Sociobiology in the Nation Magazine

Roland Chrisjohn rchrisjo at
Mon Nov 4 18:08:15 MST 2002

On Mon, 04 Nov 2002 19:32:33 -0500

>Finally, do you really think that humans are not inclined
>to treat their immediate kin preferentially? In other >words, the only reason that people love their children >more than they love total strangers is because culture
>has taught them to?

"When Jesuit missionaries from France first encountered
the Montagnais-Naskapi Indians of North America in the
sixteenth century, they were impressed by the lack of
poverty, theft, greed, and violence but were horrified by
the childrearing methods and the egalitarian relations
between husband and wife. The Jesuits set out to introduce
'civilized' family norms to the New World. They tried to
persuade Naskapi men to impose stricter sexual monogamy on
the women of the group by punishing them more harshly. One
missionary spent an entire winter in the Montagnais lodge,
recording in his journal both his efforts to impart these
principles and the unsatisfactory responses of the

At one point, having been rebuffed on several occasions,
the missionary obviously thought he had found an
unanswerable argument for his side. If you do not impose
tighter controls on women, he explained to one Naskapi
man, you will never know for sure which of the children
your wife bears actually belong to you. The man's reply
was telling: 'Thou hast no sense,' said the Naskapi. 'You
French people love only your own children; but we love all
the children of our Nation.'" from "The Way We Never
Were," by Stephanie Coontz.

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