Two Crows Denies It: A History of Controversy in Omaha Sociology

By R. H. Barnes | Go to book overview

10: Dispersed Alliance
Robert McKinley ( 1971a,b) has elaborated a theory of Crow-Omaha relationship terminologies by reference to what he calls "dispersed affinal alliance." This theory derives from the writings by Lévi-Strauss just reviewed and develops somewhat beyond them. I have published ( Barnes 1976) a critique of McKinley's hypothesis from a comparative point of view. We diverge in particular on his assumptions that there is a worldwide class that may be called "Crow-Omaha terminologies" and that the peoples he refers to have a common system deserving the name "dispersed alliance." These comparative matters are less relevant here than the question whether he has succeeded in explaining the Omahas themselves. Since his speculations were formed with reference to that group in particular, it is possible that it works best for them.The hypothesis states broadly ( McKinley 1971b, 411) that, under certain special conditions, Crow or Omaha terminologies provide "some significant ideological advantage." The advantage is that they help resolve a basic contradiction in the structural makeup of the society. McKinley lists the following four elements of the Omaha "complex."
1. Exogamous unilineal descent groups.
2. Dispersed affinal alliance.
3. A strong emphasis on maintaining alliance between groups once linked by marriage.
4. A concept of tribal completeness.

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Two Crows Denies It: A History of Controversy in Omaha Sociology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Plates ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: Chieftainship 29
  • 2: the Tribal Circle 50
  • 3: Descent Groups 68
  • 4: Personal Names 104
  • 5: Relationship Terminology 124
  • 6: Terminology and Marriage 155
  • 7: Marriage, Residence, and Kinship 176
  • 8: the Pattern of Marriage 186
  • 9: "Omaha Alliance" 194
  • 10: Dispersed Alliance 218
  • Ii: Conclusion 228
  • Notes 236
  • Bibliography 243
  • Subject Index 257
  • Name Index 266
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