Marx (or Engels?) and the Iroquois

Rubyg580 at Rubyg580 at
Fri Jun 14 04:56:07 MDT 1996

In a message dated 96-06-13 14:00:02 EDT, you write:

>In that sense, Iroquis society could have been held by Engels as (one of)
>the purest examples of "gentile" society.  Interesting this word gentile, I
>wonder if any of our learned friends could elaborate in its etymiology?

The term "gens" is used by Engels to refer to the kinship group in the
Iriquois society, hence the term "gentile".  Today anthropologists usually
use the term "clan" to refer to the same entity.  The gens among the
Iriquois was composed of the female descendants of a particular female
ancestor. This is referred to as a "matrilineal" kinship system.

Several gentes would make up a tribe, and an individual was required
to marry someone from a different gens than their own.  The Iriquois
were also "matrilocal", meaning that upon marriage, the husband would
go to live with his wife's kin rather than vece-versa, which would be
called "patrilocal".


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