Keres Pueblo Indians - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. The typical family continues to consist, in most cases, of the father, mother, and children. Variations would include single-parent units, families with stepchildren and stepparents where remarriages have occurred, and households with relatives who share in much of the activities. As explained above the family's kin affiliations are shaped by the wife's (mother's) clan membership and by the couple's kiva membership. In families where a non-Cochiti is a parent, there are obvious deviations, particularly when the spouse is not only non-Cochiti but non-Indian. If the alien spouse is from another Pueblo, especially a Keresan tribe, the adjustments are easily made. If the spouse is a non-Pueblo person, or even a non-Indian, accommodation is not as readily made.

Political Organization. For the Eastern Keresans, the Political structure reflects the general Puebloan pattern of dualism. The political organization is balanced against the Ceremonial organization. In the political organization, presumably largely implanted by the Spaniards, there are the war captain, lieutenant war captain, governor, lieutenant governor, fiscale, and lieutenant fiscale. The captains are assisted throughout the year by eight young men, the alguacilitos; similarly, the governors and fiscales are aided by eight fiscalitos. These assistants are chosen for their potential and are essentially on trial vis-à-vis their possible future service as major officers. A common feature of these offices is that the senior officers are all from the same kiva, and the junior officers are from the other kiva. Senior and junior officers are Traditionally appointed by medicine men, who are prominent in the ceremonial organization of each tribe. The selections for these offices are made anew at the end of each calendar year and announced to the tribe. The senior and junior positions alternate every year, again a feature of the characteristic balance maintained between the two kivas. Traditionally these officers serve without monetary compensation, their rewards coming from the fact that each has served to the best of his ability and the community acknowledges this fact. But in Recent years, several of the tribes have begun to pay some of these officers for their efforts in behalf of all the people.

For many years, the tribal council was composed of the major officers. Once a man became a council member, he served for the remainder of his life. In recent years, younger men who have some particular experience and knowledge have been invited to serve on the council even though they have not yet served in a major office. Governing has long been conducted by the council. Unanimous decisions once were required, but majority votes have begun to be recognized—a result of the need to reach decisions more rapidly, time-consuming debate no longer being affordable. Decisions by the major officers often are made in accordance with council decisions made in past times. When precedents are not feasible, the matter in question is taken up by the Entire council. Common law has been satisfactory over the years, but some tribes have become increasingly interested in the possible advantages of a written constitution. Beyond the boundaries of the respective tribes, there are such bodies as the All-Indian Pueblo Council, in which the various Puebloan tribes participate without exception.

Social Control. Traditionally, social controls have been those employed in many small societies—gossip, ridicule, and ostracism. From time to time, more drastic measures such as public whippings or confiscation of property have been employed. Trials held before the council convened to hear allegations of misdeeds have led to such penalties as whippings, or sentences of so many hours or days of community labor. Here, the larger pueblos have been able to be more rigid or stringent. In the smaller villages, however, matters must be carefully weighed. If an imposed penalty is deemed too harsh, the guilty person may take offense to the extent that he leaves the village, either alone or taking his family with him. This is something the tribal officers try to avoid. It is a delicate balancing act—making the punishment sufficient to serve as a deterrent and yet not running the risk of driving one or more people from the tribe. As acculturation progresses with the changing times, maintaining the tribe's numerical strength is a genuine concern. The old ways of dealing with deviations have proved less and less effective in recent years; often the officer attempting to enforce a judgment is, in effect, penalized as severely as the wrongdoer.

Conflict. As the forces of acculturation gather momentum and most of the Keresan Pueblos become involved with residents whose origins are from outside the particular tribal Culture, there are increasing numbers and varieties of conflicts. Such clashes also arise when different generations are involved. More exposures to the mainstream educational System and its different values have led to dissonance that sometimes results in alienation and at least a temporary departure from the tribal culture.

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