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"GIFT ECONOMY"

Until the expansion of western capitalist economies in the colonial era, gift giving was the main form of exchange for the majority of human societies, providing the glue for social relationships of great sophistication and complexity. Native groups in Canada have maintained gift exchange in combination with market exchange - a dual economy and fight vigorously to protect their gift economies; the MacKenzie Valley Pipeline hearings are an example of this struggle.

For non-native Canadians, too, the sphere of the gift (which includes the sacred as well as all those relationships "that money can't buy") is under increasing pressure from the expansion of market forces. We experience this as, for example, a growth in the commercialization of holidays as well as in the increasing !'purchase and sale" of personality and relationships. The result is economic "growth" accompanied by assaults on the gifts of the spirit.


Some Classic Anthropological and Feminist Works on Gift Exchange:

Bronislaw Malinowski, Argonauts of the Western Pacific, London, George Routledge and Sons, 1922

Marce Mouss, Essai sur le don, 1923, the Gift, New York, Norton, 1967

Claude Levi-Strauss, The Elementary Structures of Kinship, Boston, Beacon Press, 1969

Marshall Sahlins, Stone Age Economics, Chicago, Aldine Publishing's Co., 1972

Gayle Rubin, "The Traffic in Women: Notes on the Political Economy of Sex" in Towards an Anthropology of Women, by Rayna Reiter, New York, Monthly Review Press, 1975

Annette Weiner, Women of Value, Men of Renown: New Perspectives on Trobrianel Exchange, Austin, U to Texas Press, 1976

Lewis Hyde, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property, New York, Uinbase Books, 1979

(A recent work by a poet and essayist on the place of creativity in capitalist societies)

Janet Patterson

LILLIAN:Yes, there's a perception in the white community that Indian People are full of problems. I think we need to realize that many native families operate in a very positive way. There are positive role models that we and other native people can learn from.

JANET: So we come again to our need for education and the necessity of that reciprocal process of learning.

LILLIAN: Yes, definitely. We're involved in a sharing experience, a circular process of teaching and learning. I think its so important as an educator to stay open to that process.

Lillian Nakamura Maguire, Yukon Director for CCLOW, is the coordinator of personal skills development programs at Yukon College in Whitehorse. She is a distance education, self-directed learner in the Master of Adult Education program at St. Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia.

Janet Patterson the BC Director for CCLOW, is an anthropologist who has taught social anthropology, nature studies and women's studies. She has been a women's advocate in community colleges and is now a social planner with the District of North Vancouver.



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