medium of his father. (Cf. F. Boas,
_Kwakiutl_, etc., p. 334.) When the young man marries he must return
his privileges to his father, who then gives them to his daughter
when she marries. Thus, son-in-law No. 2 receives the privileges, but
again may not use them, but keeps them for his son, etc. It appears,
then, that the privileges exercised by the young man before marriage
are always derived from his mother, but formally he receives them from
his father, who acts as a sort of guardian of these privileges until
the son is ready for them. Descent here is clearly maternal, but the
form of paternal descent is preserved, a plausible condition for a
people who; having become maternal, still stick at least in form to the
traditional inheritance from the father. If this inference be rejected,
the feature becomes quite unaccountable.

"In the sentence, 'The woman's father, on his part, has acquired his
privileges in the same manner through his mother' (Frazer, vol. iii.
p. 333. note i), the privileges the woman's father exercised as a
young man before marriage are meant. The privileges he later acquired
through his wife he, of course, could not use, but had to keep them
for his son. The phrase, 'each individual inherits the crest of his
maternal grandfather' (Frazer, iii. p. 331, note 2), must be similarly
interpreted. The crest the individual uses before marriage is meant.

"In connection with the foregoing it must be remembered that another
mode of acquiring privileges, crests, songs, etc., was common among the
Kwakiutl, viz. by killing the owner (cf. F. Boas, _Kwakiutl_, etc., p.
424, and elsewhere).

"I also cite the actual words of Dr. Boas. He believes that the
intricate law by which 'a purely female line of descent is secured,
although only through the medium of the husband,' can only be explained
'as an adaptation of maternal laws by a tribe which was on a paternal
stage. I cannot imagine that it is a transition of a maternal society
to a paternal society, because there are no relics of the former'
(maternal) 'stage beyond those which we find everywhere, and which do
not prove that the transition has been recent at all. There is no trace
left of an inheritance from the wife's brothers; the young people do
not live with the wife's parents. But the most important argument is
that the customs cannot have been prevalent in the village communities
from which the present tribal system originated, as in these' (village
communities) 'the tribe is always designated as the direct descendants
of the mythical ancestor. If the village communities had been on
the maternal stage, the tribes would have been designated as the
descendants of the ancestor's sisters, as is always the case in the
legends of the northern tribes.'"[44]

From all this it appears that Dr. Boas believes the Kwakiutl proper to
have been once, "on the maternal stage," of which the usual "relics"
survive, but why should _all_ such traces survive? Some must disappear,
otherwise there could be no transition!

Apparently, in the village communities, the existence of a mythical
_ancestor_, not _ancestress_, is postulated; while in the northern
tribes, with female descent, mythical _ancestresses_ are postulated.
But if, among the Kwakiutl proper, male ancestry is now the recognised
rule (and it dimly seems to be so), then, as usual, Kwakiutl myth will
throw back into the unknown past the institutions of their present
state, will say "ancestor," not "ancestress." No argument can be based
on traditions which are really explanatory conjectures. There is
advanced no valid reason for supposing that the Kwakiutl proper began
with descent in the female line, then advanced to the male line, and
then doubled back on the female line, and so evolved transmission of
crests in the female line, through husbands.

The waverings of the Kwakiutl between the two lines of descent are,
in fact, such as we expect to occur when a people has retained, like
the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshians, the system of female descent after
reaching a fair pitch of physical culture, and arriving at wealth,
rank, and the attribution of children to the paternal stock.

[39] _T. and E._, vol. iii. pp. 318, 319.

[40] _Fifth Report on N. W. Tribes of Canada_, 1890. _T. and E._, vol.
iii. p. 320, note 1.

[41] _Twelfth Report on N. W. Tribes of Canada_, 1898, p. 676. T. and
E., vol. iii. p. 320, note 1.

[42] _T. and E._, vol. iii. p. 332, citing Dr. Boas in _Fifth Report on
N. W. Tribes of Canada_, p. 33, 1889.

[43] It seems to me impossible to suppose that the village community
was ever anywhere "the original social unit."--A. L.

[44] _Rep. U.S. Nat. Museum_, 1897. pp. 334-335.


