Hunter Gatherer Research

Systematic description and analysis of food sharing practices among hunter-gatherer societies of the Americas

Hunter Gatherer Research (2018), 4, (1), 113–150.

Abstract

Ethnographic documentation consistently informs us that practices related to food sharing are dynamic chains of events resulting from highly differentiated forms of individual and group-based interactions. Specific behaviours and transaction strategies can be identified for every hunting, gathering and fishing group or society, and the sequence of such actions develops into a multi-stage process with distinctive practices and characteristics assigned to each point of the sequence.

Detailed, empirical examples of sharing activities and multi-stage sequences can be recorded cross-culturally and at a cross-continental scale. The present paper develops a novel, systematic description of sharing activities by identifying specific behavioural patterns through textual and critical analysis, unequivocally defining and codifying each practice, and treating it as a particular expression of a multi-modal stage, and arranging each multi-modal stage in a fixed sequence of stages that can be consistently observed across a chosen set of populations.

In this way each population can be univocally described as a list of mutually exclusive characters. Each character is the expression of a specific stage in a sequence of stages, which is the same for all populations. The proposed method makes empirical evidence on food sharing directly comparable across different contexts and facilitates the application of pattern-recognition methods for exploring broad trends, as well as the use of statistical techniques for inferring processes underlying the diversity recorded. Obtained results highlight the differential relevance of diverse mechanisms generating sharing patterns, and shed light on important issues such as the impact of the presence or absence of the figure of a distributor (as well as the kind of distributor), and the relevance of geographic proximity in explaining similarity in sharing practices among North American populations – as opposed as to what can be observed in South America.

Access Token
£25.00
READ THIS ARTICLE
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

References

Allen-Arave, W, Gurven, M & Hill, K 2008. Reciprocal altruism, rather than kin selection, maintains nepotistic food transfers on an Ache reservation. Evolution and Human Behaviour 29(5):305–318. Google Scholar

Alvard, M 2001. Mutualistic hunting. In Stanford, C & Bunn, H (eds) The early human diet: the role of meat. New York: Oxford University Press:261–278. Google Scholar

Alvard, M 2009. Kinship and cooperation. Human Nature 20(4):394–416. Google Scholar

Apicella, CL, Marlowe, FW, Fowler, JH & Christakis, NA 2012. Social networks and cooperation in hunter-gatherers. Nature 481(7382):497–501. Google Scholar

Arhem, K 1981. Makuna social organization: a study in descent, alliance, and the formation of corporate groups in the north-western Amazon. Uppsala Studies in Cultural Anthropology. Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell International. Google Scholar

Basehart, HW 1970. Mescalero apache band organization and leadership. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 26:87–106. Google Scholar

Basehart, HW & Commission, USIC 1974. Mescalero apache subsistence patterns and socio-political organization. American Indian ethnohistory: Indians of the southwest. New York & London: Garland Publishing. Google Scholar

Beierle, J 1998. Culture summary: Tukano. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files. http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/document?id=sq19-000. Google Scholar

Beierle, J 2002. Culture summary: Stoney. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files. http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/document?id=nf12-000. Google Scholar

Beierle, J 2006. Culture summary: Jivaro. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files. http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/document?id=sd09-000. Google Scholar

Beierle, J 2012. Culture summary: Chiricahua Apache. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files. http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/document?id=nt08-000. Google Scholar

Belk, R 2007. Why not share rather than own? The annals of the American Academy of political and social science 611(1):126–140. Google Scholar

Bell, AV, Richerson, PJ & McElreath, R 2009. Culture rather than genes provides greater scope for the evolution of large-scale human prosociality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106:17671–17674. Google Scholar

Betzig, L 2004. Where’s the beef? It’s less about cooperation, more about conflict. Behavioural and Brain Sciences 27(04):561–562. Google Scholar

Bird, DW & Bliege Bird, R 2010. Competing to be leaderless: food sharing and magnanimity among Martu Aborigines. In Vaughn, KJ, Jelmer, W & Eerkens, JK (eds) The evolution of leadership: Transitions in decision making from small-scale to middle-range societies. Santa Fe, NM: School for Advanced Research Press:21–49. Google Scholar

Bodenhorn, B 2000. It’s good to know who your relatives are but we were taught to share with everybody: shares and sharing among Inupiaq households. Senri Ethnological Studies 53:27–60. Google Scholar

Bohannan, PJ 1963. Social anthropology. New York: Holt Rinehart and Wiston. Google Scholar

Boyd, R & Richerson, PJ 1985. Culture and the evolutionary process. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Google Scholar

