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Why should this happen to me. I've tried to lead a good life. I've never made a big of missed Telford meals or chased after women. Everywhere I go I try to keep my mind on higher things on spiritual things on money. And now that old man takes away my sea lion flipper writes I feel as if they're trampling on me. In the case of the sea lion flippers a study in ethics a program in the serious ways of mankind presented under the supervision of Walter Goldsmith of the University of California Los Angeles by the National Association of educational broadcasters a series designed to show how human beings live together in different times and places. A study in ethics the case of the sea lion flippers. Now all this happened back around 1860 but we Indians are not going to forget it. It should be a lesson to everybody the terrible things that happen when people don't do the right thing. I know all about it. I was the fellow who
sat all night by the old man's body on the beach. I pulled the knife out of his head much to Sister heat the stones and. Dropped them in the Blood and Sand and cut them up and make the coast. That's the kind of thing I mean that's not the right thing at all. But I'll give it to you from the start. We Indians whether we live up in northern California right where the Klamath River runs out into the Pacific Ocean where all the big redwood trees grow salmon and acorns we used to live on mostly in those days. Everyone had his own special places to fish and gather acorns and it was up to him to look after his rights and if someone came along and took away his rights then you make the other fella pay you something. No. One of these special rights was in case a sea lion was killed anywhere along a special stretch of coast that killed it got most of the meat but old men not directly had the rights to the sea lion flip is there something we really like to
eat. But of course that had nothing to do with it really it was a question of rights property rights the only important people who own such labor rights the rights belong to Minot and of course people should respect other people's rights. So this one day the knot was sitting in front of us what i was thinking about money and he heard the shouting down at the mouth of the river. Once all that shouting and hollering down at the mouth of the river. That's my goal man likes harpooned him a sea lion. They decide to roll down the beach and pick up my flippers. It's a comforting thing for Amanda know he's independent and has property so I'm not started off downstream so I'm turned up at the beach. I know I know may not have as everybody is old crowd of people here I thought someone harpooned a sea lion. Yeah man live just inside the rock where the Falcon leaves me today. Then where are my flippers. He took them away. He
couldn't have that's my right to tell you how I got to telling me I know what you are right that can be terrible headstrong just told all the rest of it. You don't have to do something about it you have to make it. Taking away a man's rights is very bad. Very bad. All men lie it should have known that would lead to trouble. But he was a terrible fellow right up to the day he got killed so that was the first bad thing. Here's the next old Minot went back sat in front of his White House and thought to himself Well perhaps they were pretty hungry over unlikes hogs. Perhaps he couldn't even spare those little C9 flippers. Perhaps the seat I was so small they couldn't divided round the whole village perhaps to send a woman over to explain perhaps who came over him so perhaps I'll wait and see how about that wait and see what a man's rights have been trampled on he's got to put in a claim.
Otherwise what kind of a man is he. I would people live if they didn't look after themselves. It was bad thing number two but not followed around and didn't make plain. Sure enough a few days later along came bad thing then with three they got another seat I and just about where they got the other one. Now for a shore like will come up with my flippers. I'll go and sit in this White House and think about money and Obsidian blades and woodpecker scalps and get myself in the proper frame of mind for talking to like about my rights. If a man doesn't have his rights what has he got. Now. Oh but not knew what to think but he didn't know what to do so he sat in the sweat house until he got sick of waiting. Then he came out again and started downstream to the beach. You got a basket of meat. Why yes kill the lion as you got my flippers for me. Me not I told you to make it plain last time this happened. You mean it's happened again. What did you expect. You don't do the right. I don't think you should have done
something. Well never mind Black's going to regret this. I'll do something this time. I'll figure out something out. Just you wait and see. I feel as if I'm being trampled on. Why should this happen to me. I've tried to lead a good life I've never made a pig of myself at meals or chased after women. Everywhere I go I try to keep my mind on higher things spiritual things and money. I'm now that old man takes away my sea lion flipper writes I feel as if they're trampling on me. Well that's all very well but a man ought to have some self-control and not act up like a child or a woman but not old man not to didn't do enough. He does too much. Right back to his house gets his bow and arrow takes it over to his sweat house and starts getting it into shape. His wife was dead and his sons had no idea how hard it was taking all this. Next thing it is half sheltered behind the special board that protects this White House door
across the little creek in wreck while old man drive comes out of his White House and sits down on the stone platform overlooking the river. He's about 50 yards away. Old man Minot has got all his tackle fixed up and he leans out of the doorway just enough to get one knee on the ground and steady his aim and he lets fly an old lion That'll teach you to go around taking other people's rights away trampling on them. And then he just beats it as fast as he can go up the coast to the village of aman to push. I guess that's about five miles away and Minot has friends there said No not here sit on this White House bench. What's the matter fella you run all the way from wreck or something. Yeah. As you look at the finished Take it easy now take it easy. You're among friends. He really has run all the way from reckless right now may not just be slow it easy rest relax don't get excited. Don't you know they're not the right thing to do. Relax and settle your mind.