I now come to give my own opinion as to the ways in which Kwakiutl
totemism may have attained its existing peculiarities. It is necessary
first to defend my view that the essential thing in totemism--surveying
the whole totemic field--is the existence of exogamous kins bearing
animal and other such names. Here Mr. Goldenweizer opposes me, saying
that "no particular set of features can be taken as characteristic of
totemism, for the composition of the totemic complex is variable, nor
can any particular feature be regarded as fundamental, for not one of
the features does invariably occur in conjunction with others; nor is
there any evidence to regard any other feature as primary in order of
development, or as of necessity original psychologically."[45]

I have already remarked that this is true; we find human
_associations_, which are _not_ kins or clans, bearing animal and other
totemic names, while these associations are not exogamous (the Arunta
nation); and we find exogamous sets, kins, or associations which do not
bear animal names.

But the co-existence of the exogamous kin with the totemic name of
that kin is found in such an immense and overwhelming majority over
every other arrangement; the exogamous "totem clan" is so hugely
out of proportion in numbers and width of diffusion over the Arunta
animal-named non-exogamous associations and other rare exceptions, that
we have a right to ask--Are not the exceptions aberrant variations?
Have not the Arunta, with non-exogamous sets bearing totemic names, and
other peoples with exogamous sets _not_ of totemic names, passed through
and out of the usual stage of animal-named exogamous kins? A mere guess
that this is so, that the now non-exogamous human sets with totem names
have once been exogamous, would be of no value. I must prove, and
fortunately I can prove, that it _was_ so.

It is certain, historically, that some exogamous units which now bear
non-totemic names, in the past were ordinary totem kins with totemic
names. As we can also demonstrate to a certainty that the Arunta have
been in, and, for definite reasons, have passed out of, the ordinary
stage of exogamous totem kins, we have a right, I think, to say that,
normally, the feature of the totemic name is associated with the
feature of exogamy, and that the exceptions really prove the rule, for
we can show how the exceptions came to vary from the rule.

Mr. Goldenweizer, in a very brief criticism of my own theory of
Totemism, given by me in _Social Origins_ (1903), and in _The Secret
of the Totem_ (1905), writes "Why is the question, How did the early
groups come to be named after the plants and animals?--the real
problem? Would not Lang admit that other features may also have been
the starting point?" (I not only admit but insist that "other features"
were among the starting-points of exogamous totemism.) Among "the other
features" Mr. Goldenweizer gives "animal taboos, or a belief in descent
from an animal, or primitive hunting regulations, or what not? I am
sure that Lang, who is such an adept in following the _logos_, could
without much effort construct a theory of totemism with any one of
these elements to start with--a theory as consistent with fact, logic,
and the mind of primitive man, as is the theory of names accepted from

Now as to the last point, I have written "unessential to my system is
the question _how_ the groups got animal names, as long as they got
them and did not remember how they got them" (_et seq_.)[46] I _did_ show
how European and other village groups obtained animal names, namely as
_sobriquets_ given from without; and I proved the same origin of the
modern names of Siouan "gentes," of two Highland clans; of political
parties, religious sects; and so forth.

This mode of obtaining names is a _vera causa_: that is all: and nobody
had remarked on it, in connection with totemism.

Next I cannot "without much effort" (or with any effort) construct a
theory of totemism out of (1) "animal taboos." They are imposed for
many known and some unknown reasons, and not all totem kins taboo the
totem object. Next (2) as I must repeat that "belief in descent from
an animal," is only one out of many post-totemic myths explanatory of
totemism; I cannot possibly use it as the starting-point of totemism.
If Mr. Goldenweizer has read the book which he is criticising, he
forgets that I wrote[47] "it is an error to look for origins in myths
about origins," and that I refused to accept as corroboration of my
theory an African myth which agrees with my own view.

As to (3) "primitive hunting regulations," Mr. Goldenweizer does not
tell us what they were. It is a very common "regulation" that no totem
kin may hunt its own totem animal, but to suggest that the totem kin
was created by the regulation is to mistake effect for cause.

