Ulithi - Sociopolitical Organization



Kinship factors dominate the whole sociopolitical Organization.

Social Organization. Although certain lineages outrank others, there is virtually no social stratification. Such ranking seems to be lost in historical factors. Individuals may rise to a favorable position by virtue of the acquisition of certain specialties and skills, none of which are hereditary.

Political Organization. The basic unit of government is the village council, made up of all elderly men except for outright incompetents. The head chief and district chiefs are hereditary. These chiefs each succeed to their positions by virtue of their status as the oldest male member of certain lineages, which being matrilineal do not allow a man to succeed his father. Complicating what is otherwise a simple local system is a highly complex arrangement superimposed on Ulithi by its "owners" in the Gagil district of the Yap Islands to the west. Gagil extends its dominance also to all the Islands east of Ulithi as far as Truk. Yap's caste system is applied to all of these islands.

Social Control. Pressure to conform to social norms comes not from law, which is only rudimentary at best, but from the fear of criticism, public contempt, ridicule, and ostracism, as well as the utter need for cooperation in a small Society dependent on mutual assistance for its very existence. Litigation is suppressed. The gods and the ancestral ghosts are major influences in controlling social behavior. With the advent of foreign control some law has been introduced and traditional restraints that were operative under the old Religion have been weakened.

Conflict. Warfare internally and externally ceased long ago because of its suppression by foreign powers, but oral tradition proves conclusively that it was not uncommon in the past.

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