Monday, May 4, 2015

A small room inside a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

Funny how certain books keep showing up at the head of my bed. I remember bringing them home, putting them on the shelf, then bringing them to my bed side; but I remember returning them to the shelf as well.

A frequent visitor is Indians of the North Pacific Coast (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1966), an anthology of essays edited by anthropologist Tom McFeat. Seems every time I pick up this book I am reading Wayne Suttles's "Private Knowledge, Morality and Social Classes Amongst the Coast Salish," where he writes:

I suggest that the structure of native society was not that of a pyramid. There was no apex of nobles, medium-sized middle class, and broad base of commoners. Instead, native society had more the shape of an inverted pear. The greater number of people belonged to the upper or respectable class, from which leaders of various sorts emerged on various occasions. Mobility within this group was fairly free.  A smaller number of people belonged to a lower class, upon which the upper class imposed its will and which it treated with contempt. Movement from this lower class into the upper class was probably difficult. A still smaller group of slaves lived with their masters, who were always of the upper class. p. 170

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