Think of money big dent aliens here try and think of a dent helium jealous because a salmon that'll get me down. Thanks I feel better now. What's happened. I I don't know whether I've killed a man killed a man. Yeah. With an arrow that's real trouble. That's serious killing a man that can run you into money. Who was that old like Nike you know and here we go. They're not your children and grandchildren at home. I think so. Well said they be you must be crazy. Why X House will start killing them. We better get back oh wait a minute are you sure he's dead. No I'm not sure I just hit him through the upper arm. I think the arrow got to his ribs. And then I just dropped everything and went out. You must be crazy. What kind of a way is that to act. Come on let's get everybody and get back to reckless when the fellows turned up for a moment to pour
there was an awful gang of people hanging around with bows and arrows and all the women screaming and chattering at each other like a lot of hate wasn't dead after all sent up. Remember for an intermediary to come along and help settle things between the two of the people who were related to both bodies just hung around and tried to sound intelligent without committing themselves they were are certainly waiting for the outcome but the moment it works I don't want to shut up all you women here are the men for a moment if I shut up you women would talk to them while I know if I can get away you screeching taser Bonamy. Now then you fellows just got to have a moment. That's right I see you brought your bows and arrows. Yeah I was mad that we left him back at home and he is lying he did not.
Just a bit of a thump in the ribs. But that's not what's important. Minot tried to kill me and you know how it started. That's what happened. Minot has this year nine people right along the stretch of beach in line extolled that's bad. It may not bring a claim by trying to bring it up. No we didn't. That's bad too but took away his rights twice and stuff all right. Maybe there's some of the safe women out after all and I know that I might have done the same in his position. Sometimes not much time to watch agreed. You don't want to be. Well what are we going to do. Like send for me to be intimate give aways he is in his house. He's too sick to come out but I'm his oldest son. You want to settle what I don't know I have no right to say what the old man will do.
What's the use of me coming all the way down river. The intermediary was pretty cross got his arms there so that I could see the marks on his forearm were standard sizes of Gentilly and shelves were tattooed. But before there could be any fresh trouble with the intermediary a rumor started running through the place but not like that someone say minutes around I just have to stop now. Where is it. Behind all those women what is going on. I guess she knows where he is. Alright then don't just stand it we're easy. I'm to go not so Minot came out surrounded by the women in case there was any trouble. Weapons were already and he had the blue clay on his face and body so you could hardly recognize him. He had his hair tied up. He was wearing the special bone happens with both ends sharpened so no one can grab you by the hair if there's a fight. They're not put down his weapons but most of the men from both the houses stayed up in the creek bed ready in case anything was going to happen or not. Hello.
I want to hear why you did it. He was trampling on me. You got the blue clay on. Maybe you've already made medicine. Well I like to die. No I haven't I haven't done that. Looks to me as though it was pretty much at fault as he was. But who cares about me. I'm getting old. Throw me into the river. Take it easy man I remember your grandchildren. That's right I didn't think of that. Hey hey wait a minute. I extend what is it. I just ran back and saw my father he says he's going to get well. He says he's to blame. He says he doesn't want to make trouble. He doesn't want any payment. Maybe there's going to be payment he's afraid he'd have to payment out even more for speeding to see a lion flipper rides in a get to being shot. What do you say Minot if old lag really means it wants to end up the whole thing without payment. Well I won't bear any grudge. We'll be friends. It may not pay like I have to pay still more. All the same I think there should be a payment.
