Ka'wiari - Sociopolitical Organization



Political Organization. According to the sequential order of birth, adscription of rank among clans is associated with the corporal segmentation of the ancestral Anaconda. Each segment considers itself affiliated to a specific role: chiefs, singers/dancers, shamans, warriors, or "workers." This adscription, which can be observed only in ritual and in the relationship between different ethnic groups, apparently corresponded to the internal distribution of the territory in which the older members lived at the mouth of a river and the younger ones lived at its headwaters. In daily life, interpersonal relations, mediated by signs of respect between relatives, do not express subordination. In the community it is the "owner of the house" or the "captain" of the village who, more than exercising real authority, organizes, animates, and coordinates daily activities.

Social Control. Religious and cultural beliefs regarding the order of society and the environment, as recorded in myth, are the referents that legitimize individual behavior. Rumor and scolding are direct mechanisms of social control. Interpersonal disputes, grudges about material goods, and quarrels concerning a woman's infidelity are solved relatively quickly. In serious cases or in instances of repeated offenses, the use of "witchcraft" may end in the illness and death of one of the antagonists.

Conflict. According to both myth and current lore, when the Anaconda established the internal social order, territorial distribution, and adscription of specialized functions, one segment of people usurped primogeniture and had itself recognized as "older" than two earlier-born segments. The usurpers thereby initiated a sociopolitical dispute that runs counter to the ideal order. Although myths record intertribal wars, these are not waged today. Conflicts with Whites, because of the overexploitation of the indigenous labor force, are latent.


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