Re: Foragers?

Tue, 19 Mar 1996 10:39:11 -0500

I have not gone back to check my copy of Lee for the context of the quote or for
the conclusions of the "following discussion." However, the Northwest Coast
Indians are quite atypical in a number of ways that relate them more to
agriculturalists. The cultures were based on a reliable annual harvest of
salmon, which could be dried and stored for future consumption. Their dependence
on hunted and gathered resources was reduced and they did not have to travel as
much. The consequences include: high population density, permanent settlement,
reduced geographical area exploited, opportunities to accumulate material goods.
Another consequence was their vulnerability to catastrophic "crop" failures and
subsequent famine. Social correlates include stratification of society with
increasing inequality of wealth and power, periodic (but not daily) centralized
redistribution of food and wealth through the potlatch, and warfare.

> How valid is Lee's proposition that "The concept of *mode of production*
> includes political as well as economic dimensions" if that proposition
> limits the political dimension to only bands?

How valid is it to make a contrast in the "mode of production" between foragers
and agriculturalists, who differ in both political and economic dimensions? The
same determinants that differentiate foragers and agriculturalists also
distinguish the coastal Indians from foragers.