No no that's all right I always say he says he doesn't want a payment. Well that's the way you will want it. But this isn't the right thing every time there's an injury that ought to be a payment. Things ought to be done the right way as it's bound to be more trouble. And you'd better go over to lie X house and shake hands and speak again. He says he can't do that today because he isn't feeling right. But I shake hands and make friends as soon as he gets over the wound. All right with you imminent as you are well that's it. But this isn't being done the right way. It's going to be more trouble that intermediary follow from upstream sure knew what he was talking about because a few days later my knot had sweated and washed himself and the creek was sitting in front of his White House. Suddenly out came old life of his own White House with his arm in a sling. He spread out his fingers and cursed man out
I mention the name of ya dead father. May your family big time dead as he is dead. And I said nothing. But now there was new trouble on top of all the old and especially when all we could do later the knots grandson got sick and died. That was why old lake wanted to settle without proper payment. He wanted to curse my family and make prayers against him at the sacred cursing rocks. From this time my family will not speak to LAX and nor will my friends and relatives up the coast a domain hipper. From then on people began to think about the world renewal ceremony because there was so much sin to get rid of in the world. Everybody tried to do what was right. Deny himself food and water. What about money all the time he was gathering sweat house wood and generally tried to get himself in shape as some sort of big trouble and it came soon enough.
It was hardly better from his wound and off it went up the beach away from his house hold up the arm and he put wet all Minot's friends and relatives in it and he took his weapons with him. See who's on the beach. Oh you like he's got his bow and arrow with him. He cussed Minot's grandson to death. Who is he meaning to kill him now I don't know but let's fix him Ibos right here. Fine. We'll fix him all right. Teach him to take away people's rights of course people to death. And I will for the cross wind as my wind blowing down beach. I know it. Waiting till he gets by that white rock. Now. Watch out. You didn't kill him. You shooting back. Oh eat me badly. Just in the wrist. He's fallen down on the same. Page and I think. That's running finish him off.
They finished him off all right. Cut his throat and stabbed him in the head with the big two edged Di and knife with the cross-cut. They couldn't get it out so they left X dead body lying there on the beach with the knife sticking in his foreign that sent someone to wreck one. Quick tell them about this way. Bad man deserves to be killed sure. But if we leave him lying on the beach his family will be able to claim extra compensation and this time the claims are going to have to be paid properly. Things have got to be done right. Who dragged the body above the high tide mark. Then we'll get the crippled woman to hustle down to record and tell them about it. Next thing of course all the people from wreck what turned up all the men with raccoons going quick was full of arrows and in full fighting equipment and the women trailing along behind in their maple black dresses and carrying branches off fir trees just in case they might come in handy. But in front of everybody was old like sister and as soon as she saw the body she ran up and fell on an outing and crying. All right thank you very bad unless you're much older
people that depend on you. They'll settle for the little woman said Oh all right that'll be all right. Now we know he was your brother but I going to say it'll just take this and agreed to this happen let's get all these weeks been enough trouble what do you see. All right then I agree. I agreed to a settlement to make it quick. We'll settle tomorrow and make it today. We need to get obsidian blades and woodpecker scalps and maybe some white dues games this is going to take real well we've got to try and raise it. I guess so. There are several tomorrow first thing they need the time to get the things that make all the arrangements and all right. Tell them to hurry up. Joe I'll tell them they're going out to do the best they can. They want to get this thing all cleaned up too. Don't let them wait too long and we're going to do with a body that's stable and I want to come up behind the village.
