In my first approach to ethnographic fieldwork my idea was to become closely identified with the subjects of study. My intention was to become friends with the people and thereby gain a depth of understanding of the local idiom and social system. However, the difference in way of life was more than a difference of language. It took a long time to become accustomed to the rudiments of the Ojibwa language, and longer to learn some of the subtleties of the social idiom. During this time I was given an Indian name, Weskayjak, the culture hero who had supernatural power (in my case money and contact with government) combined with an unbelievable naïveté and ineptitude in human affairs. For example, I could not handle a canoe, or dogs, or traps, as they could. Moreover they must have thought me extraordinarily slow in conversing and in becoming familiar with the kinship and cross-cousin categories. During this process Cockuship laughed at my talking to his boy as though he were a man, Birchstick at my offering him a whole plate of cookies which he obligingly took, and Isaac Moose at my addressing him as wigenmagan--old wife--instead of Okimákan--chief. I would like to think, perhaps nostalgically, that one or two were friends, although whether Daniel Moose, Jenny or Ethel Turtle, or Pickerel Sturgeon would concur in this judgment is unknown.
This study is based on a thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at King's College, University of Cambridge. Fieldwork in 1954-5 was carried out with a Social Science Research Council of Canada fellowship. In addition several grants in aid of research were received from the Council, as well as a bursary from King's College, Cambridge, and an overseas travel grant from the British Council.
As is customary with social anthropological monographs, the work relies heavily on discussions and criticisms from teachers and research students. The late Professor G. Gordon Brown of the University of Toronto first introduced me to "field" anthropology. Professor Meyer Fortes helped with the study from the beginning, both stimulating the writer and reading and criticizing several drafts of the material. Dr. E. R. Leach discussed the sociology of cross-cousin marrying societies, invoking new theoretical approaches. Professors Fred Eggan and Harry Hawthorn and Dr. Marian Smith have been helpful in reading and commenting on the manuscript. My fellow students in the Cambridge Seminar, Dr. Jean LaFontaine, Mr. Alfred Harris, and . . .