Gift-giving and reciprocal generosity were central to the values that bound community members to each other and to the natural and spirit worlds.
People in the Indian country believed it was wise to show respect and gratitude to the spirit beings by offering them presents and prayers. Gifts from the creators—healthy children, good crops, a successful hunt—called for gifts in return.
The steady flow of generosity within and between communities also
facilitated social harmony. In villages and hunting bands, people organized
their lives to discourage greed and draw individuals into a web of mutual support.
Travelers, diplomats and traders would greet their hosts with gifts; their
hosts would offer them gifts in return, fostering long and peaceable relationships.