I'll stay here. He was my brother. One of the men from wrecked work and stay with me. Will you do it. She was looking at me. What did I say. I couldn't refuse. In the morning would take the body home in the boat but in the meantime everyone cleared off like sister and myself we built a fire and sat for the night by the body so it was dark and the next thing she's up to something strange. What are you doing gathering my brother's blood. All the sand that the blood soaked into I'm putting in is a corn basket. What for but I'm going to boil it. I've got stones in the fire to boil up that don't look here. Don't forget you've promised to accept a proper settlement. I don't forget anything we're a good family always have been. If you ever know a man deny myself things like my brother. Course he didn't he was a good man a fine man. And no one's going to murder him and get away with it. Will. You promise to accept the settlement. And that was the right thing to
do. I don't want to hear about that. What I want from you is to pull out that knife in his head and the night will you. Do I have to pull the knife out of my own brothers. OK. I'll try. He won't come. Stuck in tight. Push with your foot. And don't come kneel on it with both knees and pull real hard. There they are yours and I know you're happy. Thank God no Be careful you'll cut that body. I want to cry. I want to get shot open like this. You need to use this. This is no kind of settlement Thank you. What do you want with the arrows. I want to break them. Then I put them into the body. Now.
Pass me the basket with the Blood and Sand. Help me with it. That's the way it should be. What are you going to do with it. Pour it into the body. Now wait a minute. This isn't the right thing at all not at all it isn't. They killed my brother I don't care what I do. Hold tight on that side while I pour out the basket. To do that. The corpse made the noise Let's get out of here don't be a fool. It was the heat of the Stones wasn't a brother. I'm glad you answered. He would eat them all. Those who killed you kill their friends kill their relations old people or children killed a lot of them. The doctor will be able to suck out their pains. Their pains will be along their spines as these broken arrows are along your spine brother. And brother. Do not forget to let some of the sickness strike them in their feet and be incurable. Let go of the basket. You said you'd take your settlement. I'm going to take a settlement. I didn't say I wasn't going to curse them as
well. You may have the best of. What you're going to do grow them in the sea. I give you these baskets waters of the ocean so that you will help me and prevent them from ever being cured. Let us wait. I hope I never spend another night like that one. By the time the boat came in the morning to take the body back like sister had prayed death on just about everybody she could think of. And when she got back home she spent the next five nights in the cemetery praying. I did my best to keep my thoughts and ideas of wealth and valuables but it doesn't matter how much a fellow works on self denial and self discipline there comes a time when even thoughts of money aren't enough to keep his mind serene and the night sister made death magic on the beach with her brother's body that was enough for me. After the days of mourning the negotiation for
settlement started and this time the intermediary wasn't going to put up with any nonsense. This time there's going to be a real settlement invaluable. Then we'll all know where we are now. We've brought along the staff spread out the double dates can blanket and let's all have a look at it and we all know what a lie you did wrong about the sea lion flipper writes. But you fell as a Roman hippo did wrong. Feeling like so each of you owes the other something. I know but we've agreed to settlements just going to be the difference what. That's still not right. Both of you want to pay the full amount we've agreed to pay the debt for it still isn't right. But. Let's get on all right. He's a really good woodpecker scalps headband as used in the world renewal ceremony there is a very nice when you see it. And here's a read obsidian used in the beers can dance up the river and we'll throw in the box for two good excellent sit and we also offered this many genteelly and chose the largest size middle finger
and we're going to roll up my sleeve and check the shows against my tattoo marks. Yasser seem fine. See them. Yes I see them. One would take a scalp headband one read Obsidian and all these Then daily m shows largest size. This is what they will play. I don't want them. I was I've had enough of people doing things and they're not having to pay the settlement. That's how things got in this mess is why you said you'd accept a settlement I will accept the settlement. What the sea lion sea lion. But that's impossible. Why it's never been done before. I want the sea lion like was killed for them I want them. Look you may not realize it but there are proper ways of doing things and this isn't the proper way at all. I want to see that. Anyway they belong to Minot they're offering up all this stuff to look at it. You want to take it how about it.