Finally (4), who can take "or what not" for the starting-point of an
investigation? But every totem kin has a totemic name: if there is no
totemic name how can we know that we have before us a totem kin? If
the Tlingit "clans" be exogamous but not named by totemic names (as
Mr. Swanton tells us), then the Tlingit clans are not totemic, now,
whatever they may have been in the past: and we are not concerned with

Of every totem "clan" the totem name is a _universal_ feature; and
therefore I must begin my study from what is universal--the names.
Here (though we must not appeal to authority), I have the private
satisfaction of being in agreement with Mr. Howitt. The assumption by
men of the names of objects "in fact must have been the commencement of
totemism," says Mr. Howitt.[48]

I start then, from the totemic names because,--no totemic name, no
totemic "clan"! With the totemic name of a social unit in the tribe, I
couple exogamy, (though exogamy may exist apart from totemism), because
exogamy is always associated with a "clan" of totemic name, except in a
very few cases of which the Arunta "nation" is much the most prominent.
But it is not to the point, for _the Arunta have no totemic clans_. Mr.
Frazer's latest definition of totemism is "an intimate relation which
is supposed to exist between a group of _kindred_ people on the one
side and a species of natural or artificial objects on the other"[49]
Now the Arunta associations of animal names are not (I must keep
repeating) kindreds, are not "clans," are not composed of persons who
are, "humanly speaking," akin. The totem is not inherited from either
parent or through any kinsman or kinswoman. The Arunta bearers of the
same totem name, in each case, do not constitute a "clan." This puts
the so-called Arunta "totem clans," non-exogamous, out of action as
proofs that "totem clans" may be non-exogamous.

Moreover, the non-exogamous Arunta associations bearing totemic names
have once been exogamous totem clans. The usages of the Arunta, and
their traditions, and the actual facts of their society, prove that
their totems were originally hereditary and exogamous.[50]

I use the word "prove" deliberately; the demonstration is of historical
and mathematical certainty. These facts compel me to believe that the
Arunta have been in and passed out of normal hereditary totemism, in
which the totems are arranged so that no totem occurs in both main
exogamous divisions, and all totems are exogamous. In that normal
totemic stage the Arunta have at one time been. But they have passed
out of it into their present "conceptional" totemism, with the same
totems appearing in both main exogamous divisions, the totems being
non-hereditary, and non-exogamous.

Spencer and Gillen say, "in the Arunta, as a general rule, the great
majority of the members of any one totemic group belong to one moiety
of the tribe, but this is by no means universal, and in different
totemic groups certain of the ancestors are supposed to have belonged
to one moiety and others to the other, with the result that of course
their living descendants also follow their example."[51] (This
statement I later compare with others by the same authors.) Now in
normal totemism, not "the great majority," but all the members of any
one totemic group belong to one or other moiety of the tribe. The
totems being hereditary, they cannot wander out of their own into the
other phratry, and, as all persons must marry out of their own phratry,
they cannot marry into their own totem, for no person of their own
totem is in the phratry into which they must marry.

At present "the great majority" of members of each totem, among
the Arunta, are in one phratry or the other. Thus their society is
either, (1) in some unknown way, rapidly approximating itself to
normal totemism, or (2) has comparatively recently emerged from normal
totemism. The former alternative is impossible. Each Arunta obtains
his or her totem by sheer chance, by the accident of the supposed
locality of his or her conception, and of the totemic _erathipa_ or
_ratapa_ which alone haunt that spot.[52] Manifestly this present
Arunta mode of determining totems cannot introduce the great majority
of each totem into one or the other phratry or main exogamous division
(Panunga-Bulthara and Purula-Kumara), for these divisions have now no
local habitation or limits. Consequently the arrangement by which the
great majority of each totem is in one or the other moiety can be due
to nothing but the fact that the Arunta have comparatively recently
emerged from normal exogamous and hereditary, into conceptional,
casual, non-hereditary and non-exogamous totemism. Had they emerged
long ago, and adopted their present fortuitous method of acquiring the
totem, _manifestly the totems, by the operation of chance, would now be
present in almost equal numbers in both phratries_. This would also be
the case had Arunta totemism always been conceptional and fortuitous.

According to Spencer and Gillen, "it is the idea of spirit individuals
associated with _churinga_ and resident in certain definite spots, that
lies at the root of the present totemic system of the Arunta tribe."[53]

This is certainly true; and the facts prove, we shall see, to
demonstration, that this actual "conceptional" state of Arunta totemism
is later than, and has caused the disappearance of the normal
hereditary exogamous totemism, among the Arunta.

