Proficient Homework

Decide what roles you will each have to play in forming your new way of life and discuss the kinds of customs and institutions that will need to be set into place to ensure long term survival.

A plane out of Winnipeg has miraculously escaped a conflagration which has destroyed all life in the southern parts of the province and perhaps elsewhere. Fortunately, the plane’s damages are such that an emergency landing in northern Manitoba is possible. You, the people on board this plane, are unharmed but the plane is damaged beyond repair. There is no hope for rescue and you may not return to the south. Your pilot has died in the crash. You must now set up a functioning social unit with rules and regulations, roles and responsibilities, values and philosophies. You must see to your own needs and the needs of other, and look to pass on your culture to possible future generations. You have all had some anthropological training and some or all of you realize that you must make a fresh start as free as possible from the biases and constraints of your previous way of life. Of course, you are very comfortably attached to the customs and ways of life of dominant southern Canadian culture and will naturally want to maintain as many of these customs as possible. And each of you will have your own personal preferences. But success in reaching a good adaptation depends upon flexibility of thought. You will have to decide which of the old ways it will be possible to maintain and which will need to be abandoned and replaced. The primary consideration is efficient survival in the northern environment. Some may argue that survival under “primitive” northern conditions requires major shifts in values, practices and beliefs. Others may feel that much of the old way can be adapted to the north and still allow efficient survival. This will be a major focus of your discussion. Once out of the plane, and it being established that everyone is unharmed, you survey the situation and realize two things: The plane was carrying some supplies and there is enough food to last about a month. Supplies include a small first aid kit, basic tool kit, flares, matches, flashlight, wood axe, candles, two wool blankets and a can of gas. Nearby, you discover an abandoned camp with useful materials left behind by a people who seem to have adapted well. These give clues as to what you will have to do in order to survive. [See “Object-File.pdf” for photos of objects you find near abandoned tipi and cabin]

Now begin to discuss what your expertise might be and what special knowledge you might have that could help set up and maintain this new culture. Decide what roles you will each have to play in forming your new way of life and discuss the kinds of customs and institutions that will need to be set into place to ensure long term survival. You may need to give up a lot of ways that you once believed were morally and practically essential. You may even have to adapt to customs your personality finds distasteful, but the species must survive. You must workshop all information needed in the time provided for the lab.

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