No. I'll give you my sister as well. How about that. I want the sea lion right. Because that's what he got killed over. Wait a minute. What is it men are sick of everyone getting in a mess. We're all doing wrong. You're doing wrong asking for my sea lion flipper right. I'm doing wrong what about. Shut up. Go on and on but I want to see this stopped. I don't want to see any more of my grandchildren killed. I'll give up the sea lion flipper writes and then maybe we can have some peace. I'm sick of being trampled on life like this is misery. I feel as if the disk of the world was going to turn over any minute. I give up the rights. Let's complete the settlement. So he did. And if you can call that a settlement well then they had a settlement. I don't call it a real settlement. Everyone was very unhappy after it felt they'd been denying themselves for nothing. See the real trouble was
this from first to last. Things weren't done properly that you're not wait for one man would do something wrong then another and so it went on. One bad thing after another in this world you have to do the right thing. Two blacks don't make a white and never did never will and that I guess is what it all boils down to. Do the right thing. Everything goes fine. Do the wrong thing. Everything's in a mess. The Iraq have always seemed to me a parody of our own culture their puritanical sense of righteousness their great concern with property and well their efforts for personal success through hard work and a sort of mock command to Yankee shrewdness. All these elements we find among the yacc as among us but among the year are carried to a higher pitch. By the way this is a true story. Dr Kroeber who helped with the script is a great friend of the stepson of the man who spent
that night on the beach. We have had to piece together two slightly different versions but all the essential was took place about 1860 and every attitude and every fact is accurate for that particular Indian tribe. People have their own ethical system though we are not apt to recognize it because the conduct demanded varies from culture to culture. And if the ethical system is different from ours we tend to say there is none. For example many African Bantu tribes have a strong ethical sense but it places emphasis upon behavior different from our own. To believe that you always tell a person what he wants to hear. If you don't it would be insulting. It is of no matter what he wants to hear happens not to be the truth. The ethical command isn't the truth. It's what he wanted to hear.
Our own ethical system contains certain inherent contradictions because we are larger in a complex society with many cultural origin. Robert Lind a sociologist has listed many of these contradictions avenge the wrong as against turning the other cheek. Or you must think about the other fellow. But if you don't take care of yourself nobody else will. This raises a question Should our interest center on what people say they do or on what they really do. No matter what the ethical system there are always some who don't live up to it. The good you rock in their own ethical system was a man who took measured but decisive action. He always had control over himself was careful not to let anybody trample on him brought any action to the limit but restrained himself against a passionate and uncontrolled action. He is the villain not brought on his own troubles. He should have
followed the woman's advice and pressed his claim softness and consideration were wrong. Nor should he have shot. That was an act of passion. Showing lack of control. Both of these actions were contrary to the subtle ethical demands of Iraq. People have an ethical system that is a mob demand to behave according to established standards. Dr. Walter Goldsmith of the department of anthropology and sociology of the University of California Los Angeles has concluded the case of the sea lion flippers a study in ethics a program in the series ways of mankind designed to show dramatically how human beings live together in different times and places. The script was written by Lester Sinclair and produced in the studios of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Toronto by Andrew Allen the consultant was Alfred L. Kroeber. These programs are presented and distributed by
the National Association of educational broadcasters. The program you have just heard is made possible under a grant from the fund for adult education an independent organization established by the Ford Foundation. This is the end AB Radio Network.
Ways of mankind
Case of the sea lion flippers
Producing Organization
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, "The Case of the Sea-Lion Flippers," discusses ethics among the Yurok people.
Series Description
This series is an exploration into the origin and development of cultures, customs and folkways in various parts of the world.
Broadcast Date
Indian ethics
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Funder: Fund for Adult Education (U.S.)
Host: Thompson, Ben
Producer: Allan, Andrew, 1907-1974
Producing Organization: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 52-39-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:54
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Chicago: “Ways of mankind; Case of the sea lion flippers,” 1964-01-09, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 23, 2024,
MLA: “Ways of mankind; Case of the sea lion flippers.” 1964-01-09. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 23, 2024. <>.
APA: Ways of mankind; Case of the sea lion flippers. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from