Social Organization. The social system is characterized by flexibility in arrangements for group membership and for transmission of rights to land. A village normally contains more than one clan branch and consequently is not necessarily a landholding unit. Residents may have closer kinship ties to residents of other villages than with some of their coresidents. Nevertheless, common residence implies some Community of interest and a degree of group solidarity that is reinforced by government policy, which recognizes villages rather than descent groups as functional entities. Marriages between members of different clan branches within the village also reinforce this solidarity, which is expressed in ways such as daily food gifts, cooperation in certain tasks, and joint ceremonial activities. On the average, a lineage comprises three Households. Usually, several clans are represented in a village, with members of a single clan (clan branches) being scattered among a number of neighboring villages. Lineages are more localized in character, frequently being confined to a single village and tending to occupy one section of it.
Political Organization. Political organization incorporates no central authority or hereditary leadership. Instead, it is characterized by big-men ( embo dambo ) and an ascendancy of elders who have proved themselves equal to the task. Such men command the respect of the village, based upon observed qualities of generosity, diligence, wealth, ability to make wise decisions, and skill in arranging ceremonial activities. This status confers no sanctioning authority, however. The Orokaiva tribes, around twelve in number, are very loose units politically and recognize no single leader. The largest unit is the tribe, which has a common territory usually demarcated from neighboring tribal territories by a belt of uninhabited land.
Social Control. There are customary restrictions upon feuding within the tribe, which exist in sharp contrast to the standard acceptance and formalization of hostility between tribes. Formerly, official legal penalties, generally violent, were meted out to criminals. Fear of the ancestors and desire to avoid unfavorable public opinion remain the major mechanisms of social control.
Conflict. Prior to European contact, aggression against the members of another tribe took the form of organized, often cannibalistic raids.