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More charity

February 13, 2009

Also crossposted.

It niggled at me, and I finally tracked down one particularly bizarre and confusing passage in Theda Purdue’s Cherokee Women:

Women did not seem to internalize basic assumptions about commerce as completely as did men. In her memoir, a Carolina colonist recalled that a Cherokee woman warned backcountry settlers of an impending attack because she “disliked very much to think that the white women who had been so good to her in giving her clothes and bread and butter in trading parties would be killed.”29 This “giving” was almost certainly trade, as Carolinians defined trade, and not charity. The white woman who recorded the incident, however, had spent several of her teenage years as a captive, and her wording genuinely reflects the Cherokee woman’s attitude about the exchange–it was gift giving, not trade.

This is the kind of mess you get when the writer does not understand the conflicting concepts of “charity” and “gadugi”, not to mention gifting as trade–as the Cherokee defined trade.

Not a bad illustration of some earlier points.

I have neither time nor energy to go into some of the other weird and willfully ignorant interpretations Perdue put on this one, right now. *shakes head* At the very least, she ignored the carefully considered (and intentionally ironic) wording employed as part of the woman’s peacemaking duties.

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