Yokuts - Sociopolitical Organization



Social and Political Organization. Among the Yokuts there was no overarching political authority uniting the numerous subtribes. Rather, each subtribe was an autonomous unit composed of one or a few villages. Leadership within the village units was provided by a headman whose position was inherited patrilineally within a particular lineage and whose responsibilities included directing the annual mourning ceremony, mediating disputes, hosting visitors, sanctioning the execution of social deviants, and assisting the poor. The headman was aided and counseled by a herald or messenger, whose position also was inherited patrilineally. Relations between subtribes were usually peaceful and cooperative, although warfare between local groups was not unknown. In some instances subtribes united in warfare against common enemies.

Social Control and Conflict. Socially disruptive persons, such as shamans believed to practice sorcery, were sometimes murdered by an execution squad hired by the village headman.


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