Social Organization. The patrilineage or lineage branch was led by someone of the senior generation who conducted ceremonies for the ancestors, mediated disputes, and was responsible for the behavior of the members. Lineage branches met at ancestral halls, sometimes drawing members from several villages. The village itself was also a community in which people helped each other in daily life, house building, opening of waste land, and defense. Wrongdoers would be ostracized by neighbors, in addition to suffering penalties from their descent group.
Political Organization. Though mentioned over centuries as a distinct ethnic group, the Tujia did not receive official government recognition until 1956. The following year, the Xiangxi Tujia-Miao Autonomous Prefecture was established in western Hunan. In 1980, the counties of Hefeng and Laifeng in Hubei were declared Tujia autonomous counties, and following the 1982 census the Exi Tujia-Miao Autonomous Prefecture in Hubei and several additional autonomous counties in Sichuan were established.