Breiman L 2001. Random forests. Machine Learning 45:5–32. Google Scholar

Brownrigg, R 2018. Original S code by Richard A Becker & Allan R Wilks. Mapdata: Extra Map Databases. R package version 2.3.0. https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=mapdata. Google Scholar

Caro, J 2017. Normas de reparto de recursos y generación de desigualdad en sociedades de pequeña escala: un estudio mediante simulación computacional basado en evidencias etnográficas cualitativas. PhD thesis. Barcelona: Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona. Google Scholar

Connelly, BL, Certo, ST, Ireland, RD & Reutzel, CR 2011. Signaling theory: a review and assessment. Journal of Management 37(1):39–67. Google Scholar

Damas, D 1972. Copper Eskimo. Hunters and gatherers today: a socioeconomic study of eleven such cultures in the twentieth century. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston. Google Scholar

Damas, D 1996. Culture summary: Copper Inuit. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files. http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/document?id=nd08-000. Google Scholar

de Waal, FBM & Suchak, M 2010. Prosocial primates: selfish and unselfish motivations. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 365(1553):2711–2722. Google Scholar

Eerkens, JW, Bettinger, RL & Richerson PJ 2014. Cultural transmission theory and hunter-gatherer archaeology. In Cummings, V, Jordan, P & Zvelebil, M (eds) The Oxford handbook of the archaeology and anthropology of hunter-gatherers. Oxford: Oxford University Press:1127–1142. Google Scholar

Ember, CR & Ember, M 2009. Cross-cultural research methods. London: Altamira. Google Scholar

Enloe, JG 2003. Food sharing past and present: archaeological evidence for economic and social interactions. Before Farming 1(1):1–23. Google Scholar

Evans-Pritchard, EE 1940. The Nuer: a description of the modes of livelihood and political institutions of a Nilotic people. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Google Scholar

Ewers, JC 1955. Horse in Blackfoot Indian culture, with comparative material from other western tribes. Bulletin. Washington: US Government Print Office. Google Scholar

Excoffier, L, Smouse PE & Quattro, JM 1992. Analysis of molecular variance inferred from metric distances among DNA haplotypes: application to human mitochondrial DNA restriction data. Genetics 131:479–491. Google Scholar

Fehl, K, Van der Post, DJ & Semmann, D 2011. Co-evolution of behaviour and social network structure promotes human cooperation. Ecology letters 14(6):546–551. Google Scholar

Fehr, E, Fischbacher, U & Gächter, S 2002. Strong reciprocity, human cooperation, and the enforcement of social norms. Human Nature 13(1):1–25. Google Scholar

Fiske, AP 1992. The four elementary forms of sociality: framework for a unified theory of social relations. Psychological Review 99(4):689. Google Scholar

Frey, R 2014. Culture summary: Crow. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files. http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/document?id=nq10-000. Google Scholar

Gareth, J, Witten, D, Hastie, T & Tibshirani, R 2013. An introduction to statistical learning with applications in R. New York: Springer. Google Scholar

Goldman, I 1963. Cubeo: Indians of the northwest Amazon. Illinois studies in anthropology. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. Google Scholar

Goldman, I 1979. The Cubeo Indians of the northwest Amazon, Issue 1979. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. Google Scholar

Goslee, SC & Urban, DL 2007. The ecodist package for dissimilarity-based analysis of ecological data. Journal of Statistical Software 22(7):1–19. Google Scholar

Greenfield, PJ & Beierle, J 2002. Culture summary: Western Apache. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files. http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/document?id=nt21-000. Google Scholar

Gregory, CA 1982. Gifts and commodities. London: Academic Press. Google Scholar

Guillot, G & Rousset, F 2013. Dismantling the Mantel tests. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 4:336–344. Google Scholar

Gurven, M 2004a. To give and to give not: the behavioural ecology of human food transfers. Behavioural and Brain Sciences 27(4):543–559. Google Scholar

Gurven, M 2004b. Reciprocal altruism and food sharing decisions among Hiwi and Ache hunter-gatherers. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 56(4):366–380. Google Scholar

Gurven, M, Hill, K, Kaplan, H, Hurtado, A & Lyles, R 2000. Food transfers among Hiwi foragers of Venezuela: tests of reciprocity. Human Ecology 28(2):171–218. Google Scholar

Hames, R & McCabe, C 2007. Meal sharing among the Ye’kwana. Human Nature 18(1):1–21. Google Scholar

Hamilton, WD 1964a. The genetical evolution of social behaviour, I. Journal of Theoretical Biology 7(1):1–16. Google Scholar

