Mimika - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. The largest group with corporate functions was the longhouse community of the semiPermanent settlements, the core of which is constituted today by the two modalities of matrilineal descent. Each longhouse community was associated with two to four others, constituting extended longhouse communities, which were a unit in warfare, feasting, and the exchange of women. At present these communities usually live "together-apart" in villages, sometimes working cooperatively but remaining autonomous in many ways. A striking feature of Mimika social organization is its dual structure, which is expressed in the settlement pattern, land tenure, ceremonies, and ritual. However, moieties in the technical sense of the word do not occur; duality is, rather, a general structuring principle.

Political Organization. Longhouse communities in their present configuration in villages recognize one or more elderly men as their "great men." Their position is not a hereditary one; their authority and power depend on personal intellectual and oratorical skill and the number and strength of their kinship and affinal relations.

Social Control and Conflict. Personal courage and a Certain amount of mental imbalance were required for the position of warlord, who often was not identical with the leader of everyday life. In warfare, extended communities were joined in ever-changing federations, which carried out raids against each other.

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