Pintupi - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. The patrilineage is the largest unit of organization of functional significance for the Pintupi, and it is invoked primarily in the context of ritual life, in justifying one's presence in a place (through reference to the Dreaming) , and in marking the intermarriageability of members of one group with another.

Political Organization. Pintupi egalitarianism militates against formai leadership to any great degree. Leaders are elders who are schooled in ritual lore and whose skill in achieving consensus in any gathering has been acknowledged. Since few decisions in Pintupi traditional life require the involvement of large numbers of people, the role of a leader is Primarily to mediate disputes. In the mission-based settlements, councillors also serve to keep the peace and to allocate government-provided resources, but the concept of Hierarchically organized authority is neither customary nor particularly comfortable for Pintupi.

Social Control. Most social control is effected through the mediation of friends or kin, but there are some circumstances requiring the application of collective sanctions—primarily in the case of violations of sacred tradition, such as the giving away of ritual secrets.

Conflict. Disputes between individuals can erupt at any time over any number of disagreements, but they tend to be most common during times when large numbers of people are gathered together. At such times, fighting can break out and may result in injury or even death. Disputes over women are common. In disputes occurring between individuals, it is common that the aggrieved party will seek out his opponent to spear him in the thigh, and he may commonly attempt to secure the support of his kin in this effort to seek revenge. Acts of "sacrilege" are the single most likely cause for largerscale hostile action. In the sedentary communities near mission stations, the possibility of conflict, exacerbated by the availability of alcohol, is dramatically higher than it is in traditional Pintupi life.

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