Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/670

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ceals: every one takes of its treasures wherever he finds them. All, from all directions, fetch iron and copper ores from those parts of the land where the mines have been known to exist from time immemorial; and the people who ordinarily live near the mines have never on that account thought of assuming any right of proprietorship over them. There are but few salt-licks in the land; and, as soon after the rainy season as the ground becomes passable, the herders from all quarters drive their cattle across the pasture-lands indifferently to the springs. The dwellers around these places look on quietly, while the cattle and the sheep, flocking up by thousands from all the regions around, tread down and destroy the grass of their pastures. They may complain to themselves about the destruction, but it never occurs to them to drive the strangers away. It would be decidedly foreign to the Damara mind for any one to undertake, as Europeans are accustomed to do, to monopolize the salt-springs and charge a higher price for the use of them as they become more indispensable to others.

The Hereros will even resist, in every way, any one conceding, by sale, a particular right to any person to hold any piece of land. The Roman Catholic missionaries, who recently sought to gain a footing in Damaraland, made themselves suspected more than in any other way by representing to the people that they would do better by them than the Protestant missionaries had done, for they would buy land for their churches, schools, and dwellings, while the Protestant missionaries were occupying land for those purposes free. They ruined their cause, and prompted the heathen chief to try every device to get them away. In a similar manner, the chiefs told us German missionaries, whenever the subject came up, "You may live in our country as long as you wish, and no one shall molest you so long as the land belongs to us, but we will not sell a bit of it to any man."

There are not even any real boundaries between the different tribes. Some of the chiefs have, indeed, set up exclusive claims to particular tracts, but have never assumed to enforce them; and other tribes have never been required to leave the land. The natural result of this communism is, that no one has a personal care for the land, but gets all he can out of it, and then leaves it waste to go to a new spot. Hence the language of the Hereros has no terms for home, fatherland, or boundary-lines.

This communism extends to all the productions of the earth that have not been separated from it. Whatever a man has put his hand upon, that becomes his private property. Whoever takes from a man anything that he has appropriated to his own use, is a thief. Game, free in the fields, belongs to whoever can kill it; but to take it away from a hunter who has bagged it is a theft, or robbery. In Damara law even game which has only been hit, and has afterward been killed by some one else, belongs to the hunter who first hit it, although he is expected to give a share of it to the other one. This feeling is so