Taos - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Knowledge of this aspect of Taos culture is somewhat opaque, since this is generally a subject about which people have been secretive. There is a very strong sense of communality at Taos, expressed most often in terms of community duties, which every able-bodied adult or legitimate substitute from the extended family must perform. Duties include secular work projects, such as cleaning irrigation ditches, repairing fences, and plastering the Catholic church, as well as dance obligations and other ceremonially linked activities. Most Taos believe that a weakening of communality will ultimately spell the passing of Taos culture. Many Persons who otherwise deviate from Taos norms, such as refusing to participate in the kiva-based religion, are nevertheless allowed to remain at the Pueblo and are considered in good standing if they faithfully perform their community duties.

Political Organization. Secular government, partially Spanish-imposed, is closely entwined with the religious kiva organization. The top officials must be kiva-trained and Ceremonially active. Annually the Taos Pueblo Council, composed of the kiva leaders and past top secular officials, elects twenty two civil officers. They are divided into the governor, lieutenant governor, and eight staff members, on the one hand, who handle matters pertaining to the Pueblo proper as well as concerns with the wider society off the reservation, and on the other, the war chief, assistant war chief, and ten deputies who are responsible for problems that arise outside the village but generally on reservation land. Serious matters that affect everyone, such as the battle for Blue Lake, are Usually council concerns.

Social Control. Major deviant behavior requires the intervention of legal authority, most often the governor, or in the rare cases of homicide, outside-based agencies, such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Minor deviance is controlled in part through gossip and other types of informal sanctions. Given the tight-knit nature of the Pueblo community, very little happens that does not become common knowledge quickly. Witchcraft formerly played a more prominent role than Currently.

Conflict. Recurrent factionalism is certainly the most obvious evidence of conflict as in nearly all the Pueblos of the Southwest. Issues have ranged from the divisiveness caused by the introduction from Oklahoma and establishment of Peyotism (1907) to the rebellion and dissatisfaction of Returning World War II veterans (1950s) to the installation of electricity on parts of the reservation but outside the old Village (1970s). Factionalism is almost constant in life at Taos, and it predates the conflict generated by acculturation to the Spanish and Anglo worlds. It has been argued that the causes lie deep in the nature of Pueblo culture.

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