Dining with the Eskimos

Basically the ability to obtain food boils down to the conjugation of the verb — to eat — I eat. You eat. We eat — or heaven forbid, we are eaten.

“They” say the original rationale for marriage was the formalization of a contract in which a man and woman together provided meat and two veggies for the family. Thus the women foraged while the men, usually in comradely groups, preferred to hunt and kill for food (and maybe had a little fun too). (Supermarkets rendered this model obsolete.)


Our earliest ancestors developed strategies for winning in much the same way football players and the military still devise similar plans of action for winning. Thus even in evolutionary theory, there is a quarterback and a team — a captain and his troops.

This is the way it was the Eskimos:

One man and his mates go out on a boat. They are hunting a whale. While they are gone, they entrust the care of their family to the community. (This is an ancient form of social security.)

When the men return, towing their trophy, a huge whale, there is a riotous celebration. Fires are lit. Dances are danced and songs are sung. There is one ritualistic song in which the hero (winner) is hoisted aloft and it is revealed to all that  ‘twas his harpoon than felled the whale. Thus a star is born. The winner smiles and gives thanks, presidentially.

Whales are very big. There is far too much meat for one man or one family to eat so it is cut into small pieces. Each portion is allotted according to the hierarchy of the society. The insurance theory amounts to those who give now will receive their reward later in life.

In the meantime, the successful hunter is entitled to a leadership position in governance. He becomes the richest man so also gets the prettiest girl. There is a a long-held, though entirely wrong-headed theory that the beautiful blond girl (Cinderella) will produce the healthiest boy babies.

Note: Cinderella is actually a Chinese fairy tale. She had black hair and black eyes — the slipper fitted because her tiny foot was bound.)

I just mention all these things to underscore that old saw about “the more things change, the more they stay they same…”

Anthropologists think about these things.