Pomo - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization. The family and extended kin group was the most important social unit. Women had equal status.

Political Organization. The largest political unit was the tribelet or village community, which could consist of several villages. There were chiefs on several levels, hereditary and elected. There were kin group chiefs and assistant chiefs; if there were several such units in a village or village Community, one might be chosen as head chief. Duties varied and included giving counsel, negotiating with other groups, presiding over ceremonies, feasts, and work parties, and distributing the fruits of communal labor.

Social Control. Breaking any of a vast array of restrictions or taboos could lead to sickness from supernatural agents; death could be averted only by timely treatment by a shaman. The kin group controlled the actions of its members. In case of transgression against non-kin by any group member, the kin group would have to pay compensation, and failure to do so would call forth a revenge attack, either a clandestine killing or magical poisoning. Death of any kin group member, not only of the individual transgressor, was proper vengeance.

Conflict. Most conflict was in the form of feuds between kin groups and might arise from poaching or suspicion of causing sickness by magical poisoning. Alliances with other communities, even non-Pomo, might be made to carry out conflict on a larger scale. Peace was brought about by negotiation and the payment of reparations to the relatives of those killed.


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