Chimane - Sociopolitical Organization

Equality between the sexes is the norm within Chimane culture. There is no social stratification, and the Chimane do not recognize chiefs. In isolated settlements, adults of both sexes are in charge of enforcing correct behavior by members of the group. Although formal authority is not a cultural norm, there are some old men and women, called konkaziki , who, because of their experience and personal assertiveness, are heeded as voices of authority. The Chimane maintain that in "ancient times" they used to have "women chiefs" ( aillu ), which indicates a link with the Andean world. Political decisions are arrived at through consensus. The Chimane continue to reject attempts by missionaries to install either teachers or pastors as "leaders." Conflicts have been gradually cropping up. In particular, missionaries ridicule Chimane culture and label it satanic; they try to isolate young Chimane from their villages and educate them as pastors or sacristans. While they are uprooted from their traditional culture, alien norms and values are introduced.

Political Organization. Within the village, authority rests with the adults of both sexes. On a multivillage level it is the "old person" ( kukuitzi ) whose views are respected. Kukuitzi shamans travel constantly throughout the extensive territory, where they foster an esprit de corps among Chimane people by making them participate in the cult house ( shipa ).

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