It is plain and manifest that if the Arunta nation, from the first,
were in their present stage of "conceptional totemism"--the totem
of each individual being always determined by sheer chance--when
the exogamous division of the tribe was instituted, individuals of
each totem would be almost equally distributed between the two main
divisions, Purula-Kumara and Bulthara-Panunga. Chance could not put
the great majority of the members of every totem name either into one
exogamous division or the other. If any one doubts this, let him take
four packs of cards (208 cards), and deal them alternately five or six
times to two friends, Jones representing the phratry Bulthara-Panunga,
and Brown standing for the phratry Purula-Kumara. It will not be found
that Brown always holds the great majority of Court cards--Ace, King,
Queen and Knave--and the great majority of tens, nines and eights:
while Jones holds the great majority of sevens, sixes, and fives,
fours, threes, and twos.

Chance distribution does not keep on working in that way; and the
chance conceptional distribution of totems could not put the great
majority of, say, Kangaroos, Hachea Flowers, Wild Cats, and Little
Hawks in the Bulthara-Panunga phratry, and the great majority of Emus,
Lizards, Wichetty Grubs, and Dogs in the Purula-Kumara division. That
is quite impossible. Yet all (or almost all) Arunta totems are thus
distributed between the two main exogamous divisions.

When once the reader understands this fact--insisted on by Spencer and
Gillen--he becomes convinced, becomes mathematically certain that the
chance distribution of conceptional totemism did not and could not thus
array the totems of the Arunta. This present arrangement, and this
alone, makes the Arunta associations with totemic names non-exogamous.
I proceed to give further evidence of Spencer and Gillen. "Whilst
every now and then we come across traditions, according to which,
as in the case of the Achilpa," (Cats) "the totem is common to all
classes[54] we always find that in each totem one moiety of the tribe
predominates,[55] and that, according to tradition, many of the groups"
(totem groups) "of ancestral individuals consisted originally of men or
women or of both men and women, who all belonged to one moiety. Thus
in the case of certain Okira or Kangaroo groups we find only Kumara
and Purula; in certain Udnirringita or Wichetty Grub groups we find
only Hulthara and Panunga, in certain Achilpa or 'Wild Cat' (groups) 'a
predominance of Kumara and Purula, with a smaller number of Bulthara
and Panunga.'[56] At the present day no totem is confined to either
moiety of the tribe, but in each local centre we always find a great
predominance of one moiety, as for example at Alice Springs, the most
important centre of the Wichetty Grubs, amongst forty individuals,
thirty-five belong to the Bulthara and Panunga and only five to the
other moiety of the tribe."[57]

Here the great majority--thirty-five to five--of the members of the
totem belong to one of the two main exogamous divisions. Outside of
the Arunta nation and Kaitish all the Grubs would belong to one main
exogamous division. It is mathematically certain that chance could
not bring thirty-five to five members of a given totem--or, "a great
majority" in each case--into one or other phratry.

Consequently the chance distribution of totems on the present
conceptional Arunta system has not caused this uniform phenomenon. It
follows that the totems of the Arunta were at one time hereditary, and
were arranged, some exclusively in one, some exclusively in the other
moiety, so that no person could marry into his or her own totem. The
fortuitous system of conceptional distribution then arose out of the
Arunta philosophy of spirits and emanations, and out of the _churinga
nanja_ usage, and has now detached a small minority of members of each
totem from their original phratry and lodged them in the other. Members
of every totem can therefore find legal spouses of their own totem in
the phratry not their own, and may marry them. And thus these Arunta
associations with totemic names are now non-exogamous. But they have
been exogamous totem kins. Mr. Frazer finds what he calls totemism
without exogamy in parts of Melanesia.[58] I need not here repeat my
arguments, given in _Anthropos_, vol. v. (1910) pp. 1092-1108, to prove
that the so-called "totems" in this case are only animal or vegetable
"familiars" of individuals. Thus the great example of "totem clans"
so-called, without exogamy, is put out of action. The Arunta "clans"
are not clans, and the Arunta have had exogamous totem clans like other

[45] _J. A. F._ pp. 269, 270.

