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Impearls: HIC 2.13: Inheritance

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Earthdate 2005-11-12

Inheritance   by A. L. Kroeber

Only a small amount of property was buried with the dead, and none of this of great value.  The bulk of the estate went to a man's sons, but the daughters received a share and something was given to all the nearer relatives — at least on the male side — or they would be angry.  The kinsman who actually interred the corpse — or rather the one who assumed defilement on behalf of the others — made a particular claim; no doubt for the restrictions to which his contamination subjected him  Moreover, if there was no one in the family who knew a formula for purification from a corpse, it was necessary for this voluntary scapegoat to hire some one to recite on his behalf; and the fee for this service was high.  It is said that poor men were sometimes compelled to give one of their children into slavery in payment for this indispensable release from the excommunicating taboo.

For the building of a house, kinsmen were called upon.  They were fed but not paid while they labored; and of course could expect reciprocation.  If one of them possessed planks already cut, he furnished them, to be replaced at subsequent convenience.  The house was inherited by the son.  The brother is said to have received it only if there were neither adult sons nor daughters.

An old and sick Karok woman allowed her half-breed daughter to take possession of her property.  Thereupon the sister with whom she lived at Kenek, no doubt in disappointed spite, said to her:  “You have nothing.  I do not want you,” and the decrepit woman went to a more charitable relative at Rekwoi to end her few days.



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