Tewa Pueblos - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization. Tewa social organization is centered around two nonexogamous nonunilinear complementary moieties: Winter and Summer. People become members of either one through a series of rituals that take place from birth to their early twenties. Tewa place high value on equality and humility. There are, however, differential statuses accorded individuals on the basis of their degree of ascension, through ritual, and placement within the life and spiritual hierarchies. Equality between the sexes is expressed through the complementarity of women's and men's roles and responsibilities: women are responsible for the homes and the inner portions of the pueblo; men are responsible for the fields and the outer portions. Men are also responsible for village decision making, although women participate, too.

Political Organization. Since aboriginal times, the core Tewa governmental structure has been a theocracy, with Political and sacred authority vested in the heads of the two moieties and the religious sodalities. In the early 1600s, the Spanish instituted a secular political structure consisting of the following officers who are selected by the tribal council on advice from sodality and moiety heads in all but Santa Clara and Pojoaque Pueblos: governor, first lieutenant governor, second lieutenant governor, war chief, assistant war chief, sheriff, and fiscales. These officers are responsible for daily management of tribal affairs, as well as for special community events. Santa Clara Pueblo has a constitutional government with public officers elected by adult enrolled members. Most Tewa reservations also have tribal managers who are responsible for programmatic and economic maintenance and Development on their reservations. The six New Mexico Tewa pueblos are part of the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council, a sociopolitical organization that facilitates sharing of economic, political, educational, and development resources among the Pueblos.

Social Control. Social control is exercised through gossip, teasing, mockery by clowns and abuelos at public ceremonial events, and formal visits by officials to homes of individuals who seriously violate social norms. Crimes against property or individuals are adjudicated in tribal or local courts, depending on the nature of the crime. Serious crimes, such as homicide, are tried in a federal court. Accusations of witchcraft (rare today) may be handled by the medicine man or through the tribal court.

Conflict. The Tewa have a reputation for nonviolence and peaceful settlement of disputes. In aboriginal times and until the U.S. government designated the Tewa pueblos to be Limited and bounded reservations, internal conflict that resulted in fissioning could be resolved by a group leaving their natal Pueblo and establishing a new one elsewhere. Movement of a whole community to a new locale could also follow severe externally induced conflict (for example, the Hopi-Tewa of Arizona; see Location above). Overall, most Tewa abhor conflict and will avoid it at all cost, although in recent years, domestic and other forms of interpersonal violence seem to have increased. Internal conflict is usually arbitrated or adjudicated by the tribal council or tribal court. Conflict with outsiders is generally resolved through the local court systems, but some cases have gone as far as the U.S. Supreme Court for settlement.

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