Cora - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization. High status is accorded shamans, elders, and officials. During most of the year, the small settlements ( rancherías ), formed of extended-family households, operate independently. At special ritual times, they meet in the municipio capital, which functions as a governmental and ceremonial center. These gatherings take place at New Year, the time of the Changing of the Staffs (symbols of authority); during Carnival; during Holy Week; and for the mitotes (see "Ceremonies").

Political Organization. The four largest communities are governed by their own native authorities—generally called principales —who are elected locally by the community. For example, in Jesús María the principales are the gobernador, the teniente, the alcalde, centuriones, the tenanche mayor, the primer mayordomo, the mayordomo grande, two judges, fiscales, alguaciles, justicias or ministros, and topiles. The Cora gobernador has both civil and religious duties. In performing the latter, he is advised by the básta'a (Cora: "old man") and the tenanche mayor, who also directs the mayordomos. For each saint, there are two mayordomos. Each mayordomo is assisted by a tenanche. The pasoniles coordinate the work of the tenanches. The offices in this traditional civil-religious hierarchy are unpaid. Jesús María, being the capital of the municipio of El Nayar, also has a municipio president.

Social Control. The Cora have a system of common law. When the infraction is not serious, it is judged by the traditional Indian authorities; when it is serious, it is judged in the municipio capital or in Tepic, the capital of Nayarit.

Conflict. The greatest conflict is with the mestizos in the surrounding areas. Rich mestizo ranchers displace and exploit Indians. They invade Indian pastures and fields by taking advantage of poorly defined deeds. Mestizos pasture their animals on Indian communal land and go as far as planting crops on them without paying rent to the Indians. The Cora forests are also cut by " rapamontes " ("forest rapists"), without compensation to the legitimate Cora owners.


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