Miskito - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Miskito society has always been egalitarian, with status based on age, parenthood, and kinship categories.

Political Organization. Each Miskito village is politically autonomous, although linked by relatively weak ties to the Nicaraguan state by a village headman. Regulations of the Moravian church (or other mission churches)—effected by church elders, pastors, and lay pastors—direct village life to some extent. During the colonial era the Miskito were said to compose a "kingdom" with a "king." There is little solid evidence for such a kingdom, and the Miskito kings recognized by the English had limited power within Miskito society. The traditional political format emphasized regional strongmen involved in external affairs but held in check locally by community elders.

Social Control. Communities control individuals informally through gossip but tolerate a high degree of forceful expression of personality, especially in men. Women's behavior is more closely monitored.

Conflict. Intervillage feuds and mistrust are common, as are personal quarrels within a village. The Sandinista Revolution involved the entire Miskito region in large-scale military action, leading to severe population dislocation, the destruction of villages, and refugee conditions for many. In colonial times the Miskito were widely feared by all neighboring groups as ferocious slave raiders. Today, many have fought against the Sandinista intrusions.

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