Sambia - Sociopolitical Organization

Sambia was traditionally an acephalous tribe. Today it is an encapsulated semiautonomous tribal group within the Bureaucratic administration of a parliamentary democracy, with the English monarch as its putative head of state.

Social Organization. The tribe is hierarchically organized on the basis of age and sex. Older people are higher than younger people. Clan elders, warriors, and ritual specialists hold the highest status. Men are higher than women. Social class is absent. However, modernization and mobility based upon wealth and education are currently introducing class status differences.

Political Organization. Political control by the state operates from the provincial district levels. Sambia is divided into census divisions with a head tax for adult men. The village operates as the most powerful political unit in daily public affairs. However, administrative and dispute settlement tasks are overseen by local councillors. Warfare was organized Primarily at the village level. The dance ground confederacy is of special importance. Villages that initiate together on the same dance ground usually defend each other's territory and intermarry. Confederacies are usually constituted by one phratry; however, interphratry confederacies exist in central Sambia. The Papua New Guinea government provides school, court, and health services.

Social Control. Most features of social control devolve from clan hamlet elders. War leaders are crucial. Ritual initiation instills values of conformity and loyalty in individuals. Dance ground confederacies exert control in intertribal relations.

Conflict. Minor disputes in villages are handled through moots. Traditional warfare between villages usually occurred over adultery, sorcery accusations, ritual violations or theft of ritual customs, and destruction of gardens by pigs. Councillors and district courts handle conflicts today.

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