Hamilton, WD 1964b. The genetical evolution of social behaviour, II. Journal of Theoretical Biology 7(1):17–52. Google Scholar

Harner, M 1984. The Jivaro: people of the sacred waterfalls. Oakland: University of California Press. Google Scholar

Hawkes, K 2001. Is meat the hunter’s property?: Big game, ownership, and explanations of hunting and sharing. In Stanford, C & Bunn, H (eds) Meat-eating and human evolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press:219–236. Google Scholar

Hawkes, K & Bliege Bird, R 2002. Showing off, handicap signaling, and the evolution of men’s work. Evolutionary Anthropology 11:58–67. Google Scholar

Hawkes, K, O’Connell, JF & Blurton Jones, NG 2001. Hadza meat sharing. Evolution and Human Behaviour 22:113–142. Google Scholar

Hawkes, K, O’Connell, JF & Coxworth, JE 2010. Family provisioning is not the only reason men hunt: a comment on Gurven and Hill. Current Anthropology 51:259–264. Google Scholar

Heinen, HD 1973. Adaptive changes in a tribal economy: a case study of the Winikina-Warao. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms. Google Scholar

Heinen, HD & Beierle, J 2001. Culture summary: Warao. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files. http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/document?id=ss18-000. Google Scholar

Heinen, HD & Ruddle, K 1974. Ecology, ritual and economic organization in the distribution of palm starch among the Warao of the Orinoco Delta. Journal Of Anthropological Research 30:116–138. Google Scholar

Henriksen, G 1973. Hunters in the barrens: the Naskapi on the edge of the white man’s world. St. John’s: Memorial University of Newfoundland. Google Scholar

Hill, K 2002. Altruistic cooperation during foraging by the Ache, and the evolved human predisposition to cooperate. Human Nature 13(1):105–128. Google Scholar

Honigmann, JJ & Abate, T 2012. Culture summary: Kaska. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files. http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/document?id=nd12-000. Google Scholar

Honigmann, JJ & Bennett, WC 1949. Culture and ethos of Kaska society. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Google Scholar

Hunn, ES 1981. On the relative contribution of men and women to subsistence among hunter-gatherers of the Columbia Plateau: a comparison with Ethnographic Atlas summaries. Journal of Ethnobiology 1(1):124–134. Google Scholar

Hunt, RC 2000. Forager food sharing economy: transfers and exchanges: the social economy of sharing: resource allocation and modern hunter-gatherers. Senri Ethnological Studies 53:7–26. Google Scholar

Jaeggi, AV & Gurven, M 2013. Natural cooperators: food sharing in humans and other primates. Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews 22(4):186–195. Google Scholar

Janssen, M & Hill, K 2014. Benefits of grouping and cooperative hunting among Ache hunter-gatherers: insights from an agent-based foraging model. Human Ecology 42(6):823–835. Google Scholar

Jones, M 2007. Feast: why humans share food. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar

Kameda, T, Takezawa, M, & Hastie, R 2005. Where do social norms come from? The example of communal sharing. Current Directions in Psychological Science 14(6):331–334. Google Scholar

Kaplan, H & Gurven, M 2005. The natural history of human food sharing and cooperation: a review and a new multi-individual approach to the negotiation of norms. In Gintis, H, Bowles, S, Boyd, R & Fehr, E (eds) Moral sentiments and material interests: the foundations of cooperation in economic life. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press:75–113. Google Scholar

Karsten, R 1935. Head-hunters of western Amazonas: the life and culture of the Jibaro indians of eastern Ecuador and Peru. Helsingfors: Centraltryckeriet. Google Scholar

Kishigami, N 2000. Contemporary Inuit food sharing and hunter support program of Nunavik, Canada. Senri Ethnological Studies 53:171–192. Google Scholar

Kishigami, N 2004. A new typology of food-sharing practices among hunter-gatherers, with a special focus on Inuit examples. Journal of Anthropological Research 60(3):341–358. Google Scholar

Kitanishi, K 2000. The Aka and Baka: food sharing among two central Africa hunter-gatherer groups. Senri Ethnological Studies 53:149–169. Google Scholar

Leap, W 1977. ‘Fishing’ in evolutionary perspective: language data and their implications. In Smith, ME (ed) Those who live from the sea: studies in maritime anthropology. Seattle: University of Washington Press. Google Scholar

Legendre, P & Legendre, L 1998. Numerical ecology. Amsterdam: Elsevier. Google Scholar