[46] _Secret of the Totem_, p. 125.

[47] _Secret of the Totem_, p. 23.

[48] _Native Tribes of South-East Australia_, p. 153.

[49] _T. and E._, vol. iv. pp. 3, 4.

[50] What, follows I have already said in _Anthropos_, 1910.

[51] _Northern Tribes_, p. 175.

[52] Vol. i. pp. 189-190. _Central Tribes_, p. 123.

[53] _Central Tribes_, p. 123.

[54] The myth is self-contradictory in the case of the Achilpa. They
were in both phratries; the other totems were confined to one or the
other phratry. In the latter case the myth exaggerates the present
state of things, and puts all, not the great majority, of each totem in
one phratry or the other. In the former case the myth throws the actual
state of things back into the past.

[55] By "moiety" the authors mean one of the two main exogamous
divisions or phratries.

[56] _Central Tribes_, p. 120. In fact out of three Achilpa or
Wild Cat sets of wanderers, two, in the legend, are exclusively of
one phratry--Purula-Kumara--and one is exclusively of the other,
Bulthara-Panunga, _op. cit._ p. 120.

[57] _Central Tribes_, p. 120.

[58] _T. and E._, vol. iii. pp. 9, 287.


We now turn to cases in which exogamous "clans" bear, not totemic
names, but local or descriptive names, like the Tlingit according to
Dr. Swanton. In several instances it is easy to prove that exogamous
"clans," now bearing local or other descriptive names, have previously
borne totemic names. This result has often been attained by the
circumstance that _with male descent of the totem name_, a regular
_local_ clan is formed. Such a clan then comes to be known by a
territorial description (just as lairds were in Scotland) and the
totemic name may drop out of use. If so, the clan becomes exogamous
under a territorial or other name, and is no longer a totem clan.

But this explanation cannot apply to the Tlingit, with female descent,
for with female descent, unless the men go to the women's homes, no
local clan of descent is possible. I have shown that I do not pretend
to know precisely what are the facts of the Tlingit system, as accounts
contradict each other. But in other American cases, as in those of
the Apaches and Navahos, the tribes "are divided into a large number
of exogamous clans with descent in the female line, but the names of
the clans appear to be local, not totemic...."[59] Such names are Lone
Tree, Red Flat, House of the Cliffs, Bend in a Canyon, and so forth.
Are such names inherited? Is every child of a woman of Red Flat called
"Red Flat"? Persons of the same clan or phratry (from eight to twelve
phratries) may not intermarry. The phratries "have no formal names";
speaking of his phratry a man will often refer to it by the title of
its oldest or most numerous clan--and that, it seems, is always a local
name, "Dr. Washington Matthews," says Mr. Frazer, "who spoke with
authority on the subject, was of opinion that the Navahos clans were
originally and indeed till quite recently local exogamous groups and
not true clans." What else can they be? But Dr. Washington Matthews
found a legend which suggests that the Navahos were once totemic. If
this be an explanatory myth its point is to explain _why the clans
have now local names_, and why do the clans think that the fact needs
explanation? " It is said that when they set out on their journey each
clan was provided with a different pet, such as a bear, a puma, a deer,
a snake, and a porcupine, and that when the clans received their local
names these pets were set free."[60] That is, place-names ousted totem

It appears to me that when a tribe acquires settled habits and lives
in villages, territorial names may oust totem names, and exogamy may
become, as among the Navaho, local, just as it becomes local in several
Australian tribes with male descent. But nothing in my theory compels
me to suppose that every people has passed through totemic exogamy.
Exogamy, in my view, was prior to totemism; totem names were a later
way of designating local groups which were already exogamous.[61] "The
rule would be, No marriage within the local group." The totemic names
were a later addition, and I can think of no reason why all peoples
should necessarily accept totemic names; only, as it chances, the
enormous majority among the lower races have done so.

Perhaps the Navaho and Apaches never had totemic names for their
exogamous local groups. They are not known to exhibit any sign or
vestige of totemism beyond the legend or myth of the wild animal pets.

