Ewenki - Sociopolitical Organization



The last tribal chief of the Ewenki died in 1761, and with him the tribal organization. Various clans then scattered and moved on their own. Every clan elected its head and his assistant. Their tenure depended on their abilities and behavior; they enjoyed no privilege whatsoever and worked like anybody else. The responsibility of a clan head included settling disputes and calling clan meetings attended by family heads to discuss important issues. The Ewenki used to adopt members of other clans to increase the population of their clans; they even adopted captives for the same reason. Blood feuds were common between clans. Below the clan was the wulileng, a type of family commune; the typical ones were formed by blood relatives, while some others may have included members from different clans. The xinmamaleng, leader of the wulileng, was elected from its members and was usually the best hunter, brave, and candid. Important issues were settled at wulileng meetings attended by either the oldest male or female member of each family. The man with the longest beard enjoyed the most respect.

Social control was mainly effected through persuasion and public opinion; to lose face was a grave matter.


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