Lenoir, JD 1997. Paramacca maroons: a study in religious acculturation. Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms International. Google Scholar

Liaw A & Wiener, M 2002. Classification and regression by Random Forest. R News 2:18–22. Google Scholar

Macdonald, G 2000. Economies and personhood: demand sharing among the Wiradjuri of New South Wales. Senri Ethnological Studies 53:87–111. Google Scholar

Malinowski, B 1961. Argonauts of the western Pacific. New York: Dutton. Google Scholar

Marlowe, F 2004. What explains Hadza food sharing? Research in economic anthropology. Socioeconomic Aspects of Human Behavioural Ecology 23:69–88. Google Scholar

Mauss, M 1966. The gift: forms and functions of exchange in archaic societies. London: Cohen & West. Google Scholar

Morgan, LH 1959. Indian journals, 1859–62. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. Google Scholar

Murphy, RF 1960. Headhunter’s heritage: social and economic change among the Mundurucú indians. Berkeley: University of California Press. Google Scholar

Murphy, Y & Murphy, RF 1985. Women of the forest. New York: Columbia University Press. Google Scholar

Murtagh, F & Legendre, P 2014. Ward’s hierarchical agglomerative clustering method: which algorithms implement Ward’s criterion? Journal of Classification 31(3):274–295. Google Scholar

Nolin, DA 2012. Food-sharing networks in Lamalera, Indonesia: status, sharing, and signaling. Evolution and Human Behaviour 33(4):334–345. Google Scholar

Nowak, MA 2006. Five rules for the evolution of cooperation. Science 314(5805):1560–1563. Google Scholar

Nugent, D 1993. Property relations, production relations, and inequality: anthropology, political economy, and the Blackfeet. American Ethnologist 20(2):336–362. Google Scholar

Opler, ME 1941. Apache life-way: the economic, social, and religious institutions of the Chiricahua indians. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Google Scholar

Paradis E 2010. Pegas: an R package for population genetics with an integrated modular approach. Bioinformatics 26:419–420. Google Scholar

Patton, JQ 2005. Meat sharing for coalitional support. Evolution and Human Behaviour 26(2):137–157. Google Scholar

Pearson, K 1895. Notes on regression and inheritance in the case of two parents. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 58:240–242. Google Scholar

Perry, RJ 1993. Apache reservation: indigenous peoples and the American State. Austin: University of Texas Press. Google Scholar

Peterson, N 1993. Demand sharing: reciprocity and the pressure for generosity among foragers. American Anthropologist 95(4):860–874. Google Scholar

Polanyi, K 1957. The economy as instituted process. In Polanyi, K, Arensberg, C & Pearson, H (eds) Trade and market in the early empires. Glencoe, IL: Free Press:243–270. Google Scholar

Price, ME 2008. The resurrection of group selection as a theory of human cooperation. Social Justice Research 21(2):228–240. Google Scholar

R Core Team 2016. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna, Austria. Google Scholar

Raghavan, M, Steinrücken, M, Harris, K, Schiffels, S, Rasmussen, S, DeGiorgio, M, Albrechtsen, A, Valdiosera, C, Ávila-Arcos, MC, Malaspinas, AS & Eriksson, A 2015. Genomic evidence for the Pleistocene and recent population history of Native Americans. Science 349(6250):aab3884. Google Scholar

Rasmussen, M, Sikora, M, Albrechtsen, A, Korneliussen, TS, Moreno-Mayar, JV, Poznik, GD, Zollikofer, CP, de León, MP, Allentoft, ME, Moltke, I & Jónsson, H 2015. The ancestry and affiliations of Kennewick Man. Nature 523(7561):455. Google Scholar

Reed, RK 1995. Prophets of agroforestry: Guarani communities and commercial gathering. Austin: University of Texas Press. Google Scholar

Reed, RK & Beierle, J 1998. Culture summary: Guaraní. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files. http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/document?id=sm04-000. Google Scholar

Reich, D, Reich, D, Patterson, N, Campbell, D, Tandon, A, Mazieres, S, Ray, N, Parra, MV, Rojas, W, Duque, C, Mesa, N & García, LF 2012. Reconstructing native American population history. Nature 488(7411):370–374. Google Scholar

Reid, GF 2009. Culture summary: Innu. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files. http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/document?id=nh06-000. Google Scholar

Reyes-García, V, Fernández-Llamazares, A, Guèze, M, Garcés, A, Mallo, M, Villa-Gómez, M & Vilaseca, M 2016. Local indicators of climate change: the potential contribution of local knowledge to climate research. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 7(1):109–124. Google Scholar

