Muyu - Sociopolitical Organization

The Muyu area is now a part of the Indonesian state, practically since 1963 and formally since 1969. Indonesia is a Republic with a president as head of state.

Social Organization. In Muyu society there was a strong tendency toward equality in position, though the rich ( kayepak ) might have more influence. Through the process of modernization or development new classes of educated People have arisen, who have more status and modern wealth. But most of these people live outside of the Muyu area Because of the few economic opportunities in the area.

Political Organization. The Muyu society had no broader sociopolitical organization than the lineage. The lineages themselves were small and loosely structured, without Formally recognized chiefs. The kayepak could exert much influence inside and outside their own lineage because of their ability to help other people with their wealth or to threaten them by hiring murderers. The Muyu had no courts or Councils for solving conflicts, and social order was maintained by taking justice into one's own hands, by taking revenge by murder, or by asking compensation for suffered damage. In traditional times, conflicts were common, resulting in an atmosphere of fear, distrust, and caution. Becoming a part of a state, first the Dutch colonial state in 1935 and then the Indonesian state in 1963, the Muyu became part of a foreign-dominated system. Modern villages have a village head ( kepala kampong ), who formerly was appointed by the colonial administration but who now can be elected. The village head is responsible to the camat, the head of the district (subsubdivision). The position of the village head is weak and tenuous, because of the lack of traditional chiefs in Muyu Society. Ideally, the Indonesian government provides a range of services including schools (via the Roman Catholic church), police, courts, health services, and development projects. In reality, there is still too little development, which was one reason so many Muyu fled to Papua New Guinea in 1984.

Social Control. Traditionally, informal social control was maintained by the threat of man and by supernatural beings (ancestor spirits). Today, social control is exercised by the administration, with headmen, police, and military people, and by the church, with teachers, catechists, and priests.

Conflict. In the past recourse to violence, murder, or warfare generally arose from suspicion about causes of illness or death, disputes over debts, and unauthorized relations with women. Today, the ideal is that courts will resolve these conflicts in society, though the village head will often try to solve them informally.

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