All such cases of exogamous units bearing non-totemic names, in tribes
of female descent, where no vestige of totemism is found, are outside
of the field of totemism. Why should we treat people as totemic who
have no totems? If we held the opinion that totemism was the cause
of exogamy, the position would be different. At one time I thought
that the totem and the totem blood taboo, clinched, as it were, and
sanctified a pre-existing exogamy. But as I never found that marriage
within the totem was automatically punished by sickness or death;
(as, in many tribes, the offence of eating the totem is supposed to
be); I saw that marriage within the totem was a breach of secular law,
punished capitally by "the State." There is no taboo in the case. But
as we repudiate the opinion that totemism was the cause of exogamy, in
studying totemism we have no concern with peoples who are exogamous but
show no trace of having ever been totemic.

[59] _T. and E._, vol. iii, p. 243.

[60] _T. and E._ vol. iii. p. 245. note 5, citing Washington Matthews.
_J. A. F._ iii., 1890, p. 105, and _Navaho Legends_, p. 31, 1897.

[61] _Secret of the Totem_, pp. 114, 115.


The case of the Tlingit is quite different. Here the phratries have
totemic names; the "clans" in the phratries are said, by early
authorities, to have totemic names; the "crests" (mainly the same
animals as those said to give names to the Tlingit "clans") are readily
to be explained by totemism evolving into heraldry.

But, if the Tlingit clans have not totemic names, then it would appear
that, among a people of dwellers in towns, local names of local groups
have succeeded to totemic names of totemic kins. This can only occur
where people have settled habitations, towns or villages, or where
totem kins have been localised by male descent.

We know that, even among some of the Australian tribes with male
descent, totem kins become local groups, and thus the predominant
totem of each such group becomes attached to a locality, as among the
Narran-ga of Yorke Peninsula. They had two pairs of phratries of animal

     Emu.               Eagle Hawk.
     Red Kangaroo.      Shark.

In each such phratry was a number of totem kins, the same totem
never appearing in more than one phratry (or "class" in Mr. Howitt's
term). Each class or phratry was limited to a certain territory: Emu
to the north, Red Kangaroo to the east, Eagle Hawk to the west, and
Shark to the extreme point of the peninsula (south). The totems,
passing from father to son, were thus localised. They ceased to be
exogamous--obviously because each man, to find a wife eligible on
exogamous principles, had to travel to a place inconveniently remote.
Thus the only restriction on marriage was "forbidden degrees" of

All this is easily intelligible. Male descent fixed phratries and
totems to localities. By the old rule, if Emu phratry had to marry
into Shark phratry, the localities were at the extreme ends of the
peninsula, north and south; the other two phratries were as far asunder
as the cast of the peninsula is from the west. Consequently, though the
old machinery of exogamy existed, the practice of exogamy was dropped:
persons might marry within their own totem kins. But we are not told
whether all four "classes" inter-married, or each "class" only with one
other, because the old rule had fallen into disuse before the coming of

Mr. Howitt gives a case of "the transfer of the prohibition of marriage
within the totem, to the totem clan--that is, to the locality." In
this case, that of the Narrinyeri, with male descent, most "clans"
have a local name, or a nickname, and have totems. But three such
units or "clans" out of twenty retain their totem names--Whale, Coot,
Mullet--thus indicating that totemic preceded local names. A local
"clan" may have as many as three totems, but in thirteen cases out
of twenty each local clan had but one totem. Among nicknames are
"Gone over there," and "Where shall we go?" These clans (thirteen
out of twenty) having local names, were strictly exogamous. So also,
of course, were the totems of the local clans; though, save in
three cases, the name of the place of residence, or a nickname, had
superseded the totem name as the title of the clan. It is as if, in
place of speaking of the MacIans, we said "the Glencoe men"; instead of
speaking of the Stewarts, said "the Appin men"; in place of speaking of
the Camerons, said "the men of Lochaber."

Thus it by no means follows that if the exogamous "clans" of any tribe
of the North-West Pacific have local names, therefore they never had
totemic names, as many of them have to this day. The rise of settled
towns or village communities yields a new set of conditions, and a new
set of non-totemic names for the clans, in some cases; precisely as
the localisation of a totem clan through the operation of male descent
causes a local name to take the place, usually but not universally, of
a totem clan name in Southern Victoria.

