Ingalik - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization. Status came from the ownership of material objects, especially fish. Furs, a large house, canoes, red ocher, and dentalium shells were also prized. In aboriginal times leadership was situational, with some men excelling in subsistence activities, others in ritual, trade, or warfare. Rich men and shamans were often leaders.

Political Organization. Villages were independent, recognized nearby communities as linguistically and culturally similar, and sometimes intermarried and shared potlatches with them. Russian and American agents introduced the idea of chiefs during the early-contact period. Today, elected leaders and participaion in collective political and economic oranizations have replaced traditional patterns.

Social Control. Common methods of social control included taboos, ostracism, and fear of revenge or supernatural retaliation. Habitual unacceptable behavior would lead to a meeting of the older men, who decided on an appropriate punishment. A murder or accidental killing usually led to revenge by a male relative and sometimes a blood feud. Shamans were considered powerful and often served as opinion leaders. Joking relationships, kinship, and the partner system also served as social control mechanisms.

Conflict. Interpersonal aggression arose from disputes, often over the opposite sex. Wrestling, beatings, and verbal insults were the result. When a murder occurred between the Ingalik and other groups, it could lead to warfare. Although travel in another group's territory for trading purposes was permitted, relationships were sometimes tense. Raids were group decisions, often in retaliation for an earlier raid, a dispute over caribou hunting grounds, or some other Longstanding animosity. Raids were surprise attacks carried out at night during the fall or early spring. Attackers would blockade house and kashim entrances, and shoot arrows through smoke holes. All men were killed if possible, the village looted, and women and children abducted. Warfare was probably infrequent, mitigated by the importance of trade Between groups. During the early-contact period, attacks also took place on Russian trading posts. Beginning in the American period, conflict was conrolled through a system of marshals and courts.


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