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Kung life sample essay

1. How does Lee assess the day-to-day quality of !Kung life when they lived as foragers? How does this view compare with that held by many anthropologists in the early 1960’s?

Lee begins to assess the day-to-day quality of the !Kung by keeping records of their food sources and water sources. He makes table depicting the !Kung’s movements during dry season to wells of fresh water. He documents how many different groups stay at which well. He tables all the available species of crops and food and comes to the conclusion that out of 75 percent of the listed species of food the !Kung are only using a selected few. One of the most utilized food is Mongongo nut that will grow in harsh weather conditions. A !kang was documented saying “why should we plant, when there are so many mongongo nuts in the world”. These charts indicate that the !Kung are not living from hand to month on the verge to starvation as previously believed. If the Bushmen were living on a starvation level then Lee theorizes that one would expect them to exploit every available source of nutrition.

2. According to Lee, !Kung children are not expected to work until after they are married; old people are supported and respected. How does this arrangement differ from behavior in our own society, and what might explain the difference?

In our own society children don’t work until they are 14 or 15, some begin working at a younger age. A few 10 or 11 year olds with entrepreneurial spirits will go to houses offering services to cut lawns for $10 or what have you. It biggest difference between is that young men or boys in the !kung do not work until they are married. The possibility for that could be the boy now has his own family now and must contribute to the hunt in order to provide for his own faction of the family. Elders in my society and in American culture I believe are no respected, they’re forced into nursing homes or become the burden of one unlucky sibling. The !kang respect and honor their elders possibly cause they honor knowledge and elders living the longest have the most to offer.

3. What was a key to successful subsistence for the !Kung and other hunter-gatherers, according to Lee?

Lee stated one of the dominant themes contributing to successful subsistence of the! kung and other hunter gathers is the extreme importance of the environment in molding their cultures. These cultures are exemplified by cases in which their “technology” was simple yet utilized in such harsh and extreme environments. Lee urges the shift of thinking of hunting and gathering cultures as a persistent and well-adapted way of life.

4. In what ways has life changed for the !Kung since 1964? What has caused these changes?

Chapter 10

1. What about the Koyukon and Inupiaq cultural knowledge of their environment resembles the controlled studies characteristic of the scientific method? Are there differences?

“Unilineal evolutionists” label hunters and gather’s as unrefined or cultures that are less developed in terms of critical thinking. Lewis Henry Morgan would classify them savages, but the Eskimo cultures could debunk that theory. There is a lengthy cognitive process within the Eskimo ways of life. These hunters observe their natural environment in detail and get familiarized with it like scientists. They observe the animals they work with or hunt and develop theories about animal behavior and strategies to hunt their prey. Not only do they understand animal behavior from their studies but they also a wide array of knowledge about their land. These traditional hunters are indeed refined they know how critically think and used their cultural knowledge of animal behaviors and their land to survive in one of the most cold and barren parts of the world

2. What do the Koyukon Indians have to know to successfully hunt a bear in the early winter?

The Koyukon Indians must know how to find the bear’s den. The den entrances are hidden beneath 18 inches of powdery snow and are given away to subtle clues that the koyukon are familiar with. One of the clues are patches where no grass protrudes because the bear as clawed it away for insulation and “faint cavities in the ground hinting of the footprint depressions in the moss below ”. After capturing the bear they must kill it in accordance to Koyukon customs and tradition. These rules and customs are set in place for the purpose of not disrupting the bear’s spirit and to show respect for the animal and the environment.

3. How can Eskimos predict sudden sea squalls?

The Eskimo’s predict the sudden sea squalls but studying the habits of seals. The elder Eskimo was explaining seal patterns for when a seal comes up for breathe under the water. If the seal comes out of the water to breath with its back arched up right to sky and it’s head fully out of the water exposed then the weather will be a normal. But if the seal surfaces faced down with halfway submerged under water still then this was a preview for ominous weather to come that day.

4. By what processes do Inupiaq and Koyukon learn about Nature and the behavior of animals?

The processes of cultural knowledge that is learned by the Inupiaq and Koyuken are, in my opinion, a prolonged participant observation. These people spend generations watching and living with the animals of their environments. They’ve learned hunting skills from polar bears, such as acting like a seal to sneak up on a seal. Many of their traditions and knowledge of the environment is passed though the generations through form of participant observation. The men take the boys to hunt and they large amounts of time watching their life span watching these animals and living amongst them.

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