Jicarilla - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. The Jicarilla were divided into two bands, the Olleros, or "potters," in the west, and the Llaneros or "plains people," who ranged east of the Rio Grande. These two bands have been referred to by some authors as moieties. There were no important cultural differences between the bands, and their members intermarried freely. Each band was composed of several local groups, of which there were fourteen in the mid-nineteenth century, six belonging to the Olleros and eight to the Llaneros. Each local group, consisting of a geographical cluster of extended families associated by ties of blood, marriage, and strong friendship, formed a Cooperative unit for economic and ceremonial activities for which the individual extended family was too small.

Political Organization. Political authority was weakly developed. Within each local group an influential elderly head of an extended family usually acted as a leader, but his authority was quite limited. Such leaders had no coercive power and their position was not inherited. Above the level of the local group there was no formal political hierarchy, although a few respected individuals such as religious leaders and Warriors sometimes took responsibility for dealing with other Native groups, the Spanish, and the Americans. This system changed somewhat during the period of American occupation when several inherited chieftainships existed within each of the two bands. During the period from 1888 to 1896 the Jicarilla were under the direct control of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which shared some authority with the native leaders. In 1937, under the provisions of the Indian Reorganization Act, the Jicarillas adopted a tribal government consisting of an elected tribal council.

Social Control. Disputes over matters such as land and revenge within and between local groups were usually negotiated by local group leaders.

Conflict. In the late 1800s the Olleros and the Llaneros opposed each other over the location of the Jicarilla Reservation. Once settled, they occupied separate areas of the Reservation. The animosities stemming from this period have persisted into the twentieth century, with the Olleros usually identified as progressives and the Llaneros as conservatives.


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