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The Delight Makers


Chapter II. Excerpt on property ownership

Among the Pueblos the house was in charge of the women exclusively, everything within the walls of the house, the men's clothing and weapons excepted, belonging to the housekeeper. Event the crops if once housed were controlled by her. As long as they were in the field, the husband of masculine head of the family could dispose of them. Afterward he must consult the woman, and he could not sell an ear of corn without her consent. It is still so today in many villages. Formerly all field-products were gathered and stored in the granaries of the several clans whence each household drew its supplies. Even the proceeds of communal hunts and fisheries were treated in this manner. Only when the husband, son, or brother killed game while out alone, could he do with it as he pleased.

Not many centuries ago the members of each clan, or rather the women, their offspring, and aged people who were taken care of by their children, lived together. They occupied a certain section of the great hive which the communal dwelling represented. The husband stayed with his wife and the younger children, but he had no rights as owner, or proprietor, to his abode. Since it was the custom for women to raise the walls of buildings, and to finish the house inside and outside, they owned it also. The man was only tolerated. His home was properly with his clan, whither he must return in case his spouse departed this life before him.

It was different in regards to the fields. Each clan had its particular holding, and since the field-work devolved upon the men, the cultivated plots belonged to them alone. Within each allotment every member who was of age, or so situated as to have to support himself or a family, owned and tilled a certain plot which was his by common consent, although in no manner determined by metes and bounds, the condition of ownership was regular improvement of the plot, and if that condition was not complied with, any other member of the same clan could step in and work it for his own benefit. In case of death, the field reverted to the maternal relative of its owner, whereas women and children fell back for support upon the resources of their own clan. Hence the singular feature that each household got its livelihood from two distinct groups of blood elatives.


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