Samoa

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To achieve membership in this order was accounted one of the highest honors a man could secure, although it carried with it no political prominence. . . . Among the classes of acts and gifts that "counted" and ranked high were those benefiting the tribe and those made to a very poor man or woman.

The following story was told of Wahaxi, a noted chief who died before the middle of the nineteenth century: One day an old woman came to his tent, entered, and sat down near the door. No one noticed her for quite a while, but presently the chief bade his wife clothe the old woman. So the packs were opened and Wahaxi’s wife took out various garments, dressed the woman in fine leggings, a tunic of red cloth, and wrapped about her a red blanket. Then the chief arose and placed corn in her hand and sent her home. The appearance of the gayly clad old woman bearing corn attracted the attention of the people, and the chief, already of high rank, was permitted to "count" this act of clothing the beggar as a wathinethe.

Making contributions for bringing about peace both within and without the tribe was an act of public merit and could be "counted"; so also could gifts which were made to put an end to a period of mourning. . . . Another form of giving was to place a robe on the arm of a child and bid it take the gift to the lodge of a leading man, who, on receiving the gift, would emerge from his tent and call aloud the name of the giver. . . . Gifts of horses were accounted among the most valuable. Sometimes the "count" of a horse was connected with peculiar circumstances, as in the following case: Wahaxi had a son who he hoped would one day be a chief, but who died prematurely. At his funeral a fine white horse was about to be killed, when the father of Kaxenonba brought forward a mule and asked that it be killed and the fine horse spared. Knowing that the mule also could not well be spared by the man, Wahaxi decided not to kill either the horse or the mule but bade the man to "count" both horse and mule as wathinethe. Such gifts were classed as "gone to see the dead."

The weku feast offered another occasion for men to make gifts which could be "counted." This feast occurred when there had been a difference between two tribes and the chiefs wished to make peace. The Seven Chiefs called the various chiefs and young warriors together and told them of the proposed weku feast, to which the tribe with whom there had been trouble had been invited. The men then volunteered to make gifts toward receiving the tribe. He who intended to offer a large gift would say, "I will give some small article." Those who could make only a small donation said nothing. When all the gifts were gathered, three or four of the donors who were men of rank and respected by the people were sent to invite the other tribe to the feast.

Another act that could be counted as wathinethe and that ranked among the highest was saving the life of a comrade in battle or preventing his capture, as such an act could be done only by risking one’s life.

A thrifty man could seldom "count" his hundred before he was near middle life, even though he wasted no opportunity. During all the years of his preparation he must work silently and not reveal his purpose to anyone for fear he might fail. . . .

Passing the long test required for entrance into this society was regarded as proof not only that the members were favored by Wakonda but that they possessed will power capable of producing results; consequently a form of punishment, wazhin agthe (wazhin, "directive energy" or "will power"; "agthe," "to place upon"), was exercised by them. A disturber of the peace within the tribe or one whose acts were offensive to the chiefs was sometimes punished by the concerted action of the Honhewachi through wazhin agthe, the members fixing their minds on the offender, placing on him the consequences of his actions so that he was thrust from all helpful relations with men and animals. Misfortune and death were believed to follow as the result of this treatment. Wazhin agthe belongs to the same class of acts as wazhin thethe (p. 583); the former was believed to send disaster and the latter to help by the exercise of will power.1

1Fletcher, A.C.n/an/an/an/a, and F.n/ala Fleschen/an/an/an/a, "The Omaha Tribe," Bur. Amer. Ethnol., Ann. Rep., 27: 493–497.

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Chicago: "Samoa," Samoa in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. Thomas, William I. (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937), Original Sources, accessed May 25, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=UXVD634SINC2IVN.

MLA: . "Samoa." Samoa, Vol. 27, in Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, edited by Thomas, William I., New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1937, Original Sources. 25 May. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=UXVD634SINC2IVN.

Harvard: , 'Samoa' in Samoa. cited in 1937, Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences, ed. , McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. Original Sources, retrieved 25 May 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=UXVD634SINC2IVN.