Cinta Larga - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. The three subgroups—Kabã, Kak , and Mã—spatially located, form a linguistic and cultural community, with relations between the various villages taking the form of marriage exchange and cooperation in warlike expeditions. The members of each subgroup feel united by strong bonds of solidarity and consider themselves a cohesive group in opposition to the rest of the Cinta Larga. Another very strong bond is that between affines, especially between brothers-in-law and their father-in-law.

Political Organization. The leadership in a village is held by the oldest member of the lineage, generally the father. When he dies, his oldest son will succeed him. Meanwhile, however, as brothers marry, leadership is in danger of weakening, either because they must give service to their respective fathers-in-law, leaving the village when their coooperation is most needed, or because they wish to build their own homes. In such cases, it is up to the chief either not to let them escape his orbit or to attract affinal relations to live in the village. The success of this political game depends on his skill. Contact with agents of FUNAI has made for even less stability in this institution because of the agglutination of nuclear-family houses around FUNAI assistance stations and the prestige enjoyed by federal agents who provide the community with health services and distribute manufactured goods such as salt, sugar, fishing lines, hooks, and metal machetes. Men of the lineage compete for such favors, which can generate internal conflict within the group and a consequent weakening of traditional leadership.

Increasing contact between the Indians and the outside world, especially with cities within the area, together with the lack of government assistance and the invasion of tribal territory by lumber mills, prospectors, and others intruders, has led the men in the lineage to try to obtain financial resources at any cost in order to satisfy needs that were created after contact. In the 1980s many found the solution in making contracts with lumber mills and prospectors, opening the area to wood and gold extraction. When a group is unable to reach an internal consensus regarding commercial agreements, new conflicts occur. Even if consensus is reached and the entire group agrees regarding such enterprises, however, dispersal continues. With the money they receive from such transactions, some young men are beginning to keep houses in surrounding areas, where they live with a non-Indian wife and only occasionally visit the village. In all such situations, the system of values that upheld leadership prestige tends to be weakened.

Social Control. The most common forms of social control are malicious gossip and ostracism. The threat of poisoning is, however, the strongest factor still operating in the Community.

Conflict. Conflicts between Indians and non-Indians are the result of the invasion of indigenous territory. Mutual accusations of witchcraft are responsible for aggression between Indians, and, in cases of death, a series of retaliatory war expeditions is undertaken. Such armed activity still occurs among Cinta Larga subgroups and, in the past, involved other tribes as well.

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