Consequently Mr. Goldenweizer can make no argumentative use of the
alleged local names of the Tlingit clans. If the totemic names of
exogamous units--showing connections with totemism in crests and
totemic phratry names--be absent, that is because, under known
conditions, they have been superseded by local names or nicknames. This
process is a vera causa in totemic society.

[62] Howitt, _N.T.S.E.A._, pp. 124, 130, 258, 259.


I now give an American case, in which a tribe, the Mandans, exhibit
female descent, exogamous clans, and a mixture of totemic clan
names with local names or _sobriquets_. The people were settled,
lived in villages or towns, "with houses very commodious, neat, and
comfortable." The tribe was agricultural, growing maize, beans,
pumpkins, and tobacco. Out of seven clan names four were totemic
--Wolf, Bear, Prairie Chicken, Eagle; two--Flathead and Good Knife
--look like nicknames; High Village is local.[63] Here we find other
sorts of clan names encroaching on totem names.

Among the Crows, with exogamous clans and female descent, out of twelve
clan names four are totemic--Prairie Dog, Skunk, Raven, Antelope; three
are very unkind nicknames.[64]

The American tribes have been much disturbed by the whites, and many
changes have occurred in their institutions. As Mr. Frazer points out,
in a book of 1781 Captain Carver describes Siouan "bands" or "tribes"
(really totem kins), each with a badge representing an animal, and
named after the animals: Eagles, Panthers, Tigers, Buffaloes, Snakes,
Tortoises, Squirrels, Wolves, etc. These people were Sioux or Dacotas;
whether they were exogamous or not Carver does not say. But, in place
of now bearing totemic names, the "gentes" of these people are at
present distinguished by obvious and even odious nicknames, such as
"Breakers of the Law," because members of this _gens_ disregarded the
marriage law by taking wives within the _gens_.

So says Mr. Dorsey. Mr. Frazer says the bands of this tribe are not
exogamous. But they must have been exogamous when a gens received a
nickname for breaking the law of exogamy. One "band" or _gens_ "Eats
no Geese"; it may have been a Goose clan. Other bands or _gentes_ bear
nicknames or local names.[65]

I need not give more examples. In America, as in Australia, various
conditions, already mentioned, cause changes from totemic names of
exogamous clans to local names and nicknames.

It has now been proved that though, in very rare cases, such as those
of the Arunta and Narran-ga, sets of people may have totemic names, yet
marry within the name; and that, though "clans" may be exogamous and
yet bear names which are not totemic, nevertheless the co-existence of
totemic names with exogamy prevails in the overwhelming majority of
instances, while the exceptions, as they have been accounted for by
their causes, prove the rule. Consequently I see no error of method
in holding that the totemic name and exogamy are normal features of
totemism, while totemism is "an integral phenomenon."

This is my answer to Mr. Goldenweizer's criticisms. Of course I do not
say that totemism was the cause of exogamy; I hold that exogamy was
prior to totemism, and think it perfectly possible that some exogamous
peoples may never have been totemic.

In this discussion I have, not illogically I hope, taken into account
relative conditions of advancement among the peoples studied. I have
not here shown that reckoning descent in the male line is a social
advance on reckoning in the female line, but I am able to prove that it
is, at least in Australia. I have shown that wealth, rank, and settled
habitations tend to modify totemism, for example, by introducing
heraldry, and enabling non-totemic to supersede, now more now less, the
totemic names of exogamous units.

Mr. Goldenweizer, as we saw, writes "that these conditions are due to
the fact that the tribes of British Columbia are 'advanced' cannot
be admitted."[66] I am sorry that he cannot admit what is true and
obvious. The wealth, the art, the degrees of rank, the settled
houses and towns of the British Columbian tribes have introduced the
perplexities of their heraldry; as in other parts of America and in
Australia other causes have brought in local names for exogamous kins.

[63] _T. and E._, vol. ill. pp. 135, 136. Morgan, _Ancient Society_, p.

[64; _T. and E._, vol. iii. pp. 153, 154.

[65] _T. and E._, vol. iii. pp. 86, 87. Dorsey, _R.B.F._, xv. (1897)
_et seq_.

[66] _J. A. F._ p. 287.

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