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Long as totam but wrongly defined as the favourite spirit which each believed watches over him (Long, 1791), stating that “…this totam they conceive assumes the shape of some beast or other, and therefore they never kill, hunt, or eat the animal whose form they think the totam bears.” Totemism or totamism was also recognised by French missionaries including Reverend Joseph Francois Lafiteau (1671-1746) in 1724 and thus “…every warrior has his crest which is called his totem”. Incidentally Lafiteau (Wallace, 1948) was the first to recognise matrilineal descent and was struck by the importance of totemism in the religious and social ife of the North American Indians (Spence, 1994).
This suggests that a mystical kinship exists between the group and their totem species or object and this supports a system of belief that an “…animal or plant, or sometimes a heavenly body, was mythologically at first, and at last sociologically, connected with all persons of a certain stock, who believe, or once believed, that it was their titular god, as they bear its name. The whole system of totemic belief reflects social structure, depending whether hunter-gatherers (Australia) or farmers (Central Africa), and this implies beliefs and mode of thought differ and thus several simultaneous systems exist throughout the world – different places, different times (Levy-Bruhl, 1923). Each tribe and its constituent clans is associated with a natural and material object which it calls its totem, and on this basis see themselves as akin to their totem species and descended from it (Thomson, 1978). Australia, America and Africa are the three main areas where totemism has been found in its most highly developed and widespread form (Hartland, 1908-1926). For the Amerindians the raven is the hero-trickster. The word kinship means between uterine brothers and sisters who cannot intermarry.
The subject of totemism was introduced into English by trader J.
Among Australian Aborigines totemism is a religious system in which the group depends on exclusive and intimate relationship with an animal or plant for its identity, and such a totem provides the group with its name, secondly this name becomes the visible, external sign of a supernatural force that binds the tribe together, and thereby the totem is considered the ancestor of the tribe – a sort of fund of energy out of which all tribe members originate (Lewis, 1969).
In this respect it appears that totemism is both a religious and social system with the totem as the sacred object.
The tribe or clan therefore, in general, takes its name from the totem (Notes and Queries, 1901).
Tribesmen or clansmen thus “…hold themselves to be actually descended from material objects often the most diverse from human form…” (Hartland, 1891) because in the totemic system the mythic ancestor is known as the totem.
There is therefore a similarity between the Australian Kobong and the American totem (Grey, 1841).