Futuna - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. Traditionally, there were three social classes, with the sau, or chiefly group, at the head and the aliki as the assistant leader. The ordinary people were bound to their households. Kava was the classic means by which Status was expressed in villages at both the district and island levels.

Political Organization. The two polities of Futunan Society, Sigave and Alo, each have their own traditional Leadership consisting of the sau, his family, aliki and village chiefs, and their families. The rest of the population is organized by village groups, each with its own faipule (village official) and advisers, all of whom are responsible to the sau. The sau has authority over internal affairs including settling disputes and signing passports; any Futunan wishing to go overseas must seek his permission. Villages are grouped according to traditional affiliations. Futuna also has eight elected members of the territorial assembly of Wallis and Futuna. The Catholic mission is also a notable political force in the lives of Futunans, as the Bishop of Wallis and Futuna, the two sau of Futuna, the lavelua of Wallis, and the high commissioner representing France share the power of decision making affecting the lives of Wallisians and Futunans.

Social Control and Conflict. The church is a very strong agent of social control, along with the families and the faipule of each village. Moral guidance is sought from the priests and nuns, and this source of authority has dominated the lives of Futunans for more than 100 years. The staves carried by the deacons in church, used to keep the congregation awake and seated attentively during services, are but one symbol of this control. Conflict between individuals and between families is resolved through mediation by a senior family member, the faipule, or, if serious enough, by a member of the sau's family.

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