Reyes-García, V, Zurro, D, Caro, J & Madella, M 2017. Small-scale societies and environmental transformations: coevolutionary dynamics. Ecology and Society 22(1):15. Google Scholar

Rizzo, ML & Szekely, GJ 2016. Energy: e-statistics: multivariate inference via the energy of data. R package version 1.7–0. https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=energy. Google Scholar

Ross, RM, Greenhill, SJ & Atkinson, QD 2013. Population structure and cultural geography of a folktale in Europe. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 280:20123065–20123065. Google Scholar

Rzeszutek T, Savage, PE & Brown, S 2012. The structure of cross-cultural musical diversity. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, The Royal Society 279:1606–1612. Google Scholar

Sahlins, M 1988. Stone age economics. London: Routledge. Google Scholar

Sharp, HS 1981. The Null case: the Chipewyan. In Dahlberg, F (ed) Woman the gatherer. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press:221–244. Google Scholar

Sharp, HS 1994. Inverted sacrifice. circumpolar religion and ecology: an anthropology of the north. Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press. Google Scholar

Shennan, S, Crema, E & Kerig, T 2015. Isolation-by-distance, homophily, and ‘core’ vs. ‘package’ cultural evolution models in Neolithic Europe. Evolution and Human Behavior 36:103–109. Google Scholar

Skoglund, P, Skoglund, P, Mallick, S, Bortolini, MC, Chennagiri, N, Hünemeier, T, Petzl-Erler, M, Salzano, FM, Patterson, N & Reich, D 2015. Genetic evidence for two founding populations of the Americas. Nature 525(7567):104–108. Google Scholar

Smith, EA & Bird, RB 2005. Costly signaling and cooperative behaviour. In Gintis, H, Bowles, S, Boyd, R & Fehr, E (eds) Moral sentiments and material interests: on the foundations of cooperation in economic life. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press:115–148. Google Scholar

Smith, EA, Bird, RB & Bird, DW 2003. The benefits of costly signaling: Meriam turtle hunters. Behavioral Ecology 14(1):116–126. Google Scholar

Snow, J 1977. These mountains are our sacred places: the story of the Stoney indians. Toronto: Samuel-Stevens. Google Scholar

Szekely G & Rizzo, M 2013. The distance correlation t-test of independence in high dimension. Journal of Multivariate Analysis 117:193–213. Google Scholar

Szekely, GJ, Rizzo, ML & Bakirov, NK 2007. Measuring and testing dependence by correlation of distances. Annals of Statistics 35(6):2769–2794. Google Scholar

Trivers, RL 1971. The evolution of reciprocal altruism. Quarterly Review of Biology 46(1):35–57. Google Scholar

Van Etten, J 2014. gdistance: Distances and routes on geographical grids (R Package). Version 1.1–5. https://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/gdistance/index.html. Google Scholar

VanStone, JW 1963. Snowdrift Chipewyan. Northern co-ordination and research centre. Ottawa, ON: Northern Co-ordination and Research Centre, Dept of Northern Affairs and National Resources. Google Scholar

Van Wetering, W & Thoden van Velzen, HUE 1999. Culture summary: Ndyuka. New Haven, CT: Human Relations Area Files. http://ehrafworldcultures.yale.edu/document?id=sr14-000. Google Scholar

Von Rueden, C, Gurven, M & Kaplan, H 2008. The multiple dimensions of male social status in an Amazonian society. Evolution and Human Behaviour 29(6):402–415. Google Scholar

Wenzel, GW 2000. Sharing, money, and modern Inuit subsistence: obligation and reciprocity at Clyde River, Nunavut. Senri Ethnological Studies(53): 61–85. Google Scholar

West, SA, Griffin, AS & Gardner, A 2007. Evolutionary explanations for cooperation. Current Biology 17(16):R661–R672. Google Scholar

Widlok, T 2013. Sharing: allowing others to take what is valued. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3(2):11–31. Google Scholar

Woodburn, J 1998. ‘Sharing is not a form of exchange’: an analysis of property sharing in immediate-return hunter-gatherer societies. In Hann, CM (ed) Property relations: renewing the anthropological tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press:48–63. Google Scholar

Zurro, D 2011. Ni carne ni pescado (consumo de recursos vegetales en la Prehistoria): Análisis de la variabilidad de los conjuntos fitolitológicos en contextos cazadores-recolectores. PhD thesis. Barcelona: Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona. http://hdl.handle.net/10803/32145. Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Caro, Jorge

Bortolini, Eugenio